Some people prefer to eat their breakfast in a relaxed, no-frills environment, without the buzz that inevitably comes with hyped-up places. Below is a selection of unpretentious cafés in Budapest that offer excellent breakfast dishes and draw a laid-back, diverse, and mostly local crowd.
Hans van Vliet, the owner of Jedermann Café, is a legendary figure in the Budapest restaurant world with a genius for creating cozy all-day-cafés for everyone to enjoy (hence "Jedermann", which translates to "everyone"). On any given day, tables at Jedermann might be filled with senior citizens fiercely debating Hungarian politics, students gossiping about school, and a theater director mapping out upcoming projects with the staff. Jedermann is located in District 9, not far from the city center, but away from the throngs clogging the more popular old Jewish Quarter. .
Budapest is undersupplied when it comes to relaxed, unpretentious breakfast and brunch spots, mostly because locals generally eat breakfast at home. One of the exceptions is Kino, this breakfast-all-day café along the Grand Boulevard. .
Breakfast places in Budapest are still far and few between, and the ones that do exist are mostly located in downtown and cater to tourists. This isn't the case with Café Panini, a stylish neighborhood breakfast restaurant inside the secluded world of the hip Újlipótváros. There isn’t anything profoundly unique about Café Panini’s croque madams, frankfurters, or ham and eggs, but they’re tasty, reasonably priced, and they exist! Breakfast and brunch is served all day on weekends and until noon on weekdays, with a range of Hungarian beer and wine selections to help lift the mood. The crowd is easy-going, and mostly a cross section of the neighborhood.
Csendes Társ is an island of peace within the hustle and bustle of downtown Budapest. It's an outdoor-only café set along the charming Károlyi Garden, a private-yard-turned-public-park boasting colorful flower beds and a manicured lawn. Csendes Társ is best enjoyed for a late breakfast (it opens at 10 a.m.) or for drinks in the evening when the neighborhood quiets down and the space feels most intimate. .
You will be a fan of Lumen Café if you prefer to avoid the heavily touristed streets of the old Jewish Quarter but still get a cup of specialty coffee in a hip neighborhood. With excellent egg-based breakfast offerings (served until noon on weekends) and a thoughtful interior design featuring concrete and wood combinations, Lumen Café is more than your average neighborhood café. But it's the patrons, artists and neighborhood bohemians, who give a soul to the space. Also be sure to check out the almost daily live concerts at Lumen, taking place inside the hall adjacent to the main area.
Csiga is a popular café located in the increasingly trendy District 8, a bit outside the city center. The neighborhood, situated just beyond the Grand Boulevard, is rising to cool-status as people become fed up with the crowds swarming the bars of the Jewish Quarter (two lively bars, Kék Ló or Hintaló Iszoda, are both just around the corner from Csiga). .
Italian chatter is filtering through Al Dente's open kitchen, a too rare and highly welcome phenomenon for an Italian restaurant. Al Dente is one of those under-the-radar neighborhood restaurants in Budapest you hope others won't find out about so as to keep it all for yourself. It's an osteria-type casual eatery with a pan-Italian menu accentuated Puglian food (the chef is from Bari, the capital city of Puglia in southern Italy). .
If you're looking to immerse yourself in an old school, lively, communist-era neighborhood bar in Buda, Bambi Eszpresszó should be high on your list (Ibolya Espresszó in Pest is comparable). What makes Bambi the real deal? While it doesn't follow contemporary trends, it isn’t showing off an artificial, unremembered past either – it’s a genuine throwback. The waiters are only nice to those patrons they find likeable, and they wear outfits that haven't been in fashion for at least 30 years. The red faux leather upholstery and Thonet look-alike chairs have been in place since the opening in 1961.
La nube is a café/tapas bar in the increasingly hip Újbuda neighborhood. The main appeal of this Hungarian-Spanish, family-run operation is the warm and welcoming atmosphere and the diverse crowd which mainly comes from the neighborhood. On a typical day, patrons might comprise parents with young children (there's a kids' corner), hipsters typing away on their iPhones, and aging locals sipping glasses of San Miguel that comes straight from the tap..
The places around Szabadság tér (Liberty Square) and the Parliament tend to be overrun by tourists, which usually brings the worst out of the local service industry. Farger café/restaurant, however, isn't in the rip-off business. It's located on the ground floor of a grand, although somewhat faded building commissioned by the Adriatic Hungarian Royal Maritime Company (!) during the glorious days of the Austro Hungarian Empire. .
Don't be confused by the name of this cute little café: this isn't Szimpla Kert, the world-famous ruin bar (that's a few doors down from here, across the street, run by the same owners). Szimpla Háztáji is an organic café serving breakfast all day, fruit juices, and home-made syrups. The mantra is fresh-fresh-fresh - all ingredients come from local farmers whose produce can also be found in Szimpla Kert's farmer's market on Sunday mornings. Accordingly, the interior has a shabby-chic look complete with reclaimed, rustic furniture.
Rankings are based on a combination of food/drink, atmosphere, service, and price. The author visits all restaurants incognito.