In the early aughts, Liszt Ferenc Square in Budapest's District 6 was a popular hangout for chic locals, but as the wheel of trends turned, people moved on to other pockets of the city. Today, you'll find plenty of tourist trap restaurants here emblazoned with "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, this is also where you'll find one of Budapest's best Hungarian restaurants: Menza. The massive space, with a tastefully modern interior, churns out traditional local dishes with a level of consistency that would make any Hungarian grandmother blush (there are also pastas and burgers but keep your eye on the prize). I usually order the goulash soup, donning a perfectly crimson hue (€6), the wonderfully soft pork schnitzel (€10), 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.

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.

We visit all places incognito, pay for our own meals and drinks, and write independent reviews.