Kívánság Étkezde

For a deeply local lunch experience in Budapest, 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, cheap, and some of them, like Kívánság, serve delicious home-style dishes.

Kívánság is oblivious to nouvelle Hungarian cuisine, the trend sweeping through the city, instead sticking to well-proven Hungarian classics. The standout dish is the mátrai borzaska, a fried pork cutlet coated in a potato-based breading and topped with sour cream and grated cheese (€6). Be sure to also scan the menu for the daily specials, which change every two days.

Kívánság's interior is an authentic representation of the '80s Hungarian restaurant: red-and-white checkered tablecloths, a sticky, faux leather-bound menu, and fading photos on the walls of the owner’s favorite soccer team (in Kívánság's case, this happens to be MTK). And the owner himself, Tibor Szabados, with a jolly paunch and a kind face. The lively atmosphere is maintained by the constant banter between Józsi, the waiter, and longtime regulars. Try to get there by 12:30 p.m., because they fill up quickly. Cash only!