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Budapest – The Gastrohipster Mecca

Where Hipsters Converge – the Jewish Quarter
One of the liveliest areas of Budapest, where you come across a smashing eatery at every step, whether classical or hip. One of the most charming restaurants offering traditional cuisine is the Spinoza Café, with its intimate lighting and walls bedecked with vintage illustrations. The menu features Jewish specialities such as hummus, and the essential Hungarian dishes like goulash, a popular beef stew usually accompanied with spätzle, an unevenly shaped type of noodle. Dinner ends with one of Hungary’s most typical liqueurs, pálinka, a potent but digestive spirit which is here displayed in a priceless giant bottle on the bar counter.

If you prefer something more contemporary, there is no dearth of options. Like the Street Food Karaván, a concentration of dedicated food trucks and kiosks where you can grab a bite at their shared, open-air tables. The homemade hamburgers of Zing Burger will not disappoint either. Other options with a roof over your head include Situ (Kazinczy, 32), with a French touch, Vintage Garden, feminine and romantic, 3, Három, Three (Kazinczy, 3), informal and cool, and Doblo, a cheerful wine bar.

End off the night with a drink at one of the “ruin bars”,one of the most unusual concepts in Budapest. They are located in derelict buildings, reclaimed by young people and turned into bars with a hint of the underground and a big helping of imagination – creativity has taken over where funding reaches its limits. The most famed ruin bar is Szimpla Kert, with its entertaining, enveloping atmosphere.

Where To Eat In Buda: Baltazár Grill
While Pest is more dynamic, don’t leave the city without visiting Buda Castle and its stunning views. Here we recommend you eat at the Baltazár Grill, a hip bistro with its striking painting by Basquiat. They serve modernised Hungarian dishes (their paprika chicken and goulash soup are excellent) and marvellous hamburgers made in a Josper grill. The other side of the restaurant is a cosy wine bar where you can try some great Hungarian wines.

Where the Beautiful People Go – Menza
This restaurant is all the rage now. A blend of retro and futuristic aesthetics featuring an eclectic, contemporary and international menu with room for pasta, sandwiches, various meat dishes and even the odd fish dish – bear in mind that Budapest is a predominantly meat-eating city.

Where To Delight In Bistros With Charm
The bistro formula is in vogue in the Hungarian capital. After Costes and Onyx, the third restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star was the Borkonyha bistro, with a relaxed ambience but impeccable cuisine. Alongside the priceless Central Market stands the splendid Borbíróság, offering modern market cuisine and over a hundred quality Hungarian wines served by the glass. Highly recommendable is the duck and cherry ragout with potato and Cheddar cheese, and their foie gras beef with ratatouille and roast potatoes. Other bistros you will enjoy include Terminal, sited in an erstwhile bus station, and Zona, with beautiful interior design and Hungarian dishes with an international flourish.

Afternoon Tea – Cafés With Character
Tradition rules in one of the cities with the greatest pastry expertise. Before leaving Budapest, make a point of having afternoon tea in the stylish New York Café, housed in a 19th-century neo-Baroque palace where you will find it difficult to stop taking snaps… until you try one of their pastries, of course! Also classical but more sober is the Gerbeaud, one of the city’s most acclaimed pastry cafés. Make sure you try one of the local specialities, which are of exceptional quality here – the Dobos cake, made of fine layers of sponge, chocolate cream and a caramel topping.

Where To Sleep – Eurostars Budapest Center
This four-star Spanish hotel chain has an unrivalled siting on the edge of the Jewish Quarter and a stone’s throw away from the Danube. Housed in a Communist-era building, the rooms are spacious, bright, functional and elegant at affordable prices. The self-service breakfast is copious and varied, and the common areas comfortable, but the best thing is the service – they are helpful and, if you require a booking, they do it for you… and they speak Spanish!

 

Text and photos: Isabel Loscertales (Gastronomistas)

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