Shalimar Indian Restaurant

The bad news first: if there were a competition for the least inviting restaurant interior, Shalimar would be a serious contender. With too much lighting and unremarkable bare walls, it’s as if they're intentionally trying to drive customers away, save for the most committed diners. What makes this business decision all the more startling is that Shalimar is located in the otherwise super-trendy Jewish Quarter packed with people. Most nights, the place is almost empty, although occasionally busloads of Indian tourists appear and fill it to capacity.

The food, however, is exceptional. Unlike most Indian restaurants in Budapest, which ambitiously advertise their pan-Indian culinary reach, the focus in Shalimar’s kitchen since their opening in 1996 is north-Indian cuisine. The most compelling courses are the signature dishes, such as the butter chicken, the chicken tikka, and the chicken tikka masala, which are prepared reliably by the Indian kitchen staff (diners can pick the level of spiciness). The message to take home about Shalimar: don’t give in to the first impression when you see the deserted, at least half empty restaurant – proceed, and good things will come your way.