We have written only about places that we have tested.
We are a Hungarian couple in our fifties living in the countryside over 200 kilometers from Budapest. We regularly visit the capital and like going out. Over the years we have tested a great number of restaurants, pubs, bars and cafés.
Halfway between being local and tourist we can recommend places to you where you can have a good time, you will feel comfortable but stay away from the Budapest tourist industry.
None of them is too expensive or risk. Do not expect anything extraordinary, just places you can eat or drink well, while you feel various Budapest vibes, which have very little to do with the tourist industry or the guidebooks.
What is it? – A café and bar
It is one of our favourite bars, we nearly always come here when in Budapest. It used to a bookstore and not only the books but also their atmosphere stayed here. Mainly book-lovers feel home, but this is far for being snobbish. It has two rooms on two levels and a small patio looking over a small street leading to the rich districts of Budapest. Sometimes we just sip the wines at a street table watching the luxury cars and concluding that we do not envy them. It’s in Buda near Margaret Island.
Address: Budapest, Margit utca 3.
What is it? – A pub, gallery and shop
You can meet some tourist here but is has nothing to do with the tourist magnet ruin pubs. It is a café and pub, where you can come with your friends for one (two, three) drinks while there are photos and exhibitions around you. It also has also a shop section for books, analog cameras, films, etc. It has a terrace, which is good choice when the weather is good, you can enjoy the real downtown vibe. I nearly forgot, Főfotó serves decent food as well.
Address: Budapest, Baross u 10, 1085
What is it? – A restaurant
Do not expect anything extraordinary. It is just a restaurant in Buda, at the foot of the hills, shaded by large trees, which is a big advantage in the hot Hungarian summer. In winter the “tents” create a unique atmosphere. You can sit and chat here with a cup of coffee, a beer or a glass of wine, but the Majorka is basically a restaurant with a good selection of hamburgers, bar food and entrees at reasonable prices. We usually have cevapcici here, in the winter season do not miss the steamed balls. You can get here by tram, the stop is just a few steps away.
Address: Budapest, Szilágyi Erzsébet fasor 16.
What is it? – A beer garden and a waterfront lounge
You can find this gem rather far from the city center in the north part of Pest on Népsziget (People’s island). The basic principle here is relaxation, which can happen is different forms. You can sip here cocktails, wine, beer of sodas, buy some bar food or just sit on a deckchair or on your blanket watching the mighty Danube flowing in front of you. In the evening there are lanterns over your head. Kabin is open from late spring until late fall, according to the weather. Nearby there are some some more open air bars.
Address: Budapest, Népsziget, (no street or house number)
What is it? – A restaurant, and a bit more
The Czakó Kert is in the historical part of Buda, between the Castle District and Gellért Hill, within walking distance from both. Apart from the building, Czakó Kert has very little to do with history, instead it takes you to a small town where the focus is on nature, health and simple pleasures. The dishes are good quality and on the top of that, there is delicate food store here. The most interesting time to come here is Saturday morning as that time an organic food market operates here.
Address: Budapest, Czakó utca 15.
What is it? – A pub
It is an eclectic pub in district 8 with international atmosphere and a touch of the typical Budapest ruin pubs. The choice and the prices of the drinks are decent. The Hintaló has good kitchen far beyond bar foods. The nights at the weekends are quite busy so you had better come here in time or book a table. Occasionally, there are concerts and parties here, freedom is in the air. Good choice for cold of rainy days.
Address: Budapest, Bacsó Béla utca 15.
What is it? – Bar and bistro
The most important element about the Aligátor is the location. It is at Kopaszi Gát, which is a 900 meter long dam that goes parallel to the Danube. This recreation area has become a popular meeting point with Budapest people, with parks, playgrounds, café, pubs, restaurants. One of them is the Aligátor with good choice of drinks and food at decent prices. It is open only the summer season. Come here when the weather is nice, sit on the terrace, slow down and get a view of the river.
Address: Budapest, Kopaszi-gát 10.
What is it? – Wine bar
Borháló is a nationwide wineshop network and a large webshop focusing mainly on Hungarian wines. A few shops operates wine bars as well, as extras. One of them is Körút Borháló, located in a busy boulevard, which means the public transport is excellent. It is a wine bar and a wine shop combined. Theoretically you can buy here spirits, beers and anything else, but the main point is the wines. You can have a quick overview of the surprisingly good Hungarian wines, the wine regions. At the same time, you need not worry about the quality, as Borháló does not sell bad wines. If you can, sit next to the window and enjoy the view of the 100% Budapest.
Address: Budapest, József körút 34.
What is it? – A classical restaurant
The Vak Varjú (Blind Crow) is more than a restaurant but less than a chain. Presently six Vak Varjús operate is Budapest. They practically offers the same: modernized Hungarian dishes, Hungarian wines, tasty soups and desserts. The environment is classy but not posh, the prices are a bit higher than the average but not too expensive. If you want a place for a business dinner, a family occasion or just want to eat well without any risk, the Vak Varjú will not let you down. I have chosen the one in the downtown for you as it was the first in time, and still the best known.
Address: Budapest, Paulay Ede u. 7.
What is it? – Summer party place
Este 11 is open from May until October as a party place in Buda near Feneketlen Lake. On weekdays it is open until 1 am, at weekends until 3 am, with DJs and concerts. The openair area has huge chestnut trees and chilled-out vibe. It serves not only ice-cold cocktails and Hungarian wines (cheaper if you buy them per bottles), but also good quality grilled food. Ideal place for a night-out with friends.
Address: Budapest, Villányi út 14.
What is it? – A cinema, café and music club
If you want to taste the alternative Budapest, Toldi Mozi is a good starting point. Basically, it is an art movie where you can catch the latest Hungarian and international films. During the day the lobby functions as a café, at night – after the last show – it changes into a (techno) music club. Toldi is not the best café in Budapest, it’s rather small, the food is limited, but here you can feel a how closely this city is linked with art, creativity and freedom.
Address: Budapest, Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út 36–38.