The simple, no-frills interior — with red-and-white-checkered tablecloths and discreet woodwork — is filled with the aroma of braising meat.“Budapest is a foodie city,” István — one of the co-owners — explained.In Budapest, on the other hand, it’s always been a challenge to find authentic, traditional Hungarian food to recommend in my Rick Steves Budapest guidebook.As in any cosmopolitan capital, most restaurants here cater to forward-looking young urbanites who want upscale international cuisine with flashes of Hungarian influence.
But I’ve always sought a moderately priced hole-in-the-wall that was all about the food. Hungarikum Bisztró, tucked down a nondescript side-street surrounded by governmental ministries, has a deep respect for tradition, but with a modern sensibility.
Except that what you’re picturing as “goulash” isn’t Hungarian.
It’s the German, or Czech, or American interpretation of a classic Hungarian peasant soup: a thick, meaty stew, stacked with vegetables and timidly flavored with a pinch of paprika.
If you appreciate the flavor more than the heat, opt for Édes Anna (“Sweet Anna”) — as hardy yet demure as the babushka-draped peasant girl on the label.
And then, of course, there’s the ultimate Hungarian dish: goulash.
The defining Hungarian ingredient is paprika, which infuses every dish with a rich and smoky tingle. But I’m a five-stars guy — the kind of person who eats ghost pepper hot sauce on a dare.