If you start walking northwest from Matthias Church you will soon find yourself on Fortuna utca. In case you feel a bit famished, this narrow street will actually live up to its name and be your lucky place. Like pearls on a string, one restaurant follows the other. One of them is Pest-Buda Bistro. In fact, it is the secluded street terrace of this restaurant specialising in Hungarian cuisine that passersby will encounter first. The actual bistro, however, is still a few metres further in a listed building, which once housed Buda's oldest hotel.

Inside, behind the facades, the historical appeal continues. Cleverly, the Pest-Buda plays with a variety of stylistic elements, blending modern elegance with the quaint ambience of Grandma's living room. At first glance, dark stained wood dominates in the floors, tables and cabinets. Some contrast is offered by a red motif wallpaper as well as a cosy black leather bench. Details like the red and white plaid napkins that decorate every table are reminiscent of the rustic charm of traditional Hungarian eateries.

Evergreens from Grandma's kitchen

The Pest-Buda Bistro opened in 2011 as the third restaurant of the Zsidai Gastronomy Group, which today runs a dozen different eateries in Budapest. It is probably the "most Hungarian" within the portfolio of the family-run gastro empire. Its menu covers all the classics of the local cuisine.

"I always tell our foreign guests that here they can try dishes that taste just like in my Hungarian grandma's kitchen," explains Zsófia Máté, marketing manager of the Zsidai Gastronomy Group. But unlike most Hungarian "Nagymamas", the Pest-Buda uses state-of-the-art kitchen technology to create contemporary interpretations of old Hungarian recipes. This makes their culinary offerings interesting for a local audience as well.

Among the highlights of the menu is the homemade duck liver pate accompanied by rhubarb, onion jam and some fine pastry. Another one is the catfish paprikash with home-style cottage cheese pasta. The taste of this dish makes you dream of Balaton, of summer and evenings at the beaches of the "Hungarian sea".

In addition to the simple but simply delicious "túrós csusza" – a hearty pasta dish mixed with cottage cheese and fried bacon – the homemade Tokajer bratwurst is worth a special recommendation. It is served in a pair with a portion of crispy fries and a bit of spicy mustard, which makes it a true culinary pleasure.

When it comes to plating, Pest-Buda adds some vintage flair: many of the dishes are arranged in old-fashioned, red and white enamel dinnerware.

A true specialty of the house, and otherwise hard to find in upscale bistros like this, is the "kényerlángos", perhaps best described as a Hungarian pizza topped with one of the following three: paprika, mushrooms, sour cream, bacon and onions; tomatoes and farm ham; or tomatoes and ewe cheese.

In the wine selection, Pest-Buda again sticks to its Hungarian roots. They only serve the best drops from the land of the Magyars. These include red wines from local producers such as Sauska and St. Andrea. A special recommendation is the rosé by Konyári vineyard, on the southern shore of Lake Balaton. But you cannot go wrong with the white and sparkling wines from Kreinbacher.

In a nutshell

Whether you are just discovering the Hungarian cuisine for the very first time or already know and love it, the Pest-Buda is a good choice in both cases. The gourmet restaurant convinces with a cosy atmosphere, friendly service and a first-class selection of Hungarian foods and wines. It also offers one of the most beautiful street terraces of the Buda Castle District with shady trees and an unobstructed view of the stunning Szentháromság tér and the monumental Matthias Church.

Pest-Buda Bistro & Hotel
Budapest, District I, 3 Fortuna utca
Open daily 7am-11pm
Reservations at (+36-1) 225-0377
See www.pest-buda.com

Starters and soups: HUF 1980-3840
Main dishes: HUF 3140-7460
Sides and sauces: HUF 360-1120
Desserts: HUF 1380-2240

Pest-Buda Hotel
In 2016, the Zsidai family opened a boutique hotel in the Pest-Buda building. With just ten rooms, the hotel does not have a large capacity for guests. But instead of quantity it rather focuses on offering highest quality. The small luxury hotel stands out from other accommodations offered in Budapest with its unique design. Although furnished in individual styles, the rooms have one thing in common: their interiors combine urban elegance with a dash of retro. For example, vintage pieces are mixed with modern furniture. Contemporary artwork adorns the walls.
During your stay you will not have to miss any amenities: all rooms have a rainforest shower, L'Occitane toiletries and a retro-style mini fridge. The price for a room includes breakfast in Pest-Buda Bistro.
In addition to the ten suites, the hotel offers three luxury apartments, with the smallest being 53 square metres and the largest 79 square metres. With its quiet, yet central location in one of the tourist hotspots of the Hungarian capital, the Pest-Buda Hotel mainly attracts guests who want to maintain individuality and style even while travelling – and for this are willing to put a few more forints on the table.

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