As the name suggests, these are essentially drinking establishments set up in disused buildings, often in the court yards of a derelict apartment blocks. Renowned for their cheap beer, hip music and interesting surroundings - it's definitely worth taking the time out to hunt down one of these bars.
In the backstreets of Budapest
I love the faded splendour of the Central Cafe in Budapest. Sat on worn red leather seats in the wood-panelled interior it is easy to imagine eavesdropping on the earnest conversations of bearded revolutionaries, artists, poets and lovers.
Art deco lights hang from from starburst ceiling roses, and the doors open up onto the street to entice passers-by into the cool, high-ceilinged rooms with their beautiful painted mouldings and dark wood floors.
The waiters act slightly aloof, as though they carry the weight of history around with their trays of magnificent cakes and hearty Hungarian breakfasts. We feasted on scrambled eggs, Mangalica sausage, soft cheese on brown seeded bread and freshly squeezed orange juice.
DiVino is Budapest's latest uber-cool wine bar, found on the swanky, renovated square in front of the mighty Szent Istvan Basilika (Saint Stephen's Basilica).
It's connected to the fashionable Tigris restaurant and the class just oozes from every angle: from the sleek, chic, minimalist decor that lets full attention focus on the beautiful young things posing elegantly on low pinewood stools, to the endless list of wines and tasty, but pricey, nibbles, chalked up on the large blackboards above the bar.
The borbar (winebar) highlights 26 talented young Hungarian winemakers and a different winemaker is featured every week.
When I visited on opening night at the end of May, the winemaker to watch out for was Csaba Miklos and the coolest drink was a sparkling rose called Frici from the Gere vineyards. Refreshing, innovative and very, very hip. Just like DiVino.
Liszt Ferenc tér (or Franz Liszt Square) is party central in Budapest. It is a tree-lined pedestrianised area in the heart of Pest, located in the VI district by Oktogon.
During the warmer spring and summer months, the square is packed with beautiful people and tourists sitting in the bars, cafes and restaurants and filling the terrace areas. You can do this in winter too, as all the cafes have huge heaters. Every kind of cuisine, cocktail and coffee is served here from pizza at Pompeii to retro Magyar dishes at Menza to French style at Cafe Vian to Cuban at Buena Vista cafe. There's also an Incognito jazz cafe, Karma restaurant for good vibes and a late night drinking den at Mediterran.
Liszt Ferenc tér
Metro No 1 (little yellow underground - Kisfoldalatti) to Oktogon, tram 4 & 6 to Kiraly utca or Oktogon.
Google map: bit.ly/hRTKZE
Karma is one of the many restaurants situated on Liszt Ferenc ter, a square packed with eating and drinking venues and beautiful people chilling out on the wide terraces. Karma has delicious dishes and some good vibes.
A fabulous bar in the heart of Budapest. The owners have taken over an entire building and filled it with wacky art (flying rabbits) and rooms with different themes. There's a dance area, a chill-out area and many more secret, hidden corners to discover. Great style and originality.
Tomato is a cool salad bar, bar, tea and coffee house, is a breath of fresh air among the carbohydrate-laden eateries of Budapest. It's a beautiful traditional corner cafe, black and white tiled floor, soft lighting, good wine and the best salads in town. So when you've had your fill of goulash, i'd highly recommend this little gem. Friendly staff all speaking good English.
Stylish minimal like bar with top quality spirits and liqueurs. Try the Boutiq'specials from their list, and you won't drink cocktails anywhere else while in town.
Paulay Ede.u.5, Downtown,VI.distr. Two minutes walk from Deak square.
Tiny, cosmopolitan New York City-esque cocktail bar with foreigner friendly service. Always crowded by models and hip people.
Anker koz 3. Kiraly u corner. Downtown, 5th district Budapest. Near metro station "Deak Ter".
Wonderfully ornate cafe which captures the opulence and splendour of early 20th century Budapest.
Now part of a five-star hotel and not cheap but certainly worth a visit.
VII Erzsebet korut 9 -11
Metro M2 Blaha Lujza ter
This is a great place to have a drink. Very cosmopolitan and yet laid back. Seems to be very popular with young people and expats.
Not bad value either - a large glass of wine set us back about £1.30.
On the main square in the heart of the what was once the Jewish ghetto.
District VII, Klauzal ter 1-2, Around Kiraly utca, Budapest
Metro M2: Blaha Lujza ter
This website is about the real Budapest, and gives very interesting background details about the history, culture and architecture of this beautiful capital which is slowly losing some of its unique features (old presszo bars, neon signs, dingy borozos) as it changes into a modern European metropolis. Written by a Hungarian speaker, the articles featured go behind the facade and into much more detail than a guide book could manage.
It has a wealth of information for people who really love Budapest and want to know the city better.
Check out the recent story on the Trabants - really interesting!
A reasonably priced and enjoyable restaurant on the Pest side and just south of the popular tourist areas.
Home-brewed beer, which you can have in litre sized glasses if you want (and at about £2.70 a litre at May 2007 exchange rates). Ask the band for your favourite tune.
Kinizsi utca 30-36.
Metro Ferenc Krt.
or short walk from the tram which runs along the banks of the Danube
The European flagship of the Four Seasons chain. Recently renovated to its glorious, Art Nouveau best.
Stunning all the way I'm sure, but I've only been in for tea, as I'm a poor student and not a millionaire, like you. I ate in the bar area, which is beautiful, and the food was good and the service impeccable.
Wish I could afford to stay there. Donations on a post card to...
Roosevelt Tér 5-6. 1051
Tel: 36 (1) 268-6000
Fax: 36 (1) 268-5000
Where possible I like to partake of the local tipple on my travels but rarely, if ever, have I tasted anything like Hungary's herb based spirit, Unicum. A single measure of this concoction should be more than enough for two to three people ... the first sip tastes a little of cough mixture, and the second enough to convince you that no, apologies to the good people at Benylin, this is something far nastier.
On the plus side, it does come in great globe shaped bottles - miniatures of which make ideal presents for friends back home, particularly those you don't like much.
Just about every bar in Budapest
The name is - fortunately - nothing to do with János Kádár, Hungary's last Communist leader, the surname Kádár is quite common (and means 'cooper'). Kádár Étkezde (bistro) is a fabulous little lunch venue in the heart of the historic Jewish district in central Pest. It's packed with locals enjoying the non-kosher Jewish home cooking; great matzo ball soup, crisp duck leg with spicy red cabbage or boiled beef with a range of fruit sauces (gooseberry, sour cherry, horseradish) served on a ceramic all-in-one airplane style plates. Uncle Tibi personally greets regulars from the neighbourhood as they pile in and tots up the bill at the end. The walls of the crowded room are crammed with photos (many autographed) of Hungarian actors and athletes as well as other fans of the bistro including Marcello Mastroiani. Sip málna szörp (raspberry cordial) at this non-alcoholic eaterie or help yourself from the old-fashioned soda water bottles on every table. The waitresses are the kindest and most efficient in Budapest, the menu is only in Hungarian, and you'll have to share a table but that's part of the atmosphere. The last time I ate there, the elderly lady sipping soup at my table had numbers tattooed on her arm. This was a sudden, brutal, unexpected reminder of Hungary's shocking history.
Klauzál tér 9
Open Tues-Sat 11.30-15.30
Tel: (+36 1) 321 3622
To get there: Take tram 4 & 6 to Király utca stop.
Prices: Soup 300 forints, main dishes 500-800 forints, cash only, no CC.
Check costs before you order. Prices will vary greatly and seem to depend on what the staff think you are willing to pay. Upon questioning the bill they often justify the steep cost because you're from London and will therefore accept London prices. The guy beside you will pay the equivalent of £0.80 for a beer and you will get a bill of £2.90 for the same thing.
These are listed on the US Embassy's website as bars/clubs where tourists are often presented with ridiculously expensive bills (100 dollars for a ½ litre of beer), and physically intimidated if they refuse to pay:
- Városközpont (accessible by outside elevator) Budapest V district, Váci utca 16
- La Dolce Vita Budapest V district, Október 6. utca 8
- Nirvana Night Club Budapest V district, Szent István krt.13
- Ti'Amo Bar Budapest IX district, Ferenc körút 19-21
- Diamond Club Budapest II district, Bimbó út 3
- Pigalle Night Club Budapest VIII district, Kiss József utca 1-3
This branch of the Four Seasons opened about a year ago in the recently renovated Gresham Palace. The renovation is spectacular, and its one of the most impressive buildings in Budapest both inside and out. You don’t have to be staying there to enjoy the wonderful bar, café and restaurant. It is a great place to have a nice cup of tea and sit down after exploring the castle district and Chain Bridge.
Roosevelt Tér 5-6
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