Best of Budapest

Two bloggers who love Budapest telling you why, with the support of Helpers, Hungary’s leading business and immigration services provider.

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From April 2015, English translations courtesy of:





Rigó Jancsi: a retro confectionery with amazing pogácsa

2015.05.22. 11:45 | Gergő Helpers

A few years back I went to the Hotel Nemzeti for a rigójancsi (a chocolate-based sponge cake and cream dessert) tasting. The reason we went there was because, according to legend, that is where the dessert was invented. The hotel was where the famous Gypsy violinist János Rigó asked the hotel’s confectioner to invent a cake for his love Clara Ward. The lady was at the time the consort of the Belgian Chimay prince, so it wasn’t exactly the perfect scenario. In the end, the lady ran away with the violinist, with their relationship ending years later after they had spent a significant amount of money. Clara never found her place in life, working as a photo model for some time after being disinherited. What has remained into the present is the dessert, which the confectioner named rigójancsi after the musician.

Why did I tell this story? Because for this tasting event the Rigó Jancsi confectionary was also invited to participate. All they would have had to do is send their own version of the sweet, but they decided against it, feeling out of place in such a ritzy environment teeming with journalists and Web 2.0 types.

So I paid a visit to their confectionery, and quickly realized why.




 The Rigó Jancsi confectionery is truly a blast from the past, with a likable retro feel that operates according to the old rules, becoming a legend in its neighborhood, a status that it is likely to retain for a long time to come. Elderly servers await customers and they never have a dull moment, for there is almost always a line, despite this place not being a regular fixture on Instagram or Facebook. In my opinion, no one inside would even know what to do with it if it was.

Which is not a problem, for the place is absolutely likeable with its bologna rolls waiting in the refrigerator. That, my friends, is truly something worth devouring. Take a look:


The regulars say they come here due to the many good things on offer, but they insist that the best thing you can get there is the potato pogácsa (a pogácsa is a Hungarian pastry snack that can be prepared in various ways). Franciska  assured me that it was, and I believed her. We asked for a portion at 2,400 forints per kilo, and her claims were quickly verified.

It’s a greasy, thick and decadent pogácsa, the type you eat at a house party to wipe the beer from the side of your mouth only to discover that the background character in a movie has become the star of the show.


You can devour way too many of them way too quickly.

I ate a sour cherry rétes (strudel) as well, which was just as expected. It wasn’t the best I’ve ever tried, but it was huge, filled with good ingredients and with good pastry. They also had peach pastries and orange cookies, kalács (milk bread), and other assorted Hungarian pastries such as bukta and briós.  

Seemingly the newest addition to the location is the opening hours placard, which shows 7:00-19:00 for Monday to Friday, with something written below Sunday that every local will understand:

Ü.V.: Bukovicsné.  (Store director: Mrs. Bukovics)

A single name, written as it is in the old style. A great way to travel through time, it also reveals just how special this small community is in Hegyvidék. It is, in fact, just wonderful.

Rigó Jancsi
Address: 1126 Budapest, District XII, Böszörményi út 17/a
Opening Hours: 
Monday - Friday 7 am – 7 pm
Saturday - Sunday 9 am – 7 pm



Translation provided by Helpers Business and Immigration Services. Find us at

You may find the original article here.

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The best Italian restaurants in Budapest - Top 10

2015.05.20. 10:42 | Gergő Helpers

Not so long ago and with the help of our readers, we began to compile a list of the Italian places in Budapest worth trying, and were ourselves quite surprised to discover the number of great places this city has - we’ve been unable to sample almost half of those our readers suggested in addition to the ones we already had in mind.

We recently devoured kilos worth of pasta, sauce, minced meat and oysters to find the best Italian in Budapest and compile this list. These are the finest examples that we found, which are comparable not only to family-run trattorias, but would also find themselves on any serious list, with those at the top bringing out the most that can possibly be done with pasta.

This is how we graded things: the more points for flavor the better, and the more points for price, the better the value – so it’s a case of the more points the better on both scales.


Here is the Top 10:

10: Trattoria Toscana



One of the city’s must-try locations, they were already serving edible meals back when the best experience you could hope for in most Budapest restaurants was to catch a knife between the ribs on the way in. The world has changed a lot since those days, and although Toscana’s quality is reliable, it does not enjoy the advantage it did in years gone by, barely cracking the Top 10. The pasta prices are around 3000 forints, and we asked for a plate of veal-stuffed green ravioli in a gorgonzola sauce. The portion size was barely enough to be content with, although the food is excellent. The pasta is good, the veal is not overwhelming but with character, delicately supplementing the light but full-bodied gorgonzola sauce. Knowing the ingredients, the understated nature of this dish is an achievement in itself. The parmesan grated onto the dish was fresh, but the herbs appeared to have been dried, or in any case were not fresh. Service was good, and a 12% gratuity was added to the bill, but they notify you of this in case you wish to leave an extra tip. The food was pleasant and exciting, although the price was perhaps a bit high all things considered.

Taste: 7/10

Price: 4/10


9: Alessio




A relaxed restaurant in Buda on Pasaréti Road, which is best visited in the spring when the sun’s rays come through its glass ceiling. Even without air conditioning, it does not feel like a sauna. The atmosphere is pleasant, the service attentive and you can tell that many of the diners at the other tables are regulars who almost always choose Alessio, which is understandable. They serve a variety of pastas, and, having heard good things, we decided to go with a seafood option, which on a Monday is quite daring since Budapest receives most of its fresh seafood on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The white wine pappardelle with roasted calamari and shrimp was promising, but it turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. The ingredients were great and the calamari appeared quite fresh (the shrimp could have been better), the pasta was excellent and well cooked, but it all seemed to drown in the overly watery sauce, so the dish did not live up to our expectations. The food was not as spicy as the menu had indicated, nor did I receive from the dish quite what I had hoped for. Nonetheless, it was only exceedingly high expectations that Alessio did not live up to, and it is still one of the best Italian places in Budapest, especially on the Buda side.

Taste: 7/10

Price: 6/10


8: Trattoria Venezia



Our adventures with restaurants on the Grand Boulevard have rarely ended well, but Trattoria Venezia is certainly an exception. Upon stepping inside, I at once thought it was the Taverna Dionysus, except in an Italian and not Greek version. A somewhat tacky little village was built inside the restaurant with roofs, windows and a pleasant atmosphere. The kitchen was just as good with cheerful, tasty and well-presented dishes that give a nod to hedonism. Every restaurant can be proud if, after several years, they are able to retain the same spirit they had when they first opened, instead of slumping into the mundane. And it’s not expensive either: a bowl of soup cost 610 forints (something I’ve not seen for some time), and the pasta prices were totally acceptable too.

Taste: 7/10

Price: 8/10


7: Il Terzo Cerchio



This is a rare breed of animal: high quality and home delivery, but keep in mind that nothing will taste as good as it would in the restaurant after traveling for half an hour. If you want pizza for home delivery, however, this is the place to call as wonderful things come from the oven at the center of the restaurant. We tested the pasta on this occasion, sampling creamy tagliolini with porcini mushrooms and Tuscan sausage. The environment was the usual Mediterranean terracotta, the waiters were moderately enthusiastic, but the food was amazing. We had one of the best dishes we tried during our test, consisting of the finest ingredients blended so well that each bite was its own experience. A service charge is added to the bill, but the waiter will notify you of this, and there is a 20% discount on the meals during lunch hours, meaning that we ended up spending less than expected. At dinner time, prices are the same as on the menu, so on average Il Terzo Cerchio is a little bit less expensive than Trattoria Toscana.

Taste: 7/10

Price: 5/10


6: La Botte




A normal local only goes to Váci Street by accident, and will only eat there if forced to at gunpoint. We are all so familiar with the stories of getting ripped-off or frog-marched to the ATM that we would never even consider sitting down at a place around here. So we didn’t exactly come across La Botte by accident; it came with a strong recommendation. Our misgivings regarding the location were not eased when we stepped into a basement location with checkered tablecloths. We soon realized, however, that the waiters are not machine gun-toting guards but friendly guys. As guests arrived, Italian could be heard everywhere, and when my plate of black ravioli with salmon and saffron black clam sauce arrived, I was overcome with amazement: this place is wonderful, and especially so for 2,800 forints. It’s not good as in edible, but as one of the best in Budapest. The pasta was springy, the salmon and clams fresh, as was the idea for creating this dish. If there is a place in Váci Street worth visiting, this is it.

Taste: 7/10

Price: 5/10


5: Riso Ristorante



For some reason, I did not have high hopes for this restaurant, as I had not read any good reviews or heard about it from my friends. Nonetheless, since it was on the list, we had to try it, and once again I came away pleasantly surprised. It’s located beneath the castle, and in spring you have to sit outside on its shaded terrace. The waiters are attentive and the restaurant’s interior is pleasant too, making it a great location even in the winter months. And the food! I asked for spinach ravioli stuffed with crab meat, with a tomato and mascarpone cream, and in return I was served with one of the test’s most exciting and thoughtful dishes. The pasta was perfect, the crab meat exceptional, and the tomato mascarpone complemented it all, with the heaps of rucola that crowned the dish the perfect way to round things off.

Taste: 7/10 

Price: 5/10


4: Porcellino



One of the most popular Italian restaurants on the Buda side, you can’t just show up here on an ordinary Friday evening as it might be full despite its large size. The menu is long but exciting, and the service as attentive as one is accustomed to in the Buda hills. What we found more exciting, however, was the pasta: the butterfish in Parma crumbs with celery pasta, salmon caviar and a creamy lemon sauce was one of the most exciting and popular options available, despite the excellent pastas that reveal just how many different varieties exist, but the dish at Porcellino was so well prepared from such excellent ingredients, that you will still recall it years later. That’s how amazing it was. I could eat it again right now, but unfortunately it was only a weekly special, unless of course they add it to the regular menu (hint hint).

Taste: 9/10

Price: 4/10


3: Trattoria Pomo D'oro



One of the city’s best-known restaurants and that’s no coincidence: Gianni regularly appears in the media and knows how to boost his restaurant’s popularity, to the extent that everyone was already buzzing about this place long before the culinary revolution occurred. And not without reason: the place is famous not for its professional approach to marketing, but due to its good service and high-quality kitchen, which produces great meals in quick succession despite the excessively large menu. There is no shortage of customers, and it’s worth booking a table even for lunch on a weekday just to be on the safe side. And what they offer is exceptionally good, not in the sense of haute cuisine, but in terms of food that is at once imaginative and demands attention: the orecchiette with Tuscan rosticciana was one of the best dishes we came across during the course of this test, despite these two ingredients being rarely combined. The location’s concept is quite obvious: what does the average Italian enjoy, and how can we make the most of it? They succeeded while keeping things affordable: a dish for 2850 forints is about mid-range.

Taste: 9/10

Price: 6/10


2: Krizia



This place was a huge surprise. I don’t understand how we’d never been here before, although maybe it’s because you can barely notice it. Despite being centrally located, Krizia is in a small side street and there’s only a small sign to indicate where you should head down the steps into the basement. But once you’re there, the quality and taste of the dishes is incredible. First we tried a pumpkin ravioli before following it with goose liver tortellini with truffle and porchini sauce. Both were so delicately and equally cleverly prepared. The pasta was perfect, with each bite bursting with flavor to the accompaniment of Italian pop music in the background. Here’s a disclaimer: for a long time we couldn’t decide if Krizia or Fausto’s should win the test, since the food was so divine in both, and if we focus merely on taste, both are exceptionally good. We had to decide somehow, and in the end it was the playfulness in Fausto’s kitchen that nudged it ahead, but if someone wants an incomparable pasta dish, they should try the goose liver tortellini. It’s also worth mentioning that water here costs 400 forints as opposed to 1800, and you can get wine for 600 forints per deciliter, while Fausto’s will cost you three times as much.

Taste: 10/10

Price: 5/10


1: Fausto's Ristorante



Fausto has two restaurants with a shared entrance. The more homely trattoria is to the left, with the haute cuisine ristorante to the right. There can be no questions regarding the quality. Everything is of the highest standard, the environment is elegant, and three waiters stood by the bar despite only three tables having customers. So what did we order? Venison ravioli with pumpkin cream and toasted walnuts. The price was steep at 3500 forints, on top of which a mandatory service fee and about 2000 forints worth of drinks were added, whether you have just water or anything else. Additionally, the portion isn’t the largest either, but as we wrote, this is an elite restaurant known for its sensational flavors, not its low prices or portions that can be taken home. And Fausto’s is exactly that. If pasta has some upper reach that cannot be exceeded, then Fausto’s has achieved it. One cannot prepare it any better, the harmony of flavors is perfect, the food is simultaneously exciting and thoughtful, the quality of the pasta and the time it took to prepare, the texture of the fillings, and the small pieces of walnut and pumpkin on the side all come together to show how much can be accomplished with pasta. Without a doubt, when it comes to pasta, this is on the same level as Krizia – but just a tiny bit better.

Taste: 10/10

Price: 4/10


 Gusti Mediterraneo, sponsored the article and offered the winning restaurant a voucher worth 100,000 forints to purchase a selection of products to meet the unique needs of its kitchen. A lot of great Italian food can be prepared from the amount of ingredients the winner will be able to buy!


Translation provided by Helpers Business and Immigration Services. Find us at

You may find the original article here.

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Budapest’s ruin pubs are among the world’s best free activities

2015.05.18. 10:46 | Gergő Helpers

The best things in life are free

We hear this proposition frequently, and Coco Chanel allegedly supplemented it by stating that the second best things are ridiculously expensive. There is no list, however, that specifically mentions what these things are. Any list that purports to contain them consists of such common things as hugs, love and happiness. The situation, however, is that it can sometimes be particularly difficult to organize a good helping of happiness for a Wednesday, no matter how free it may be.

As part of an attempt to compile a list of these best things, the Huffington Post wrote a piece about seven ingenious and free ways to spend your time around the world.

Among them one can find Budapest, or more specifically, a tour of the city’s ruin pubs.

Obviously, some will wince at the news, envisioning even more penniless tourists jumping on the next cheap flight over here, but it’s unfortunate if someone looks at this in a negative light. It’s quite true that with Szimpla Kert leading the charge, Budapest’s ruin pubs have become one of the world’s most-hyped travel trends. A traveler in the know has visited Budapest, and not for the baths or the Danube, but for this:





This is what the Huffington Post wrote:

“Sure, maybe it just sounds like a European Detroit, but in reality, these are some of the coolest and hippest bars in the world.”

“Spend a night bar hopping, looking at art installations, paintings, and funky green spaces designed to make the bar as much a living work of art as a place to drink,” they added. The ruin pubs continue to evolve and new ones keep opening, including Extra Budapest, which is opening its doors this May in Klauzál Street across from Doboz in the old Tébolykert’s location.

And what other great things to do are available for free around the world? The Huffington Post also recommends super-safe hitchhiking in Iceland, couchsurfing, the Full Moon Rave in Thailand, seeing the Mona Lisa on a Sunday, national museums in the UK, and walking tours. If you know of any other options, leave them in the comments below.

Tünde, thanks for the link!


Translation provided by Helpers Business and Immigration Services. Find us at

You may find the original article here.

Tags: budapest tourist city ruin pubs

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Ten signs we’ve come a long way in ten years

2015.05.15. 09:23 | Gergő Helpers

As a thirtysomething city dweller, I’m quick to agree with the widely held view that Hungarians cannot behave, according to which Hungarian tourist groups are easy to spot from a mile away whenever they travel abroad, as we are rude, don’t believe in personal responsibility and fundamentally rely on pulling clever little tricks to get ahead.

It would be foolish to deny that these shortcomings exist.


It would be just as irresponsible to act as if we had not changed a great deal over the last decade, for the better. Here we’ve assembled a list of these changes to illustrate how far we’ve come over the past ten years.


1: Crosswalks


The inspiration for this post was when I recalled an incident near Lake Balaton in Vonyarcvashegy in the late 1990s. While waiting at a crosswalk, I noticed a Swedish Volvo, which stopped a few meters from me. We stared at each other, and for seconds I had no idea what he could possibly want. I guessed that he was lost or planning to kidnap me, before realizing that he simply stopped to let me cross the street. At the time, this sort of behavior was so uncommon, even foreign, that I was incapable of processing it. A few days ago, I recalled this event, as well as how we’ve progressed. These days, it’s quite normal for cars to stop at a crosswalk for pedestrians. Although not always the case, it’s nonetheless quite frequent and a huge change for the better.


2: Bikesfullsizerender_4.jpg

Ten years ago, using a bike to get around was only practiced by a subculture, primarily in Budapest. At the time, being a bicyclist meant more than someone who simply rode a bike, and referred to a tight-knit interest group that was easy to describe and categorize. That’s not the case at all today: more and more people I know ride their bikes, and I myself use mine as my primary means of transportation in the city from spring to fall, while never actually considering myself a “cyclist”. The development of bike lanes, increased courtesy on the part of motorists, and the appearance of the Bubi rent-a-bike network have all contributed to that fact that tens of thousands of people now use bikes as their primary method for getting around in Budapest when the weather permits.


3: Escalators


My favorite example of how easy it is to positively influence people. Ten years ago, standing on the right was unheard of in Hungary, with people standing all over the place. These days, most people stand aside to let those not content to stand in one place get by, but the fact that this considerate and thoughtful gesture became commonplace without the introduction of any laws is in itself wonderful.


4: Restaurant food quality


Ten years ago we still had no idea what constituted quality in the culinary world, and were sold heaps of substandard fare without knowing any better. That’s no longer the case. Ten years ago, if the restaurant looked fancy enough, we were willing to pay anything for a dinner. Today, however, we’ve become educated enough to demand that if someone wants to open a restaurant – or even just a food truck – they first have to delve deep into the culinary arts. Substandard quality is no longer acceptable. We are what we eat, and so forth…


5: Shop assistants


A decade ago it was absolutely typical to enter a store only to be greeted with the annoyed faces of the employees whose idleness you had just interrupted. Is this no longer the case? Not exactly, but things have certainly improved a lot. Today, you’ll notice if an assistant is unfriendly because it’s no longer the accepted norm, either in a shop or restaurant. Shop assistants acting like jerks are now rare since most places offer proper customer service, and it’s not because shop assistants have suddenly started earning millions or that their jobs have become easier. Friendly customer service has simply become what’s expected.


6: Dress


It wasn’t so long ago that we Hungarians looked like perpetual guests at a hookers and truckers party. Our tourist groups were easily identifiable anywhere in the world primarily for their attire, and although even now we dress more “daringly” than the locals in Paris, the clothes hanging in our closets are nonetheless much more acceptable. These days, the average German from the city does not dress much more tastefully than the average Hungarian, or at least the current trend is heading in that direction.


7: Exercise


Something else that we find ourselves doing these days. Although our inclination to exercise does not seem such an important consideration, a health-conscious society is still preferable to an overweight and sickly one. Pretty soon, there will be no space left on Margit Island’s running track, running competitions attract thousands of participants, and a stress-busting visit to the gym after work is quite common, all of which helps prevent us from turning into grumpy old farts. People who exercise are happier and of a sunnier disposition.


8: Closed Lanes


We already offered some praise to car drivers, but let’s give them a little more. Ten years ago, it was inconceivable for drivers to do anything but fight with each other when a lane closure forced them to merge. Now, I frequently see what I do in Germany: as soon as the sign indicating a lane closure becomes visible, drivers change to the lane that will stay open, remaining in the lane once the tempo begins to slow. Every 30 seconds or so someone who considers themselves more important will drive past in the other lane, but it was not so long ago that two lanes would be clogged as people jostled to get ahead. This can also be seen in supermarket lines where a single line forms for multiple cashiers so that the next customer is rung up by the first available cashier. Occasionally, these polite lines even develop spontaneously.


9: Cigarettes


Although we blew smoke into everyone’s face ten years ago, the majority of smokers not only silently accepted the indoor smoking ban at restaurants and bars, but many even supported it. These days, not only is it illegal to smoke inside a restaurant or bar, but we wouldn’t even consider it acceptable, which is why no one would ask the host at a house party if they can light up indoors, but would simply excuse themselves before stepping outside.


10: Dog Droppings


It’s a well-known and typical scene where we have to play a game of hopscotch on the sidewalk in our attempts to make it from A to B without stepping in dog crap. Although you’re still likely to find some here or there, the situation is immensely improved compared to ten years ago. No longer do we look on with amusement as foreigners pick up after their pets, but instead cast glares of disapproval at those individuals who do not. A few rebels still exist who believe their dogs possess a fundamental right to crap wherever they please, but the majority take their dogs outside with a plastic bag in their pockets to collect what’s dropped onto the sidewalk.

There are certainly other phenomena that reveal how much we Hungarians have improved. More importantly, we achieved all of the courteous behavior above not through pressure from above, but as a result of our own decisions. In the comments below, let us know what you’ve witnessed that reveals how Hungary has become a better place than it was ten years ago!



Translation provided by Helpers Business and Immigration Services. Find us at

You may find the original article here.

Tags: city culture

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How to rent a Bubi bike for only 333 forints a month

2015.05.13. 17:25 | Gergő Helpers

From spring to fall, I get around the city by bike. Since I’ve already bought the bike of my dreams (which will hopefully last me for decades to come) the arrival of Bubi (Budapest Bike) didn’t particularly excite me, although I’ve since come to realize there were times I could have made use of the service.


One such example was when I only had a ride in one direction and could have used it on the way back.

Or the times when I used public transport to get somewhere in Budapest where the last leg of the journey would have been much easier by bike, but, since I had a bike of my own, I didn’t want to pay 8000 forints for a six-month pass. I’ve always felt it was a bit expensive.

When I mentioned this to my friend Janka who uses the Bubi system, she revealed something rather significant:

With a single access code, you can rent up to four bikes at a time.

At four different locations, independent of one another. What does this mean? It means that a Bubi pass is actually for four people.

From this perspective, it costs only 2000 forints for a six month pass, which breaks down to 333 forints a month. Even I’m willing to spend that amount, despite owning a bike myself. I can borrow a bike at any time without arranging it with the others, and if I have guests visiting Budapest, all I need to do is phone up my friends and ask if they plan on using the bikes in the next half hour, and if not, then we can all go out and use the bikes.

This way, it’s totally worth buying a pass.

There is a catch, however: when you buy a pass, you have to register in person at BKK’s head office with your official ID, since instead of a deposit or hold on your bank card, you yourself, and your personal details, are considered the guarantee that the bike will be returned. It’s not the most convenient requirement, but it only took me five minutes to do when I went in, so it’s really not that big a deal.




Translation provided by Helpers Business and Immigration Services. Find us at

You may find the original article here.

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