100% of the reviews, locations, and places are true. 50% of the facts are not.
In no particular order:
Right up there with the best sandwich I’ve ever had. They have five types on offer: The Thai Massage, The French Lady, Quattro Formaggi, the Barack Obama, and I could never read what the fifth set of writing said. They are a bloody spectacle and each contains approximately a year’s supply of cheese. Think of the meatiest, melted-cheesiest sandwich you’ve ever had but then double everything in it. Except the Barack Obama which is apricot-based because evidently, Bors GazstroBar is aware of the former President’s meaningful comment on a Humans of New York photo three years ago.
Sandwiches cost 900 Forint which is £2.50. They could cost TWICE that and you’d still be getting a bloody deal.
– One of the guys who works in there was on a Hungarian cooking show once. That episode is played on a loop in the restaurant and is always on silent.
– They play the popular Hollywood film Looper on a loop.
Retro Langos Bufe
Langos is one of Hungary’s national dishes. I don’t know who decides which dishes get to be national ones but I bet the backstory is a heck of a tale. A langos isn’t initially very enticing: it looks like it got pulled out of the oven ten minutes early but one bite in and you’ll be sporting ivory. That’s a 1920s way of saying “smiling!”. We could all start saying it again? No? Alright.
A regular langos is just deep-fried dough covered with sour cream and grated cheese. If you like, you can get some ham or chorizo chucked on there but ‘ol standard was the best in my eyes. It’s great and it certainly solves that “living too long” problem I could’ve had.
But, there’s a little issue. Retro Langos Bufe does by far the best langos in the city, but, it has maybe the strongest pigeon infestation I’ve ever witnessed. And these aren’t your regular run-of-the-mill keep-their-noses-clean pigeons. They’re “someone get those pigeons a storefront so they can mind their own business” pigeons. They’re belligerent, confident, and cunning. Retro Langos Bufe is a hole-in-the-wall type place so you either sit outside or you head home. The problem is, you can’t really sit. The pigeons are so aggressive that they will jump on your lap. So you casually get up, act like nothings wrong and react like you do this kind of thing all the time. Then you eat whilst gradually circling the building with the pigeons right on your tail like you’re the suspect in the slowest high-speed pursuit of all time. It’s like you’re O.J in the white Bronco and the pigeons are the whole of the LAPD slowly creeping up your arse.
There’s not a lot of dignity in the experience. I had no idea that I had a strong physical aversion to pigeons until one jumped in my lap and I screamed to high heck. But it’s a test. You feel like you’ve earned the delicious deep-fried bread even if your girlfriend will probably never use your name in the same sentence as the word “masculinity” ever again. However much of a bloody nuisance the pigeons are, we visited Retro Langos Bufe four times during our stay. FOUR TIMES BABY.
Standard Sour Cream and Cheese Langos: 420 Forint (£1.19!)
– As well as being Hungary’s national dish, it’s also the largest city in Nigeria.
– There are no fun facts about langos. It’s just bread.
Stiflers is the Spoons of Budapest. They’re everywhere and they’re bloody economical. Look, I know that at the moment, you don’t want to go to a Spoons – you’re on holiday! But you need to put your Inevitable Shades on because you’ll want to go at some point. Who doesn’t love a bargain pint? You? Get out right now.
The fact that the average pint in Budapest costs about £2 doesn’t mean that you will consume your normal four pints and end up with a £8 tab. It means you order three times as many pints as usual because it’s “such a good deal” and then end up with a £24 tab, which is more than you would’ve spent in bloody London.
But Stiflers isn’t normal. It is near enough impossible to end up with a £24 here. But you can bloody try.
Pints start at 290 Forint which is 82p.
– It’s named after the character Steve Stifler from American “Wow, that didn’t age well” Pie.
– Sean William Scott, who played the role of Stifler, was Quentin Tarantino’s first choice for the role of “Archie Hicox” in Inglourious Basterds. Tarantino said that it was his role in American Pie which sealed the deal. Unfortunately, Scott got tonsillitis on the first day of filming and Tarantino was forced to begrudgingly give it to Michael Fassbender.
This place does the best goulash in the whole of Hungary. Meat, water, all the other stuff (paprika, mainly). They just get it spot on. I’ve checked every single town so I know. And let me assure you that I’m including Hódmezővásárhely in that! Castro Bistro’s couches are agreeable and the playlists are inexplicable but in a good way. I counted 14 Gwen Stefani songs in an hour which is a difficult thing to accomplish without causing a scene.
A lovely bowl of Goulash is 1520 Forint (£4.27).
– Goulash Communism was a maverick brand of, you guessed it, Communism, practised by Hungary during the Cold War. It was generally normal Communism but they got nicer food (not sure what kind) and some degree of economic freedom. So not Communism.
– Custard Communism was Goulash Communism’s optimistic attempt at breaking into the British market.
I have been on the hunt for the best fancy hotdog in the world for some time now. In my hunt, I have tried anywhere between 10-400 Hot Dogs and I think I’ve finally found the best one. Tolto is perhaps the fanciest hot dog place I’ve ever been to. The chef, Benedek Juba, worked at a Michelin Star restaurant before this so technically TECHNICALLY, I’ve had a Michelin Star hot dog. I’ve tried all four hot dogs on the menu at Tolto and they’re all top drawer, but the Wild Boar stands above them all. It’s why they serve up Wild Boar and not those tedious domesticated boars big hot dog companies keep on trying to ram down our throats. It’s just so important for the boar not to be one of those tame, cultivated boars. You really want to taste that he was a wild, partying bastard who didn’t play by anyone’s rules. Not even his own.
Wild Boar Sausage with Shitake: 1390 Forint (£3.90)
– Tolto means “charger” and “sausage stuffer” in Hungarian. MO’NING!
– A sausage a day keeps the doctor away
Szimpla, Ellato Kert, and all the other ruin bars
Throughout Budapest, you can find (approximately) 1 million Ruin Bars. They are, as you might’ve guessed, bars made in the ruins of old buildings. Szimpla is the original and opened in 2002 in an abandoned (very well located) stove factory. I don’t want to ruin it for you, but it is terrific! Eh?
Szimpla and most of the other ruin bars which I’ve encountered are a series of interconnecting rooms containing seemingly separate businesses and sometimes, just a man in a hole selling cans. You can find up to 15 different bars within a premises, a flower market, fancy chorizo salespeople, and that bloody inevitable aerial dance performance. Then suddenly the flower market becomes 2000 people in a nightclub. There is so much bloody stuff everywhere. Murals made out of beer caps that look like they took years to construct, a scattered dome of bicycles that makes you feel like a Hogwarts student who did Acid and then immediately looked up at the enchanted ceiling in the Great Hall. And whatever this is:
Someone either put £6 or £6 million into this place. It’s hard to tell. It feels like there’s no cohesion to it all but odds are the whole thing is probably meticulously operated and owned by Telefonica or something. But fingers crossed it isn’t.
Each ruin bar is like a fun derelict maze where you can be stood in an 18th-century ballroom one moment and then a step through a crumbling hole in the wall can lead to the best Mexican food in the city. It’s one of those places where there’s graffiti all over the place but the kind of graffiti where you wonder, can I contribute to that or did they pay someone they found on Instagram 20 grand to do all this? But then you think, fuck it, I’ve got a pen, I’m gonna chip in. I’m gonna bloody write MO’NING on the wall. Then you run off and jump over a cordon and suddenly, you’re in an empty room with 15 unmanned beer pumps. You go over, overturn your water bottle, then fill ‘er up. Wow, what a thrill to break the rules in a place with no rules! You kick a chair over to make a point. Then you notice that some Mums from Bristol are Facetiming their daughters on their iPads behind you and realise you’re not the town renegade you thought you may be. Szimpla is the mainstream of the fringe. Your Nan may go there before you do but that doesn’t stop it being cool.
Pints start at 600 Forint (£1.70)
– I’ve run out of facts
– I haven’t run out of facts