Zeller is a wildly popular restaurant in Budapest's downtown. Upon arrival, all guests are handed a complimentary Prosecco—albeit slightly flat and presented without much enthusiasm—before being led to one of the four indoor dining rooms. The best place to sit is in the light-filled interior courtyard topped with a sky window and featuring plenty of greenery. All tables comes with doodle-inspiring paper and colored pencils.

So, does Zeller live up to the hype? The short answer: not entirely. The dishes are reliable, but slightly overpriced and far from memorable. The menu includes internationally recognizable dishes made from local ingredients. Think: wild board stew, duck liver brulee, and mangalica pork loin. The mushroom soup (€3) is a mainstay—it's creamy, aromatic, and imparts an earthy flavor. Zeller’s signature dish is the duck rose (€13). While not as pink as some might expect, it's a flavorful dish with a crunchy crust and a side of fried cabbage strudel. The rest of the seasonally-changing menu revolves around hit-and-miss meat dishes. The wine list features bottles sourced from small local wineries.

At Zeller, the ratio of waiters-to-patrons is unusually high. While attentiveness is always a plus, a view without a server is rare, taking away from what otherwise could be a more intimate dining experience. The crowd consists of tourists as Zeller comes highly recommended on travel sites, and it's also near St. Stephen’s Basilica, one of Budapest’s main tourist destinations. Advance booking, therefore, is a must.

We visit all places incognito, pay for our own meals and drinks, and write independent reviews.