When traveling abroad, sometimes all we want is simply to get away from fellow, camera-wielding tourists and blend in with locals. At the places below, you’re likely to be the only foreigner, even though many of them are right in the heart of the city. They also offer a chance to get to know some locals.
The café itself, which used to be the stable of this pre-war mansion, is nothing to write home about, but the interior of the library is a must-see. Some of the floors preserve the aristocratic grandeur of the 19th century Baroque Revival architecture with wood paneling, sumptuous ornaments, and floor to ceiling mirrors. The wealthy Wenckheim family, landowners in south-eastern Hungary, commissioned the construction of the building as temporary residence while in Budapest. Later, the city purchased the building, which operates as a public library since 1931.Read more
Flaky almond croissants, fresh orange juice, and specialty coffee (both pour overs and espresso-based coffee) are just three of the reasons to visit this café in the “Harlem of Budapest”, a bit outside the city center in District 8. Kudos to the owner for walking the less trodden path and creating something good in this slice of the city. Wander the streets nearby to get a glimpse of the lives of the less privileged in Budapest (the neighborhood is very safe during the day). Local attractions include the country's best high school, the tiny brewery where Műterem Kávézó roasts its coffee beans, as well as the eclectic building with the peculiarly shaped facade (and a non-matching top floor that was added during communism) around the corner..Read more
Róma Ételbár is one of the few remaining communist-era “osteria”: cheap, no-frills, lunch-only eateries once common in Hungary. The dishes at Róma still exclusively revolve around Hungarian classics, as if the kitchen has been vigilantly guarding against lurking intruders of contemporary gastronomy. The Hungarian signature dishes are passable (goulash, beef stew, etc.), but you’re usually better off opting for the daily specials, like the roast goose leg with parsley potato, which often have more character. Prices are higher at Róma than at other similar eateries, likely due to the crowds that line up during lunchtime (some aspect of capitalism did slip through the cracks).Read more
The ultimate melting pot of (Buda)Pest. Construction workers and white collar employees alike line up for the unexpectedly flavorful chicken sandwiches at lunchtime at this tiny eatery. The ladies behind the counter will somehow manage to squeeze the toppings and side dishes, to be chosen from a plethora of options, inside the bread rolls. Hungry, but low-carb conscious dieters can indulge themselves with a whole roast chicken just out of the oven.Read more
Eccentric little café in the basement of the venerable Eötvös Loránd University, with lexicons and playful postcards adorning the walls. Besides specialty coffee, flaky croissants, and fruit cups, they have the broadest range of Hungarian magazine subscriptions I’ve seen in a café, including ones on the far left, and far right. For the best experience and most students, go during the academic year (September - May), as during the summer they just operate out of a food cart at the main entrance of the school. Open weekdays only.Read more
Újlipótváros, the neighborhood of Tera Magyar Konyhája, is the best kept secret in Budapest. A city within the city. The cultural upper crust and young families with baby strollers form a strong local community here and make for a lively area. Many of the local residents can be found in Tera, this self-service diner with a broad selection of traditional Hungarian dishes.Read more
A spirit of healthy anarchy radiates from this bar-slash-community center located a bit outside the city center in a gritty part of District 8. It's nonetheless worth trekking out there. They hold weekly panel discussions on a range of relevant topics (e.g. industrial interest vs.Read more
Highly amortized pieces of socialist interior design will await you at this cavernous underground bar on what’s one of the most charming streets in Budapest. Mélypont Presszó is usually filled with college students from the neighboring law and political science colleges. Despite the occasionally rowdy college crowd (expect some waiting for the foosball table) the setting overall is pretty intimate, with cute hideaway corners that work well for date nights too. While drinks are cheap overall, whiskey fans can indulge in a broad selection from the top shelf..Read more
Trust me, the address is accurate - persist in your search and you will be handsomely rewarded. It’s worth walking around a bit anyway in this mostly working class, underdeveloped neighborhood. The unkempt condition of the otherwise grand housing stock illustrates the level of decay most buildings in Budapest reached at the end of the communist period. Pótkulcs, a hidden bar inside a former light engineering workshop sits on a quiet side street and features a huge outdoor patio and a no-frills indoor bar area.Read more
The building, rather than the food, is the key attraction of this restaurant, located inside a pre-WWI mansion in the Castle Area of District 8. Take some time to absorb the view from the inner courtyard: ivy-covered facades, cube stone patterns, symmetrically curved staircases. As for food, the prix fixe lunches will neither disappoint, nor take your breath away. The crowd is an interesting mix of librarians, architects (today the building is home to the Chamber of Budapest Architects), and local residents.Read more
Rankings are based on a combination of food/drink, atmosphere, service, and price.