Between 1910 and 1930 Budapest counted 500 coffee houses scattered around the city. Most were destroyed during the world wars but the ones that were left standing are a testament to a time gone by. As admitted coffee addicts, Nat and Tim from A Cook Not Mad share three of their favourites, discovered on a recent trip.
A short walk from BudaCastle, Ruszwurm, opened in 1827, is one of Budapest’s oldest confectionaries. We were told by our friends at Taste Hungary that it was a must and we’re glad we listened to their advice. The specialty coffees are exceptional; it was hard to decide which to have. I decided on a milky caramel concoction with ice cream, Tim had the same thing but with chocolate instead of caramel. Topped with a wafer cookie, they were beautiful and delicious but afterwards we were too full and buzzing with sugar to try any of the cakes and pastries. We had to make a second trip a few days later and tried an apricot cookie, an apple cake and for take away we got a cherry strudel and a poppy seed roll. All amazing and lived up to the hype.
Open from 10 am to 7 pm every day, it’s located at 1014 Budapest Szentháromság St 7
There is a beautiful terrace out front but we asked to be seated inside because it was so hot but also because we wanted to see the beautiful interior. Gerbeaud was established in 1858 and with its numerous chandeliers, velvet curtains and wood paneling you would think it hadn’t changed since that year.
The reality is that from 1950 to 1984 it changed hands, was renamed and renovated but in 1995 it was sold once more and the new owner, Erwin Franz Müller, brought it back to its original style. Walking into Gerbeaud today is like stepping back in time, as clichéd as that sounds.
We decided to forego the Gerbeaud Cake, a chocolate butter sponge cake flavoured with apricot palinka and candied apricots, created for the shop’s 145th anniversary and got an apple torte, a blueberry poppyseed layer cake and a pogacsa. Add on two freshly pulled espressos and we were silent with bliss.
Open from 9 am to 9 pm every day, it’s located at 1051 Budapest Vörösmarty tér 7-8
Imagine entering a regular looking bookstore, wandering through the aisles when you suddenly notice a set of stairs off of the second floor. As you walk up those stairs, you feel transported to another time.
You imagine people conducting secret meetings in this big room filled with luxurious chairs, huge mirrors and gigantic chandeliers. This is the Bookcafé, deep inside the Alexandra bookstore on Andrássy Street. As we sat waiting for our coffee and pastries, we admired the beautifully gilded frames and ornate paintings of this grandest of cafés. We enjoyed fruit tarts and apple cake and delicious hot coffee. There may be coffee houses with better service or better pastries but few will have you feeling like you’re sitting in a French ballroom.
Open from 10 am to 10 pm every day, it’s located at Andrássy út 39
Café culture is alive and well in Budapest and can be enjoyed on a scale from casual to luxurious.
Still need more coffee? Here are a few more to try:
Angelika Cafe & Restaurant
Batthyány tér 7, I. district, M2 metro, Batthyány tér station
New York Café -on the ground floor of the New York Palace
Erzsébet körút 9-11, VII. district, M2 metro Astoria station, tram 4, 6
Károlyi Mihály utca 9, V. district, M3 metro Ferenciek tér station
How you visited any of these or other coffee houses in Budapest? What was your opinion?