Iguana Bar & Grill Restaurant in Budapest: Mexican Dishes

Iguana Bar & Grill Restaurant has been voted the best Mexican restaurant in Budapest for five consecutive years (and before you start getting suspicious: not only because competition is slacking in this area). Iguana Bar & Grill – La Cantina de Budapest opened in 1997 serving authentic Tex-Mex cooking (quesadillas, guacamole, burritos, fajitas, jalapeno, guadalajara soup, chorizo sausages, special kids menus, etc.) “Colorfully decorated and always buzzing with activity, you might have trouble finding a seat at this buzzing restaurant. This is a real hangout for Budapest expatriates, but also draws younger crowds and families. … You might also try the Iguana Beer, made especially for the restaurant by a small Csepel Island brewery.” (Frommer’s). Here’s a lively party shot from summer:

Iguana Bar and Grill Restaurant in Budapest Mexican Dishes in Hungary

Address: Zoltán utca 16., Budapest 5th district (V. ker.)
Phone: 00-36-1-331-4352
Opening hours: Sun – Thu 11:30 am – 12:30am, Fri-Sat 11:30 am – 1:30am
Getting here
:

  • metro (red line) Kossuth tér station,
  • tram/streetcar: number 2 or 2A
  • bus number 15

Note: Book a table in advance (try to get one upstairs on the balcony). The restaurant can comfortably seat large groups too (max. capacity 120 people, gallery 40). Regular popular events include: the anniversary party in Sept, or the Cinco de Mayo (usually May 5) Street Party

See the location of Iguana Bar & Grill Restaurant on the Budapest Tourist Map (check the knife and fork 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 Iguana Bar & Grill Restaurant is very close to the Parliament, the Basilica and Roosevelt square with the Chain Bridge, plus there’s the Funicular Railway on the other side of the bridge (5-10 min walk).


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Ocean Bar and Grill Restaurant (Óceán Étterem) Budapest

Ocean Bar and Grill Restaurant (Óceán Étterem) is your sure bet if you want to eat high quality fresh seafood in Budapest. No wonder it easily wins the Best of Budapest award in Seafood categories in the past few years. Besides the seafood restaurant there’s also an Óceán Delicatessen store where you can buy your own fishes, prawns, scampis, mussels, lobsters – anything from black tiger to sea scallops no roe. Chef Giuseppe Monti and the management make seafood dining a mission in Hungary (offering recipes, nutrition advice, what have you).

Ocean Bar and Grill Restaurant (Óceán Étterem) Budapest
Address: Petőfi tér 3., 1052 Budapest
Phone: 00-36-1-266-1826
Opening hours: Mon – Sun 12 pm – 12 am (Óceán Delicatessen Tue-Sat 10.00am – 9.00pm. )
Getting here
:

  • metro (blue line) Ferenciek tere station,
  • tram/streetcar: number 2 or 2A
  • bus number 7 (green or red), or number 78

Note: Book a table in advance. Expect specialty prices. Attire: casual.

Ocean Bar and Grill Restaurant (Óceán Étterem) interior Budapest

See the location of Ocean Bar and Grill Restaurant on the Budapest Tourist Map (check the knife and fork 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 Ocean Bar and Grill Restaurant is very close to the Elisabeth Bridge, Váci utca shopping street and the luxurious Hotel Marriott Budapest.


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Nightingale Restaurant Budapest (Fulemule Étterem)

Nightingale Restaurant Budapest (Fülemüle Étterem) serves Hungarian and Jewish dishes in downtown Budapest, a few steps from the old Jewish district. It’s a small cozy restaurant owned by András Singer, which also boasts the first Hungarian Civil Sholet Club in Hungary too. If you are specifically seeking Central European Jewish specialties based on grandma’s recipes, Fulemule Restaurant may be an ideal place for you. Anyway, sólet beans is cooked in the oven for 6 hours with chopped onions, herbs and spices, but the star dish is goose.

Nightingale restaurant Fulemule Etterem in Budapest Hungary

Address: Kőfaragó utca Budapest
Phone: 00-36-1-266-7947 or cell phone: 00-36-70-341-1035
Opening hours: Sun-Thu 12 pm – 10 pm, Fri – Sat 12 pm – 11 pm
Note: literature Nobel laureate (for the novel Fatelessness), Imre Kertész is a regular, according to Via Michelin.
Getting here:

  • metro (red line) Blaha Lujza tér or Astoria stations, then a few minute walk
  • trams/ streetcars: number 4 or 6
  • buses: number 7 (green or red), number 78

See the location of Nightingale Restaurant Budapest on the Budapest Tourist Map (check the knife and fork 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 Nightingale Restaurant Budapest is very close to the old Jewish district and just a few steps from the Great Synagogue (Moorish-Byzantine neolog synagogue), as well as the beautiful Urania Film Theater (Uránia Mozi) or the opulent Cafe New York in New York Palace Boscolo Hotel.

If your are interested in further Jewish attractions and places of interest in Budapest, use the Jewish Budapest map.


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Il Terzo Cerchio: Divine Italian Restaurant in Budapest

The Italian Ristorante Il Terzo Cerchio in Budapest is a divine Italian Restaurant in two senses: one for its food, which is the most important, and the other for its name, which means ‘The Third Circle‘ referring to the 3rd circle of Hell in Dante’s Divine Comedy, where Cerberus guards the gluttons. So beware falling into the trap of gluttony here! :)

While the gluttons in Dante’s epic poem (or the thriller Seventh based on it) are forced to lie in slush made by freezing rain, black snow & hail, you will be treated heavenly in this fine Italian restaurant located in inner Budapest, in fact the old Jewish district.

Il Terzo Cerchio Italian Restaurant in Budapest Dohany utca

“Time goes by quickly in Terzo, because it’s ideally suited for large, loud groups and not intimate discussions. On a regular weekday evening the huge, almost hollow place fills up quickly with Italians and locals having a great time at large, sometimes 10-12 seater tables. There is a good buzz about the place that is kept up by the ever watchful eyes of the Italian owners – always there to greet guests, help out where possible and just to be there at all times. Pizza is one of the best Budapest has to offer with a definite smoky taste due to the wood-fired brick oven it is made in.” (Steel on Food Police culinary blog)

The design is like a cobblestoned street under the ground, simple wooden tables and chairs, bare brick walls, and large gatherings make it a lively place.

Address: Dohány utca 40, 1072 Budapest
Phone: 00-36-1-354-0788
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 12pm – 23:30
Getting here:

  • metro (red line) Astoria station
  • trams/ streetcars: 47 or 49
  • buses: number 7 (green not red), or 78

See the location of Il Terzo Cerchio Restaurant on the Budapest Tourist Map (check the knife and fork 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 Il Terzo Cerchio Restaurant is very close to the old Jewish district and just a few steps from the Great Synagogue (Moorish-Byzantine neolog synagogue), as well as the beautiful Urania Film Theater (Uránia Mozi) or the opulent Cafe New York in New York Palace Boscolo Hotel.


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Ristorante Krizia: Italian restaurant in Budapest

Ristorante Krizia Italian restaurant in Budapest headed by the owner-chef Graziano Cattaneo serves genuine Italian cuisine in a rustic-elegant family atmosphere. Italian and Hungarian wines by the glass and by the bottle alike. As Jacqueline Friedrich in New York Times remarks: “a popular seven-year-old Italian restaurant with excellent homemade pasta.” (back in 2004). “Our main courses of spinach and ricotta ravioli, home made cannelloni and risotto of langoustines were all a cut above the norm. Finishing off with equally impressive caramelized fruit pancakes and a chocolate torte, we’re happy to be among the critics who rave about this place. Recommended!” (Talking Cities UK). Krizia Restaurant is also amongst the top 33 restaurants on Chew.hu list (a leading culinary Hungarian blog).

Ristorante Krizia Italian Restaurant in Budapest close to Oktogon

Address: Mozsár utca 12., 1066 Budapest
Phone: 00-36-1-331-8711
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 12-15 and 18:30-24:00 (closed on Sundays)
Note: Sundays: closed.
Getting here:

  • underground (yellow metro line), Opera station
  • trams/ streetcars: number 4 or 6

See the location of Krizia Restaurant on the Budapest Tourist Map (check the knife and fork 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 Ristorante Krizia is very close to the Opera House as well as the Operetta Theater, and the House of Terror museum on Andrassy út.


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Photo from Chew.hu

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Trattoria Toscana: Italian Restaurant by the Danube bank in Budapest

Trattoria Toscana Budapest is an Italian Restaurant by the Danube bank in Budapest, with a lovely terrace overlooking the white sleek Elisabeth Bridge or the 19th century Liberty Bridge. Trattoria Toscana boasts a very welcoming interior: warm colors, rustic walls, good pastas, pizzas, salads, desserts, and always full in the evenings. Fodor’s travel guide writes: “this popular trattoria feels pretty authentic … The extensive menu boasts some of the best fish in town, including several sea bass options. The little understood mozzarella ventigli pasta with San Marzano tomatoes and fresh oregano (homemade cheese-filled ravioli with garlicky tomatoes and lots of oregano) is a dish to die for.” Pizzas from 1700 HUF, beers from 800 HUF, occasional celeb view for free.
Trattoria Toscana Budapest Hungary Italian upscale restaurant

Address: Belgrád rakpart 13. Budapest V. kerület (5th district)
Phone: 00-36-1-327-0045 or 00-36-1-327-0046
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 12 pm – 12 am
Note: make an early reservation to get a table
Getting here:

  • tram/ streetcar: number 2 or 2A
  • metro (blue line) stations: Ferenciek tere OR Kálvin tér – equally 5-minute from either
  • bus: number 15

See the location of Trattoria Toscana on the Budapest Tourist Map (check the knife and fork 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 Trattoria Toscana is very close to the Central Market Hall and Váci utca shopping street.


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Budapest Chairlift: Libego on Janoshegy

The Chairlift in Budapest is on János hill (Jánoshegy) in a beautiful green part of the hilly Buda side of Budapest. Although the Chair Lift is run by the Budapest Public Transportation company, Budapest travel passes and tourist cards known as Budapest cards, do not include a free ride on the Chairlift.

Budapest Chairlift

Budapest Chairlift

Opening hours: weekends and fair weather 10 am – 4pm
Prices: 500 HUF for adults, 200 HUF for kids, 400 HUF for students and retired people. Return tickets are double.
Address: Zugligeti út 97, Budapest
Phone: 00-36-1-394-37-64
Note: Groups need to book in advance.

The location of the Chairlift is indicated in the middle with a blue (sorry) ‘helicopter’ icon on the Budapest Tourist Map, you can see the Children’s Railway (Gyermekvasut), the Lookout Tower and the Langos vendor close by. All highly recommended for a relaxed family-friendly or inspirational romantic program.


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Here’s a nice video on the Chairlift on Janos Hill (the second major part of the video is about the neighboring lookout tower, Erzsebet kilato from 1910). Watch out for the retro panpipe music characterizing the 1980s:

 

Elisabeth Lookout Tower (Erzsébet kilátó) on János Hill, at the Children’s Railway in Budapest

If you want to breathe some nice fresh air, be in the green and take panoramic photos of Budapest, it’s a good idea to take the Children’s Railway and get off at Janoshegy, at the Elisabeth Lookout Tower (in Hungarian Erzsébet kilátó). Skip to the video at the bottom if you want to watch not read.

Although it’s a beautiful memorial, admission is free and kids also love it very much. Most of the time it is open all year round. On the first floor there is a mini-exhibition (a few words about the history of the lookout tower), which tells you that the tower was built between 1908 and 1910 from lime and sand stone (by Pál Kluzinger), and the top part was rebuilt by Frigyes Schulek (who also planned the Fishermen’s Bastion, so if you felt a resemblance between the rampart in the Buda Castle and Erzsebet kilato, you are right). Renovation took place between 2001 and 2005.

Elisabeth Lookout Tower (Erzsébet kilátó) at the Children’s Railway in Budapest on the Buda hills

It’s on the highest point of Budapest at 527 m/ 0.33 miles, while the tower itself, which has six floors, is about 23.5 m/ 77 ft. If the weather is truly clear you can see the hill tops of Pilis and Mátra as far as 77km/ 48 miles without binoculars.

The beloved Elisabeth or Sissi liked taking tours here, similarly to many Hungarians, so when the wooden lookout structure was replaced by a stone one, it was named after Sissi (in Hungarian Erzsébet, say: air-jay-beth)

The guard of the lookout tower used to live on the ground floor, then in 1923 he got a new building not far from Erzsebet kilato (not in use anymore). Now the guard uses the ground floor places again.

Needless to say, just like any other important building, the Lookout tower got a red star in the communist era:

Elisabeth Lookout Tower (Erzsébet kilátó) with a communist red star

To go back to the city center you can take the mini railway operated by kids (the engine is driven by an adult), you can take a good walk or you can get on the Chair lift (Libego) and then on bus 158 to get back to Moszkva tér metro station.

Here’s the Lookout Tower on the Budapest Tourist Map in the middle (map icon for panoramic photo spots: lilac cameras)


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The video (made by Cix688) is good for three reasons: a, it starts with the Chairlift, which helps you decide if you want to sit on it or not, b, Erzsebet Kilato is shown from inside out, c, you can hear the cheesiest panflute-soft rock music since the 1980s:

Millennial Monument (Millenniumi emlékmű) in Budapest

Heroes Square is one of the most visited squares in Budapest packed with some of the most beautiful Budapest attractions to see, and some fun things to do (lake / skating rink, cycling tour, Segway tours, etc.).

Millennial Monument (Millenniumi emlékmű) on Hosok tere, Budapest: the monument, also known as the Millennium Monument, was built for the 1000th birthday of Hungary. Andrassy Avenue seems to culminate in the beautiful memorial. It consists of a 35m/ 118 ft column (with Archangel Gabriel on top), and two wings with statues of Hungarian politicians & military men – you guessed: the Heroes of Hungary (children love the big horse statues).

While the domineering central piece of the square is the Millennial Monument, the two museums, the Museum of Fine Arts and the Hall of Art (Mucsarnok), which flank the the square, are enhancing the grandeur of this fin-de-siecle complex. If you have a Budapest Card you can get a free entry to the Museum of Fine Arts, 20% off the entry fee in the Kunsthalle (Hall of Arts). You can also visit the Vajdahunyad Castle and Szechenyi Baths if you are on Heroes’ Square.

Note: Hosok tere is also the favorite hangout place for acrobatic bikers, line skaters, etc.

Address: Hősök tere (Heroes’ Square) Budapest
Opening hours: 24/7
Prices: free
Getting here: the underground (old metro, yellow line) has a station called ‘Hősök tere’ but you can also take buses (e.g. number 30), or trolley buses (e.g. number 79)

See its location of the Hungarian Millennium Monument on the Budapest Tourist Map (the yellow balloon icon in the middle). Click the View larger map blue link under the map to enlarge the map-view.


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Cafe Gerbeaud: the Must See Cafe and Restaurant in Budapest

Café Gerbeaud is a few minutes walk from the Gresham Palace at the Chain Bridge: it is one of the most elegant historical cafes in Budapest (on Vorosmarty ter on the yellow metro line). The café was founded by Henrik Kugler in 1858 in Viennese style during the high times of the Austro-Hungarian empire, and expanded by its later owner, Emil Gerbeaud. Sumptuous interior with graceful chandeliers, marble-topped tables, lavish fine wood paneling, gold-plasters and statuettes, etc. The cafe can take up about 330 people inside and another 300 outside on the terrace, if weather allows. As Frommer’s Travel Guide writes: “Whether you sit inside amid the splendor of the late-19th-century furnishings, or outside on one of Pest’s liveliest pedestrian-only squares, you will surely enjoy the fine pastries that made the name Gerbeaud famous; we especially recommend their moist plum pies (szilvás lepény)

Café Gerbeaud in Budapest

It is also a restaurant and a bar. Great place to ‘people watch’. By the way, the name ‘gerbeaud’ or zserbó in Hungarian is used for a type of layer cake (with fruit spread, loads of nuts, chocolate, etc.).

Address: Vörösmarty tér 7. Budapest 1051
Phone: 00-36-1-419-9020
Opening hours: Mon-Sun 9am-9pm

Take a virtual tour here. A good photo of the facade and part of the square (Vörösmarty) where the Gerbeaud is located. See its location on the Budapest tourist map (check the Cup icon in the middle and click on icons to get further info). Read more about the Best Restaurants in Budapest or the Best Cafes in Budapest.


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History of Cafe Gerbeaud

The café was founded by Henrik Kugler a world traveler confectioner, who has been working all over Europe gathering experience of the coffee house and confectionery lore. Although the original coffee house was established in 1858, it was not the same building what you see today as it stood on another square (József Nádor tér). Cafe Gerbeaud moved to Vorosmarty square in 1870, and soon became a prestige place where ‘to be seen’ meant a difference.

Owing to Kugler’s rich European confectionery studies, the cafe was the best in Budapest in the 19th century: not surprisingly selling all kinds of exquisite products from China to Russia, as well as house made specialties like Kugler’s frothy coffee with chocolate, Kugler’s special liqueurs and Kugler’s bon-bons. Cafe Gerbeaud also boasted about the title “the best ice-creams in Pest” at that time.

The musician and composer Franz Liszt, and the ‘wise of Hungary’ Ferenc Deák politician were among the patrons of the café. In 1881, Kugler’s was called “the meeting point of six elegant worlds.”

Henrik Kugler met Emil Gerbeaud in Paris in 1882. He invited him a year later to Budapest in order to make him his business partner, and he became the cafe’s later owner. Emil Gerbeaud did not change the name of the cafe to his own name, but decided to use the well-known name of his predecessor, Henrik Kugler for several decades. He expanded the cafe, so today it can house about 330 people and the terrace can host an additional 300 guests. Soon he was making the take-away services of the cafe flourish with good tastes: good pastries and beautifully decorated artistic paper boxes of his own design. Gerbeaud was presented with numerous awards at various fairs and exhibitions. At the 1898 World Fair in Brussels and the 1900 Paris Exposition, he was invited to be a member of the jury, and was awarded the French Legion of Honour.

Over time, the interior decoration of the café underwent improvements: Henrik Darilek made new designs emphasizing fine woods, marble and bronze features in the 1910s. He used the examples of the French and Austrian royal palaces: for instance, the ceilings were decorated with rococo plaster work in Louis XIV style, the chandeliers and wall lamps were created in Maria Theresa Style. In addition, Cafe Gerbeaud got secessionist style tables to be sent from the Paris World Fair. Emil Gerbeaud survives the awful years of the First World War, sees the deterioration of his beautiful coffee house, then dies on November 8, 1919.

The nice history of the cafe suddenly stops: world wars and communist rules mean severe obstacles. Gerbeaud’s name is not welcome by the western-hating communists, so the cafe is renamed after the Hungarian poet Mihály Vorosmarty (yes, like the square). From 1950 to 1984, Café Gerbeaud is known as Cafe Vörösmarty. With the loosening ties of the goulash communism, the cafe gets back its name in March 1984, and about ten years later the cafe is bought by the German businessman Erwin Müller. The new owner makes sure that the café regains its old glory: the rich plaster work, the brocade wall coverings, etc. of the cafe were renovated in 1997.

(sources: the official website of Cafe Gerbeaud, and Budapest Lexikon)

Crossing from Pest to Buda: Chain Bridge (Széchenyi Lánchíd)

Széchenyi Chain Bridge is one of the several nice bridges connecting the two parts of Budapest: the hilly Buda side and the flat Pest side. It was built in 1849 as the very first permanent bridge spanning the River Danube (the river ‘Duna’ has an average width of approx. 400 meters / 1,325 feet). In fact, when the Chainbridge was built, Budapest has not existed yet: the major city parts (Buda, old Buda aka Óbuda and Pest) were united more than 20 years later in 1873 partly due to the first bridge as a pre-condition.

“The bridge was designed by the English engineer William Tierney Clark in 1839, after Count István Széchenyi’s initiative in the same year, with construction supervised locally by Scottish engineer Adam Clark (no relation). It is a larger scale version of William Tierney Clark’s earlier Marlow Bridge, across the River Thames in Marlow, England. ” (wikipedia)

The Chain Bridge was blown up by the Nazis in WW2, so it was rebuilt in 1949.

Walk over the bridge, which connects Roosevelt square (Four Seasons Gresham Palace, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Sofitel Hotel Budapest) with Adam Clark square (Funicular Railway, Tunnel, Zero Kilometer Stone statue), and is part of the Unesco world heritage (with the Royal Palace, the Parliament, etc.).

Here’s a video made on the Chain Bridge (by hcjfisch) to give you some idea of the dimensions:

See the attractions close to the bridge on the Budapest Tourist Map (click on the icons to learn more about them, or follow the View Larger Map blue link under the map to enlarge it)


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Anecdotes:

  • Check if the lions guarding the ends of the bridge have tongues. Find out what’s the truth in this common Hungarian insider’s joke.
  • Do you think that the Chainbridge could be rolled into the Tunnel? When the weather is bad, the bridge needs to be protected, so there was a tunnel needed under the Castle Hill. Could it be?

Note

  • You can easily cross the bridge on foot (on bike too, although there’s no designated bike route so you’ll have to carefully meander through the pedestrians). It takes about 5-15 minutes to cross the bridge (3 min in a hurry, 15 min with taking photos, and a deep breath, 1h – proposal to girlfriends considerably expands time)
  • If you don’t want to walk, take the bus (number 16 and 105).
  • In the past few years, the Chain Bridge was closed down for cars and turned into a cultural program venue at weekends in summers (about June 23- Aug 12). Concerts, theater performances, buffets pop up. Buses usually cross on Elisabeth or Margaret bridge at this time.
  • Unfortunately, there’s a lot of graffiti on the bridge – but it’s still a landmark.

Here’s a video on the summer cultural festival on Chain Bridge (Lanchid):

Why the bridge is called Széchenyi is because this noble man, Count István Széchenyi was one of those few politicians and thinkers in the 19th century who wanted to make things better in Hungary and did accordingly so. Not only did he urge the construction of the bridge between the two sides of the river Danube, but he also gave away the full annual income of his estates for the establishment of the Hungarian Academy of Science, organized the first national Casino (nay, not primarily for gambling but in order to organize the reform-minded nobility – to encourage networking and thinking), he imported horse breeds to improve the Hungarian horse culture, etc. He is called ‘the greatest Hungarian’ although he was a Hungarian who could hardly speak the Hungarian language, and who was born and who died outside Hungary – but his family was an old Hungarian aristocratic dynasty and, most importantly, he considered himself a Magyar.