Opened in 1948, Mátra Borozó is one of the oldest and most eccentric wine bars in Budapest, a genuine throwback (Gábor Abendschein, the current owner, has been in charge since 1983). Apart from the constant presence of the amiable, graying regulars, Mátra's communal spirit stems from the unique layout of the space: instead of a bar counter splitting up the room, just a simple metal box stands in the middle which contains the wines.
You order, Gábor schleps over to prepare your fröccs (a wine spritzer, the most popular order) using a measuring ladle that’s more likely to appear in a museum than a wine bar these days. The classic fröccs—two parts wine, one part seltzer water—costs less than €1. If you’re looking to knock yourself out with Hungarian brandy, try a couple of the 26 types of pálinka.
The dimly-lit back section offers a more intimate refuge, not to mention the “secret room” in the very back, attached to the kitchen. If you get hungry, get the toasted sandwich blanketed in creamy mushroom, melted cheese, and slices of crispy bacon (€1.3). Also good is the cooked-and-fried sausage with a side of mustard and grated horseradish (€3).
Don't miss the artworks on the wood-clad walls that ricochet between darker (a crucified Jesus) and lighter themes. Regular customers gifted them to Gábor, and some are available for sale.