Monday, 22 December 2014

A long weekend in Budapest with the girls - part two: eating, drinking and what to know

Read part one here


The choice of food in Budapest is brilliant, from local Hungarian food to Japanese sushi bars, there will be something for everyone. And the prices are so reasonable, especially if you are coming from London. 

view of chain bridge 

I must admit, I went to Budapest thinking that I wouldn't enjoy the food, mainly because I ignorantly thought it would be all watery stews and plain potatoes, but I loved it. Admittedly it ain't IBS friendly with the rich sauces and red meats but we didn't have a bad meal when we were there. I went for the Hungarian option as much as possible, trying Goulash, their steaks and a paprika sausage dish which I really enjoyed (even though I didn't think I would).

La Trofea
When Kris offered the recommendation of an all you can eat and drink Hungarian buffet, we were all over that like a fat fly to poo. There are quite a few around the area, but we headed to the one in Central Pest. La Trofea offers mostly Hungarian food, so it is a great way to have a nibble and try things that you might not normally. The staff were lovely and they are not stingy with the drinks like some all you can eat places. They were popping the bottles of champagne and wine on the table for us to help ourselves! We accidentally spent over three hours there! I can't remember the exact price but I think it worked out at about £13 each!

grandma's cocktail 


With an industrial yet cosy feel, Platz is a modern looking restaurant serving great food and cocktails and a superb price! Main dishes start from about 4 euros! We weren't sure what to order so went a bit over board with the food, pretty much ordering two main dishes each (there was no need though as the portions were huge but we just wanted to try so much!)

I had the nicest cocktail there which included 'grandma's homemade jam'. This is where I tried goulash and surprised myself by really liking it! We also shared some spaetzle which was like a mac and cheese but made with ewe's milk and with chunks of ham in it - amazing! I think this was my favourite Hungarian dish. The paprika sausage casserole was pretty dam good too though. 

paprika sausage 

Bank 3
As the name suggests, this pancake house is on Bank Street and was right next to our apartment so was the obvious lazy choice for brunch every day. With unusual savory filling and tempting sweet crepes, you're spoilt for choice and again, really amazing prices - crepes started from about £1 and a Baileys coffee only set me back £2 (and yes bailey with brunch is ok!)

my Greek salad... with baileys coffee 

Drinking and night life 
When we read in a guide book that "unicum" was the local drink of choice, we were set on trying it on our night out! It isn't hard to find as it seems to be stocked everywhere. After a few shots of it, I can confirm that it is awful! It tastes as what I can only describe as gone off bitter jagermeister! Kris was adamant that she couldn't feel her lips after this! But as Steph said, should you really trust a drink that is black and comes in a round bottle with a red cross on it??? Probably not.


The Ruin Bars
If unicum isn't for you, fear not, because there are plenty of normal drinks and delicious cocktails to be had in Budapest's famous ruin bars. If you are thinking these bars present themselves in a strip, one after another then you're wrong. They are kind of set back from the street, and found when you walk through small alleyways and "doors" to them. It is like narnia! You'll find good watering holes on Kazinczy Street, Wesselenyi Street and Akacfa Street.

a random painted elephant in the ruin bars 

We went after our all you can eat and drink, which meant we didn't get to the bars until about half midnight but in hindsight I wish we had gone sooner. My friend also tells me that when she was at "Simpler Kert" which is a main huge bar on Kazinczy Street, they were giving out free carrots!

With five of us, we decided that an apartment was the better option and went with Real Central Dorottya Apartnemnt 10 through Air B&B. We hadn't used them before but it was amazing! We had a large two bed apartment, with kitchen, dining table and living room in Pest on Bank Street for less than £10 a night each! I would recommend staying as close to Central Pest as possible but it is such a small city I don't think it would make that much difference to your sight seeing if you didn't.

our apartment 

We were pretty lucky with the weather, with the thermometer hovering around the 13-15*c mark but this was unseasonably warm as it usually sits around 5-7* in November. Even though it wasn't exactly warming weather, everyone is still making use of the outdoor space, sitting on the benches in communal squares and areas or making use of the out door seating. But the Hungarians are prepared for this! They all have heaters and blankets for you to use! I loved their outdoor culture! Also, drinking on the street seems to be ok here! It's done in a civilised catching-up-with-friends manner, rather than the vomming-in-the-street chav manner. 

Other things to know:

The currency is the Hungarian Forint but they do accept euros, although you won't get as good a rate. The city is really clean and the water is totally safe to drink. Taxi's seem to be in abundance but they were pretty rude, but there is always the tram or walking!

Kris and me in the Castle district 

Getting there

We chose the classic EasyJet way and flights were really reasonable, costing about £110 for a Thursday afternoon to Sunday evening option from London Gatwick. We got a taxi from the airport really easily for a set price, which took no more than about 30 minutes. 

chilling on the river cruise 

Three things I have learnt from Budapest

  1. Fairy lights make everything look inviting. The Hungarians know a thing or two about fairy lights! 
  2. It is ok to embrace the outside in winter. By wrapping up warm and having places well equipped with blankets and heaters, people aren't afraid to sit outside in Budapest. I love their outdoor attitude!
  3. Mulled wine is amazing any time, any place. 

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