Here’s a little secret: there’s hole-in-the-wall eatery right next to, and sharing a kitchen with Rosenstein, one of the best traditional Hungarian restaurants 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. In other words, at Kürtös Ételbár you can enjoy the same goulash soup (€2), beef stew (€5), and schnitzel (€5) that they serve next door at steeper price points.
Kürtös’s daily-changing menu, chalked on the blackboard, includes a couple of soups, vegetable stews like spinach or squash topped with a sunny side up egg (€5), and made-to-order meats like pork schnitzel and cordon bleu (€4). Palacsinta, the Hungarian crepe, is also available (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. The bare, metal high-tables aren’t the least bit inviting. As a result, customers, most of whom are repeats from the neighborhood, usually take their meals to go. Things clear out a bit after the midday buzz, usually around 1 p.m.