California Coffee Company: an American Coffee House in Budapest

California Coffee Company is an American style and owned café on the Grand Boulevard. If you like American style cafés and don’t mind sitting around with students stuck to their laptops, it might be your choice – also for an alternative breakfast place. Coffees, sandwiches, cakes. Free WiFi for 1.5 hours. Light, bright place, comfy armchairs in a trendy atmosphere. There’s also a shop where you can buy different coffees, syrups, gifts (e.g. traveler’s mugs), etc. Read about the Best Cafes in Budapest.

California Coffee Company Coffee House in Budapest downstairs
Address: Teréz körút 38., Budapest 1066
Phone: 00-36-30-465-2195 or 00-36-1-465-2195
Opening hours: 8 am – 24:00

California Coffee Company Coffee House in Budapest upstairs
Getting here:

  • metro (blue line) Nyugati pu. station or underground (yellow line) Oktogon station
  • streetcars/ trams: number 4 or 6, get off at either Nyugati or Oktogon stop (halfway between the two stops on Grand Boulevard)

See the location of California Coffee Company on the Budapest Tourist Map (check the coffee cup map icon in the middle, and click on the icons to learn more about the neighboring places of interest or click on the View Larger Map blue link under the map). Notice that California Coffee Company is very close to the House of Terror museum on Andrassy út and the Muvesz Movie Theater (an artsy film theater), as well as the the Opera House and the Operetta Theater, or the House of Photography.

View Larger Map

Gloria Jean’s Coffee Houses in Budapest

Gloria Jean’s Coffee House

The cafe chain has more locations in Budapest. This coffee house is one of the early birds of big chain cafés importing the American style café culture (emblematic of Starbucks cafés) into Hungary. Big cups, fresh cakes, reliable services, free wifi.

Gloria Jean’s Coffee House at Heroes’ square sounds very handy after/ before a long visit in the Museum of Fine Arts (Szepmuveszeti Muzeum) or the Hall of Art (Mucsarnok) on Hosok tere, or a long stroll in the City Park. “The cafe is located in a beautifully renovated old villa and has several big rooms ideally suited to larger gatherings,” says the website.

Address: Dózsa György út 96., 1068 Budapest
Phone: 00-36-1-354-10-98
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 8.30 am – 8.30 pm

See its location on the Budapest tourist map (check the Cup icon in the middle):

View Larger Map

Gloria Jean’s Coffee House in Mammut Shopping Mall (a ten-minute walk downhill from the Castle District in Budapest). It has a nice view over Széna tér from comfortable armchairs with occasionally good background music. It’s good to have a break here before/ after a walk up the hill to the Royal Palace, the Fishermen’s Bastion, etc. or while shopping in the mall.

Address: 1024 Budapest, Lövőház utca 2-6. III. emelet 301. – basically, in Mammut Shopping Mall next to Moszkva tér, Mammut Building I., third floor.
Phone: 00-36-1-345-82-04
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 8.30am-10pm
Prices: (coffees) from about 515 HUF

See its location on the Budapest tourist map (check the Cup icon in the middle):

View Larger Map

The good thing about Gloria Jean’s Coffee House that it’s a coffee house in a sense that it also sells various coffee beans and coffee making accessories – unlike most of the Hungarian cafes.

Read more about the Best Cafes in Budapest.

Cafe Central (Central Kávéház) in Budapest

Café Central, which is a coffee house and a restaurant from the 19th century, has a good central location on Ferenciek tere, and it is also spacious and bright. Insert it in your Váci utca shopping spree, or on the way to the Central Market Hall. There are marble tables (for four and eight), normal chairs or comfy armchairs and lots of lots of big windows. You can have Italian, Viennese or gourmet coffees, Esterhazy, Dobos cakes and Flodni, soups, pastas, hot meals, kid menus, etc. You can also choose the cafe as an alternative breakfast place (e.g. sausages, sandwiches or fried eggs from 1000-1500 HUF).

Address: Károlyi Mihály utca 9. Budapest 1053
Phone: 00-36-1-266-2110
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 7am-12am
Prices (coffee): from 420 HUF

See its location on the Budapest tourist map (check the Cup icon in the middle):

View Larger Map

Read more about the Best Cafes in Budapest or the Best Restaurants in Budapest.

History of Cafe Centrál

Café Central established in 1887 was one of the great coffee houses of old Budapest – similarly to the old Cafe New York, it was a hub, an artistic and thinking academy, a center of networking, news making and breaking, and in general, making progress. “The Central was a unique institution of its kind, something like an open university but more than that, because it was more fruitful” claimed Emil Kolozsvári Grandpierre writer. Its location was central in the 19th century too: very close to universities, libraries, etc.

Once Dezső Kosztolányi, one of the most talented Hungarian writers (and poets) paraphrased the saying ‘My Home is my Castle’ as ‘My Cafe is my Castle’ and it was no exaggeration, journalists, artists, etc. spent far more time in the cafe than at home. In the 1890s, at the Round Table of the Central Café, which consisted of multiple round tables rather than one single table, the newspaper ‘A Hét’ (Week) was edited by suspicious looking progressive writers invigorated by the atmosphere of the smoky cafe. This Hungarian periodical was easily available in all the 400 (!) cafes in Budapest. A few years later, the highly progressive and best quality periodical named Nyugat (West) was also started here, revolutionizing the Hungarian literature. Although editors of Nyugat moved away to Cafe New York for a good while, they came back here in 1920.

In the 1910s, Győző Mészáros, the head of the cafe has two big challenges: the growing worker’s strike (including the strike of the waiters), and the growing competition posed by more modern coffee houses built with American elegance (mirrors, marbles, games, etc.). Mészáros copes with both challenges successfully: he becomes an active member of the waiter’s movement and contributes to the development of free apprenticeship programs, and in 1913 he decides to close down the cafe for a temporary refurbishment. He fights in the First World War, and survives it.

In the 1920s a Hungarian newspaper sarcastically writes: “There are so many real and fake writers in Cafe Centrál that Mészáros has started to build a new gallery – closer to Olympus – for them. It may make more room and comfort for respectful citizens too.” But Mészáros liked the intellectual atmosphere of his cafe and even lent money to young writers. Later on another outstanding literary periodical, Újhold (New Moon) found its inspirational home in Cafe Central.

Unfortunately, in 1949, in the year of nationalization when precious lands, manors, palaces, etc. were confiscated from the pre-war aristocracy, and taken into state ownership, Cafe Centrál was closed down, then turned into a diner for construction workers of the underground… In the 1960s it became the Eötvös Club of the ELTE University. In the 1990’s it was used as an amusement arcade – causing heartache for many people.

In other words, Cafe Central was an abused sleeping beauty for more than 50 years. Thanks to Imre Somody the place is a coffee house again: and we may never know when a really talented new literary group turns up in this noble cafe.

Source (in Hungarian): Bogáta Sárossi: “A Centrál kávéház tükörcserepei”

Dining in Budapest: Lángos, the filling snack

Fresh Hungarian Lángos Fried Dough

Hungarian Snack Langos fried sour dough

Lángos (say lahn-gosh) is a sort of salty fried dough, usually served with sour cream (tejföl in Hungarian) and grated cheese. It was originally a by-product of making bread. There are all sorts of toppings, including cabbage, mushroom, beef, ham, etc.
Tips: put some garlic sauce, or if you are a garlic fan like we are, rub lots of garlic on top of the lángos, before adding the sour cream & cheese toppings, to make it even tastier. Don’t look at the calories, enjoy the little vice of your taste buds! Lángos is especially great as a beer snack, or an afternoon snack. But you will surely enjoy it without a beer too. :)

Warning: if your lángos is not fresh and is too oily, you are at the wrong place! Escape and try one of the following places below (Fény utca should be a good tip).

Price ranges: plain lángos (like the one to the left) is about 140-160 HUF (about half a euro or 0.77 USD) while turbo lángos with extra toppings is about twice as much.

Where can you buy good Lángos in Budapest?

There are not many super-pleasant places in Budapest where you can try lángos, especially not in restaurants and bars – don’t ask why, it would be an excellent idea! Instead, you can try the pleasant market halls in Budapest and some other places. And once you decide to try lángos, don’t start with the plain ones: choose something with loads of toppings. Here’s a photo of the classic Tejfölös-sajtos lángos (lángos with sour cream and grated cheese) made by Eszter:

Tejfölös-sajtos lángos (lángos with sour cream and grated cheese)

Here’s a short list to start your Lángos tour with (not in order of quality):

1, Vásárcsarnok, or Central Market Hall (higher prices , smaller sizes) is always inviting

2, Another great place to try lángos is the Market Hall in Fény utca: it is right behind Mammut Shopping Mall on the Buda side (the name is Fény utcai piac, say approx. ‘faign ootsai pee-ats’). Some say that lángos with cabbage here is a great choice, and lángos is less oily in Fény utcai Market, which is important.

3, A lot less touristy, truly rustic place is the Lehel tér piac, another big market hall very much frequented by locals, especially from the less rich strata (oftentimes cheaper than Vásárcsarnok). Beware, the building of Lehel Market Hall is really tasteless, some say it was the revenge of the architect on Budapest. But the main point is lángos, and you will find it there too.

4, If you happen to be in Budapest during the Christmas holidays, try lángos on Vörösmarty tér: usually there is a beautiful folk market on Vörösmarty square, and also great food and drinks, e.g. lángos and mulled wine.

(from now on, I will mainly rely on a great Lángos test, made by Eszter Fűszeres in November 2007 – in Hungarian)

5, Garay utca piac – temporarily moved to Rottenbiller utca (according to locals, the best version is Hungarian lángos with the Greek tzatziki, but many bought Lángos with ham and ketchup).

6, 58-as Lángoskert (Lángos Garden Buffet): great lángos, spacious place for up to 40 people. Only open from spring to autumn and is operating in an old streetcar named desire Lángos.

See the Lángos Locations on the Budapest Tourist Map (click on the yellow basket signs to see detailed info on the food markets):

View Larger Map

Read more about the Best Restaurants in Budapest or the Best Cafes in Budapest.

Did you know?

Most Hungarians associate Lángos with holidays spent at Lake Balaton (the ‘Hungarian sea’ as we call the great Hungarian fresh-water lake). It is great between two dips, and you will surely find lángos makers in almost every town at Lake Balaton, too.

I think, most people in Hungary think of Lángos as a savoury snack (salty not sweet) and Fánk (another deep fried dough or doughnut) is what is eaten sweet. But some people mention eating lángos sweet with sugar, jam, cinnamon, etc. Apparently, Hungarians living in Transylvania eat lángos with fruit spread, sweet.

Lángos (or lángus), is also sold in other neighboring countries, such as Austria, Romania, Serbia, etc.