Kívánság Étkezde

For a truly local lunch experience, it’s hard to think of a better place than Kívánság Étkezde. The continued existence of this eatery, which opened in 1985, is evidence that there’s still lingering love in Budapest for communist-era family-run restaurants. After all, they’re quick and cheap, and in the case of Kívánság, it's all about delicious home-style dishes.

Kívánság is oblivious to “new Hungarian cooking”, the trend that’s sweeping the country, and instead sticks to well-proven Hungarian classics. One of the standout dishes is the mátrai borzaska, a pork cutlet coated in a potato-based breading, and topped with sour cream and grated cheese. The other is the pork tenderloin which comes with wonderfully crispy potatoes that were roasted in pork lard and paprika to deliver a slight kick. Be sure to scan the menu for the daily specials too, which change every two days.

The interior design of Kívánság is an authentic representation of 1980s Hungarian gastronomy: red and white checkered tablecloths covered with transparent plastic, a sticky, faux leather-bound menu, and fading photos on the walls of the owner’s favorite soccer team. And the owner himself, Tibor Szabados, with a sizeable belly and a kind, cheerful face. The lively atmosphere is maintained by constant banter between Józsi, the waiter, and longtime regulars. Try to get there by 12:30 p.m., because they fill up quickly.