I don’t know why, but it’s the Middle Eastern restaurants in Budapest that seem to get it right — following the spectacular successes of Mazel Tov and Dobrumba, now TLV, which is also located in the old Jewish Quarter, managed to create the type of buzzy and approachably hip restuarant that's so easy to like. You know, with dim lighting, booming music, cramped tables, and a fashionable service staff. Unfortunately, I also have some serious warnings for you, but let's start with the positive: the open-fire grill. Because the best things at TLV are the smoke-kissed dishes arriving straight from the charcoal grill. For example, the crunchy cauliflower (€8), first cooked tender then coated in splotches of char over fire. Also good, though undersized, are the spicy grilled vegetables (€4) — zucchini, tomatoes, onions, mushrooms — and the chicken thigh skewers (€6).

On to the bad news: The other foods are pricey and unremarkable at best, and the portions annoyingly small. Expect to have to cough up around €30-40 per person for a couple of mezze, a dish from the grill, and one drink. The musical selections are weirdly out-of-style, featuring a motley assortment of cliched songs and Beatles covers during the Tuesday-night live music sessions. Finally, the wine menu is shockingly underwhelming.

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