Overseen by 28-year old head-chef János Mizsei, MÁK Bistro is one of the best restaurants in Budapest. Mizsei, who trained at restaurants in Denmark and Sweden, extracts intense flavors from seemingly simple ingredients, in line with the New Nordic Cuisine he is so fond of. He is known to go out of his way to find unlikely suppliers, such as the local farmer who collects birch sap in a Hungarian village.
MÁK Bistro's dishes center on vegetables and fish, both of them prepared in light sauces. On any given day, the ever-changing seasonal menu might include pike-perch paired with a light purple cauliflower, charred monkfish with steamed eggplant, or a mushroom veloute exuding profound earthiness. At a time when most leading Budapest chefs look to Hungarian peasant fare for inspiration, often driven by business reasons, there is something endearingly bold in Mizsei's refusal to put reinvented goulash soup or beef stew (pörkölt) on the menu.
The interior of MÁK Bistro features two arched, high-ceilinged dining rooms inside a downtown Budapest building. The sleek space comes with exposed brick walls and wooden tables stripped of tableclothes, showing obvious Scandinavian inspirations.
For the full experience at MÁK Bistro, go for the 7-course dinner tasting menu, which runs €110 per person including wine pairing. The wines are sourced from small Hungarian vineyards by Máté Horváth, who was Hungary's sommelier of the year in 2018. MÁK also serves a weekday three-course lunch prix fixe for HUF4,200/€14 (from Tuesday to Friday), which is the more economical way to discover Mizsei's elaborate dishes.