Head to Mazel Tov if you like the ruin bar concept in theory, but prefer things more upscale. This Middle Eastern restaurant inside 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 cocktails, ham & cheese sandwiches to mezze plates, self-service to hostesses, and cheap furniture to a thoughtfully designed, industrial-chic interior with sleek wood paneling.
Mazel Tov's Israeli and other Mediterranean dishes are reliable and arrive without delay, to ensure that tables turn over quickly in this wildly popular restaurant. I enjoyed the shawarma plate (€8), and also the spicy merguez (€10), which is a North African sausage, made from beef here, and paired with beets, tahini, and matbucha. The undersized and underseasoned beef kebab (€10), however, was a letdown. Cocktails (€7) and plenty of Hungarian wines are also available. Reservations are an absolute must as the place gets mobbed by people every day of the week. Fogasház, a more traditional ruin bar, is next door in case you want to compare and contrast.