Budapest's cafes, bars, and restaurants are quickly mirroring those in other big cities around the world, while establishments that might feel more rooted in Hungary are fast disappearing. For example, the bars below are some of the last vestiges of the Communist-era (1947-1989) – go visit these time warps before they vanish. And, please, don't complain about the quality of the wine, that's completely beside the point here.
If you're looking to immerse yourself in a deeply local, Communist-era neighborhood cafe and bar (eszpresszó), I can't think of a better place than Bambi on the Buda side. What makes Bambi the real deal? It isn’t trying to show off an artificial (retro), unremembered past – it’s a genuine throwback.
The patrons are a mix of graying, beer-drinking men with strong opinions about the world and fashionable Millennials who've discovered the charms of an eszpresszó. It's the kind of place where customer is not first and where the socialist-modern furnishings with faux-leather upholstery have been in place since the opening in 1961. I most enjoy Bambi for breakfast during the warm-weather months when the cramped tables on its south-facing terrace are bathed in sunshine.
The limited food selections consist of a pair of frankfurters with a side of mustard, scrambled eggs, various toasted sandwiches, and Hungarian pastries. Prices are wallet-friendly.