What’s something unique about contemporary Budapest? The answer, without a doubt, is ruin bars. These impossibly cool drinking joints inside dilapidated pre-war buildings have taken Budapest by storm. Know before you go that ruin bars have become so popular (and increasingly pricey) that mainly tourists and foreign students visit them these days. If you're looking for more Budapesters, try these local bars too.
If you've spent at least 5 minutes researching the city's nightlife, then you will already have come across Szimpla Kert, Budapest's iconic ruin bar. Likely you're also familiar with the ruin bar (romkocsma) concept, but for those who remain unaware, here's a quick refresher: ruin bars are makeshift bars located inside dilapidated pre-war buildings, furnished with quirky furniture assembled from clearance sales, and all in all exuding a inexplicably cool atmosphere. .
Anker't ruin bar is located on a charming Budapest backstreet just a stone’s throw away from both the grand Andrassy Avenue and the gritty Jewish Quarter. As soon as you enter, you will recognize a ruin bar before you: the scaffolded, crumbling facade of the almost 200-year-old building - it was built in 1833 - hides thick, skeletal brick and limestone walls. .
Instant & Fogas Ház isn't so much a ruin bar as a massive club featuring 18 bar counters and 7 dance floors. This enormous venue is inside Budapest's party district, in an 1861 landmark-protected building with a crumbling facade. Instant & Fogas Ház isn't the best place to experience the ruin bar ambience, but visiting it can be worthwhile if you're in the mood for dancing as most other ruin bars have little space for breaking it down..
Ellátó Kert is a ruin bar buried deep within Budapest's old Jewish Quarter. It's inside a U-shaped, brick skeleton building that used to be a meat processing facility. The best part of Ellátó is its expansive outdoor courtyard, which feels like a charming oasis away from the throngs of the busy Kazinczy Street. During the colder months, head all the way to the back of the space, where there's everything from comfortable sofas, a pool table, a makeshift Virgin Mary shrine (!), and a Mexican food stall.
Mazel Tov is for people who like the ruin bar concept in theory, but prefer things more upscale. This Middle Eastern restaurant in Budapest's buzzing Jewish Quarter does have a disintegrating facade like other ruin bars, but the inside is a different story. Cheap drinks have been upgraded to fancy cocktails, ham & cheese sandwiches to a range of trendy Middle Eastern mezze plates, self-service to hostesses, and cheap furniture to a thoughtfully designed industrial-chic interior with sleek wood paneling. .
Csendes is a popular ruin bar in downtown Budapest. This high-ceilinged space used to be a grand coffee house during the glory days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. This makes the current ruin bar decor, featuring creepy dolls hanging upside down from the walls, all the more bizarre. Csendes tends to fill up in the evenings with a mix of locals, expats, and tourists.
Szatyor Bar looks like a typical ruin bar: it's filled with eclectic furniture and there are even old vehicles hanging from the walls. But it's actually different from the ruin bars that swarm Budapest's party district on the other side of the Danube. This being Buda, instead of scruffy students sipping low-priced beers, Szatyor draws an over-25 crowd where shirts and skirts outnumber hoodies and backpacks. Duck confit and sous vide venison leg are rarely part of the ruin bar culinary repertoire, but here you will find them alongside pricey craft beers..