Il Basilico review

Not far from St Stephen’s Basilica the Italian restaurant Il Basilico can be found. It has a nice terrace outside on warmer days and a somewhat Italian atmosphere on the inside. What about the food?

I visited Il Basilico recently and we ordered a Bruschetta (starter), a pizza with ham and mushroom and a lasagne (main course) and for dessert a Panna Cotta and a Millefoglie. We sat down on the inside (it is cold in Budapest in January) and the waiter politely came and asked all the normal questions. Food was served quickly, but while waiting we had some time to take a closer look at the interior. It had an Italian feeling to it, but it was not a 100% Italian feeling, and if I had to choose an Italian restaurant in Budapest based on interior, I would probably never choose Il Basilico. But again, what about the food?

Il Basilico – Bruschetta: An okay starter, but nothing special

The Bruschetta turned out to be a fine starter. It didn’t really taste anything special (worth remembering), but it was okay. I love pizza so I ordered the Prosciutto e Funghi pizza, while my wife tried the Lasagne. Il Basilico wants to be an Italian restaurant and therefore the pizza is served in a traditional Italian way; thin bottom and quite strong tomato sauce feeling. I am picky when it comes to pizza and I must admit that visiting Italy I did not really enjoy the pizzas I ate there either, so I guess I might be the problem myself (not Il Basilico). Personally I have many places in Budapest where I’d rather eat a pizza than in Il Basilico.

Pizza in Il Basilico in Budapest

The lasagne often turns out to be a great challenge in restaurants. Often it only taste tomatoes, so we were both skeptical before tasting. Surprisingly the lasagne was good and my wife enjoyed it to the last bite.

We were both full after eating our main courses, but even though you are full, there is still space for dessert. We ordered a Panna Cotta with raspberrysauce and a Millefoglia. The Panna Cotta tasted the way it is supposed to taste… the Millefoglia became the surprise of the day. It first looked like whipped cream, but upon tasting it reminded me of cottage cheese. It was a giant portion, so after tasting and eating both desserts no space was left for anything.

The final bill was about 7000 HUF and that also included two drinks.

I would gladly eat this dessert once more!

Il Basilico information

Address: 1065 Budapest, Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út 31.
Telephone: +36 30 280 2400

Budapest Bisztro review

It is a strange phenomena in Budapest. Either you visit a traditional Hungarian restaurant with giant portions and average quality or you visit a gourmet Hungarian restaurant who alter the traditional courses and make something completely else out of them. Can Budapest Bisztro change this phenomena?

Last week I finally got to visit Budapest Bisztro with my wife. I had been looking forward to visit the place for a while as I had seen the ads on Facebook and they have made me curious about whether the legendary goulash soup really is as legendary as they claim.

Budapest Bisztró is located between the Liberty Square and the Hungarian Parliament, a very nice location, even though it is a bit outside the main tourist area. The interior of the restaurant is highly modern and it should absolutely be listed as one of the nicer restaurants in Budapest based on its look. Upon arrival they at once showed us our table and from our table we could even look at the chefs as they were cooking… cool!

The food at Budapest Bisztró

The first impression was good, but a restaurant should first of all be known for its food. What did we order? We ordered a portion of the legen — (wait for it) –- dary (if you have seen How I Met Your Mother you know what I mean) goulash soup as a starter, followed by two traditional Hungarian courses, chicken paprika with dumplings (Chicken paprika stew with Hungarian style homemade egg dumpling brulee) and bakonyi (Sous-vide method countryside chicken breast in its own skin, served with vegetables finished with a forest mushroom sauce). Next to one of the main courses we ordered a cucumber salad. For dessert we ordered a classic cottage cheese ball.

The goulash soup was served with home made strong paprika. The portion of soup was nice and it was really tasty. It might not be the best goulash soup I have tasted ever, but it was for sure a good one and can be warmly recommended.

I had high expectations for the main courses. Chicken paprika is one of my personal favorites, and I was not let down in Budapest Bisztro. This was not the giant portion like in many traditional Hungarian restaurants, but it was not the super small portion either, like in many gourmet restaurants. It was just perfect and an interesting thing was that you got to taste different kinds of chicken (both liver, leg and breast) together with the delicious paprika sauce. The dumplings were brilliant!

Both meals had the same in common that the chicken itself was really tasty (even without the sauces), so all honor to the chefs for their job. The mushroom sauce that came with the other meal was brilliant, though I would have enjoyed a bit more of it on my plate. Maybe next time?

The dessert was the way it is supposed to be, and my wife who is a really big fan of a sweet and tasty cottage cheese ball for dessert enjoyed it. She said it was just perfect (normally the cottage cheese or the sour cream is not sweet enough, but this time she did not say a word).

My wife loved these cottage cheese balls

Final judgment

We finally got to visit Budapest Bisztro and we are very glad we did so. For those looking for a place in Budapest to eat the traditional Hungarian dishes in an authentic way, but still with focus on high quality, Budapest Bisztro is the place. For the dishes described in this article and two drinks we paid totally 12,000 HUF (10% service fee was included in the price). Not the cheapest, but I guess you have to pay for the quality. If you have the money and want to eat traditional Hungarian courses at its best, check out this place.

Ps: The restaurant is open from 7.30 in the morning until 24.00. In the morning you can enjoy a solid breakfast in the restaurant. During lunch time you can get good lunch offers costing about 1250 HUF and after lunch time you simply order from the menu, just like we did.

Budapest Bisztro seen from the outside

Budapest Bisztro information

1054 Budapest, Vécsey utca 3.
Tel: +36 1 783 0788

Bookstore Cafés and Cinema Coffee Houses in Budapest

As a fanatic reader and tea lover I love the bookstores in Budapest that have a café inside. One of my favorite activities on a Saturday afternoon is to pull up a chair and to start reading a good book while enjoying my cup of tea with a slice of cake in one of the bookstore cafés. These are a few of my favorite bookstore cafés that I would like to share with you:

Massolit ( Nagy Diófa utca 30): This café and English bookstore café offers interesting books in the area of politics, history and Jewish studies and has a great selection of non-fiction books as well. Besides that they serve delicious cookies and tea and coffee in various seasonal blends. Massolit has a cozy and antique interior with turquoise wooden windows and black and granite tiles.

Litea (Hess András tér 4): It is pretty large with big bookshelves containing a lot of books to choose from! The books are available in many foreign languages. You can end up spending hours at this place, sitting down to write postcards to your loved ones (they have these lovely arty Budapest postcards), reading a book and enjoying many cups of tea or coffee.

Treehugger Dan’s (Csengery utca 48): This is a little but cozy bookstore. Here you can enjoy tasty Fair Trade teas and coffees while you already start to read the book that you would like to buy. This bookstore café does not give you the feeling that you have to buy a book. It is fine to sit down and to wind down after a busy workday by enjoying a good book and a cup of tea.

Cinema Coffee Houses in Budapest

If you are a movie lover instead of a bookworm (or both) then Budapest has a lot to offer for you as well. You can of course visit the many cinemas in Budapest (foreign movies are subtitled, so you can enjoy the latest movies here). However, you can also go to the following cinema coffee houses where you can besides enjoying your drinks also watch a movie with your friends.

Toldi Mozi cinema and coffee house (Bajcsy-Zsilinszky út 36-38): Many times they show movies in English. It has a laid-back atmosphere and the colorful couches bring a touch of happiness into the room.

Kino Art cinema and coffee house (Szent István körút 16) : This cinema and coffee house is located next to the Víg Theatre on Szent István Avenue. Here you can watch the latest independent movies. They bake delicious homemade cakes and tarts in the café that are definitely worth a try once you are there. It is a nice place to drop by, to watch a movie and to discuss it with your friends over a glass of wine, cup of coffee or a beer. It has a friendly atmosphere and once you have visited this place you will never stop going there.

Chocobar for the chocoholics

Chocobar Noir (Csengery utca 48)If you are not a tea or coffee lover but you love chocolate then you definitely have to go to Café Noir! You will love it! It has all sorts of chocolates and chocolate drinks. So if you are a chocoholic, what more do I need to say? Let’s go!


These were my recommendations. Now I will make a nice cup of tea for myself, because writing about tea makes me want to drink a good cup of tea! If you have other favorite bookstore cafés or cinema coffee houses, please share your recommendations by commenting on this article.





Identity Thief in Budapest cinemas

Last Thursday Identity Thief had its premiere in Budapest cinemas. This is a comedy which has the potential in it to bring a smile to your face, so if you are ready to laugh and to relax for 110 minutes, you could consider watching this film.

Recently we have written about films such as the Hobbit, James Bond and Die Hard in Budapest cinemas. Identity Thief is something completely different! This is a comedy with Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy as the main characters. The main character, a nice family guy, gets his identity stolen by a crazy lady who later spends all his money. Due to bureaucracy and a slow police he decides to go after the lady himself and that is what the film is about.

Nowadays I somehow feel as if it is very hard to produce a good comedy. That is why I personally enjoyed Identity Thief a whole lot. It was not a new favorite, but still I had a very good time watching the film and in fact the entire story of the film was enjoyable.

If I had to choose between watching Die Hard 5 and Identity Thief for the second time I am quite sure I would choose the latter. Not sure which film to watch? Take a look at the Identity Thief trailer to see if the film might be something for you.

Have you seen it? What do you think?

Pizza Hut in Budapest

Some years back in time you could find quite a lot of Pizza Hut restaurants in Budapest. Suddenly some changes were made and house-delivery disappeared and so did most of the restaurants, except from two.

I visited quite a lot of the different Pizza Hut restaurants in Budapest back then, but now I hadn’t been to Pizza Hut for more than 3 years, so I thought it was about time to return and see whether their pizza is worth eating, or not. Since there are only two restaurants in town (one in Arena Plaza and one in Polus Center) I went to the most central Pizza Hut, the one in Arena Plaza.

Pizza Hut in Arena Plaza seen from the inside

Pizza Hut review

As we spoke to the waiter we got to know that when almost every Pizza Hut restaurant closed down a few years ago all the best workers stayed in the company and were hired for the two restaurants, while the rest of the people had to look for new jobs. This means that the best people from lots of restaurants can now be found in the two restaurants in Budapest. That should make it even better!

I went together with my wife and some friends of ours and we ordered three different pizzas (family size). The price for a family pizza is about 2700 HUF, and the size depends on whether you want a classic pizza (41CM) or a Pan Pizza (33cm). Service was great and food was served within 15 minutes.

Pan pizza in Arena Plaza (Pizza Hut)

What was the pizza like?

The classic pizza was tasty and luckily it didn’t taste tomato sauce like pizzas often do in Italian restaurants. The ingredients were fresh and nice and on the pan pizzas you had such a nice layer of cheese that you seldom get as you visit similar kind of restaurants (they all try to save money and use less cheese). As I asked the other people in the group they agreed on the fact that the pizzas is Pizza Hut has got to be among the best pizzas you can get in Budapest restaurants, and I must say that I agree. The best pizza I make myself, but if I have got to eat pizza somewhere else, Pizza Hut is a very good option.

For drinks we had some Coke and a lemonade. I was surprised as I tasted the lemonade because it felt like drinking an orange juice with 20% fruit and lots of water and sugar. This was not the way a lemonade normally tastes, but since I ordered a Coke myself (I only tasted the lemonade to know what it was like), I did not really suffer from the taste of the lemonade.

[stextbox id=”info”]You can taste the Pizza Hut pizza without entering the restaurant as you have the opportunity to buy slices next to the entrance (at least in Arena Plaza).[/stextbox]

Ready for some pizza yourself?
Head over to Polus Center or Arena Plaza and grab a bite! Do not forget to come back to the Budapest blog to share your experience and write a small Pizza Hut review yourself!

Rivalda Budapest review

Earlier this week I visited one of the restaurants in Budapest with what should be the best location in town. Rivalda is located next to the Castle of Buda and to the office of the Hungarian president.

I know it is February and a season with very few tourists, so that might give an excuse to the fact that during our stay we were the only people in the restaurant. We visited Rivalda a bit off time (it is quite busy during lunch time and can be during supper time), but since we came in between those periods that kind of explains why we were the only guests.

The waiter received us happily and served us with a big smile. He was very helpful and did his uttermost to give us whatever we wanted. That is why we got to order meals from the menu with slight changes to them. Even though it was way after lunch time I got to order from the lunch menu and lots of things were accepted to make us feel at home and welcome.

Rivalda has a theater feeling to it

The quality of the food in Rivalda

We ordered an Argentin Sirloin Steak served with spices, served with risotto croquettes, haricots- verts and green-peppercorn sauce and pork fillet served with paprika sauce (almost like Chicken paprika) with dumplings. The restaurant is said to be for luxury dining, so we had great expectations as we waited for the food. As the food were served we were surprised, because the food did not look the way we expected it to. Luxury dining often mean large plates with small snacks in the middle, but our plates reminded us more of those giant Hungarian portions we are used to in traditional restaurants. I like giant portions, so I took that to be a positive surprise. As always I ate from both plates and I enjoyed the steak and even more the pork with the paprika sauce.

For dessert we ate a pancake with apples and some ice cream. A nice ending to a delicious meal.

Rivalda judgment

The restaurant was strange. It is said to be for luxury dining, but that is not the impression you get once you enter the door and it is not the impression we got looking at our plates. For Hungarian luxury dining we would probably visit Budapest Bistro instead of Rivalda. The price of the steak was 5500 HUF, for which you could get a fantastic steak in Prime Steakhouse and the other courses on the menu were all quite overprized. We were still very satisfied with our food and with the service, but still the one word remaining in my mind as I think of Rivalda is: „strange.” I don’t know why, but that is how I feel as I think of the restaurant.

Sirloin Steak in Rivalda

Rivalda information

We visited the restaurant in February which is a poor month for tourism, and this is a restaurant where almost all visitors are tourists. As it gets warmer in the air they have a beautiful outdoor area where you can sit and enjoy your food which is far more enjoyable than the indoor area.

Address: 1014 Budapest, Színház u. 5-9
Telephone: (36-1) 489-0236
Opening times: 11.30 – 23.30


Most people who come to Budapest know that this is not the city you visit to eat fresh fish and delicious seafood. There are some exceptions to the rule, but in general fish is not the speciality of the restaurants in Budapest. If you still want to eat fish, one of the places you could go is to one of the Nordsee fast-food restaurants in Budapest.

Nordsee has had a special history in Budapest. They arrived, opened several restaurants, went bankrupt and left the country, for then to open up again one month later. They went bankrupt in 2012 January and then opened up again in February 2012. Most of the restaurants that once existed never opened up again, but today you can find some very few Nordsee fast-food restaurants in Budapest.

My personal Nordsee experience

I have not eaten much in Nordsee, but a few weeks back I tasted a wrap with salmon and other snacks. I really enjoy good smoked salmon, and this wrap was worth its money. You might say that the price (which was somewhere around 900 HUF) was expensive, but if you compare it with the price of a stand alone Big Mac in McDonalds it is not bad at all. And at least I believe that a fish sandwich or fish wrap in Nordsee is healthier than a hamburger with fries in McDonalds. Since I ate the wrap I am looking forward to eat in Nordsee again, but unfortunately the restaurants can be found at very few locations in Budapest (places which I spend very little time), so I am not sure when I will get to eat there again.

Nordsee in Budapest

Would you like to visit a Nordsee in Budapest yourself? Do not visit the official Nordsee homepage, because it is not updated. I am not sure if this list will be 100% updated either, but according to my knowledge (which is very limited) Nordsee can be found at the current locations in Budapest at the moment:

  • Nordsee Westend (in Westend CityCenter)
  • Nordsee Campona (in Campona shopping mall)
  • Nordsee Arena (in Arena Plaza)
  • Nordsee Mammut (in Mammut shopping mall)

Please write a comment if you know about other Nordsee restaurants in Budapest, and I will make sure to keep this list updated so that fish hungry locals, expats and tourists can enjoy fish food at Nordsee fast-food restaurants in Budapest.

Ps: I am not saying that Nordsee is the best place for fish in Budapest, but it could be an option for a quick fish meal instead of other fast-food in the shopping malls of Budapest.

Easter in Budapest

Easter is a great time of the year. It is not only a celebration of the death and the ressurection of Jesus Christ, but it is also a time to celebrate that the winter is history and summer is coming.

Budapest is a great city to visit during Easter, and here you can find some of the reasons as to why you should consider coming to the Hungarian capital to celebrate Easter here. For information about special programs taking place in Budapest during Easter, check our events calendar.

Easter in Budapest

Why you should celebrate Easter in Budapest

  • All shops are open on every single day, except from Easter Sunday and Easter Monday.
  • Restaurants stay open on every day during Easter
  • Museums can be visited every day, except from Easter Monday (this is not a 100% rule, but most museums follow this schedule)
  • There are lots of nice churches where you can enjoy Easter services. The most popular Easter service can be enjoyed in the St. Stephens basilica, the most beautiful church of Budapest.
  • Easter in Budapest also means Budapest Spring Festival. During this period you can listen to amazing concerts and shows in different venues around Budapest and you can also shop at the Spring Fair at the Vorosmarty square which is open during the entire Spring festival.
  • The chocolates brought by the Easter bunny is cheaper in the grocery stores in Budapest than most other cities in Europe, and much cheaper than if you buy them at Budapest Airport or any other so called „tax-free” at other airports around in Europe.
  • Hotels in Budapest are cheaper than in other big cities in Europe, so here you can stay in hotels with 3, 4 or 5 stars paying less than you would elsewhere.

What do Hungarians eat for Easter?

If you want to eat as a traditional Hungarian you need to get hold of a sugarbread (Kalacs), butter, ham and horseradish. If you eat those together with some freshly painted eggs you will be able to enjoy a real Hungarian Easter meal, typical for either breakfast or supper. Some families eat lamb in addition to what I have just described.

What do Hungarians do during Easter?

For Hungarian Easter does not mean any special holiday, since it only means a total of one more day off (Easter Monday). Therefore most people either stay at home or travel away to visit family, friends or relax in some wellness hotel. Those in Budapest who decide to stay at home might go for a little excursion on the Sunday or Monday, and then they normally visit either Normafa, Szentendre, Dobogoko or maybe do a day trip to Bratislava or Vienna.

[stextbox id=”warning”]On Easter Monday there is a strange tradition in Hungary to “surprise” ladies you know. You need to stand in front of them, tell them a certain poem and later pour bad perfume unto their hair. Beautiful![/stextbox]

Conclusion: Happy Easter and see you in Budapest!

MeszarSteak – meat store in Budapest

We eat lots of meat in Hungary, but mostly pork and chicken. If you visit larger food stores you will normally find some cow, but not in large quantities, because it is too expensive for the average buyer. But, if you need some high quality meat for a special occasion, you could consider MeszarSteak.

We wrote an article about Hegyvidek centre not long ago, and of of those shops fitting into the gourmet category in the mall is MeszarSteak. Do not be fooled though, it isn’t as expensive as it sounds. As I visited the place one kilo of chicken filet costed only 1600 HUF per kilo, which was the same as in Tesco.

In MeszarSteak you can buy meat for your hamburgers, ribs from lamb, T-bone steaks, Rib-Eye steaks, Angus meat and other snack that you make your lunch or dinner a real highlight. The quality should be good, because MeszarSteak deliver meat to restaurants such as Olimpia, Alabardos, Onyx, Borsso Bistro, Rokusfalvy Fogado, Babel and lots of others.

Getting hungry? Visit Hegyvidek centre and buy some premium meat yourself!

[stextbox id=”info”]I bought some meat from Meszar Steak myself and we have used it for several meals. It all tasted great, but I am not a gourmet guy, so I am not the guy to judge whether this is extremely high quality, good quality or only average. If you are a gourmet that taste the difference, write a comment after trying it and share your thoughts.[/stextbox]

Three qualities I like in Hungarians

There are lots of things I like about the Hungarian people, but in this article I want to write about three qualities I really like about the people. They might not be true for all Hungarians, but in general these seems to be true in most homes and families I have been around.

Hungarian families visibly care for one another

We live in a world where we are taught to become individualists and to fix everything ourselves. We are to move out from home early and take care of our own matters. This is positive in many ways, but I really do love the way many Hungarian families take care of one another, carry the burdens of other family members and they are «in it together.» This can also be seen clearly in the fact that the families often finance the studies of the children, which is different from many other nations where the children take big loans to survive their time of studies.

Hungary is a nation of gentlemen

Feminism is not standing very strong in Hungary. I am totally pro women in high positions and want them to earn just as much or maybe even more than the male members of society do. However I also like what seems to be an old-fashioned way of thinking that still exists in Hungary. For some people what I write here might seem to be natural, but for others this sound old-fashioned. Let me give some examples…

When you enter the metro a Hungarian (gentleman) will normally let women and children enter before himself. If he is sitting and a pregnant, an older lady or an injured person enters the metro they will jump up to give away their seat. If nobody stands up by themselves, the Hungarian gentleman actually tells the people sitting to get up and give away their seat to the person in need.

I met a beautiful Hungarian lady when I moved to Hungary. As I met her it took her a while to get used to my total lack of gentleman manners. I was totally used to women taking care of themselves. When we went out together I went out the door first and she came after. A Hungarian gentleman would of course keep the door, but I was in total lack of such training. I expected her to keep the door for herself and she expected me to keep the door open. Ouch!

Hungarians sympathize with others

We are often out flying with our family and we have often used RyanAir. The airline is not known for their good service, but we still have good experiences flying with them. Earlier low cost airlines let families travelling with small children board the planes first. Then came priority boarding and now you had to pay for the right to board the flight before everyone else. We have not yet ordered the right for priority boarding, but always at Budapest Airport the crew standing by the line have seen us arrive with a small child and they let us come through like priority anyway. This has also been true at many other airports around in Europe (Dublin and Brussels), but last year we experienced someone keeping the priority boarding rule 100% in Norway. We were sent to the very back of the line with our little child. Since the flight was to be packed it meant that we could not even be sure that we got to sit together as a family. Then something happened!

Another Hungarian family we had never seen before had ordered priority boarding and stood in the front of the line. They noticed us being sent to the back and immediately the father of the family said that he would grab some seats for us. We entered the flight as some of the last people and as soon as we got in we recognized the Hungarian father who had saved up three seats for us so that we could all sit together. Thanks again!

You might say that we did not deserve to sit next to one another as we did not pay for it. Still I so much like the fact that the Hungarians sympathize with others and do their uttermost to help people they believe could need an extra hand.

Do you agree?

Maybe you totally agree with me reading this, or maybe you disagree? Maybe you have some other areas in which you admire and love the way the Hungarians think, live or behave. I would love to have you write a comment and share your thoughts on the matter!