Budapest in March

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Elliot Steele
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Budapest in March

#1 Post by Elliot Steele » February 1st, 2017, 10:18 am

Im headed to Budapest in March for a week. Need some solid restaurant recommendations and one or two possible day trip ideas outside of the city. Vienna? Hungarian wine country? Anything else that is a must see or do? Thanks in advance [cheers.gif]

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Jay T.
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Budapest in March

#2 Post by Jay T. » February 1st, 2017, 12:20 pm

My wife and I went to Budapest in early April last year. We love it. We stayed in the city the whole time, so I can't help you there (although we loved Vienna on another trip). But here are my recommendations -- drink lots of wine at all of these (Hungarian wine is awesome):

1. Bock Bisztró (original location in Buda) -- we had our favorite meal here. Very casual, but refined food. Every course was delicious, the atmosphere was great, the service was wonderful, and the wine was fantastic. It was our first night and we were pretty happy to be there, but our meal there was one my favorites in my life.
2. Borkonyha Winekitchen Restaurant is great for somewhat fancy Michelin star type food
3. Go to a ruin bar. The most famous, Szimpla Kert, is worth it in my opinion. Completely strange, but really cool if you like seeing the varieties of humanity at all. Also delicious well priced beer.
4. Try a couple cafes. We liked them better here than Vienna. Our favorite was a smaller place, August, but we visited 5 in 3 days and enjoyed them all.

We also ate at Koleves (liked, not loved) and Mak Bistro (which was good but a bit pricey after our wonderful meals (and a few delicious doner kebabs) elsewhere.
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Budapest in March

#3 Post by Matthew Brown » February 1st, 2017, 12:26 pm

Make time for the farmers markets (think it's on the Pest side IIRC), especially if you are into cooking. My parents went through twice doing Viking river cruises, and the spices they brought back were amazing. I've been putting paprika on almost everything since! Lots of crafts as well; I wouldn't say 'avoid' the store bought items, but if you make the time to explore you can find a lot of authentic pieces for a whole lot less.
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Elliot Steele
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Budapest in March

#4 Post by Elliot Steele » February 1st, 2017, 2:38 pm

Thanks for the suggestions guys! Did either of you get a chance to go to the opera house? I'm thinking of booking tickets soon as it looks like it fills up quickly. Are there any special restaurants near the opera house for a pre-show dinner?

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Budapest in March

#5 Post by Elliot Steele » February 1st, 2017, 2:54 pm

Also, any great wine stores to stop in to?

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Budapest in March

#6 Post by doug johnson » February 1st, 2017, 7:22 pm

A few years ago I had a very good dinner at Costes.

Also, this design / art shop is cool - http://printa.hu

Get some pastries here - http://www.frohlich.hu

Big +1 on Szimpla and spices!

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Budapest in March

#7 Post by IlkkaL » February 2nd, 2017, 9:15 am

Mák Bistro gets my vote. Sure it might be expensive by local standards but I think the value is definitely there and they have some very nice and surprising wine pairings. Wine menus are not usually my thing but if you are not super well-versed on Hungarian wines I would recommend taking it here.
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Budapest in March

#8 Post by Doug Mills » February 6th, 2017, 2:17 pm

Been a few years since I have been to Budapest but always used to go to Cafe Kor. Very good food.

Gundel is also worth checking out once.

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Budapest in March

#9 Post by doug johnson » April 23rd, 2017, 10:02 am

Elliot Steele wrote:Im headed to Budapest in March for a week. Need some solid restaurant recommendations and one or two possible day trip ideas outside of the city. Vienna? Hungarian wine country? Anything else that is a must see or do? Thanks in advance [cheers.gif]
Where'd you go and how was it?

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Budapest in March

#10 Post by richard ritter » April 23rd, 2017, 10:21 am

I have to disagree with Doug.We went to Costes in oct. as part of a crystal river cruise.The food was innovative and beautifully plated but it was cold and flavorless.I wouldn't go again.The people who went to the wine kitchen loved it.

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Budapest in March

#11 Post by Elliot Steele » April 23rd, 2017, 1:33 pm

doug johnson wrote:
Elliot Steele wrote:Im headed to Budapest in March for a week. Need some solid restaurant recommendations and one or two possible day trip ideas outside of the city. Vienna? Hungarian wine country? Anything else that is a must see or do? Thanks in advance [cheers.gif]
Where'd you go and how was it?
Ended up doing Budapest the whole time minus a day trip to Vienna. A great trip overall and very interesting to see that even though this used to be the cultural mecca of the world it has certainly turned from a first world country into a bit of a second world country. It was a little strange going there and expecting it to be like the rest of western Europe. Its not! People on average are quite poor and most everything outside the center of the city felt like a run down and abandoned industrial area. Lots of beggars, scammers and gypsies. Some parts of the city felt unsafe at night but overall we felt comfortable because so many people are walking the streets at all hours of the day and night. The food was really top notch and so affordable it was hard not to eat like a king every night. The amount of duck, goose and their livers that we consumed were jaw dropping. The only knock against the restaurants are that they don't know what a salad is. It was quite tough to find salads on menus and if they were offered they always had a ton of meat on them. At the end of the day their food is all very heavy. The best overall restaurant we went to was Kispiac (the crispy roast duck, roast beef, and salmon and cod terrine were really a head above everywhere else we had gone. Not to mention the owner is the nicest guy and gives great service!) and the best rendition of goose liver was at Cafe Bouchon right near the Opera House. There's also a pizza place there, Pizzica, that was so good I picked up 6 slices to take on the plane ride back so I didn't get stuck eating dog shit or whatever it is they serve that they get away with calling "food".
The architecture there was really a sight to see. The museums are not world class but still quite good and worth visiting. Some of the highlights were having drinks at the New York Cafe, the tour at the Dohany Street synagogue, which is the biggest and most beautiful synagogue I've yet to see anywhere in the world, and the Opera House which was a grand and magnificent building. We saw Verdi's Otello there on a friday night for a whopping $5! Hard to beat that.
Vienna was somewhere I wish we had spent more time because one day there wasn't even close to enough. We blitzed through everything so fast it was tough to get a good feel for the lifestyle there. What I can say about Vienna is the streets and city are so clean you can eat off the sidewalk. Its a very modern and up to date city with a great metro system while still keeping all of its Old World charm at the forefront. One thing that was quite strange was that the majority of stores and cafes we went to didn't take credit or debit cards. You've got to bring a lot of cash to get around there. The food was great, the people were really friendly and I really am looking forward to going back there soon.

Here's a couple of random pics from the trip. Please excuse my gratuitous use of my fish eye lens...I like to see everything

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Interior of the New York Cafe

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Live music at the New York Cafe

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Main food hall

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Inside the food hall

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Inside the food hall. The price of foie gras and meat in general was overwhelmingly cheap. About $12 for a lobe of goose foie!

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Cafe Bouchon's roast goose liver over slow baked apples and fondant potatoes. Yum!

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Salmon and Cod terrine at Kispiac. To die for.

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Crispy roast half duck. Also to die for. Maybe even two times over [wow.gif]

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Roast beef. Again, to die for. We didn't have a bad or even mediocre dish here. Excellent all around

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Pizza from Pizzica. Really great Roman style pizza. Cash only

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Demel Cafe in Vienna. Go there if you're in to pastry.

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View of Pest from the Citadel. Really cool up there but quite a hike both up and back down.

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Parliament building in Budapest

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Szimpla Kert on Sunday morning

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Szimpla Kert

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Interior of the Dohany Street synagogue

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Interior of Szent Istvan's Basilica

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One of the views from the top of the dome at the Basilica

The Airbnb we stayed at was so cheap, really nice, and well situated to everything in the city.
This was by far the best QPR vacation I've been on. 8 days cost $1400 including flights, accommodations, food, souvenirs, wine. The whole nine yards. Hard to beat!

Also for anyone interested I stopped by this place called Elfenbein and picked up real deal goose down comforters and pillows. They use two grades of down. Japanese grade (which is pure goose down), and the highest North American Grade (which is 98% down and 2% feathers. Its the lowest grade they use). The comforter and pillows I bought cost 1/6th of the price it does here and they custom make it to the fill density you want and the measurements you request. Plus they gave me a 10% discount and ship for free to the states in two days. If you email Tamás over there he will take care of you. Probably the best thing I bought on the trip minus the Tokaj.

Speaking of Tokaj that was the only thing that impressed me. Their dry wines were less than palatable save for a few dry furmint bottlings. The reds were lacking any notable ripeness and were %110 terroir driven. They were dirty and funky for sure. As I lack any knowledge of that region and took the advice of waiters when ordering I'm sure I missed out on some good bottles. Oh well...

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Budapest in March

#12 Post by George Hejna » April 23rd, 2017, 2:09 pm

Nice report and I like the fish-eye photos. If you had it to do over how much time would you spend in Vienna vs Budapest?

George

Elliot Steele
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Budapest in March

#13 Post by Elliot Steele » April 23rd, 2017, 2:47 pm

I honestly would make two separate trips out of it unless you were going away for 2 weeks. Budapest is great for 5 days but after that gets a bit stale. Of course I'm the guy who's up and out the door by 7am and back after midnight every day so my schedule is packed. Not relaxing at all.
I would rather make a separate trip out of Austria because of Vienna, Salzburg, and the wine country. I know Hungary has plenty of wine country, but the trains out there are slow and very old and too many weirdos get on them plus getting around without a car in the country side there ain't easy I'd imagine. We had three separate instances on the trains of people trying to hustle us and they aren't afraid to get in your face and intimidate you. Not a fan of that...
If I were to do my trip over again I'd split it down the middle evenly. 4 days and 4 days.

Also, I had a lengthy conversation with the guy who nabbed my duck sausage at Customs (Hungarians make the best damned sausage!). If you're thinking of bringing any food products back make sure that if it is a meat product you A) Claim it. They will give you a minimum of a $300 fine if you don't and they catch you and B) Make sure that it is not pork or beef. Under no circumstances will they allow pork or beef products (even canned) back in the States. As for poultry it would have to be a shelf stable product that is hermetically sealed unless it has been cooked (my duck sausage was cured but not hot-smoked otherwise I may have been able to bring it through). Basically only canned poultry or fish products are allowed. I passed on the canned foie there because I had so much of the fresh stuff I was sick of it by the time I left.

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Budapest in March

#14 Post by Barry L i p t o n » April 23rd, 2017, 5:16 pm

Thanks! Nice pics and comments.

Did you try or pick up any caviar?

When I was there a dozen years ago, I bought some at a tourist kiosk and it was great! Would have bought more but I didn't eat it until my next stop.

Any restaurant recommendations for fish?

My favorite experience last trip was at the fabulous Art Deco Cafe Gerbeaud. Was having a fois gras on toast sandwich with a glass of Royal Tokai sitting outside right next to the door on a perfect summer day. Then a lingerie fashion show breaks out, with the runway being the path in and out of the store. Talk about serendipity!

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Budapest in March

#15 Post by Elliot Steele » April 23rd, 2017, 5:36 pm

I didn't get a chance to try or pick up caviar, although it was available pretty much everywhere.

As far as fish goes I only had it in soup and in a terrine. It wasn't widely available on restaurant menus. The one in the soup was particularly good. Very firm white flesh and quite meaty tasting. Not a mild fish at all. I'm guessing that was a native species as I've never had it anywhere else.

Sounds like your experience there was quite a pleasant one if I do say so myself!

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Budapest in March

#16 Post by brigcampbell » May 24th, 2018, 10:28 am

Bump. Heading there this September


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TR Barry
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Budapest in March

#17 Post by TR Barry » May 25th, 2018, 9:38 am

When I was in Budapest last October we did not have much free time unfortunately due to it being a work trip but I can echo much of what has already been reported.

For lodging I spent my first night at the Boscolo which was a beautiful property. The New York Cafe, mentioned previously, is inside the hotel and definitely worth a visit to see the ambiance and architecture. For the remainder of the trip we were at the Kempinski Corvinus which was a lovely property as well. Much newer overall but had a wonderful bar and Nobu is one of the restaurants on property. Both properties were located in areas that allowed great access to exploring the city.

The one day I had to explore during daylight hours was spent wandering the city. The Parliament, Synagogue, Market and cathedrals were all worth the walk. If you can take a morning or afternoon to relax I would suggest going to one of the thermal baths. Both the Szechenyi and Gellert baths were lovely and a great way to relax. Finally, I agree that visiting the ruin bars is a must. Szimpla quickly became our late night meeting point once our meetings and dining obligations wrapped up. Its funky, filled with all walks of life and something I look forward to visiting again.

Have a great trip Brig!
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Budapest in March

#18 Post by pbudny » May 28th, 2018, 8:47 am

If you'd like to do some wine tasting I recommend the Tasting Table: https://tastehungary.com. The parent company, Taste Hungary also organizes all kinds of tours including wine tours all around Hungary. For Tokaj fans the Tasting Table is reputed to have one of the best collection of Tokaj wines. They also carry the Wine Check if you happen to fall in love with Hungarian wine and want to fly back with 12. We loved the Bull's Blood reds, the mineral whites, including great sparkling from the volcanic soils of the Szomlo region, and some great full-bodied Cab Francs from the Villany region.

By far our best meal was at Onyx restaurant. Only a few months ago they've been awarded a second Michelin star, so I'm not sure how much that has affected their pricing, but we thought it was excellent value to comparable restaurants in Western Europe.
Paul Budny, lazenne.com

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Budapest in March

#19 Post by Marshall Gelb » May 31st, 2018, 4:23 pm

We are looking to go to Budapest in the fall of 2019. It is actually a Tauck Tour from Budapest to Bucharest but we will spend considerable time in the cities at both ends of the trip. I have just begun to research this and the restaurants in this thread look fantastic.

Cheers!
Marshall [cheers.gif]
A quién tiene buen vino no le faltan amigos.

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Budapest in March

#20 Post by M.Kaplan » July 21st, 2018, 3:04 pm

Bump.
---Mark

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Budapest in March

#21 Post by Jason R. » July 22nd, 2018, 3:33 am

Loved Csalogany 26 when there 3 years ago. Delicious tasting menu, thoughtfully selected Hungarian wines for pairing, and friendly, earnest service. In contrast, we found Borkonhya pretentious.

Related note, we used Context (walking tours led by academics) and loved the ability to see some off-the-beaten path and talk with a knowledgeable local.
R o b e r t s o n

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Re: Budapest in March

#22 Post by brigcampbell » October 21st, 2018, 7:15 am

Wow, count me as a fan of Buda and Pest. Did you know they're actually two cities?

Good lord, it's cheap to eat and drink here. That's a nice change. Beer, a pint is less than $2. Super safe to roll around late at night, well, at least until midnight when the metro stops running.

We flew into the Budapest airport and immediately purchased a 72 transportation pass that's good for everything except the 100 bus, for whatever reason, which includes trams, trolleys and subways. The transportation system in Budapest is awesome. Super easy. We jumped onto the bus that heads to one of the main subway stations and then rode for a couple of stops and popped up at our hotel. Easy. The things to see and do cover a wide area so the having the pass is great, never a worry. BTW - we still waked about 20K steps a day but it's nice to get home quickly, late at night, or when heading out to dinner. It's very inexpensive.

We stayed next to the parliament building, great area with a few real nice restaurants and a tram stop in front of the hotel and metro abut 200 yards.

#link to place over looking the parliament building
https://www.google.com/travel/hotels/pl ... 0xMS0xNlIA


The food scene is fairly cosmopolitan, there is a mix of high end, trendy, traditional, and street food. We tried it all. Budapest is a fairly new city as we flattened the place in WWII. Hungry was an alli of Germany in WWII until they realized they were losing then wanted out and Germany took over. There's a "complicated" relationship with history and the actions of Hungarians. The revisionist versions is the "Nazis" took over and the Hungarians fought to throw them out. Yeah... Well until late in 1944 they were busy exterminating the Jews. They don't talk about that much but there are reminders around the city to make sure nobody forgets. Unlike say Munich where you'd have no idea except for the sign off the autobahn for Dacau. This creates an interesting dichotomy. The Hungarnian people are warm, friendly, and as nice as can be. We've never been treated better by complete strangers. Also, IMHO, the best area of Budapest was the center for all the misdeeds, the Jewish district which is anchored by the Synagogue. The area was a ghetto and left in disrepair until recently but still lots of old empty buildings reminding you that lots of Jews used to live here. Maybe 20 years ago pubs started opening up in the area because the rent is cheap. The area is called the "ruin pubs" and it's awesome. Now, they're might be 500 pubs and restaurants with a quarter mile radius. High end wine bars, trendy restaurants, beer gardens, and the classic ruin pubs which look like condemned buildings. Szimpla Kert being the most famous of them all. It's WILD.
Szimpla Kert
Budapest, Kazinczy u. 14, 1075 Hungary
+36 20 261 8669
https://maps.google.com/?cid=2771757573889662372

So now the area that was a blemish in there history is now the cool trendy hipster place to hang out. It's "complicated"
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Re: Budapest in March

#23 Post by M.Kaplan » October 21st, 2018, 5:19 pm

We were there for the first time in early September. Food is good, wine is good, booze (Pálinka!) is good. Hungarian Art Nouveau architecture is fantastic. The Gresham Palace is the most beautiful hotel I’ve stayed in. Loved it.
---Mark

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Re: Budapest in March

#24 Post by C Wagner » October 22nd, 2018, 1:07 pm

I saw it mentioned above, but I would also recommend Cafe Bouchon.
Chris

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