As it turns out, Budapest is blooming with specialty coffee places, and for me, who likes to test the success of the trip by the excellent cappuccinos consumed, this is a good sign. To find coffee in Budapest is easy. To find a great coffee – just as easy. As you search for places to go, you’ll find dozens of small specialty places, and for a city like Budapest (which not even close to Scandinavian standards on the over-priced self-roasted coffee they serve), this is a tremendous success. One more thing you have to keep in mind – drinking good espresso, cappuccino, or any other coffee won't make you choose whether to have a cup of coffee or a croissant. The coffee is, as is the price, fair and honest. So, to go for the best cappuccino and espresso or V60 or filter coffee – here are my favorites.
The yin and yang on the wall reflect the interaction between the beans. Although it is not my favorite place in terms of the interior (too oriental for my taste), it is sheer pleasure to sit outside on the quite and small Veres Pálné street, sipping self-made cappuccino while people-watching. Their coffee is the thing to come back for.
Hidden in Károly Boulevard (more like a yard), this is a beautiful, minimalistic Scandinavian design-inspired cafe and shop. They don't serve a lot, but one thing they do serve is excellent coffee – from the classics, like espresso and beautiful cappuccino, to AeroPress, Cold brew, Nitro, Syphon, and V60 coffees. A delight for all senses, no matter where you sit – inside or outside soaking up scenery and the watching people slowly passing by. The beautiful, small Szimply cafe is next to it and totally worth visiting if you are looking for a simple, yet attractive (in the right way) food.
If you ask someone where to go for hot coffee, there is one coffee place you will hear about most often - that is the most praised Espresso Embassy. Right in the center of town, just a few steps from the Four Seasons Hotel, it looks so tiny from the outside but can hold quite a lot inside. People like to grab their coffee here and sit outside, chatting for quite a while. The macchiato was terrific as was the espresso. The line is worth standing in and there is roasted coffee to take home.
A bit off the touris path, this is a great place to grab good coffee and some food. Breakfast (I did not try it though) looks hearty and tasty, and the milk comes from good old glass bottles that are delivered every day. Although the street outside is busy, it is a beautiful experience to sit there and enjoying your vacation coffee while the rest of the Budapest is running about their daily routines.
Promoted more as a bakery, this place still knows its way around coffee, and people tend to come here not just to grab a tempting pain au noix or croissant or a loaf of bread, but also just for the coffee as it is good.
If the coffee culture in Budapest is more than generous, the same cannot be said about an exquisite pastry culture, but there are three bakeries that will make you smile, your taste buds jump, your day much better, and your weight a few grams of butter heavier. There are the three that locals love, and I completely understand why.
The day before leaving Hungary, we went for a glass of wine at the Kreinbacher Estate offices in Budapest and as we were talking about foods we have tried and liked and our plans for our last day, Gabor asked us if we'd been to a fantastic bakery just 5 minutes away from their offices. “No,” was my answer, but “Yes, I will” was my plan. He told me to be there on Saturday morning at 9:15 to be the first one there when they open the doors 9:30. I walked 40 minutes from our hotel and waited for something good. The street was filled with the aromas of sugar, butter, and flour as the owners finished baking the last pastries and people began queuing behind me. I went in first, amazed by the beautiful work of Timi and Joaquin. The place is super small (no seating), the tastes are grand, the textures luxurious, and the feeling everything you ever dreamed of. If you can, take a moment and sit outside and enjoy the Saturday buzz and a slow coffee with a croissant.
Famous for its coffee, it is also renowned for its baked goods – buttery croissants, caramel-ly pain au noix, freshly bakes sourdough bread. and other tempting pastries. Simple, yet made with precision and love. Have a cappuccino and a pain aux noix and enjoy the buzz that locals like to create there as they come for coffee, fresh pastries, and some soup for lunch.
If you ask locals where to go for a good croissant and bread, this will be one of the most popular answers – Artizan Bakery. Located just in the center, it is beautiful inside and outside, offering freshly baked goods such as croissants, cardamom buns (with a delightful twist), bread and things to eat there at the cafe. Another “must visit” in Budapest, the same as the first two.
The authentic taste of the country and its food, as everywhere, lies in these places; in this case very much Hungarian bistros and brasseries. There are plenty of them in Budapest – hundreds, maybe even thousands I believe – but not all of them are worth your time, money, or body effort to digest it all. Some, however, are worth every little and big step you take.
Words to remember:
Vendéglő – pub
étterem – brasserrie
Bisztró – bistro
kávéház – coffee place
cukrászda - confectionery
A fabulous little bistro at the Hold Utca market. Szabina Szulló and Tamás Széll are the team that generates all the ideas and performances here:Tamás Szell is one of the most praised chefs in Hungary, especially after he won the Bocuse d'Or Europe gold in 2016. The buzz there is during the day when the market is open, but the intimate beauty blossoms in the evening when the market is closed and you and other guests are the only ones in the beautiful 1891 building eating the best-of-the-best local, seasonal, and excellently prepared food. The only option is a tasting menu with two or three dishes and for foie gras fans, the foie gras terrine is the ultimate must-food to have. It is the most delicate and elegant foie gras I’ve ever had. The rest is up to you. All of it is unbelievably authentic, modern, and outstanding.
One might say that this not a bistro but more a cafe/restaurant. I would say all three of them. A menu representing bistro food interacts with an interior that bursts with beautiful French mosaic floors, marble tables, and burgundy seats that suit a brasserie or cafe. A lovely breakfast, lunch, and dinner place is a true expression of all the tremendous history Hungary is all about. The shelves are filled with books, wine, and food that,encourage you to buy the products as you enter. The beautiful bar pulls you in to have a cocktail and the tables to sit down for a meal, which is the right thing to do. Beautiful, all homemade, classy, chic, and inspiring.
One says that a visit to Bock is a must, some smile when you talk about it. We took the risk and followed the advice of a "must" statement, and on a day with the right chef (luckily ours), Bock is all about joy. Very local, it’s a very special Bistro belonging to the famous wine family: this place reveals the very traditional taste of Hungary. A bit heavy, but seasonal and fulfilling. The foie gras is exceptional here (with surprises) with duck or goose in all possible versions. Freshly baked bread is served with pork fat, and wine is no problem, as the selection is large including Bock wines and other houses.
They opened their doors in 1986 and since then, nothing has changed – local homemade wine, bread, sausages and meat, local cheeses, and excellent, friendly service. Here it is all about respecting ancestors, family recipes, local produce, and heavy eating. It is not easy to walk out that door, but it sure is very, very satisfying and tasty. Their cold cuts and cured meats are unique; the bread crispy, soft and moist; meat dishes delicious and tempting; and desserts should most probably be avoided as there's no room for that. But if you need an extra plate for your soul, take the apple cake. A beautiful family owned place 20 minutes outside Budapest and so special to visit. It was the first place we visited right after landing, and there could not have been a better start to this beautiful journey in Hungary - with everything local and so much love.
Text & photo by Signe Meirāne