Climbing the hills (top tip: avoid the furnicular, the hour long queue isn’t worth it), wandering through twisting lanes and floating in the thermal spas will definitely make you hungry in Hungary. (sorrynotsorry). In a similar vein to Berlin and Prague, I just assumed tables would be laden with dumpling studded hearty goulashes laced with paprika – perfect for winters of ice skating from one side of the Danube to the other – tankards of beer and stuffed cabbage leaves that comfort your heart somehow.
So over our 3 day girl’s weekend in Budapest with very little planning on my part, and a fair amount more on Sam’s part (that went slightly awry on Sunday with may of the restaurants sadly closing too early) we enjoyed a real variety of ice cream places that we stumbled upon – a mixure of quirky buildings, delicious ingredients and fascinating stories.
We had brekkie in our hotel each morning, twice swanning down to the buffet spread served in their quirky restaurant (more on that later) and once taking advance of the complimentary room service. Yes we double coffeed unashamedly each day – you can’t take antipodeans anywhere!
Much like the Viennese cake houses, Hungary has a rich history of writers and cafes which sparked our curiosity. Penniless writers would meet in the warm and inviting cafes, where they would put pen to paper, and often ‘paid’ for their meals with their thoughts. Sam had the gloriously ostentatious BookCafe on her hitlist where we stopped in for a quick slice of cake and many photographs. You walk into a perfectly High Street Book Shop, drift past the shelves full of books (resisting the urge to pick one up) and float up the escalator to this glory. Close to the Opera House – Andrássy út 39.
Hungarian coffee drinkers prefer sweet Kave to the ‘new wave’ style of Lattes and cappuccinos, but they are slowly changing their taste buds. So, slaves to the cause we also indulged in our adoration of the coffee bean at One Cup Espresso, snagging iced Lattes on our way to the most beautiful public library we’ve ever had the privilege of finding. As a refuel after a morning in the spa, it was quick, no fuss and glorious. Close to the Szabo Ervin Library – Baross ut 1.
One of the items on my wishlist was spending a few hours (sorry again Sam) with Andrea of Taste Hungary (as their media guests) as she took us on a mini-tour of some of the best places Budapest has. Whilst sadly I can’t share all of the fab places we visited on the Culinary Tour here, we left the tour absolutely stuffed. When they email telling you to come hungry, they really aren’t kidding.
We knew we were in good hands immediately as conversation turned to up and coming coffees, and Andrea spoke about Nude and Caravan (obviously preaching to the converted) and we began by touring one of the historic cafes, trying the beautifully delicate Eszterházy cake, an Austrian family recipe layer cake, both gluten free and beautifully delicate.
We popped into the Sunday Szimpla Ruin Bar Farmers Market for a genuine feast of cheese, salamis, fresh strawberries and chilli candied pecans (not to mention nibbles along the way); and then stopped at a nearby streetfood market to share a traditional Lángos, a ridiculously moreish fried bread dough, often served with sour cream, garlic and cheese. Absolute heaven. They were originally made as snacks by busy bakers ripping off a handful of dough and knocking up a treat, but have been adopted as a perfect hangover cure. Unfortunately with the rise of modern bakeries, they aren’t seen as much any more.
Continuing our journey, Andrea shared a potted history of the local area peppered with her own memories growing up (hands down my favourite part of the tour) before taking us for a traditional lunch of meat, potato chips, lightly pickled vegetables (and watermelon!) and a massive glass of sparkling water.
Feeling stuffed by this point already, she led us through streets lined with grandiose buildings before seating us in a (former Duke’s) cellar and taking us through a tasting of Hungary’s finest varietals, including the famous Tokaji from the North West of Hungary.
As we made our way to the finishing point, Andrea’s helpfulness in finding a Chemist open on a Sunday (blisters) only cemented just how lovely she was to us, both of our dietary requirements were looked after beautifully and her recommendations as we made our way through the city helped the rest of our city break. Seriously, if you’re going I would highly recommend putting Taste Hungary on your ‘to do’ list. Right at the top.
Overlooking the hill behind Fisherman’s Bastion we discovered a tiny, open-air bar complete with ice cream stand. Having walked for a good 4 hours by this point we seized on the opportunity to rest our feet, try some Hungarian ice cream (sour cherry for the win!) and sip a cooling sparkling apple mocktail as the sun hung in the sky. Close to Fisherman’s Bastion – er, not sure what it was called. Just wander.
Levendula Kezmuves Fagylaltozo, known as the Lavender Ice Cream franchise was recommended to us as one of the best in Budapest, and usually having queues down the street waiting for their quirky flavours to hit the waffle cones, we knew we were onto a winner. Various locations.
Again, having done a proper bit of research, Sam had fallen for the charms of Gelato Rosa before we had even landed, and I’m so glad she had. Rolling up for a dessert later in the evening, the beautifully sculpted concoction in my hand of Strawberry sorbet, dark chocolate ice cream and creme brulee was a highlight of the trip – running out of camera battery was less so. Various Locations.
The skies were clear for our whole visit and the temperatures hovered around 30°C which was the perfect excuse for trying several glasses of the local wine. As we pottered/instagrammed/snapchatted our way around Fisherman’s Bastion, we decided that taking in the glorious views from the ‘Panorama Cafe’ was too irresistible. Ground Level of the Fisherman’s Bastion.
We nipped into the Art Deco glory that is the Four Seasons Hotel, and sipped refreshing cocktails/mocktails tucked away in the wings of the opulent foyer. Pest Bank of the Chain Bridge – Gresham Palace,
I can’t decide which of our dinners were my absolute favourite. We ate one in the Szimpla Ruin Bar, a kaleidoscope of amazing rooms, partying friends and home to a bevy of food stalls. I went for a bacon sandwich, grilled over a flame and ridiculously good, whilst Sam was far better behaved. Szimpla Kert –
Our last dinner we spent watching the sunset over Budapest, drinking fruity mocktails and laughing at our Faulty Towers-esque Waiter in the top floor restaurant at the Aria Hotel. Despite his surliness, our meal was lovely and to see the city light up almost at our feet was magical. Close to the Basilica – Hercegprímás 5, 1051.
Verdict: Take me back right now!
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