Long summer days can be enjoyed in the most different ways, if we only stay at the Budapest gastro scene. We can drink wine and taste unforgettable, authentic dishes in SOLID’s rooftop restaurant, enjoy the pairing of San Marzano and buffalo mozzarella at Bartók Béla Road or pick up some vegan wonder cookies at Hearty Vegan Cakes—happiness is guaranteed. Join us for a new episode of Like a local!
1053 Budapest Királyi Pál Street 4-7.
Imagine getting on a little elevator like in a Wes Anderson movie and a few moments later you’re in a whole other world. Here you do not fly back to the past, you just break away from the bustle of Kálvin Square, you have the panorama of Budapest, the air, the space, and you know that it is important that you have arrived. The location is SOLID, which humbly presents itself as the little brother of the Michelin-starred SALT, even though it is nothing behind the restaurant on the ground floor. It doesn’t even want to compete with it, because even if the roots were common, they grew up to be different.
The Toprum Skybar&Restaurant at the top of Hotel Rum had been operating for 6 years, when the owners felt that it had somehow lost its light. Of course, the location was good, the menu was good, but the soul was gone. They wanted to change something and the regulars of SALT downstairs supported the idea: they wanted a place that was more casual, more intimate, where you could stop for a good glass of wine and a few snacks even when the fine dining menu line proved to be too much. The seventh-floor bar is a good place to do that. Architect Dóra Fónagy, who also designed SALT, once again grabbed a pencil and dreamed up a peaceful, welcoming and cozy space close to nature, with mirrors, plants, lots of wood and metal. Although everything is simple, we do not need to be embarrassed, since there are no separated tables or too special solutions, community thinking can be felt. The illuminating space installation of András Jánosi and Lumoconcept, as well as the logo of Eszter Laki, contribute to this feeling, so it is easy to relax.
The professional, friendly service, the incredibly wide selection of drinks and the dishes with SALT notes only reinforce this feeling: chef René Rába (and the sommelier Attila Császár) dreamed up a selection that was casual, yet incredibly detailed. Every food is a story, complemented by wines and champagne. We do not have to fear that we do not fit in here: heated towels arrive before the first course, because here we will eat by hand and get dirty with childish happiness. Natural and organic wines can be tasted from Hungary and abroad, and especially small plate dishes inspired by Szatmár, while the use of medicinal and herbal plants (such as lovage, lemon balm, dandelion) and ancient technologies (leavening) is reflected in every element.
In addition to the iconic bread dish, vajalja is popular with pollen and lime peel (this is caramelized brown butter), with warm buns and fermented green plums, or with Szatmári hummus, whose incredible creaminess comes from split peas. The new menu also includes a vegan dish with homemade cashew sour cream, paprika seed oil, mushrooms and the simply great roast duck liver pate with seabuckthorn, which has become my personal favorite. And of course the dessert: pastry chef Csenge Dusha’s famous puliszka with goat milk foam and lots of love. In addition to the evening opening hours, you can also have brunch on weekends or try the à la carte breakfast menu of the hotel between 7 and 12 am., so it is also worth visiting here for a nice business meeting in the morning.
1111 Budapest Bartók Béla Road 46.
You can be a pizza fan for a lot of reasons. It is simple, quick to make, affordable and perfect to eat alone or share with friends. The Neapolitan version is even better, which is light and shows the true taste of the ingredients—hopefully. Neapolitan pizza has had a real renaissance in Hungary in recent years, but many people have become too comfortable with it and have started to give less of the quality. However, Moto Pizza, owned by Attila Szűcs and his brother Ferenc, is an honest and fair story: after moving a few times, in addition to their shop resting in Madách Square in Pest, they also delighted fans in Buda with an opening last January.
The interior is just like pizza—a little underground, a little refined, without any unnecessary toppings, or decorations and that’s what makes it good. We can stay in the spacious shop for any length of time, but on sunny days it is very pleasant to eat at the outdoor tables, because although Bartók as the new avenue of Buda is getting busier and busier, the neighborhood still retains its original charm. The store manager Balázs Harsányi also focuses on this concept. A year ago, he got into the Moto world and immediately embraced the brand’s mission. Cozy atmosphere, friendly relationship with regular customers, a small team (4 people). People come here not only because they are hungry and crave pizza, but also because they miss the “moto” boys and food.
It’s a style and identity that many places lack, but here it’s there and it makes the food predictable in a good way. Although there is always a lot of work and the pizzas are baking in the oven (the record is 365 pieces in one day), we do not feel that we are in a hurry. So there is time to enjoy the original flavor of San Marzano tomato sauce, prosciutto cotto, buffalo mozzarella or grana padano, or try the audience favorite goat cheese garlic version, folded in slices, strictly consumed by hand from a paper tray. The important thing is that we have a good time and come back soon, because we’re expected back.
Hearty Vegan Cakes
1094 Budapest Páva Street 33.
Anyone who travels a lot at the intersection of the VIII. and IX. districts in Budapest may have noticed that the area between Tűzoltó Street and Tompa Street develops in gastronomic terms. We can think of the Paletta or the Pompás, and even the shop of Cookbooks.hu, the number of places that are worth visiting for residents and guests from further afield is increasing. The Hearty Vegan Cakes’ free-from-all, vegan cupcake shop didn’t just appear out of nowhere—the wise ones might know that the Édes Szonja place used to operate here before the owner moved to Lake Balaton.
Flóra Sarusi-Kis and Ádám Szűcs are a couple, and they both play music and have been vegans for years. During covid, like many others, they had some unexpected free time, so they created an Instagram page where they showed Flóra’s cakes. They missed the sweets that provide a classic dessert experience from the vegan palette, which do not necessarily represent the raw vegan, but rather the vagabond, layered-cream line with high-quality ingredients.
The Instagram page attracted an unexpected amount of interest and more and more questions were asked about the possibility of purchasing from them. There was so much “pressure” that when they saw the opportunity, they decided to embark on the challenges of opening a business, even though they had to do everything themselves. However, the work was worth the effort, as the success practically fell on them—they closed more than once earlier because of the sold-out counter. It’s understandable that there’s a lot of buzz about them, as the cookies are not only delicious for being vegan, meaning dairy and egg-free, sugar and gluten-free (except for the babka), but they are also great on their own. The combination of pistachio chocolate and apricots is a trio you can’t resist, and the millet cheesecake brings back the childhood experience of cottage cheese pie, with a twist, not to mention the caramel desserts, and the sticky-fluffy dream brownie. Cream is replaced by a lentil protein-based foam and, unlike other vegan places, dates and oilseeds are also used in smaller quantities, so if you avoid these, you still won’t leave hungry. Although their place is now closed for renovations, you can catch their cakes in many places, such as the 4minutes café or the Budapest Baristas or the Klasszik by Manetti.
Photos: Krisztina Szalay