It is safe to say that there are restaurants in Budapest to cater to most tastes and budgets. As in many places, restaurants also come and go relatively often and this has in the past made me a little wary of recommending too many to guests who stay in our apartments. Tripadvisor does such a good job of keeping reviews and restaurants current that it seems a much better bet if you were to find yourself in need of a recommendation for a place to eat. An alternative would be Caboodle.hu, which also has a good restaurant list.
However, as we found ourselves staying in our apartment during the recent Table Free Restaurant Days week, which offered good value menus at a number of local restaurants, it seems churlish not to follow up what was a very good selection of excellent meals and great service with a couple of recommendations. Several of the restaurants had obviously expected that the week would only be of interest locally and had provided Hungarian menus only. In each of these, the waiter was only too happy, even during a busy service, to make the effort to explain the menus to us.
So – we started at Pesti Diszno, Nagymező utca. I confess, I chose this one because we had already eaten there and it didn’t let us down. Food with lots of taste and great value. This place was packed, even on a cold February night.
Another packed venue was our next choice, Spinoza. On Dob utca, this buzzing cafe often has live music. The pianist treated us to many a favourite musical tune (including a Mary Poppins medley), chatted with the other diners and generally provided extra atmosphere. I liked the little figure of an old lady on a bench on the top of his piano. Generally this place has a lot of charm – and good food.
The nU Bor és Bisztronomia was a very different experience. The decor was surprisingly subdued given the fancy photos on the website and the place was rather less full of diners. It was the sort of restaurant that leaves you looking for a chippy to fill the cracks afterwards, but having said that, the excellent food was very well-priced. Of all the places we ate, this was the one that provided the best culinary experience, by far. It all felt very Mastercheffy – a lot of effort had clearly been made with the taste and the presentation and the desserts in particular were outstanding.
Back to reality, our last venture took us to Chagall. Despite this cafe/restaurant’s location on Hajos utca, mere steps from our apartment, we had never previously visited it. In fact, this time we walked past it and had to double back. Clearly a place which attracted repeat customers, we dined next to an upmarket group of international negotiators (“when met with the president last week…” ) and an extended French family. Both appeared to be very familiar with the restaurant, with good reason. The food and atmosphere were good and the prices very reasonable.
I’m told that we should have taken lots of pictures of all these dishes and restaurants, but I’m afraid that isn’t my style. You’ll just have to go and try them, and the many other great eating places in Budapest, yourself.