Kőleves is a wildly popular restaurant in the heart of Budapest’s old Jewish Quarter, today’s party district. Built in 1851, the building used to be home to a kosher meat processing facility and butcher shop. Kőleves pays homage to the building’s past with serving Jewish-Hungarian dishes like matzo ball soup, and cholent, the typical sabbath dish. They also used leftover objects from the meat plant as design pieces for the restaurant, which features a well-worn, leather-bound ledger book and a weathered Talmud.
As other high-turnover, tourist-heavy restaurants, Kőleves aims to please all tastes with a hybrid menu. Hungarian bean goulash (€4), avocado salad (€6), ribeye steak (€17), and a New York cheesecake appear side-by-side on the menu. The dishes are reliable but far from memorable, and made without much culinary flourish. I most enjoyed the duck leg confit and the tender and unusually juicy chicken breast. Kőleves also serves breakfast (until 11 a.m.), where one of the unexpected Ashkenazi items is the matzo brei: matzo fried with eggs.
Although mainly a tourist destination, locals also appear during lunchtime for the €5 two-course prix fixe. In the summer, the backyard of Kőleves, Kőleves Kert, transforms into an all-welcoming outdoor bar with low-priced drinks and snacks.