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.
1. A must-visit gem of Hungarian home cooking is Café Kör. The restaurant is fairly small, not terribly picturesque, and the staff is not overly affectionate. However, the meal makes these minor issues tolerable. Perfect goulash, sublime veal tenderloin and a Viennese style, thinly pounded wiener schnitzel with parsley potatoes are just a few favourites.
2. Klassz lives up to its name which means super rather than classy, as we initially guessed. The bistro style setting is cozy and contemporary and the food has an international rather than Hungarian vibe. Its location at 41 Andrássy út is another bonus, as it’s an ideal spot for a stroll before or after dinner.
3. Andrássy útca with its wide sidewalks and celebrity storefronts is the street locals like to think of as Budapest’s ChampsÉlysées. It’s also home to a second location of Baldaszti’s, the gourmet grocer and restaurant. Come for lunch and enjoy the lively industrial chic atmosphere.
4. Café Gerbaud is an iconic café but truth be told it feels lost in its history. Sit outside and have an iced coffee or enjoy an artisan pastry from the front counter. Otherwise, there are better places for a sit down meal.
5. Grocery Store gifts: Always a great resource, grocery stores frequently carry jams, sugars, and sweet treats that are gratefully received back home. For foodie friends, pick up a bag of poppy seeds for 449 F (US$2) or crushed walnuts 729 F (US$3.30) and pair with a cookbook to make traditional poppy seed or walnut pastry roll known as “beigli”.
ABOVE: Dabble travellers enjoy a group strudel stretching session. (FROM LEFT Debbie Fellows, Pamela Landry, Pat Pfrimmer, Sharron Cook and Kimberley Seldon.)