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 modest eatery, which opened in 1985, is evidence that there’s still lingering love for old-school family-run restaurants. After all, they’re quick, cheap, and some of them, like Kívánság, serve homestyle Hungarian classics that have otherwise disappeared from the city.

Kívánság is oblivious to the various food trends sweeping through Budapest, instead sticking to well-proven Hungarian classics. The standout dish is the mátrai borzaska, a fried pork cutlet coated in a potato-based crust 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.

The interior is an authentic representation of an '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 is MTK). And the owner himself, Tibor Szabados, with a jolly paunch. 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., before they fill up. Cash only!

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