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:




An amazing lamb sandwich in Budapest: BESTIA!

2015.08.28. 16:58 | Gergő Helpers

It’s relatively rare these days for me to find some kind of food in Budapest where I’m smiling as I stuff it into my mouth because it’s so new and good. In the glory days of the blog at the start of the gastro revolution, there was always something new and exciting to report on daily, but these days we’ll only write a post from every fifth or sixth visit to a restaurant, since the new field has so many average and unremarkable places. It’s quite possible that these places would have been sensational in the early 2000s, but, since then, the bar has risen so high in Budapest that if you want to succeed, you really need to do it well.

So, last week, I paid a visit to Bestia by the Basilica, which has a beer theme such that even the pissoirs are made from reused kegs, and where you can sample 30 varieties of specialty beer (which I skipped, since I don’t know much about beer and it’s wasted on me). So I hung out in the restaurant, ate the lamb-based bestrami sandwich, all the while with a massive grin on my face.

This sandwich is not simply good. It’s good in such a different way from the others that I was at once satisfied and surprised.

A new taste!

And all of it perfectly prepared. The bread was sensational, toasted just right and spread with delicious fat. The cheese had character and was elastic like wood adhesive, while the grilled eggplant was such a wonderful addition to the greasy, crispy soft lamb that I kept casting my mind back to it days later.

I didn’t try any of the other mains, but the Bestrami sandwich is right up there with the best in the city, which at least suggests that their other options are quite good as well. I tried a cheesecake too, which, while not memorable, was nonetheless still tasty. Quite a few restaurants in Budapest cooperate with confectionaries, but although this isn’t one of the best I’ve tried, it’s still good enough to leave you happy.

As for the prices: they are acceptable. It’s not a cheap location, but it’s tolerable, since pastrami in Budapest can run up to 2900 forints in the neighborhood, and it costs less here. I was quite content, had a soft drink and left behind 4,500 forints, including the 12% service fee, which, given the location, is entirely reasonable.

Szent István tér 9-11
Telephone: +36-1-300-7575
Sun – Wed: noon - midnight
Thu – Sat: noon – 2 am


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

You may find the original article here.

Tags: gastro

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Exploring Budapest’s most exciting square: Part III - Oinos

2015.08.26. 16:41 | Gergő Helpers

In Central Budapest, you’ll find a square that’s been revived from the dead, so to speak. In the past, it had one of the worst reputations in the city, but these days it’s being rediscovered as a place where new and old architecture stand side-by-side in harmony. Rákóczi Square contains everything that makes District VIII (Józsefváros or “Josephtown”) exciting: all sorts share the seats that surround the reflecting pool, but you can find similarities between the people gathered here. In addition to the elderly playing their card games, the moms pushing strollers and the college student reading a book, you can also find faces twisted by their hard lives, not to mention the occasionally bizarre characters that still find their way here. All you need to do is find a seat, sit back, and watch.

In the first section, we discussed reader’s choice Rákóczi Taverna, and then later dropped in on Csiga, a place that could not be better located anywhere else for the type of place it is. In this post, we’ll check out the square’s newest establishment, the Oinos wine bar and bistro.

Here’s a quick spoiler: the kitchen alone does not merit a post. But since we’re exploring the square, studying the trends and new directions, we couldn’t leave it out. Especially since it really is an important establishment, because it’s not run down in the slightest, as opposed to the other places in the area. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

So let’s take a peek at Oinos:

And to show the maximum contrast, here are the former stores located across from the market hall:

Oinos is therefore an interesting experiment. Has the square matured enough to give a home to this level of establishment? Will those passing by stop to try the Italian and Hungarian wines on offer, and order a sockeye salmon steak with cauliflower on the side?

(via the Oinos Facebook page)

I believe that the rejuvenated Rákóczi Square has a bright future, but it’s not quite here yet. There are two reasons for this.

One is that it’s still too early. The neighborhood is only just beginning to come into its own, and it’s much more worthwhile to follow the authentic lead of Csiga and Rákóczi Taverna, and to slowly increase the level of quality, than to come charging out of the gates with a bistro that looks like it would blend in well a few doors over from the Four Seasons.

Those with no knowledge of English won’t even be able to navigate their webpage without clicking randomly, since there’s no way of switching it to Hungarian.

Another thing – and perhaps the most important – is that Oinos’ kitchen is average. It’s got some fanciness, but tries to be more than it really is. This also doesn’t help in terms of fitting in. For 1190 forints they offer a two course lunch menu, which when I visited consisted of store-quality mozzarella, lettuce and balsamic vinaigrette, and some slightly flavorless tomatoes. The main was a slightly nauseating sweet and sour chicken with potatoes, if I recall correctly. It didn’t leave that much of an impression.

You can also order pizza. A capricciosa costs 1990 forints, and the type named after the place runs at 2390. From noon to 6pm, a pizza and lemonade or fröccs costs only 1700 forints. We had high hopes since the owner is Italian as far as we know. But they were not met. The pizza is thin crust, but offers an experience akin to sitting in a tourist trap in Rome that isn’t expecting returning customers.

This place is unlikely to thrive on Rákoczi Square due to its kitchen and atmosphere of artificiality. Of course, there’s room for improvement on both counts. What is for certain is that it does have one positive going for it: it raises the bar for new places, meaning that in a few years, if someone wants to open a new restaurant, they’ll have to use this as a benchmark.

Address: 1084 Budapest, Rákóczi tér 7.
Opening Hours: Sun-Thu 11:00 am - midnight, Fri-Sat 11:00 am - 1:00 am

Disclaimer: as is our custom, we arrived unannounced and paid the bill from our own pockets, because that’s the kind of guys we are!

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

You may find the original article here.

Tags: gastro italian neighborhoods rákóczi square

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The Buddog – the Budapest hot dog – has arrived

2015.08.21. 10:10 | Gergő Helpers

You always need to experiment and invent new things, otherwise no one will be interested in what you have to offer ever since the street food revolution arrived in Budapest. There are just too many good options, so you have to stand out from the crowd.

And then so it happened that one day a food truck parked itself in the Rombusz Kert in District IX. It transformed itself into a traditional greasy spoon diner surrounded by four walls, and then they began to sell hot dogs, except with sausages instead of wieners.

This was a good decision, as there’s only so much you can do with a wiener. As I wrote last year about Hot Dog Cold Beer, which sells absolutely fine hot dogs and adds their own wonderful ideas, no matter how great the preparation and presentation is, it’s still a hot dog, which you don’t exactly want to spend more than a thousand forints on.

Buddog, however, uses sausage, for which you’ll easily pony up a thousand on the shores of Lake Balaton. It’s easier to stomach the price, and sausage can be spicier than a hot dog ever will be, and any special touches will only complement the sausage instead of overpowering it.

You can ask for Hungarian sausage (kolbász), which has lots of paprika, or Bavarian sausage, with a meal ranging from 790 to 1490 forints, but the more expensive option is duck sausage. The condiments are grilled onions, orange mustard, baby spinach, alfalfa and of course: the bun.

We sampled the BLT (Hungarian sausage, bacon, tomato, mayo, romaine lettuce), and the Dallas Cowboy (Bavarian sausage, pulled pork, coleslaw, Dijon mustard, grilled onions), and the fact of the matter is that we were quite satisfied with both.

From the pictures they had on display, I was expecting to be a bit disappointed, but the BLT running at 990 forints was so inspired and fresh that I wanted another one. This of course was also because it’s not that big. It’s the perfect-sized snack to grab between lunch and dinner if you’re feeling a bit famished, but it’s not enough to fill your stomach. You’d probably need to double up for that, or, even better, two people can buy three and split one of them.

Or you can always just order a Dallas Cowboy, which in terms of portion size is bigger, and contains other ingredients, such as pulled pork, which was quite surprisingly well prepared, seeing as most places in the city don’t get it right, aside from Sophie&Ben, which is the heir to Varieté, location and all.

So, in short, the arrival of the Buddog is a good thing. Go eat one.

Budapest, Ráday utca 10-12
Mon-Sat: noon – 11 pm
Sun: 2 pm to 10 pm

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

You may find the original article here.

Tags: gastro fast food

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In search of the Mahung secret

2015.08.19. 13:08 | Gergő Helpers

Not long ago, I wrote about Péter, the owner of the Mahung Gastrojuice Vegabistro Veganpub, who I met years ago in a produce market. At the time he prepared (or “Mahunged”) five types of smoothies, as the sign in the window stated, which today has expanded to over 300 drinks with the most unique blends. And it recently relocated from Bródy Sándor Street to the beer shrine known as Élesztő, behind a bar in the summer and in an enclosed, pleasant nook in winter.


I was instantly curious. Here’s a person who has spent years working out how to best blend juices, smoothies, fruits, vegetables and spices together. If you mention any two produce items to him, he’ll quickly add three more, which when combined create a terrifyingly delicious flavor. I tried to discover some tricks of the trade from him, but that’s easier said than done.

No matter what we tried, the end result was always that we had to taste our concoction to see if it was any good, since there are no rules set in stone. You just have to Mahung.


The original five smoothies Péter prepared have grown into several hundred over the years, not to mention the ones invented on the spot. Péter makes the drinks according to what his customers want or are in the mood for, and just as a musician who composes in his mind then writes the finished piece down, he also assembles the flavors together from memory. Without even touching a fruit, he already has a sense of what the final product will be.

The result of years spent experimenting is not only that Péter mixes more types of juice, but that some fundamental things have changed as well.

The technology at his disposal has expanded. In the early stages, he only had a blender with which to prepare everything. These days he has a thermomix, which is a food processor and lets him press the juices. There’s a huge difference between pressing and blending, such as the picture below illustrates:


The one on the left is blended apple juice, while the one on the right is pressed. The left one is a bubbly, somewhat pulpy thick juice, while the one on the right is a clean, pulp-free drink. And this is what decides the next step, for Péter would only add carrot, beetroot or other vegetables to the pressed juice, since the blended variety is more limited to fruits. Additionally, what is quite important is the filter’s permeability. If you take a really good peach but use a very fine filter, you’ll end up with a pulp and largely taste-free juice, but if you let the pulp through, that’s how you’ll get the most flavor from it.

What’s changed? It’s still a matter of principle that everything be freshly prepared, because half an hour later a smoothie is not quite the same as when it’s fresh. These days, however, Péter no longer prepares the apple juice himself that serves as the basis for the smoothies, but purchases pressed organic apple juice from a producer in Szabolcs. We tried it, and the stuff is really tasty. In part it’s made from topaz and florina apples, and has a strong flavor like no other apple juice that I’ve tried.


“If you can buy boxed apple juice, that’s a degree better, but even those usually have shortcomings. They’re made from the types of apples specifically grown for their juice, or sometimes it’s a mix of apple types, or even sometimes a few ‘bad apples’ that you wouldn’t necessarily want to eat find their way into the batch. There’s no such risk here,” Péter adds, who met the organic farmer through the farmer’s daughter, who was one of his customers.

Of course, the quality continues to improve with respect to the other ingredients as well. It’s not as if the former produce market manager didn’t know when a melon was ripe before, but he was not always certain when to use cranberries or blueberries, or when farmed or woodland fruits were best.


Péter has become an expert in the world of spices and is now becoming more acquainted with balsamic vinegar. If we ask him to, he’ll use a pipette to add some drops of the stuff he got from the Tokaji Wine Vinegar House, which is aged in Tokaj wine barrels, and which deliciously changes and shapes the favors of the fruit and vegetable juices. Just a few drops in your drink and it will seem as if he had used completely different ingredients.


Suddenly, Péter places in front of us one of his favorite concoctions, a pressed orange and celery juice, with a splash of Aperol. Once again, I can taste that unbelievable balance that I’ve only tasted before in the fruit blends. Not a single flavor seems out of place, but you can still taste everything that went into it, except for the alcohol. “With gin, this would be a much stronger cocktail,” Péter mentions one of the varieties.

And if we take the alcohol-including varieties, something else must be considered: what works with a given spirit? Gin works well with blackberry lavender (lavender flower, preferably from an organic shop), spiced with lemon, a little allspice, star anise and juniper berries. Vodka mixes well with savory drinks, celery, cucumber and other vegetables. Rum is fundamentally used in preparing sweet drinks. “Perhaps if we add bear grass to pineapple, it’ll turn out better with some rum. Who knows, you just have to give it a try,” Péter muses, who would be happy to prepare his millionth variation on things right then and there.

But in some cases, alcohol just completely ruins a juice, no matter how good all of the individual ingredients are. Sometimes nothing works with it, for the alcohol blots out four or five flavors without adding anything in its place other than the alcohol itself.

If a guest asks for a drink, the first question is, are they hungry or thirsty? If hungry, then the sweeter, alcoholic drinks are suggested. In such cases the blender is the better option, with such basic ingredients as banana, avocado, peach, cucumber or cantaloupe, and the spices can be added in rich helpings as well. Thirsty guests are provided with pressed juices in more harmonic combinations. What also matters is whether someone wants an energy boost or just to relax. In the summer cold drinks calm while warm flavors enliven. Lavender is considered to have a calming effect, but according to Péter it tends to be the opposite.

In the meantime, we receive a banana smoothie that contains rhubarb, mint, cinnamon and lemon. Don’t use any milk, the mahungmeister says. “You can use an apple juice base to which you can add strawberry, raspberry or pineapple, and it can take some vegetables too, such as spinach or sorrel”. We receive another smoothie that contains bits of coffee beans, so that the drink crunches between our teeth. Sour cherry and avocado goes well alongside the coffee beans, which usually aren’t used this way, with the avocado easily swapped out in favor of bananas. And of course apple juice, and a blender.

If we use watermelon, it’s worth pressing it all the way to its rind, we’re told. This takes the juice on a journey in need of lemon. You can complement it with celery or orange, and almost all spices go well with it. We can mix cantaloupes with watermelons, in roughly a 1:2 ratio in favor of the watermelon. Another great summer drink is the sorrel-pear smoothie, using an apple juice base, with lemon and mint or allspice.

We felt a bit overwhelmed from all the examples and opportunities after spending three hours on the crash course in the Élesztő courtyard where the Mahung counter is located. We expected to learn some nice basic things for beginners, but Péter would have none of it and tried to get across to us the relativity that has become a system in his head, but would be chaos for everyone else. Not to worry, we’ll just have to pay him lots more visits so we can get used to it.

Péter is currently experimenting with ginger beers, some of which are available for tasting, while cocktails should be available by the time of publishing. Prices can be seen here:



Mahung Gastrojuice Vegabistro Veganpub

Address: 1094 Budapest Tűzoltó u. 22.
Opening Hours
Tue–Fri: 10:00 am - 10:00 pm
Sat: 11:00 am - 9:00 pm
Sun: 2:00 pm - 7:00 pm


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

You may find the original article here.

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Oriental Soup House: Fantastic Asian soups prepared right in front of your eyes

2015.08.16. 11:19 | Gergő Helpers

Újlipótváros, the southern part of District XIII, is a peculiar area, for although the locals would have the means to support nice restaurants if they were to open in the area, you’ll only find a handful of options. Although it contains one of Budapest’s best restaurants in Laci!Konyha! and there are great spots for breakfast such as Panini, Sarki Fűszeres or Édesmindegy, or the garden pub Figaro and a good juice bar in TüTü, the food choices in the area are still of the traditional type: a bunch of places that would fit well in Ádám’s Karcsikám (“My dear Charlie”) series of places whose continued operation defies logic. In those places, you’ll get bad or not particularly good food on a red and white checkered tablecloth, but at a relatively high price given the area.

And now, rather unexpectedly, a new place has opened at Philippe and Balzac’s old location:


It truly was a surprise, since I didn’t even realize they were doing any work inside. Then on a Sunday not so long ago, I saw them drawing menus on the boards. By Monday, they had opened their doors, and they even managed to open on time on Tuesday.

And what shows this area’s ability to fill new restaurants is that just 24 hours after the joint first opened, and without any form of advertising, the place was packed. The restaurant is imaginatively and cleverly decorated, and I could barely find a free spot in the downstairs area, from where I could see the chefs working in the open kitchen – under a lot of pressure.

Just like I am working on this post. We apologize in advance.




The concept is great, serving fundamentally Asian soups such as pho and similar bowls, as well as a few drier options. The kitchen is totally open, without even a window separating guests from the chefs, who are a mix of Asians and Hungarians such as the head chef, who, if I understood correctly, is also the owner. Her family also works here, for, if I heard the friendly waitress correctly, she addressed the kitchen boss as Mom.

And what you can see is very pleasing: fresh spices and ingredients prepared as if everything was on camera for a kitchen reality show where it’s important that everything looks good and tasty. In this case, this is not done just for the cameras, but to ensure that the food will also be good.



And the final product delivers: we had a small serving of duck and crab soup, which ran to 1,300 forints, but as the picture reveals, “small” isn’t exactly the best term to use:




These were excellent soups with an undeniably Asian twist, with the crab soup having more character with its exciting citrus flavors. The aroma and consistency of the crab balls was perfect, and the way the basic ingredients were prepared was superb.



We asked for pasta dumplings, which were also splendid with regard to presentation, pasta springiness, and the stuffing and sauce was just as you would expect to find in an Asian restaurant in Budapest or anywhere else in the developed world. (In Asia, soups such as this are several degrees murkier and less domesticated). Additionally, it will only cost you what you would expect to pay at a fast food joint a few streets over.

I highly recommend it.

Oriental Soup
Address: Budapest, Balzac utca 35

Opening Hours:

Mon-Thu: 11:30 am - 10:00 pm
Fri: 11:30 am - midnight
Sat: noon - midnight
Sun: 12:00 - 10:00 pm




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

You may find the original article here.

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