I have already talked about my current favorites in Budapest in two episodes, but there are some places that are even more special to me. As the end of the year approaches and it’s time to take stock, here are the ones that, no matter how time goes by, are anchors in my life for some reason, and worth exploring for you too as soon as you have the chance.
Fehérvári Street Market Hall
1117 Budapest Kőrösy József Street 7-9.
It is perhaps unusual to start a series like this with a market, but it is no coincidence that the unit at Újbuda-Központ is on my annual list. Since I cook a lot and a lot of different dishes, I often go shopping. I have always loved going to the market because I am easily drawn by the cavalcade of seasonal ingredients, the friendliness of the vendors, the many sounds and smells that often inspire me to create recipes. I moved to Buda two years ago and although I made a few disappointing attempts on the Fény Street Market (maybe I just wasn’t lucky), during the first shutdowns of the pandemic I ended up at the Fehérvári Street Market, which I immediately took to my heart.
Since then, I’ve been a weekly visitor, each time stopping by to see my favorite farmers’ market vendors, who are typically out on Thursday-Friday-Saturday: aunt Margaret, the 80-year-old lady with the flowery bouquet, with her emanating kindness (even if she has her ankle turned), or aunt Teri at the front of the row with her imperfectly shaped but all the more delicious vegetables and jams. But I also recommend the pickled or mixed nuts section, the vegetable section on the Allee side, the fish market or the Fuchs-Milk. In fact, there’s no bad choice here, just let your intuition take you, ask questions, chat—and if you’re looking for something a little retro, go up another floor to the unique world of snack bars and buffets!
Fågel by Artizán
1054 Budapest Hold Street 3.
Anyone who knows or follows me on any platform knows that oats and porridge mean a great deal to me. I’ve been eating them daily since I was a kid for health reasons among others—it’s the one food I am always in the mood for, no matter how I am feeling. Over the years, I have never grown tired of it and I proclaim its versatility: local, cheap, easy to prepare, it lends itself to endless experimentation, whether you’re looking for a grain, flake or flour version. As a slow-absorbing carbohydrate source with high fiber content, it fills you up for a long time, soothes digestion, stores well and the list goes on. Yet somehow it’s underrated and misunderstood by many, which is why I was delighted (and a little disappointed that it wasn’t me who started it) when Gergő Fekete, founder-owner of Artizán, opened Fågel, the country’s first oatmeal shop on Hold Street in 2019.
The realization of the idea involved a lucky combination of several factors: he had many vegetarian and vegan colleagues in his team, he rented a second space near the bakery that he didn’t want to use just as a warehouse, and he wanted to show what else cereals could offer. He had come across several of these ’porridge bars’ in his time in Scotland and during his travels in Scandinavia, so he thought he’d give the idea a try. Fågel (which means pecking bird) has been booming ever since—sweet and savory offerings are available every day, but you can also choose your own combination. Homemade granola and seed butter, or even almond cheese and pesto, with an eye to seasonality, so you can find bejgli- or Gerbaud cake-flavored porridge or a pumpkin lentil on the menu, but rice porridge, millet porridge or overnight versions are also available. The porridges are allergen-free (there’s a protein called avenin in the oats, not gluten, which doesn’t cause allergies in most people), big portions, super creamy and made with extra love—and while I think it’s worth experimenting with making them at home, if you’re still a little afraid of this world, go here and ask for a bowl, you’re guaranteed to fall in love forever.
1074 Budapest Dohány Street 13.
Walking along Dohány Street, you are exposed to a lot of impulses. To avoid the tourists and parked cars, I usually walk purposefully, because it’s not very comfortable to look around. Once, however, I was stopped by a huge glass window, or rather what I saw inside—shelves full to the brim with books, floor to ceiling, the kind I always dreamed of, warm lights and people chatting at tables, reading on podiums or huddled in the window with blankets, surrounded by mugs. Walking in, it was like coming home—that’s how my story with Magvető Café began.
The name of the café is not a coincidence, as it belongs to Magvető Publishing. The owners have always wanted to open a literature café, which would provide a venue for their events, a space for the presentation of their own books and a place for book lovers to relax. The shop used to belong to the amateur theatre company Hátsó Kapu, so it needed some remodeling, but interior designer Judit Weiner did a great job: the use of OSB panels and plywood creates a calming, natural look. The service is warm and friendly, the atmosphere is relaxing, and no one tells me off for leafing through a book. The hours fly by carefree in the Magvető, and even at the end of the busiest day, all is right with the world—especially sitting in the window booth, where I always settle down immediately if there’s room, even though I know my long legs will still not fit.
Photos: Krisztina Szalay