Kőleves is a wildly popular restaurant in the center of Budapest’s old Jewish Quarter, today’s party district. The building, which was built in 1851, used to be home to a kosher meat processing facility and butcher shop, so it’s fitting that Kőleves restaurant honors the building’s past with several Hungarian-Jewish dishes like matzo ball soup and cholent. They also use leftover items from the kosher meat plant to adorn the interior. For example, a well-worn, leather-bound ledger book and a Talmud are displayed as design pieces.
As is common with high-turnover, tourist-heavy restaurants, the food offerings at Kőleves aim to please all tastes with a hybrid menu. Hungarian bean goulash (€4), avocado salad (€6), ribeye steak (€17), and New York cheesecake (€4) are just some of the varied options on the menu. The dishes are prepared reliably but without culinary flourish, although on my most recent visit several of the plates were too salty. Usually, you can't go wrong with the duck leg confit (€12) and chicken breast (€10). Kőleves also serves breakfast (until 11 a.m.), where one of the unexpected Ashkenazi items is the matzo brei: matzo fried with eggs. It would be even better, if Kőleves paired it with apple sauce, rather than a meager serving of wilted salad.
While mainly tourists come here, locals also appear during lunchtime for Kőleves' affordable prix fixe offer (two-course meal for €4). In the summer months, the backyard of Kőleves, Kőleves Kert, transforms into an all-welcoming outdoor bar with low-priced drinks and snacks.