At some point in the early 2000s, Liszt Ferenc Square in District 6 was a popular hangout for trendy and moneyed locals. Then, as the wheel of trends turned, the excitement began to taper off and people moved on to other pockets of the city. Today, you will find signs prominently advertising "Hungarian cuisine" and "tourist menus," and it’s also here that Hungary's lone Hooters operated. You don't need me to tell you: proceed with caution.
Against the odds, however, one of Budapest's best traditional Hungarian restaurants is also here: Menza. Menza is a large-scale restaurant operation with a big, modern space that seats hundreds of people (if you're looking for a small, family-run restaurant, Menza isn't it). Menza's dishes center on traditional regional classics, which are prepared with a 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). In a strong field, the dessert menu may be Menza's strongest suit. My favorites appear during the colder months: the poppy seeds-based mákos guba, and the Kaiserschmarrn (€4), a Habsburg-era shredded pancake, topped with vanilla ice cream and apricot jam at Menza.
Menza is usually mobbed by tourists, but locals also go here (especially for the lunch prix fixe). The waitstaff is among the best you will find in Budapest - they're informed, kind, and efficient. Reservations are an abolsute must.