Mazel Tov is for people who like the ruin bar concept in theory, but prefer things more upscale. This Middle Eastern restaurant in Budapest's buzzing Jewish Quarter does have a disintegrating facade like other ruin bars, but the inside is a different story. Cheap drinks have been upgraded to fancy cocktails, ham & cheese sandwiches to a range of trendy Middle Eastern mezze plates, self-service to hostesses, and cheap furniture to a thoughtfully designed industrial-chic interior with sleek wood paneling.
The Israeli and other Mediterranean dishes served at Mazel Tov are reliable, and prepared quickly to ensure that tables are turned over in this wildly popular restaurant. My favorites are the shawarma plate and the spicy merguez, which is a North African sausage made from beef at Mazel Tov, and paired with beets, tahini, and matbucha. The undersized and under-seasoned beef kebab (€10), however, is a letdown. An extensive cocktail (c. €7) and Hungarian wine selection is also available. Reservations are an absolute must as the place gets mobbed every day of the week. Fogasház, a more traditional ruin pub, is next door in case you want to compare and contrast.