Conversation flows as easily as the local Tokaj wines and lusty European beers.
First time visitors are bound to leave with a newfound respect for hearty Hungarian food (chicken paprikás alone is worth the airfare) and the enthusiasm with which locals participate in the enjoyment of a good meal with friends.
ABOVE: The For Sale Pub Restaurant might not actually be for sale but it does have an interesting décor. There are peanut shells on the floor and business cards, boarding passes and paper on the ceiling and walls.
1. Look past the kitschy “medieval” atmosphere at Alabárdos Étterem and focus instead on the authentic home cooking, served fetchingly on fine Herend and Zsolnay china. The setting, inside a 400 year old Gothic building and opposite Matthias Church makes it an ideal location for an evening stroll before dinner.
2. Fortuna 21 – Magyar Vendeglo (Hungarian kitchen) Stone walls and bleached oak floors provide a contemporary backdrop to this dynamic setting where visitors and locals order up traditional favourites such as the goulash soup served tableside in individual kettles. During the summer, sit on the patio and enjoy a cold glass of tokaji. Goulash, bread and wine come in under US$20, making this an affordable sit down experience.
Dabble Savvy: Gratuity may be included on your bill. If not, allow 10%-15% extra and give the waiter the money, do not leave it on the table.
3. The closest thing to a Dean & Deluca in Budapest is Baldaszti’s. The Buda location is tucked into the hillside, near the Funicular. If it’s lunchtime, sample the Hungarian platter with local meats and cheeses.
ABOVE: Pancakes served with a trio of jams are a perfect breakfast treat. Shop for gourmet groceries in the basement.
4. Gundel is likely the city’s best-known restaurant, certainly one of its most expensive. Admired for its fine cuisine, impeccable service and the early 20th century setting. Elegant dress is recommended.
Dabble Savvy: Take time to admire the Hungarian masterpieces displayed on the walls while waiting for your meal.