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 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 including wine pairing. The wines come from from small Hungarian vineyards and include natural and orange wines, too. 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.