Budapest's Best Cafeterias & Greasy Spoon Restaurants

  • 30 Apr 2015 9:45 AM
Budapest's Best Cafeterias & Greasy Spoon Restaurants
By<a href="" target="blank"> We Love Budapest </a>: Budapest's locals each have their favourite spots to enjoy home-style cooking. The attraction of these simple eateries isn't Michelin stars and fancy interiors, but their familiar atmosphere and hearty offering. Still many don't struggle for popularity: some have been cooking the same bean stew and feeding lunch to 50-100 customers every day for 25 years now. Warning: this is not a paleo/gluten-free compilation. This roundup is only for people who enjoy cuisine that isn't "reinvented," "rethought" and "artisan." It's perfect for those who want a traditional-style meal at a good price.

Kürtös Ételbár - the queen of cafeteria

For special occasions, pleasant dinners and unbeatable flavours, many opt for Rosenstein Vendéglő, where Tibi bácsi has a kind word for every table and where everything good is "kosher". Well, Kürtös Ételbár (Kürtös Foodbar) doesn't have a kitchen: its freshly made dishes and one-course meals are all cooked under the lids at "Rózi" (as Rosenstein is affectionately known), delivering the same expertise and exceptional flavours.

Although the cholent (1000 HUF) arrives without duck's leg, it is still filling and still makes gourmets wonder what this royal feast is doing in a simple bowl. The crumbs on the breaded rib steak (1000 HUF incl. side dish) is as crunchy as it should be, while the stew and noodles (900 HUF) could have been cooked by your mum. The available desserts always include pancakes (140 HUF/piece) and you can add raspberry syrup. There is little room inside, so you'd better ask for a take-away. All in all, those who work near Keleti Railway Station should consider themselves really lucky.

Address: Budapest VIII, Mosonyi Street 3.
Opening hours: Monday - Friday 10am - 5pm

Kolobok - the fusion kitchen

Transcarpathia is a region inhabited by many nationalities, and, accordingly, it offers a special cuisine that blends various worlds of flavours. The heart and soul of this tiny eatery in Rózsa Street is the owner-chef Karolina, who was born to be a cook. She has only one co-worker: they knead, mix and cook the delicious, home-style and fresh meals together all day long.

The menu changes daily, apart from a few permanent dishes, such as the chiburekki (deep-fried turnover filled with minced meat and onions - 750 HUF), the borscht soup (790 HUF), pelmeni (dumplings stuffed with minced meat, fish or mushroom - 990 HUF), varenyki (stuffed dumplings - 990 HUF). We tried them all, and believe us they are perfect! Kolobok often serves khachapuri (traditional Georgian dish of cheese-filled bread), strapačky (dumplings) and mushroom dishes. Instead of cola, you can drink kvass (a fermented drink). The authentic hospitality and the flavours of Kolobok attract more and more people, many of whom soon become regulars.

Address: Budapest VI, Rózsa Street 90.
Opening hours: 8am - 6pm

Csabi Íz - the home-style

At the place run by Csaba Suri and his wife, almost everything is prepared right in front of the guests with quality ingredients straight from local farms. The specialities of the house are the potato salad and the Csabi Íz burger (1300 HUF in a menu).

The menu is usually compiled the night before by the namesake, who cooks the majority of the dishes alone - the cakes come from a pastry-maker. The French toast and the omelette sandwich are not really breakfast-specific here, since they are available all-day-long or while stocks last. We recommend the place to fans of traditional and home-style flavours, as well as those who fancy odd combinations like the sweet and salty turkey breast stuffed with dried fruit, served with honey and seed salad.

Address: Budapest XI, Bartók Béla Road 37.
Opening hours: Monday - Thursday 7am - 5pm, Friday 7am - 4pm, Saturday 8am - 2pm

Autós Büfé Étkezde - the local favourite

Those just passing through and certainly those living nearby have likely checked out Autós with its filling portions and home-like flavours. Unbelievable as it may seem, those working nearby often queue even outside the small shack for the lung and tongue stew (680 HUF), pottage and meat balls (600 HUF), or the emblematic bean soup with hock (600 HUF).

You can ask for a small portion, but be warned that it is still larger than a standard portion elsewhere. For 1000-1500 HUF, you can even get a 3-course lunch. Choosing from the regular menu and the daily specials is almost impossible, but f you go for anything with gravy, the pickles (300 HUF/portion) and THE white bread (20 HUF) are must-haves.

Address: Budapest X, Keresztúri Road 10/b
Opening hours: Monday - Friday 7am - 4pm

Kádár Étkezde - the elegant

Our compilation must, of course, include the legend of Klauzál Square, since the atmosphere and the dishes of this lunch-only eatery have attracted a solid circle of returning customers over the decades. The place offers a permanent selection of dishes as well as daily specials.

From the soups, we choose the broth (perfect for hangovers as well) with semolina dumplings (650 HUF). This course was followed by hock plate for 2 (2400 HUF), which would be perfect for two if we were discussing the diet of the Japanese sumo team, but the portion would be enough for 3 or 4 in case of mere mortals like us. Afterwards, we tried the constantly available beef in sour cherry sauce, in which the beef is soft, the suace is balanced, making an excellent plate. In the end - as a hat tip to the Farsang Carnival - we ordered the Carnival doughnut with apricot jam. Kádár is definitely a classic: no wonder it has been the haunt of Budapest's artists, sportspersons and businesspersons.

Address: Budapest VII, Klauzál Square 9.
Opening hours: Tuesday - Saturday 11.30am - 3.30pm (closed on Sunday and Monday)

Kőhíd Büfé és Falatozó - the strong one

In the 18th District section of Gyömrői Road, right by the stone passover, a small cottage awaits hungry drivers and housewives who don't want to put up with cooking bean goulash or gizzard stew (1300 HUF) for just 2-3 portions. The place has been popular for decades, and it even survived a car running into the building.

This goulash and stew heaven is strictly out-of-bounds for fitness gurus, bio-revolutionaries, and the downtown wannabe gourmets of sensitive disposition. The buffet is generous with spices, fat as well as portions. Best yet it has really moderate prices (the bean goulash is close to litre and only costs 850 HUF). There is pancakes and strudel too, and you can eat your meal by the window or by the patio out the back.

Address: Budapest XVIII, Gyömrői Road 216.
Opening hours: Monday - Sunday 8am - 5pm

Kiskukta Belvárosi Ételbár - the conscious

After years of operation, the cafeteria called Kiskukta in Mérleg Street switched owners and reopened with a slightly different profile. It has stuck with the Hungarian/home-like direction, but cut down on the refined carbohydrates and changed the overly fatty dishes.

They feed hungry local office workers with the help of a chef who had worked at one of the top restaurants of Lake Balaton. Dotted instead of chequered tablecloths, cream soup instead of goulash. Even with the healthier cooking, the prices have remained reasonable and the flavours are delicious enough to charm you back several times a week. We would have the goat's cheese pea cream soup (490 HUF) anytime, the sesame seed and honey chicken strips with salad (1190 HUF) were also great, and we nodded in satisfaction after the lemon cake (490 HUF).

Address: Budapest V, Mérleg Street 10.
Opening hours: Monday - Friday 7.30am - 4pm

Erdélyi-Magyar Étkezde - the average

Here choose from three daily menus (750 - 950 HUF) or the various regular main courses. There's also an extra menu option of pork roast, duck etc on Thursdays. When we popped in, all that was left was pea soup, rice meat, "borsos tokány" stew and pancakes in the eatery that had been plundered around noon.

Thanks to its budget-friendly pricing, the eatery is quite popular locally and delivers the quality expected of its category. As opposed to its name, it does, however, seem to lack Transylvanian dishes.

Address: Budapest VII, Dohány Street 36.
Opening hours: Monday - Friday 11am - 4pm


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