New York Café

Budapest's New York Café is a posh historic coffeehouse on the ground floor of the New York Palace, a grand 1894 building and today home to a five-star hotel. The café's fame harkens back to the pre-war days, when renowned Hungarian journalists, artists, and entertainers spent raucous nights here fueled by cigarettes and alcohol. Countless stories of their debauchery have become part of Budapest’s collective memory.

The space itself has had its ups and downs — during the early years of the communist era, in the 1950s, a sports retail store operated here, selling sneakers beneath the frescoed ceilings. It is thanks to a 2006 gut-renovation that the New York Café has regained its former glow: Marble columns, bronze statues, and stuccoed angels burst once again from the gilded interior.

Today, the New York Café is a main tourist attractions, meaning that there's often a line to enter and prices aren't exactly wallet-friendly (a cappuccino runs €10 including the mandatory service charge). There's a full breakfast, lunch, and dinner menu of pricey Hungarian classics, but most people come here for coffee and cakes. Every day, a live band performs cabaret music between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Despite a somewhat engineered experience, you may still want to visit once to get a feel for Budapest's once thriving coffeehouse culture.

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