Over winter break, on my way back from Birthright in Israel, I got two beautiful days in Budapest with my friend. I had never been to Budapest before; neither had anyone else in my family. I was the first Evans, placing our flag on the Chain Bridge. Budapest was ‘budaful’, we kept repeating obnoxiously as we walked down the gothic streets that reminded us of a time when the Austro-Hungarian Empire was one of the most powerful conglomerates in the world. I fell in love with Budapest, and would one day like to live there. There was so much culture, so much history, so much great food — and best of all, it was cheap!
I had heard that Budapest was ‘the Paris of the East’, but I didn’t believe it until I was there, walking up Andrassy Avenue that looked very much like the Champs-Elysees, but sadder. But the culture, the food, the Hungarians — they were very much happy and alive! So, I decided, in order to really enjoy myself in this magnificent place: I’ll have two dinners.
You need to go to Bors Gastrobar on Kazcinsky Street for some Hungarian street food and their syrups. Seriously, the menu was invigorating, written in chalk all over the walls. There was so much choice, and everything was so cheap! Our order was taken by a friendly man named William who asked us if we had a ‘name or a nickname’ to collect our order. While we were waiting, we looked around at the pictures on the wall, and realized that the very person who had taken our order, and the other person behind him who was cooking, were the guys from the pictures on the wall. There was such a feeling of passion and community in this gastrobar. A group of friends’ endeavor to live their dream. You could taste it in the food and smell it wafting out onto the street. I had a ‘mojky way’ sandwich —roasted duck liver with William’s pear mix and caramelized onion jam with elderberry— and my friend Sangmin had the borsgdog —homemade onion jam, tomato, spicy white sausage, and cheese. To drink, I had a blackberry pepper soda. There was a pork brain sandwich, but we were too scared. It will always be our one regret.
The next restaurant you need to go to is Nemo. Situated outside the Mammut Shopping Center in a cellar, Nemo is a delightful surprise. We almost walked past it, but luckily we were looking for it. Down the stairs into a whitewash fishbowl, we were mistaken for Hungarians (telling you how straight up un-touristy this place is) and sat for a while staring at the menu. Sangmin ordered a glass of lemonade, which came bubbly, in a tall glass with chunks of lemon, lime, and orange on top. We ordered the Nemo Burger —a salmon burger— and the cod wrap, although they are known for their ‘Fish and Chips’ (but we have the number one fish and chips in Scotland, so we didn’t bother). They were both devastatingly amazing. After I finished the wrap, I could barely talk. This was due to a combination of how good the food was, and how good the price. The salmon burger was tender and delicious, but the cod wrap was a flavorful, spicy, crunchy fish wrap. It really was all too much.
That night we walked back slowly along Andrassy to Njoy Hostel, taking in the crumbling brick buildings next to a modern McDonalds, the beautiful view of the Danube and the Parliament building. We said goodbye to the lions, and dreamed of the next time we would be in Budapest.
Samantha Emily Evans
Image Credits: Sammy Evans