Critique: Eateries of Summer

Dining in Europe…ahhh it can be an adventure! If you don’t speak the local language and are lucky enough to get a menu with English translations, you still may have trouble identifying what will be arriving after you place your order.  Luckily, we have a family full of exploratory eaters, so even if the google-translate ap fails us, chances are we will still happily eat whatever mishmash of meat, sauce and side shows up. And, if that order was placed in Hungary, the bill will rarely be more than $25…for the entire family.  So we don’t feel bad if it’s a bust! The following are a handful of places we tried this summer and my corresponding amateur critique.  Warning: this post is burger-heavy!

Hungary

Hotel Villa Classica, Pápa

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Arriving at “The Hotel”

“The Hotel,” as most people lovingly call it, is a hotel and restaurant in the center of Pápa that has American History-inspired decor, a welcoming patio and bar area, and a cozy, intimate restaurant. We went to the hotel for breakfast several times when we first moved to Pápa, and eventually got around to having lunch here several times as well. The salads I had are decent (compared to others in Pápa), the soups are pretty good too, but it’s the plates that are worth going back for. The BBQ sandwich was creative and delicious, and the “plate for 2” was a hit! The prices are, of course, Hungarian and therefore reasonable, but compared to other places in town, they’re maybe a bit higher. It’s never busy, there’s always parking, and they speak English! Bottom line, it’s a reliable option for just about any occasion. A-

Zabhegyező Gastro Lounge, Pápa

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The Gastro-Lounge on Pápa’s “Walking Street” is a popular newish restaurant in town that is gaining popularity for its burgers and fun bistro plates. Bonus – they now deliver! Prices are great, their menu has variety (pictured here is a veggie burger), and you can’t beat the vibe and location. If you want some trusty pub food that an average American palate craves, look no further. Hungary is NOT known for its beef, so it’s tricky to find an acceptable burger but this place does it right. Their staff is friendly, service is prompt, and I also saw them preparing a catering order so take note! My vegan friend Jessie (pictured) was satisfied and my burger-connoisseur sister Billi raved about the burgers so it gets a solid A-

Jack’s Kitchen, Pápa

Jack’s is basically a Hungarian’s take on American food. They serve a variety of burgers, pizzas, and fajitas/burritos. The best part about Jack’s is that you can order food right on Facebook messenger and they deliver it to you within the hour, so you can’t beat that. “Fast food” restaurants don’t exist in Pápa (and are rare throughout Europe) so this is about as convenient and fast as it gets! We have never actually eaten AT Jack’s, but we have ordered from them several times and have been satisfied every time. Their chicken burgers are good, pizzas are ok, and fajitas/quesadillas are acceptable. I wouldn’t order the burrito again, but ultimately most of the menu is “safe.” They have fair prices and super friendly delivery peeps, so ordering in never felt so good! One thing to note – the food may turn out differently each time, so it gets a lower score for unpredictability.  B+

Kattani Gyros és Ételbár, Pápa

I’ve already reviewed Kattani’s pizza (enormous, delicious), but their atmosphere and extensive menu is worth a proper review.  We walked by this restaurant so many times and avoided it because it appeared to be just an airy pub for locals, so it was a real treat when we discovered the inside looked like a combination of a log cabin and huka lounge! My parents loved it and the kids always enjoy their funky seating. The staff doesn’t all speak English but they usually can find someone to understand our order and are eager to help.  They have everything from gyros, kebabs and local food to American-inspired eats. The prices are great and the service is fast! They do deliver, but we haven’t done that yet so I can’t speak for it yet. Overall, its a fun place to go and I look forward to trying more items on their menu soon! B+

Tihany Retro Pizzeria, Tihany

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Great view of rooftops inside the Tihany peninsula

This place is really cool – located right across the street from the Tihany monastery and church – and has terrific views on its upstairs/outside patio! The menu is pretty good, and their burgers are acceptable! Too much bread perhaps, but considering it’s a pizzeria, they didn’t disappoint. The pizza was really good – brick oven! – and the gyro plate was also scrumptious. They’re usually pretty busy because they’re located in such a prime spot, but if you can snag one of those balcony tables, it feels peaceful and the food is worth the wait. Willow dominated that burger! A-

Echo, Tihany

Echo is great. It has one of the best restaurant views in Tihany (and arguably Hungary), and in the summer, the patio is the perfect pit-stop after a ton of touristy shopping.  We have been there for snacks, drinks, and lunch, and each time were pleased with service, food, ambiance and prices. Enough of the wait staff speak English, and if you get there outside of “rush hours” then you can always find a table. It’s a must-try if you’re in Tihany! The menu is on the smaller side, but what they have is pretty good. Overall a place we will continue to bring guests to! A

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Echo – downstairs patio and upstairs balcony seating visible.

Papa Joe’s Saloon & Steakhouse, Sopron

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We heard about Papa Joe’s from several people, so when we found ourselves in the lovely border town of Sopron we made a point of going. It was midday, and we were one of only two parties in the entire place! What I can say for Papa Joe’s is that it is like walking into the Wild West. The entire place was thickly laden with American paraphernalia that was at once surprising and impressive. We were taken through the many rooms of the restaurant all the way to the back patio, so we got a decent tour…

At this point, I didn’t need to eat any of the food to decide that it was an A+++ for ambiance! I could imagine that it was a hoppin’, boot-scootin’ place on a Saturday night. We hadn’t heard a thing about the food, and the menu looked good (despite living in a place known better for their poultry and pork than beef) with many BBQ, steak and Western-inspired options. We tried a variety of things – and unfortunately, the meal quality didn’t measure up to the fun-feel of the place. The “chili nachos” were ok, and the risoto with chicken was pretty good…but the chicken stew (like a pot-pie wannabe) was very disappointing and the burger was hardly edible.  We expected a bit more from a popular place whose claim to fame is American fare. Alas, it didn’t stop us from enjoying our lunch. It was a bit more expensive than other Hungarian restaurants but I wouldn’t have minded that if the food quality matched the effort they put into the decor. Sorry, Joe’s – we might give you another try, but not before asking around and finding out what’s worth ordering! The score is for the ambiance, facility, kind service, and half-decent chili nachos. B-

Johnny’s Bistro, Veszprém

We stopped at Johnny’s for lunch because it got great reviews. It looked busy when we arrived, but they had a table in the small inside seating area. The menu was massive and impressive – enough so that even though my food review is low, they get higher marks for high ambitions. They have a ridiculous number of specialty burgers, sandwiches, Mexican food options, drinks and deserts. I would like to try their chili, enchiladas and quesadillas to give them another chance to impress me. But, sadly, we had burgers. And I will say that of all the burgers we have had since moving to Hungary, this was good looking and equally as bad tasting. I can forgive the enormous bun, but the meat had an exceptional amount of gristle, and had entirely too much filler (onion? spices? I’m not even sure). It was disappointing. The kids ordered chicken tenders and they were ok – but unusual in that they were seasoned with very strong herbs. Maybe we would return to try a milkshake and deserts! Grade is for ambience, prices and service…not for food. B-

Meatology, Budapest

IMG_5895There was no hype or false advertising here! This place does it right. Meatology has a small menu because everything on it has been specialized and perfected by their chef. We tried the burgers and sausages, and they really were drool-worthy! The only downfall to this place is how few tables there are. There’s a small outside seating area and a few pub-style tables inside as well, but if you need to wait, its worth it! This was one of the better burgers we’ve had since moving to Hungary! It’s got a great location, reasonable prices, and good beers to go with their MEAT! A

Villa Kabala, Szigliget

This is by far my favorite restaurant we have been to in Hungary.  It has the most lovely location, an ever-changing exquisite menu, and the friendliest server ever! Upon reaching the top of the hill where the restaurant sits, you’ll be greeted with a delicious glass of elderflower champagne. You can sit on their outdoor loungers and take in the view of the mountainside (an extinct volcano) and Lake Balaton in the distance. I have tried nearly everything on the menu twice (thanks to large lunch parties) and can honestly say every single thing was divine! You’ll be treated well, eating well, and leaving with a refreshed and pampered spirit, all the while not breaking the bank! Oh, and do try the wine… A+

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Lucky me! A bottle of elderflower champagne for free, as a gift! Thanks!

Viator, Pannonhalma

My second favorite restaurant here in Hungary is the Viator at the Pannonhalma Archabbey. It has ample indoor and outdoor seating options, a small seasonal menu, and an air of elegance that feels like a real treat. We were the ONLY ones at the restaurant (again, how does this happen at such nice places?) so we had plenty of attention. It was here I had the best duck and foie gras I’ve ever had. The kids had a gourmet take on “chicken noodle soup” and Derek enjoyed the classic Goulash soup. The drink menu was lovely so it would be perfect for a date night. Prices matched the quality but were still lower than anything in America.  What a beautiful day! Everything was perfect and delicious and we can’t wait to go back! A+

 

3 comments

  1. Oh my gosh!!! Yes that deserves a spell out! Those are amazing pictures! It made me sad because I miss it, but so incredibly happy for your family! Enjoy every minute! xoxoxo

    Liked by 1 person

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