I have unconditional love for Budapest. The city of energy, great coffee, creative vibes and the mix of international cuisine. I always appreciate the array of unlimited possibilities that the city has to offer.
I enjoy morning sun making its way through old-ragged mysterious buildings while streets are still deserted. I savour evening walks down the Danube. However, what I love the most is sipping the afternoon flat white while observing locals and tourists alike.
Let’s begin our day with a must-visit to my special gem: the one and only Artizan. This bakery delivers unique explosion of tastes with their handmade baked goods using only high quality ingredients. I have this privilege to be attracted to those cozy and homey places and one of them is definitely the Artizan. Here, you can taste a variety of sourdough breads made with tradition (some type of breads require days to make), no shady additives, no rush in the making. The magic of this place is the combination of the key ingredients they use: love, passion and respect for the goods they excel at and customers as well. The loving atmosphere of the bakery is palpable once you enter the heavenly paradise. Not only the products create this place but the staff, the culture of the management as well. When I first visited the bakery I felt like I stepped into the bustling kitchen of an extensive family. The variety of pastries and cakes is alluring and saturated with passion and the friendliness of the people who work there. If you happen to visit Parliament or Basilica, I believe the Artizan is their equal on your ‘must visit places’.
Once you grab your cardamom bun, let’s head down to one of my favourite places to just sit around and relish in the deliciousness of Budapest’s atmosphere: The Espresso Embassy. The variety of freshly roasted beans from local and international roasters and ways to order it is endless. Cellar-like interiors and minimalistic design serves the clarity whenever I intend to do some writing there. The place owns its design to Sporaarchitects, also responsible for the form of two M4 metro stations in Budapest. Coratdo goes extremely well with Flódni (Hungarian Jewish Cake made of plum jam, apple, walnut and poppy seeds). The baristas use local farmer’s full milk (of course you can switch it up for some plant-based alternatives as well). The service is extremely helpful and offers specialized knowledge on the products they provide. The atmosphere of the multicultural influences is palpable and highly unique. Friendly atmosphere and very casual way of the staff is what attracts me as well. I just feel comfortable sitting outside the café, do some reading or writing and breathing in the intensity of the city. The location is near the Basilica but not so obviously crowded with tourists. This place stands for the word fresh. Fresh coffee, fresh baked goods, fresh juices, fresh ideas flowing.
Now, let me take you for lunch. Instead of traditional Hungarian cuisine, one of my personal favourite restaurants is Dobrumba (located on the corner of Dob and Rumbach Sebestyén Street). The place offers a mixture of the Middle East and Mediterranean tastes. I have definitely tried a great amount of Middle East dishes so far (and Warsaw has many great quality hummus offers throughout the city) but this chickpea meal in Dobrumba has been so far the best experience yet. When you visit the place for the first time, mezze selection is the must so that you can relish in the deliciousness of flavours that the restaurant has to offer. Accompanied by oriental spices, fresh herbs, marinated olives, a generous amount of olive oil and plenty of Arabic bread. The experience is really worth plunging into oriental tastes even if this is not your cup of tea.
Let’s dive into the whole idea of sharing food which I believe is essential to cultivate nowadays. Sharing is caring. Caring about ourselves, about people we love and what can be a better way to bond than over casual but extravagantly delicious food? This is exactly what the idea of slow food is all about. Let’s celebrate life! Let’s enjoy the richness of foods we are gifted with. Let’s consume the abundance of our cultures, the heritage of ancestors. We live in a fast-paced world with instant food, instant deliveries, instant mobile apps. How about slowing down, taking the time to appreciate the food we are able to digest, to delight our palates in the variety of original flavours accompanied by the pinch of novelty and inspiration? Sharing plates, opening our minds to new tastes and mindfully contemplating the origin of food enable us to be grounded in the here and now. Slowing down means making room for the quality. Dobrumba is the perfect example of this attitude.
Once we established the pace of our journey, let’s grab some more coffee. One of the exquisite coffee places in Budapest is Dorado Cafe. The staff is really polite and attentive to your needs. They really know good coffee. I mean, they know. They care. And they love it. It is not just a coffee shop, it is a praise for the coffee culture. The interior is economical, simplistic even rustical, bustling with plants and nature. While Espresso Embassy has a little clamorous atmosphere, the Dorado is chill and peaceful. Apart from wide selection of coffee, their home-made baked goods are too good to pass on. My personal favourites are banana bread with espresso butter and pistachio croissant which go extremely well with any coffee. I have yet to try their new and promising sandwiches which recently came into the offer, like Jamon serrano sandwich or cuban sandwich and plenty more.
Budapest allows you to spend whole days wandering around, popping into random cafés, bars and restaurants endlessly. You can also check out the SixLetter Coffee Co. which can provide you with good quality breakfast for the day and coffee as well. The vibe is really casual and tasty. The spot is perfectly located in the city centre with an open space and exceptional, unprecedented interior design.
Apart from great going-out places, Hungarian food is extremely delicious, packed with intense flavours and spices. For those who prefer to stay in and mix it up in the kitchen, the obvious spot would be one of many farmer’s markets around the city. They are usually hidden in great halls, but now and then you can stumble upon one in the open air where locals sell their goods, from handmade cheeses and chorizos to freshly picked tomatoes and spicy paprikas. The most famous and tourists-oriented is the Central Market Hall and it is a great pleasure for your taste buds and eyes to enjoy. However, I wholeheartedly encourage you to explore less known spots like Hold Street Market or Hunyadi Square Market, which focus strictly on good quality local products.
I am a foodie and love exploring new menus and styles but Budapest is so much more than just that. The history of the city is tantalizing, the monuments are breathtaking with their Baroque, Gothic to modern style. The nightlife is all consuming and caters for the myriad of preferences and diversions. People are easygoing and welcoming, suffused with innovative approach, the drive for the inspiration.
There is no wrong or right approach to this city. It can suit all tastes and appetite, however, once you state that the energy of the Budapest is overwhelming, you can just as well claim that you are overwhelmed with life in general. The city represents the raw, the mixture of cultures, entertainments and the zest for true living.