In the early aughts, Liszt Ferenc Square in District 6 was a popular hangout for trendy, well-heeled locals. But as the wheel of trends turned, the hoopla tapered off and people moved on to other pockets of the city. Today, you will find plenty of "Hungarian cuisine" and "tourist menu" signs, and it’s also here that Hungary's only Hooters operated until recently. You don't need me to tell you: proceed with caution.
Against the odds, however, this is where you will find one of Budapest's best Hungarian restaurants: Menza. The massive space, which has a tastefully modern interior, serves hundreds of customers each day, so if you're looking for a small, family-run restaurant, Menza isn't it. But they prepare traditional dishes with a level of consistency that would make any Hungarian grandmother blush. I usually order the goulash soup, donning a perfectly dark-red hue (€6), the wonderfully soft pork schnitzel (€9), or the hearty veal paprikash paired with egg dumplings (€13). The dessert menu may be Menza's strongest suit. The best ones appear during the colder months: the poppy seeds-blanketed mákos guba, and the Kaiserschmarrn (€4), a Habsburg-era shredded pancake, topped with vanilla ice cream and apricot jam at Menza. That's right.
Menza is usually mobbed by tourists, but locals also come here for the €5 two-course lunch prix fixe. The service staff is among the best you will find in Budapest—they're informed, kind, and efficient. Reservations are an absolute must.