Mátra Borozó

Opened in 1948, Mátra Borozó is one of the oldest and quirkiest wine bars in Budapest, a genuine throwback. Instead of a regular bar counter, a simple metal box stands in the middle of the space equipped with containers that hold the wines.

Gábor Abendschein, the ever-present current owner can be recognized by donning a white lab coat. He has been in charge since 1983. You order, Gábor schleps over wearing a slightly annoyed expression and prepares your fröccs (a wine spritzer, the most popular order) using a measuring ladle that’s more likely to appear in a museum these days. The classic fröccs—two parts wine, one part seltzer water—costs about €1. If you’re looking to knock yourself out with Hungarian brandy, try a couple of the 26 types of pálinka.

The dim back section offers an intimate refuge, not to mention the “secret room” in the very back, attached to the kitchen. If you get hungry, order the grilled sandwich blanketed in creamy mushroom, melted cheese, and slices of crispy bacon (€1.3). It's very good. I also recommend the sausage with a side of mustard and grated horseradish (€3). Don't leave before checking out the artworks on the wood-clad walls that ricochet between darker and lighter themes. Regular customers gifted them to Gábor, and some are available for sale.

We visit all places incognito, pay for our own meals and drinks, and write independent reviews.