Budapest has only a few restaurants right along the Danube River, and even the ones that exist are usually more about vistas than gastronomic delights. Flanked by endless rows of docked Viking river cruises, Szegedi Halászcsárda doesn't hold much promise at first sight, but it turns out to be a positive surprise. Their specialty is the Hungarian fisherman’s soup, halászlé, especially its famed version from the south-Hungarian city of Szeged.
One of its distinguishing features is a thick, almost creamy broth, accomplished by a laborious process of pressing the fish-laden liquid through a sieve, thereby maximizing its concentration. The soup at Szegedi Halászcsárda’s is very near a textbook version—the paprika's pungency rounds out the fresh, maroon-hued fish broth. It's spicy, but not distractingly so, and comes with soft fillets of oily carp (the “small” portion for €5 is still generous). For apps, go for the catfish fritters with onion rings and fresh slices of bread (€6). If you have some stomach space left, the cottage cheese noodles with pork cracklings (túrós csusza; €6) is the traditional way to finish the meal.
While the fisherman’s soup is keeping you busy, remember to also look up and enjoy the picture-postcard views of Budapest. Due to its location near the tourist-heavy river cruises, most patrons at Szegedi Halászcsárda are foreigners, which explains why a live gipsy band performs Hungarian folk songs every Wednesday to Sunday, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.