Critique: Regional Eateries

We have dined at an eclectic collection of establishments here in the surrounding cities of Hungary. The following is another round of my humble, amateur restaurant critiques from places in our country, with one exception in Vienna. Last summer’s list can be viewed here (it has my only A+ ratings so far)!

As a general rule my reviews are based on atmosphere and service, food quality, family-friendly nature, and are an overall value. *Apologies to vegetarians and vegans – this isn’t too helpful for you! The following is a great selection of restaurants – no real losers on this list – but nothing really blew me away this time. Enjoy!

Lunch/Dinner

Palffy Etterem, Gyor

One of the larger, more popular, family-friendly restaurants in Gyor’s main square is Palffy. We ate here on two occasions – one in the winter (inside) and one in the summer (outside). It has ample seating in both areas, and the atmosphere is very pleasant. The service is a bit sluggish, but the menu has decent variety and the quality of the food is good – in a “classic Hungarian” way. We noticed that in the summer they have massive ice cream concoctions outside – and most people were ordering those instead of lunch when we were there! Overall, the prices, food quality and atmosphere make it a place we would return to. B+

Oliva Restaurant, Veszprem

We decided to check out Oliva restaurant while in Veszprem as it had good reviews online. It is a “nicer” restaurant, as evidenced by presentation, ingredients and prices. The service was excellent, and the food was delicious too! We had light lunch fare, all delicious. A bonus was a lovely courtyard for outdoor seating. Expect to pay for the service, slightly fancier food and location, but its worth checking out. It could work for families but the menu doesn’t have children’s options. A

Chill Bistro, Veszprém

Near a sweet little square on a cobblestone street in Veszprém lies the cutest little bistro around. Interior decor is Instagram-worthy (I don’t do Instagram but I know what that means!) and in the warmer months there is extra outdoor seating. We only had coffees but the menu was light and looked great for lunch. The only downfall to this place is its popularity. Inside is quaint and can only fit a handful of people, and even outside was crowded, so probably avoid it until the cooler months. Because of the crowds, service was slow – but it was pleasant! The menu is great, but the food is only average. I recommend Chill more for a drink on the patio or inside on a cold day than for a satisfying meal. B+

Romai Pince, Hévíz

We happened upon this place after a dip in eastern Europe’s largest thermal lake in Hévíz. The weather was damp and we were the only people there, so we would really love to check this place out in better weather when we could use the ample outside seating. Still, the ambience inside was like a cozy wine-cellar and the service was great. The attention to detail in this restaurant was notable, and the menu had enough variety without being too big. It didn’t have great options for kids, though. The food was delicious – except the garlic bread, which was actually quite strange. Overall I recommend this place! A-

Gambrinus, Pápa

A Hungarian friend told me her favorite restaurant in town is Gambrinus. I can see why she said it was the “nicest,” because it is a little bit fancier than other Pápa eateries. After two visits, we realized it is a little bit trickier to communicate here compared to other restaurants in town, but service is still very good. The food is delicious and portions are huge. The menu options are vast but familiar, as most places here in Pápa carry the same types of foods. Overall this is a fun place to go for a change as a group or on a date. I wouldn’t recommend it for little kids, although I think they do have high chairs. A-

Kissétterem, PÁpa

We have eaten here a couple of times. The kids ask to go to “Kiss” because of the easy-access playground just outside the big glass windows of the dining area. I love that too, because I can see them playing while we wait for food. Service is good, the menu has decent variety and is family-friendly, and prices are fair. We have found that this restaurant compares to places like Hotel Villa Classica, VitaFit and Galleria in terms of food, so expect similar options. Its just another decent option here in Papa! B

Zabhegyezo Brasserie & brunch, Pápa

There’s a new restaurant in town! The folks at Zabhegyezo have opened another location inside the Esterházy Palace for lunch and dinner. It has a fixed menu with limited options (usually “pick A or B”), drinks and desserts and has casual feel. Although they’re still figuring some things out as far as times, options, and coordinating with their other location on the walking street, this is a much appreciated addition to creative, home-cooked Hungarian fare with flair. Prices are fair, food was delicious (see Willow’s face?) and I appreciated knowing ahead of time what I wanted to order thanks to their Facebook posts. Keep up the good work! B+

Intro, Pápa

We have eaten at Intro several times, and I have never been disappointed with the food. Sometimes the service is slow (we usually eat outside) but it’s family-friendly and has a nice menu variety. Although menu options look familiar, they often come out looking a little different (in a good way!) than other places in town. Prices are great. They also have a good beverage menu and it would be a fun place to go out for drinks. B+

Kreinbacher, Somlo

We ate at Kreinbacher one early weeknight evening without a reservation…and we were the only ones there! We had heard really good things about this place so we were excited to try it. The location, as you can see, is stunning! The brand new architecture has appeal, right down to the cast-iron skillets on the wall shaped like a map of Hungary! Service was very friendly and prompt. I’m not sure if this is typical, but the menu was very very small and very expensive. We were disappointed – but then I realized that the major appeal of this place is the tasting menu and it wasn’t being offered at the time. The quality of the food is excellent. We both enjoyed our meals. But…I think we will have to come back to try the tasting menu before giving it the full score it might deserve based on others’ recommendations. By all accounts this is a lovely place for a date night; I would say its too fancy/expensive for families. A

plage 18, tihany

Located right next to a pay-to-enter private beach, Plage 18 is a lovely establishment on the tip of the Tihany peninsula. We enjoyed good, classic Hungarian fare here at slightly higher prices than elsewhere. Service was accommodating, prompt and friendly. Views are beautiful! This is probably a better place for a dinner date than a family lunch. A-

Budapest Bisztro, Budapest

We stopped at Budapest Bisztro for lunch and when I saw Eggs Benedict on the menu I couldn’t resist. Everyone had delicious meals here at reasonable Hungarian prices. The staff is friendly and prompt, the Eggs Benedict didn’t disappoint, and the location is great (Between Parliament and the Ronald Regan statue). It’s a trusty place for a yummy meal! A-

Blue Bird Cafe, Budapest

Ahhh, the Jewish district. So many amazing restaurants to choose from! We had a hard time deciding where to eat lunch but decided on Blue Bird Cafe based on the enormous variety on their menu. Something for everyone! The waitstaff was incredibly friendly and fun with the kids, the food options are a big plus, and the food was delicious! It’s fun – but messy – food. Expect to get your hands dirty! It’s well worth it. Prices were also reasonable. I’d go back! A-

Mythos the Greek, Budapest

I ate a light lunch here one afternoon after walking about 6 miles around Budapest. I’m not sure if it was my fatigue and hunger or if it really was that good, but I can say the olives and hummus were the best I have had here in Europe (even better than Mazel Tov!). It doens’t have a creative or remarkable menu, but the classic Greek fare was delicious. They serve up what they do best. If you like Greek food, this is a stop worth making! It has outdoor seating but not too much, and the location isn’t the greatest (across from Mr. Funk), but its satisfying and they’re friendly folks! A-

Mazel Tov, Budapest

This is an interesting place we had heard a lot about. They have cornered the market on hype and ambience (what a location!) but getting in can be tricky. We didn’t have reservations, but lucked out at lunch time on a rainy day as we were the first in line for people who didn’t plan ahead. It helped that we were a party of two! It seems this could be a family-friendly place but it was a subdued and quiet and had a fancy air so I may not choose to come with my kids. The menu looked good, but for how beautiful the location, the food was pretty average. Presentation was nice, but service was sluggish. I recommend going because the location is great! But don’t expect to be blown away by the cuisine. Its just good, classic Israeli food. Go to Mazel Tov for the feel of it! A-

Sao food & bar, Budapest

Sao is a super cute, cash-only bird-themed Asian-fusion restaurant in the Jewish District. It is decorated with a litany of bird cages and lights that make it glow at night. High scores for atmosphere! Fairly friendly waitstaff and chill vibe with a great menu and delicious, clean Asian options. Good drinks, reasonable prices, and attractive ambience, but bring Forint! A

traktor farmfood restaurant, budapest

I passed Traktor restaurant on the way to St. Stephen’s Cathedral on several occasions and wanted to try it out. Of course, when we went there, we were the only ones dining for lunch! The menu is interesting – almost an a la carte feel – but ultimately all options are clean and fresh. You will pay more for the good food here, but it may be due in part to the actual tractor parked in the middle of the dining room – quite the talking piece! It has a fancy feel but the waitstaff isn’t pretentious. Instead they were joking with the girls, and were friendly and accommodating of our requests. The food was delicious, the atmosphere was great, waitstaff terrific, and in a great location. The only downside is our lunch bill ran us around $50 which is almost triple what it would cost in Pápa. A-

Coffee/Brunch

Landtmann Cafe, Vienna

I LOVE brunch – but I’m picky. Croissants need to be fresh, and there had better be Eggs Benedict on the menu! Landmann’s Cafe is one of those places you go for the atmosphere and stay for the delicious options. Sure, it’s in Vienna, so you’ll pay (similar to American) higher prices, but it’s well worth it and has me going back whenever I can! There are vegetarian options for Eggs Benedict as well as awesome pastries and crepes. Viennese coffee tops a great drink menu as well. I’m drooling just thinking about those Eggs Benny! I also like to grab little treats to-go from their kiosk at the entrance. The place is huge – you should be able to get a seat – and the location is convenient right across from Rathaus. I’ll have to go back and report on their lunch menu…but I don’t know how I’ll be able to resist the Benedict! So good! They’re also known for their brioche. Check it out. A

Circusz, Budapest

Craving brunch? I always am. Cirkusz (or, Circus) is a great, American-themed brunch place on the outskirts of the Jewish District. It has a fun menu including French toast and – yep – Eggs Benedict done several ways. Pictured is traditional and pulled pork Benedict (with no eggs). Prices are great, wait staff is phenomenal, and it has a lively, fast-paced atmosphere. Enjoy with the family! A-

Box Donut, Gyor

Willow loves a donut treat!

Oh, the holy donut. This is one food that is sub-par here in Hungary, as the local varieties are never fresh and taste pre-packaged. And, although I prefer a cake donut, the famous yeast donuts have been perfected right in our backyard in Gyor at The Box Donut. All donuts (and bagels) are square shaped and have toppings and/or fillings that are creative and delicious! Its a real treat to snag a box of Box Donuts when we’re in the neighborhood. Bonus? They just opened a new store in Budapest right next to St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Check them out! Their bagels are also really good but unfortunately you can’t buy them unless its for a sandwich. Head to Mr. Funk in Budapest if you want a half dozen or more donuts. In the meantime, treat yourself to one of these yummy concoctions! They pass the test. (Rating purely for taste!) A

Cafe Frei, Budapest

You’re in Budapest and you need a pick-me-up. Looking for a new twist on coffee? Try one of several locations of Cafe Frei! They’re located in Budapest, Gyor and Veszprém. This is a hip coffee bar with drink inspirations from around the world! The menu is basically a catalogue of caffeine and decaffeinated options, and behind the baristas is a map to inspire your choice. It was fun to learn about these other types of coffee (the kids had three types of hot chocolate!) but the coffee itself was the real treat. It’s worth going and trying something new. Servings are small (so try more than one!) and prices are more than your neighborhood coffee shop but way less than Starbucks. Go! A

9 Bar, Budapest

Nine bar, tucked away on a side street behind St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Budapest, has the quaint-yet-buzzy feeling of a New York City cafe but the brewing options of a chemistry lab! You can choose to have your coffee brewed one of eight ways, and grab a pastry or quiche while you watch the pot percolate. Since its so small it tends to be crowded but its worth stopping by. Prices are very reasonable and staff is busy but helpful. A

Cafe Mug, PÁpa

Ahhhh now back to Pápa! The original favorite of our expat community, Cafe Mug has the sweetest barista in town (who speaks great English!). Dorina serves up a beautiful collection of latte art at a perfectly convenient location adjacent to the walking street. It’s a great place to meet and grab a little treat (she sometimes has cookies or muffins) with your mug, and its dog-friendly too. She has added a few new things to the menu and even will try reeeeally hard to make that iced coffee for you American style (without ice cream)! You won’t find lunch fair here but if you’re just passing through or want to sit on the sidewalk for a brew, you can’t beat it. A-

Helo Velo, PÁpa

Arguably the hippest place in town, HeloVelo opened its doors just over a year ago as a “bike cafe,” where you can go and grab super fancy drinks (hot or cold), sweets, and lunch fare and then have a look around at their top-notch bicycle and accessory selection. András and Evelin are a Pápa power-couple whose brewing expertise is perfectly matched with a design style that is instantly welcoming and cozy. They are kid-friendly, dog-friendly, and bicycle friendly, too! The menu is excellent and includes a many vegan, vegetarian and paleo-friendly options. Prices are very fair and they do a good job communicating with us expats. They also support the local animal shelter by collecting donations. What’s not to love? Go plunk down on one of their cozy couches or sewing-machine tables and let them serve you. A

ROSA GELATO, budapest

*Bonus review* This is not a place for a meal but it’s well worth mentioning as we rarely get to Budapest without stopping here. Rosa Gelato is a fancy, high-quality gelateria in St. Stephen’s Square that specializes in creative flavors and beautiful presentation of their homemade gelato. Vegan and dairy-free options are available as well as traditional gelatos. Supposedly the rose creations help showcase the flavors – all I know is it’s delicious and some of the best around! A must-go! You’ll wait a little longer and spend a little more but it’s well worth it. A

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