One of Budapest’s oldest and most atmospheric wine bars is hidden underground on a quiet downtown street otherwise known for its antique stores hawking expensive chinaware. In line with other unchic, communist-era bars that have survived to the present day, this holdout from the 1960s (no one seems to know the exact opening year) draws mainly longtime regulars from the neighborhood.
Although the wines served are indeed from the famed Tokaj region, they are far from the premium stuff commanding steep prices. But that’s almost beside the point - you should visit Tokaji Borozó for other reasons. Take the interior, for example: an elaborate wood carving from 1977 runs around the arched-brick walls of the main hall. The scenes depict a wine harvest that culminates in a free-spirited, festive celebration following a long day of labor.
Also, Tokaji Borozó’s food offerings are miles ahead of what you might be used to at a similar drinking joints. Both the soft and crispy meatballs (€1) and the sliced bread topped with körözött, a paprika-laced cottage cheese spread, and chopped scallions (€1) are excellent. They also serve tócsni (€1), a made-to-order fried potato dish that can turn out a bit too oily for my taste.
At the end of the day, Tokaji Borozó’s most endearing quality is its longevity and cast of colorful characters, including bartenders and patrons alike. Two final notes of caution: Tokaji borozó is closed on weekends and, true to its mission of being a winery, no beers are served.