09 Nov Let’s go inside – Our favourite cafés in Budapest
One of the reason why Budapest got the nickname “the Paris of the East” was that at the turn of the century, similar to its Western cousin, the cultural life in cafés (kávéház in Hungarian literally meaning coffeehouse) flourished in every corner of the city. Would you have guessed that there were more than 400 cafés in Budapest during the Austro-Hungarian Empire?
The intellectuals, artists, writers and alike fancied to gather in their favourite coffeehouse and many important political and cultural ideas have been born next to a strong espresso. Nowadays, many of the most famous cafés have been restored to their original splendor and contemporary unique cafés are opening up in every district. We consider the ruin pub culture also a sort of revival of the same civil and cultural attitude.
The cold season is a perfect moment to linger in one of the many good coffee spots in Budapest. We have selected four which we love, but feel free to discover your own favourite.
New York Café
New York Café is the legendary café housed under the New York Palace (Hotel Boscolo) is THE one to start your time travel and it is also probably the most beautiful amongst all. It was the meeting point for writers and authors, and it even served as the editorial of “Nyugat”, the most important journals at the turn of the century. Paper, ink and feather was always on the menu.
Massolit Book and Café
Massolit Book and Café: There are these small streets in the Jewish district which somehow seem almost empty even if the whole ruin bar district is crammed. Cozy cafes, design shops hide away in these secret corners and Massolit is a true gem. It is a foreign language bookstore, and it is a gathering place for young expat intellectuals, sitting with their laptop, or reading articles – you can always be sure they are working on making the world a better place.
Tip: Ask for a visit in the garden.
Lumen Café is a stone’s throw away from the district of the ruin pubs but you can be sure to find mostly locals here. We are in the 8th district, between bookshops, bars, restaurants, universities and schools, on a perfect mediterranean kind of piazza – definitely one of our favourite places in Budapest. Lumen roasts its own coffee, is a community place, used to a be a gallery, is still a foundation for photography, and has live music on many evenings. Baristas and waiters will hang out outside with their gang just like guests.
Hadik is an another classic, which reopened its doors a few years ago and is much more visited by locals than the New York Café. Its location is perfect for a coffee before your visit to the Gellért Spa, or for a tasty lunch after it. Its decoration is a mix of the original old and new, and the wall painting of the famous writers gathered there once is a real hit. The adjoining Szatyor Bar and Gallery re-interprets the bohemian world of the early twentieth century in a more progressive, present-day spirit.
Tip: ask why it is called Szatyor (meaning plastic bag in Hungarian).