MÁK Bistro, helmed by 28-year-old head chef János Mizsei, is one of Budapest's leading fine dining restaurants. The fact that Mizsei trained in Denmark and Sweden shines through in the dishes: In line with the New Nordic Cuisine, the plates pack intense, vibrant flavors despite the seemingly everyday ingredients. Mizsei is known to go out of his way to scout for unlikely suppliers; most recently he found a local farmer who collects birch sap in a Hungarian village.
MÁK's dishes are heavy on vegetables and fish, both of them prepared in light sauces. On any given day, the seasonal menu might include pike-perch paired with purple cauliflower, charred monkfish with steamed eggplant, or a mushroom veloute exuding profound earthiness. Don't go searching for goulash soup here. At a time when most Budapest restaurants use Hungarian peasant fare like goulash to draw tourists, there's something endearingly bold about not serving up these paprika-laced traditional dishes.
MÁK's interior shows obvious Scandinavian inspirations: the bare, exposed brick dining rooms come with sleek wooden tables stripped of tableclothes. For the full experience, go for the 7-course dinner tasting menu, which runs €110 per person with wine pairing. Máté Horváth, Hungary's sommelier of the year in 2018, oversees the wine selections, which come from small Hungarian vineyards.
MÁK serves a weekday three-course lunch prix fixe for €15 (from Tuesday to Friday), which is the more economical way to discover their elaborate dishes.