Here’s a little secret. There’s hole-in-the-wall eatery right next to, and sharing a kitchen with Rosenstein, the restaurant I ranked as the best for traditional Hungarian food in Budapest. In fact, Rosenstein itself grew out of this tiny, smoke-filled space back in 1989, before hoisting itself into an elegant sit-down venue. So, welcome to Kürtös Ételbár.
At Kürtös Ételbár you can enjoy the exact same goulash soup (€2), beef stew (€5), and schnitzel (€5) that they serve just one door down at steeper prices. Kürtös’ daily-changing menu, chalked on the blackboard, usually includes a couple of soup options, vegetable stews like spinach or squash topped with a sunny side up egg (€5), and made-to-order meats such as pork schnitzel and cordon bleu (€4). Palacsinta, the Hungarian crepe, is also available for dessert (get two for €1).
Unfortunately, Kürtös Ételbár comes with a few downsides. When I say it’s tiny and smoke-filled, I do mean both - the space can accommodate about six people before it starts to feel packed and sweltering. And let’s just say the unset, metal, high-tables aren’t the most inviting. As a result, customers, most of whom are repeats from the neighborhood, usually take their orders to go. When I go, I try to arrive during off-peak hours, say after 1 p.m., after the midday buzz has quieted down.