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Which ruin bar to choose in Budapest and why? What kind of music to expect, how much does food and drink cost? A guide based on personal experience.
What are Budapest’s ruin bars?
Ruin bar, a phrase that catches your attention immediately. What is it? A destroyed bar? Or perhaps a bar built on a ruin?
Not at all. The world of ruin bars was brought to life by the creative youth – a young generation who grew up on the house-cellar parties of the 90s, a generation that had no money for trendy, elite clubs or bars, whom good company meant much more than glamour.
So, the youth of the 90s created their own “private ruin bars”: house parties with armchairs and poufs, grandma’s old coffee table, some ancient curtains, and leftover clothes, and matt, flashing Christmas lights taken from yard sales providing the mood at dad’s garage or in stairway basements.
Each company of friends had their own organizer. Someone who united the team, a “home DJ” who enjoyed providing the music and girls who brought cookies.
There were home-made wine and pálinka (brandy). Someone made lemonade mixing some raspberry grains into it, others buttered bread with butter and home-made goose fat.
But the basis of everything was a good company. Preparations – decorating, carrying armchairs, painting discarded pallets and sewing pillows from leftover fabric – felt like waiting for Christmas.
It was an extraordinary era with all its charm and ingenuity. That’s the atmosphere ruin bars in Budapest intended to bring back to life and share with everyone.
They created an intimate, friendly meeting place with the feeling of closeness for old acquaintances and friends who were exactly like these ruin bars – free from all the charade and dishonesty.
Who are ruin bars not recommended for?
As it is obvious from the above, ruin bars are not some shiny nightclubs – I’m just telling you in advance not to be surprised.
Ruin bars are coolness, laid-backness, and mystery in themselves. The run-down building and retro feeling give these places a truly unique atmosphere.
Ruin bars are definitely not recommended if you wish to drink Dom Pérignon champagne in a VIP section in the company of posh ladies and gentlemen.
In addition to the unique venue, the charm of these ruin bars is made complete with eventful and varied programs, concerts, exhibitions, parties, foosball, table tennis, etc.
You may want to visit a ruin bar in Budapest even if you prefer luxurious nightlife. It will surely be a lifetime experience, but know what to expect.
The ruin bars of the party district are closing down one by one
Ankert, Patent, Hableány, and Kuplung are some of the superb ruin bars that have been closed recently.
The reason: Hungarian and foreign real estate investors are redrawing the map of the party district. Areas are being bought. The buildings of ruin bars are being demolished with residential parks taking their place.
They are the curiosity of Budapest, yet, they might eventually disappear totally from the city. That’s why I recommend that you check them out as soon as you can.
Table of Contents
1. Szimpla Kert
4. Mazel Tov
5. Dürer Kert
8. 4-es 6-os Wesselényi Söröző
10. Kőleves Kert
The Best Ruin Bars in Budapest
I’ve visited the best ruin bars in Budapest several times and I believe you should choose one of the following according to your needs. Get to know them.
1. Szimpla Kert (Simple Garden)
Szimpla Kert is the ruin bar of all ruin bars in Budapest. The pioneer, the discoverer, the flagship under whose flags all the emerging bars have gathered.
Szimpla was opened in 2001 as a traditional café, but the real story started with the opening of the first Szimpla Kert in Kertész Street in 2002.
The big break came in 2004 when the first, Szimpla Kert –the one we know today – opened making use of the dilapidated Héber stove factory in downtown Budapest.
Its uniqueness caught the attention of both the Hungarian media and the Budapest stratum culture and especially young people. It wasn’t a simple bar.
Breaking with the world of glittering-flashing buildings, shiny, chrome furniture, cold neon lights and pounding techno music, the university student owners of Szimpla Kert turned in a completely different direction.
Instead of superficial embellishment, they wanted to fill the ruined building with content, life, and values.
They did not touch the building, but there was no need to do so either. The Szimpla Kert community shaped it themselves.
Novice artists, enthusiastic amateurs all left their trace on the walls of the tenement house. But you don’t need to be a painter to feel at home here.
There are numerous stories on the walls, all merging into one: confessions of love in Hungarian, good wishes in English and part of a poem in German from (perhaps) an Austrian poet.
Stickers on the door calling out for world peace, or just a full-figured woman calling your attention to the true beauty of life.
A man running towards the emergency exit is upside down (just so you know where you are heading), music rumbling quietly from something like a half Rubik’s Cube and an angel is watching you from above a hookah table.
There are no two pieces of furniture or lamps looking alike, but I have never felt so calm as in this lovely mess. At night, the place amazes you with its hundred colors: huge bulbs glowing in lampshades, an Eastern lamp taken from a Turkish bazaar shimmering brightly and a disco ball reflecting the rainbow-colored Christmas lights.
I love sitting down on poulailler-like bar stools or throwing myself into one of the armchairs rescued from an attic, as I know I am going to meet my friends soon and we can talk about mundane things with a mug of artisan beer. Being “Szimpla”, however, goes beyond grabbing a beer.
“Szimpla” is a culture. It became a temporary or permanent home for contemporary artists’ paintings and works. Don’t miss the instant exhibitions and the Design Shop. You might find treasures that are definitely one of a kind.
There is a chance of meeting musicians whose music you have never heard before. New voices and new directions may also be discovered as Szimpla supports emerging musicians by providing them space on the stage to perform in front of a live audience.
You might want to pay attention to these voices as they might be the band playing on one of the stages of next year’s Sziget Festival.
“Szimpla” is a community. It is like suddenly finding yourself in the Sunday Domestic Market of a small village. Only there is jazz or world music playing in the background.
You can choose from the fresh products of primary producers: cheese, jam, honey, vegetables, fruit and all earthly goods that you can imagine for a substantial breakfast. By the way, breakfast. I recommend you check the upstairs, as breakfast made forms the day’s market products awaits shoppers.
In Szimpla, two wheels are the winners. You can take part in a bicycle festival every third Saturday of the month. Szimpla closes down their part of Kazinczy Street and gives over the territory to cyclists.
You can have a chat with other cyclists, get tips on which bicycle is perfect for you and – if you feel like doing it – go for a ride around the city with the local cyclist guide. It isn’t a problem if you came on foot either. Rent a cozy retro bike or a cool massive RK-Bike.
“Szimpla” is Hungarian, but it is not only for Hungarians. If you are looking for something truly authentic, visit the program of Szimpla Magyar Táncház (Szimpla Hungarian Dance House) on a lovely Monday. Real Hungarian people folk dancing to real Hungarian music just for fun. You might also learn a step or two.
As you can see, Szimpla isn’t just a bar. It is a feeling of life. Once you get attracted to it, it is difficult to move away.
You would love to live there every day as everything happening there comes from the heart. Everything is real, everything is true, everything is honest. Exactly what the world should be like.
„Mert kell egy hely, hol minden szellem látható! (Because we need a place where all the ghosts are visible.)
Mert kell egy hely, hol minden szólam hallható. (Because we need a place where all the tunes are audible.)
Mert kell egy hely, hol nem fáznak a csillagok, (Because we need a place where the stars don’t feel cold.)
Mert kell egy hely, hol emlékünk majd élni fog. (Because we need a place where the memory of us will live on.)
Mert kell egy hely, egy vonzás, melyhez tartozunk, (Because we need a place where we are attracted to,)
Mert kell egy hely, hol néha másról álmodunk.” (Because we need a place where we can sometimes dream about something else.)
/Apart from the musical “Padlás” (Attic)/
More than 400 drinks at 9 counters. In addition to the 13 types of brandy and Hungarian artisan wines, special cocktails are also worth a try.
My favorite one is “Hungarian Rhapsody” being Hungarian in every taste of it: apple brandy and pear brandy spiced up with a bit of watermelon syrup and apple juice.
But you won’t be bored even if you don’t drink alcohol. Forget about commercial beverages and taste the refreshing cocoa water or cinnamon-plum syrup.
Affordable prices in the middle of downtown, still a lot of care. Szimpla picks its ingredients carefully, paying attention to environmental protection.
Palm oil is omitted and trends are kept track of. In addition to street food and Hungarian dishes, those preferring a vegan diet shall also feel free to choose Szimpla.
Of course. Every three months dogs become the main attraction at the “Szimpla Kutya” (Simple Dog) event where we can get artisan supplies for our pets while talking to other dog-lovers.
disco, progressive, alter, rap, jazz, blues, garage, punk, world music.
Live music, open stage, Hungarian dance houses, domestic market, dog picnic, workshop, exhibition, drive-in cinema, antique thrift shop, record shop, bicycle festival.
- Beer from 600 HUF (3 dl)
- Wine from 300 HUF/dl
- Beverages from 300 HUF (3 dl)
- Hamburgers from 1800 HUF
- Soups from 1500 HUF
- Main courses from 1700 HUF
1075 Budapest, Kazinczy utca 14.
Instant-Fogas – the colossal figure of ruin bars, the emperor of nightlife – has come to life from the merge of two cult venues, becoming the greatest party complex of Budapest. There is a reason why it is the favorite ruin bar of so many.
Instant debuted on the stage of Budapest nightlife in 2008, but the actual success story started in 2010. The labyrinth befitting a fantasy forest and tales came to life at the dawn of the decade.
It made the atmosphere of Instant inimitable. A giant owl flying over our heads and a rabbit team running into infinity were just a few of the decorations that moved our imagination.
The special light effects made the hall even more magical, bringing more wonders to party-goers. That might have been the way how Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs partied in the middle of the forest.
Instant was a big hit in the music scene: their acoustic concert series, which became known as InStart, was on most young people’s calendars. I was lucky enough to attend a book premier under the crowd of running rabbits, but there used to be an art gallery and a theatre as well.
However, with the expiry of the lease contract in 2017, the winds of change reached Instant and it was forced to leave behind Nagymező Street and move to another king’s place – Fogas.
The first years of Fogasház weren’t exactly a smooth ride. In 2009, the iconic dental signboard from the late 1800s was put up over the entrance of the tenement house that had witnessed better days.
Still, the place was even closed down for a short time until the landlords cleared some issues with the tenants. Finally, by the end of 2010, everyone in the capital new that the dental signboard did not really refer to a dental technician’s lab.
Initially, Fogasház aimed to please underground musical tastes but later put more emphasis on supporting cultural life. It housed alternative theatre companies that were neglected in the early 2010s, but workshops, film clubs, and exhibitions also found a home among the walls of the ruin bar.
In 2012, Fogas Kert (Fogas Garden) was opened in the neighboring house for the ever-expanding audience captivating garden-lovers at once.
In order not to lose their underground audience, Fogasház opened Lärm, one of the most important electronic music clubs in Budapest.
But that’s enough about the separate stories, as the most exciting part happened after 2017. Growing out the tenement house in Nagymező Street, Instant moved together with Fogasház creating the largest party center of Budapest without compromising the identity of any of the cult ruin bars.
The audiences of the two bars accepted each other just like college friends who grew up on shared experiences.
Instant-Fogas awaits guests craving for the nightlife music scene with 7 music floors and 18 counters on 1200 square meters. Let me take you around.
The “new tenant” brought their favorite furniture trying to create an even wilder style for themselves.
You can party all night under a multitude of pixel clouds and a wild boar-shaped disco ball instead of jumping rabbit hordes and a surrealistic owl.
And if you would like to rest a little between two songs, book a billiard table and play a few rounds with your friends buy some cold beer.
“The whole world is a circus” – could have been the motto of Fogasház as when you enter the dance floor you will feel like you are on a circus floor looking at the blue-red lined decorations reminding you of a circus tent.
The lights only make the experience more impressive and there go your plans for the pre-game.
After all, why would you want to go to another place if your favorite song is played on the Fogas dance floor?
And if you get tired of this circus, lose yourself in the labyrinth of the tenement house or clear your head in the garden.
A bit dark and minimalist, but the beats fill every single part of the room. Lärm, that can house 250 people, is the pinnacle of Hungarian underground electronic music scene.
You can exclude yourself from the present and give in to the perfect sound and enjoy the party till dawn.
This is my favorite one within Instant-Fogas, as here you can find everything.
The important thing is that they are hot off the music charts. You can party for the newest songs in Unterwelt recalling the atmosphere of video discos.
Domestic and international DJs provide the remixes and you don’t need to stop for a single second.
It is the Mecca for drum & bass-, garage- and trap-lovers. The youngest of all dance floors in Fogas-Instant brings you the sultry Latin American mood with the beats raising your heartbeat.
The rock paradise in the heart of the party complex. Rock ballads and classic rock anthems rumble within the walls of Robot, so if you feel like jamming, it’s time to dive into the crowd drunk from the rhythm.
Don’t be afraid of letting out the crazy rocker.
The island of peace amidst the rampage. It’s just like talking to your friends at home by a glass of wine or quality rum, but here’s live music in the background and you can order a sumptuous dinner.
And the terrace? A tiny, secret garden above the street where you can have deep conversations and a pre-game before the intense party.
The concept of boredom is unknown in the Instant-Fogas party complex. No matter which dance floor you find yourself on, the unmistakable party atmosphere is the equal of any other party places in Ibiza.
You can get everything and more.
A single night is not enough for the offer of 18 counters, so just think of your favorite drink and ask for it at the counter.
In Liebling, you can taste the basics of Hungarian gastronomy.
Order sztrapacska (potato dumplings tossed in bacon drippings with sheep-milk curd cheese and bacon), mákos guba (poppy seed bread pudding) or the well-known goulash soup. Quality is guaranteed.
You can sit in the garden area with your puppy, but the roaring basses might disturb your pet’s peace of mind.
rock, R&B, pop, electric, drum & bass, garage, trap, breakbeat, reggaeton, disco.
billiards, flipper, party till dawn.
- Beer from 650 HUF (3 dl)
- Wine from 500 HUF/dl,
- Beverages from 400 HUF (2.5 dl)
- Soups from 1000 HUF,
- Main courses from 1500 HUF
1073 Budapest. Akácfa utca 49-51.
3. Doboz (Cube)
Doboz stands out from the traditional ruin bars of Budapest in several respects.
Although, just like the other bars, it set foot in a tenement house in 2011, it still differs from other bars in many ways. I am not talking about the design in particular. That already makes ruin bars unique anyway.
Doboz refers to itself as a premium ruin bar. Even the collocation itself – premium ruin bar – is unconventional, but when you enter Doboz, you will understand sporadically what that is all about.
I mean in case you get in in the first round as Doboz is the only ruin bar in Budapest with a strict dress code. If you intend to spend the night in Doboz, sweatpants and flip flops are a combo to be forgotten.
But there are also rules outside the ruin bar. There are moderators walking down Klauzál Street asking those who are too loud to tune it down a bit so that residents are not disturbed.
Beyond the entrance, you will notice several interesting things that make you realize this isn’t like “those” ruin bars. There is a giant red-eyed gorilla made from logs trying to climb towards the rooftop on the 320-year-old tree dominating the center of Doboz.
The already monumental creation looks even bigger and dramatic due to the different light effects. Soon you will be expecting the wooden King Kong to jump into your arms.
The red, cube-shaped room that the bar was named after almost goes unnoticed next to the artistic creation by Miklós Gábor Szőke.
Another thing you might notice is that compared to the tenement house of Szimpla and the halfway-done building of Anker’t, this one is in much better condition.
Plasters have been artistically scratched here and there, but it is so orderly as if engineers measured the missing pieces using a folding rule.
The interior shows a much more organized look, even though the view of the wavy wooden counter makes you feel like it is about to drag you away.
To be honest, after Szimpla with its bohemian and cool style and Anker’t with its Mediterranean atmosphere, Doboz has a much more sterile overall impression at first. But only at first glance.
Just like you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, you need to immerse yourself in the world of Doboz as well. There is plenty of space – the bar can house up to 1,500 people on almost 1000 square meters.
The three resident DJs mix the latest hits non-stop and the entire colorful, stylish tenement house almost starts dancing. House, R&B and sometimes classic party songs rumble from Wednesday to Saturday.
And if you arrive in time, you might also experience an amazing show – fire jugglers make your blood run cold at this already unconventional venue.
The drink menu is endless, and street food gives you another boost so you don’t run out of energy till dawn.
If you like astounding fine art solutions and are attracted to an exclusive ambience, suit on or put on that particular little black dress and head for Doboz.
In terms of drinks, Doboz strives for absolute quality.
In addition to the well-known international brands, taste (one of) the masterpieces of Vylyan vineyard estate, the uncrowned king of Hungarian wine.
It is the land of light salads and reinvented street food.
My personal favorite is the house burger – Doboz Burger – spiced up with coleslaw salad and some fried ham.
dance, electronic, pop, house.
- Beer from 360 HUF (3 dl)
- Wine from 480 HUF/dl,
- Beverages from 450 HUF (2.5 dl)
- Hamburgers from 1080 HUF
- Salads from 1080 HUF
1072 Budapest, Klauzál utca 10.
4. Mazel Tov
Middle East, in the heart of Budapest, just half a tram-stop away from Király Street on tram lines 4, 6. Mazel Tov is the citadel of openness, diversity, and harmony.
With the ivy covering the bare brick walls, the white forged chairs reminiscent of French cafés and the relaxing light colors lending the place a certain charm, Mazel Tov has created a new style among sometimes seemingly chaotic ruin bars in Budapest.
Just like in the case of Doboz, there is also conscious design and concept behind creation, still, it radiates such coziness as if you had always lived there.
Every element is in the right place and there is nothing unnecessary or inappropriate. The interior design is flawless, geometrically accurate, yet not rigid or uncomfortable.
Mysterious, yet it is awaiting you with open arms and not afraid of showing you its true identity. The remains of the Budapest Jewish ghetto left over from WW2 in the back of the garden is the perfect example of that.
It is a kind of casual atmosphere only existing in ruin bars that distinguishes it from an average restaurant.
What was the thought before the birth of Mazel Tov? I would say it is quite clear: a high quality, diverse gastronomy in the heart of Budapest, where everyone is welcome no matter if they are wearing a suit, slippers or come with a dog.
The harmonious blend of cozy little tables, wood, stone, and metal gives this tiny oasis a romantic country atmosphere. You are almost waiting for your mum to call out your name and say: come on in, the food is ready. Even the basins recall the memories of ancient times.
The oriental patterns on the counter and the diverse cuisine fly us away from Europe. Yemen style chicken soup and Jerusalem cheesecake, and falafel and humus coexist perfectly on the menu.
Although the ruin bar is located in the middle of the Jewish Quarter, contrary to its name, not all food is kosher. Still, everything there sets the mood for moving away from the usual foods of traditional European cuisine.
Just as the spirit of the place radiates it, the serving also makes you want to share your food with others. (There is even a plate on the menu with this special name.) I immediately flew back in time when my brother and I were tasting hard candies from a bag trying to guess their flavor.
The same kind of clarity is characteristic of the music as well. Mostly jazz-lovers are entertained with unforgettable tunes of performers like Hot Jazz Band.
Although it is mostly the food that dominates the place, you don’t need to turn back at the door if you only want a cold spritzer or a good wine.
Mazel Tov intends to make you have fun, eat delicious food – with friends or alone – or just cool yourself off with some artisan lemonade. It’s all about acceptance here.
Forget about everyday beverages and alcoholic drinks. Both the quality Nobilis brandies and the home-made brandy of Mazel Tov are great choices.
But you will come across some real delicacies even if you only want to grab a beer.
You will surely be captivated by the unparalleled sour taste of Hungarian Terroir, the artisan beer of Monyo Brewery.
Where do I start? I should probably tell you that you should forget about the well-known street food and grilled food.
Mazel Tov will pamper your taste buds from starters to desserts. Traditional oriental flavors and unconventional gastronomy are all in one place.
Thanks to its open attitude, Mazel Tov welcomes four-legged guests and their owners.
jazz, lounge, chill.
art programs, Jewish cultural programs with live music.
- Beer from 550 HUF (3 dl)
- Wine from 800 HUF/dl
- Beverages from 590 HUF (2.5 dl)
- Grilled plates from 2990 HUF
- Salad from 1390 HUF.
1073 Budapest, Akácfa utca 47.
5. Dürer Kert (Dürer Garden)
How does a nun school founded by the French Sacre Coeur become one of the most important party venues in Budapest?
Take a 19th-century building, lose all the furniture left from WW2, Party College and later ELTE Linguistics Department years and open the late gym, chapel and lecture halls to music and culture lovers.
Dürer Kert located next to the City Park is as diverse as the round lanterns hanging from the garden trees.
I couldn’t find a better venue in Budapest, where I can enjoy drinking beer in the garden on summer nights and experience international standard concerts.
As the owner of the “Music venue of 2019” award, Dürert Kert should be on the bucket list of every music lover.
Take a peek into the Great Hall if there is still some space left. You will meet a wide range of music styles here.
Listen to a Swedish alternative band on Monday, a Dutch punk band on Tuesday, a bit of some good English hard rock on Wednesday, a German metal band on Thursday and some Hungarian funk-rock on Friday. Then, get straight to it with electronic music on Sunday.
You can wash Sunday down with some beer and look around at the Wardrobe Community Fair for another pair of shoes after dancing the previous ones off. The stage and the auditorium are glowing every single day in the Great Hall.
The overwhelming energy – that is so typical of punks and rockers – rumbles from the speakers and the throats of concert-goers. A great concert experience is guaranteed unless you run out of breath.
However, if you can’t stand the pulsating, huge crowd, I recommend Room 041 instead. In the former girls’ school gym, you can meet performers whose fan base has already outgrown the dimly lit rooms of small bars, but not big enough to fill the Great Hall.
Room 041 is unique in the Hungarian music scene as you will not find such an “intermediate” stage anywhere else. Become part of a much more personal concert experience and party with some real musical gems.
Looking for up close and personal concerts? Check out the Small Hall. Get to know the emerging bands of the music scene or lose yourself in the whirl of new melodies and trends.
Grab a mug of beer in the Small Hall and you will feel like the performers were singing for you only.
Looking for a rendezvous venue or just wants to hide away from the world? Sofa Bar is the place for you.
The squishy sofas are tempting for long talks, while the quietly rumbling sound of acoustic guitars inspires big ideas and powerful speeches.
But you might run into programs even in this secluded, intimate bar. At the Board Game Night organized from time to time, you can join any table company for an exciting, devious board game party.
The Sofa Bar is a place of an intimate atmosphere where everything is about the group of friends and the quality time spent together.
Although the garden area and the concert halls can house approximately 1000 people altogether, the garden tables under the lush trees, the people sitting on the colorful stairs and the hammocks rocking gently, all have a sense of coziness that makes me feel like I am in our backyard rather than in the heart of the city.
Dürer Kert is much more than a simple outdoor bar where you drink beer. No matter whether you arrive with friends, a dog, kids or by bike, you will definitely find a program to your liking.
Activities in Dürer Garden
Select from the records at the Record Fair where you might come across a rarity you have been looking for.
Check out the International Comics Festival in Budapest, give a high five to a Joker or Batman and get a Marvel T-shirt with your favorite character.
If you arrive in the capital with your four-legged furry friend, visit the Dog Picnic to make new friends and get a unique dog collar or a toy.
The Bicycle Day organized by Tilos Radio is a must for all cyclists. You can admire amazingly creative, tinkered bikes, while invigorating bass rumbles on stage.
However, an average weekday can also be exciting in Dürer Kert. If you are in Budapest at the time of the Olympics, you can see how Hungarians cheer for the swimming champions and water polo team who are considered national heroes here.
But there is no reason why you can’t have a cauldron cooking or grilling with your friends either. You could borrow utensils from Dürer Kert to create a great city picnic for yourself.
So, if you thought you sat in for a beer, you couldn’t be more wrong – Dürer Kert will surely have a program for you.
You will find everything for an amazing party at the four counters. Don’t miss the Hungarian artisan beers, like the Fóti Zwickl unfiltered lager beer and the Horizont IPA.
If you come to Dürer Garden in summer, spritzers are a must-have for any party.
Show off your cooking skills. You can rent utensils for cauldron cookery or grilling in Dürer Kert.
Dogs are welcome in the garden area. Come over with your four-legged friend to the Dog Picnic in the summer.
In addition to buying things for your pet, you can also adopt a new friend.
rock, metal, electronic, alternative, indie.
live music, record fairs, film and match screenings, wardrobe fairs, bike days, comics festivals, literary meetings, table tennis, billiards.
- Beer from 450 HUF (3 dl)
- Wine from 500 HUF/dl
- Beverages from 300 HUF (2 dl)
1146, Budapest, Ajtósi Dürer sor 19-21.
6. Púder (Powder Bar)
As it is included in its name, Púder Bárszínház és Galéria (Powder Bar Theatre and Gallery) puts a huge emphasis on arts considering itself a kind of cultural venue rather than a ruin bar.
Even the extravagant interior and the honeycomb-like flowerpot were designed by a team of young artists. The wall reminiscent of little girls’ playrooms wrapped in a world of pink clouds and the huge metal newt hanging from the wall coexist perfectly.
I must admit, I was shocked at first sight when my colleague invited me to the bar located in walking distance from Kálvin Square to blow off some steam after a challenging week.
But I believe that every meeting and place adds something to our personality, so after the initial shock, I turned towards the artwork on the walls with curiosity.
I soon realized that even the whole day wouldn’t be enough to study every part of the wall in detail. Thus, I had at least one floor of reasons to return to Púder.
Both my mood and my impressions of the place changed over time. At first, I associated the place with the colors and shapes of Mexican carnivals.
However, on my second visit, I felt the influence of French cafés as well. The wrought-iron railings decorated with flower plots took me away to Italy, while some of the “frescoes” reminded me of the Romanesque church interiors.
As I visited the place later on, I stumbled upon diverse and sometimes unique programs. Book premiers, vegan workshops, literary evenings, homely concerts, and dance shows.
There are countless events, but it’s no wonder as the place has a kind of radiance I last felt at a Greek restaurant: it invites you in.
And you had better not resist as both the interior befitting a gallery and the selection of food is diverse. Lunch is not only affordable but the Chefs of Púder surprise guests with different delicacies every week.
Don’t miss it even if you only have time for coffee and cake. You might stumble into a dance rehearsal or a book premier.
You will love the selection of coffees reminding you of French cafés and the frothy cocoa reminiscent of your childhood.
However, if you are looking for something “stronger”, try Hungarian artisan beers: the Távoli Galaxis Ale (Galaxy Far Away Ale – American IPA) flying you to the stars or the citrus Tokyo Lemonade Ale (Belgian Witbier).
Ordinary dishes? Please! Have you tried grilled pumpkin-chestnut sausage with sweet potatoes?
And duck breast in wine with black olive-sausage gnocchi? Not yet? What are you waiting for?
Bring your pet with you as both water and food bowls are provided for them in Púder Bárszínház.
lounge, jazz, pop.
live music, book premiers, workshops, literary evenings, dance shows.
- Beer from 550 HUF (3 dl)
- Wine from 600 HUF/dl
- Beverages from 490 HUF (2.5 dl)
- Grilled plates from 2590 HUF
- Salad from 1990 HUF
- Soups from 990 HUF.
1092 Budapest, Ráday utca 8.
7. Kertem (My Garden)
For some of us, it is learning to ride a bike, for others, it is the first kiss in the shadows of the hundred-year-old trees or an unforgettable rock concert on Királydomb (King’s Hill).
But if you ask a Hungarian walking in the City Park what they think the best parts of the area are, I am sure Kertem will be on their list.
Kertem is an open-air ruin bar. In fact, it consists of two, colorful counters with chairs and tables in all the colors of the rainbow and Olof Palme, the most iconic building in the background of the City Park.
There are cozy fairy lights hung between the Olof Palme house and the trees or to one of the supporting beams of the mini pavilions. There is no fence and no walls.
Sitting on a colorful chair, sipping artisan lemonade overwhelmed by the spicy smell of barbecue, you feel like the whole City Park was your garden.
Guests are immersed in the magic of nature and summer, and the atmosphere is enhanced by the background music provided by DJs or bands playing on the tiny stage.
Softly murmuring warm air full of cheerful chatting creates a pleasant atmosphere throughout Kertem. It’s no wonder everyone would like to relax in this fairy tale world in the middle of the city.
So, I recommend you book in advance, or you will end up like my friend and me – drinking spritzer sitting on the grass. In the end, we got the hang of it and purposefully brought some blankets with us.
There were cyclists and joggers on the road beside us, while a little further away, dogs were playing with a stick. I felt immense tranquillity sitting on my blanket watching the delicate flutters of the wildlife of the park enclosed in the concrete of the city.
Soft melodies reached my ears from guitar strings, and I enjoyed the sound of people talking on different languages.
Kertem is the island of peace. The noise of the city does not reach this place. Your senses are not dulled by gasoline.
You are not blinded by neon lights. Only the summer breeze, cold spritzers and tasty burgers shake the mood which can be sweetened with the ice sweets of a self-service ice cream parlor.
Even if not everyone has their own garden, Kertem open from spring to autumn awaits you with all the love of nature!
There’s no room for anything else on hot summer days, but cold spritzers and sparkling jugs of lager beer. Cheers!
Lie down on the grass and enjoy the burgers made from Kertem’s own recipes or help yourself to some ice cream at the retro ice cream counter.
The whole City Park is yours to take.
- Beer from 450 HUF (3 dl)
- Wine from 400 HUF/dl
- Beverages from 350 HUF (2.5 dl)
1146 Budapest, Olof Palme sétány 2.
From spring to autumn
8. 4-es 6-os Wesselényi Söröző
It is almost certain that you will use tram 4–6, the main artery of Budapest while here. And once you are on, you might want to end your journey at the Wesselényi Street/Erzsébet Avenue stop. The next station is 4-es 6-os Wesselényi Söröző.
You will immediately spot the place from the tram platform. The huge, yellow numbers 4 and 6 shining against the black façade attract those thirsty for company from afar.
The corner building, which used to be a lingerie shop not long ago, soon became one of the iconic bars on Erzsébet Boulevard.
Lacy panties and stockings were replaced by newspaper-patterned leatherette benches and round bar stools known from western films.
The Great Gatsby-style décor and bare brick counter decorated with neon lights resemble a noir atmosphere gangster film where you can lose all your integrity.
Not to mention the spiral staircase leading upward with black iron railing giving the entire place a VIP feeling. However, upstairs is basically the same with benches, tables and TV screening sports awaiting guests who can have a beer or spritzer.
This is the place in Budapest, where I can imagine the key scene of a spy film – the bad guys burst into the bar and our hero breaks the high bar stool on the antagonist’s back in a simple move.
There is some elusive vibration in the air that makes you feel like you are in the best possible place. No matter what happens, you want to be a part of it.
In the summer, you immediately lose yourself in the buzzing crowd with life inside reaching its peak. Full house is guaranteed from Thursday to Saturday since just like the tram, discounts arrive on time.
Tram 4–6 provides the Budapest feeling non-stop with the latest hits in the background. It works on friendly prices, making the venue very popular, especially among young people who tend to begin or end their nights here.
You might want to book a table in advance if you arrive with friends since it’s like the game musical chairs – the place is generally full. In addition to having a couple of drinks, you can also challenge your friends for a game of football or try your luck at the pinball machine.
If you come alone, this place is also great for getting to know new people. But it’s also the right bar for a bit of buzzing alone-time.
Step out into the summer balcony and watch tram 4–6 pass by into the Erzsébet Boulevard night sweeping away gray weekdays.
There is a lot going on in the single neon counter and the selection of drinks in the background is a wonderful spectacle.
You should not expect any specialties, but you will find all the well-known international beer and shots brands.
4–6 is not famous for its culinary delights. Apart from some beers and hamburgers, they tend to focus on drinks more.
Four-legged pets are not allowed in as it would not be too comfortable for them in the crowd.
pop, R&B, disco.
- Beer from 450 HUF (5 dl)
- Beverages from 390 HUF (2.5 dl)
1073 Budapest, Erzsébet krt. 28.
9. Élesztő (Yeast)
To be honest, I wasn’t really a beer-guy a few years ago. Perhaps a lager or two on hot summer days, but the only delight was its coolness.
Anyway, in the country of spritzers with so many good wines to be used as a basis, I did not feel the need to drink liquid bread.
But everything changed in the early 2010s. The First Hungarian Artisan Beer Festival, Főzdefeszt brought the Hungarian beer revolution in 2011.
There was such a huge crowd that not a single drop of beer-foam would hit the ground. Consumers were thirsty for artisan beers they have not yet tasted. And the organizers of Főzdefeszt did not stop there…
Two years after the first Főzdefeszt, in the spring of 2013 Élesztő – the first beer ruin bar of Budapest – was opened in a former glass-blowing shop.
But this is not a usual ruin bar. Élesztő – which originally had small-scale beer flowing from its 17 beer taps – humbly refer to themselves as “the basis of Hungarian artisan beer revolution”.
Its industrial, huge places first reminded me of a train station, but I soon realized that with so many special drinks there is no need for extra embellishment.
The garden area is cozy, just like summer nights under the willow tree. Light music playing in the background and the sound of friends chatting and laughing at tables fill the air with a good atmosphere. Everything here is about beer.
Yet, there might be a bit of home-made pálinka (brandy) and non-alcoholic drinks for the rogue ones arriving by car. The drink menu always includes the best of St. Andrew’s Brewery of Békésszentandrás.
The distinctively aromatic Ogre is reminiscent of Czech beers, while the sour Cherry Lager – loved by women – is an absolute favorite of beer drinkers. But don’t forget to ask for a mug of any beer of Rizmájer or Bors Brewery – I am sure you won’t regret it.
Did I mention it’s not an ordinary bar? In addition to the artisan beers coming from 20 beer taps, you can enjoy other culinary delights as well.
There’s Butcher’s Kitchen for instance with all its earthly pork goods. They use quality (and quantity) ingredients to feed hungry guests.
In case you find yourself in Élesztő during the day and would like to be livened up with a good coffee, Rengeteg RomKafé is waiting for you with open arms.
The café reminiscent of antique shops is also a teddy bear shelter flying us back to the land of toys in Tűzoltó Street and is guaranteed to exude reality.
If you like this little gastro garden, I have good news for you! You don’t need to live far from the beer sanctuary of Budapest. Book your room with your friends in Hopstel Beerhotel and you can walk over for your favorite beer in slippers as well.
Sunday mornings are the only breaks in this honey-beer Canaan. This time, instead of beer mugs, vegetable baskets and trays of home-made cheese take over the place.
Small farmers offer all the treasures of culinary delights and the atmosphere is so homely that you feel like hugging everyone. Pancs Gastroplacc is open every Sunday from morning to early afternoon awaiting lovers of home-made, additive-free meals.
Élesztő is continuously changing. Just like they dared to dream big about the beer revolution, the gastro garden of the former glass-blowing workshop will become larger and longer!
You can taste Hungarian and foreign artisan beers from 20 different beer taps at present.
But if you would like a shot, Hungarian home-made pálinka (brandy) will never let you down.
Where there are so many characteristic strong beers, food is essential.
Butcher’s Kitchen hiding in Élesztő is a meat lovers’ paradise. You can forget about thin-sliced ham sandwiches here.
In addition to traditional Hungarian dishes like Debrecziner and roast pig, you can also taste pastrami and Tandoori chicken.
But they haven’t forgotten about vegans either: the beetroot vegan sandwich is just amazing!
Puppies are welcome in the garden area.
- Beer from 450 HUF (3 dl)
- Beverages from 450 HUF (2.5 dl)
1094 Budapest, Tűzoltó utca 22.
Monday and Sunday: 3PM-1AM
10. Kőleves Kert (Stone Soup Garden)
There is no way anyone can get me into some dark tavern on a pleasant summer night into a garden area with a lukewarm breeze. And it is so great that there are not one, but several charming garden areas in Budapest where you can relax.
Kőleves Restaurant cooked its first soup on the corner of Dob Street and Kazinczy Street in 2005. In addition to emblematic dishes, the menu is constantly adapting to the season.
Thus, it changes on a weekly or – in extreme cases – a daily basis. Kőleves Garden furnished the empty garden at 41 Kazinczy Street with its colorful chairs and benches in 2009.
The Restaurant and the Garden could not live long without each other, so the restaurant joined the garden area in 2013. And what a great decision it was!
Kőleves Garden is simple yet sophisticated, like stone soup in that particular tale. You will feel nostalgic as soon as you enter the garden.
Memories of my childhood came flooding in when my dad met up with local fishermen at the bank of Lake Velence to discuss the catches of the day. They got me an ice cream or lollipop and let me play with gravels using a self-created slingshot. I can still hear crickets chirping…
If someone prattles to you about the Hungarian idyll, you can most definitely experience it in Kőleves Garden. The logs piled up next to the wall of the house are just waiting in line to bake crispy bread in the oven set up in the garden.
Culinary herbs vibrate from the breeze in the window, just like at my grandmother’s sill. The colorful garden chairs and benches thrown under the dense foliage of trees remind you of old times when people had time to stop for a spritzer with pals at the local bar every weekend.
The bicycle storage is completely full indicating that there are guests here. The sign on the mulberry tree standing in the Garden says: “look out, strawberries falling from the tree”.
I couldn’t help but think of my aunt’s goose being so crazy about sweet berries that they just couldn’t wait to have one falling from the tree.
The air smells of freshly grilled barbecue, skilled beer tray-balancers cut through the gravel and spritzers and cold beers stand in line.
There are smiley faces relaxing in hammocks and girls wrapped in their blankets as a cooler breeze shakes the night. Just like a big garden party in your backyard, but with many more new faces.
You will feel such tranquility in Kőleves Garden that you last felt in your carefree childhood years. And you can share your tales with your friends or cuddle up with your love under the mulberry tree in this downtown peaceful island.
Nothing extra, just the usual. Spritzer, wine, brandy on student price.
But if you desire alcohol-free beverages, you should forget about branded artificial drinks. Granny’s home-made syrup is a must!
All the ingredients coming from Kőleves Restaurant are home-made and preservative-free.
I definitely recommend you to try the authentic tócsni, that is röszti potatoes.
Bring your pets with yourself, they will love the place!
- Beer from 550 HUF (5 dl)
- Syrup from 900 HUF (5 dl)
- Grilled plates from 2280 HUF
- Salad from 1520 HUF
- Tócsni from 990 HUF
1075 Budapest, Kazinczy utca 41.
11. Anker’t – Sadly for everyone, Anker’t is permanently closed
Szimpla is the big old one, while Anker’t is my sweet spot. In my late twenties, some of my colleagues and I often spent the summer nights in Anker’t.
Perhaps it was its proximity to our office, the milieu of the place, the ice-cold Aperol Spritz or the music to my liking that made Anker’t my favorite. And it will always be my all-time favorite among ruin bars.
The bar is just off the underground station “Opera” and the Opera House itself. Leaving the elegant and exclusive shops and cafés of Andrássy Avenue behind, you arrive in a totally different world.
I must confess, I first halted at the sight of the gutted three-story house and looked around wondering when I had walked past the construction cordon. But there was no mistake.
The cheerful crowd, the rain of lights on the bare walls and the rumbling underground music dispelled my doubts. And when I entered, I felt like a lion in the Roman Coliseum, only the audience here was not in the auditorium but in the rave.
I was confused and – at the same time – captivated by the walls reaching towards the night sky, bared down to the bricks, with frameless windows standing at a uniform distance from one another.
They had seen better days – perhaps in the 1800s. Sails and fairy lights stretched between wooden poles make you feel like you are in a side street in Lisbon, while the concrete walls and seats created from pallets resemble one of Manhattan’s art studio apartments.
There is no ruin bar in Budapest that is more captivating with its simple minimalism, sophisticated lights, and ornaments than Anker’t.
The huge counter crosses the garden surrounded by walls. The bartenders serve everything from quality wines, refreshing cocktails to fresh draught Pilsner beers.
Friends laugh at old stories on garden chairs and at thin-legged tables. Colleagues relax after a long day lying down on mattresses tossed onto pallets.
Pairs on rendezvous whisper sweet nothings to each other on armrests over a glass of wine. Even though you are still in Budapest, you find yourself in the muggy Mediterranean-like summer in a second.
And after the right number of cocktails cooling your throat and firing up your veins, it’s time for some buzzing and dancing until dawn.
You can choose from pop, dance, R&B, house and even retro parties every night of the summer. Talented DJs serve the bass and even those will start dancing in the ever-increasing spirit of the party who were standing in the corner earlier.
You party relentlessly screaming the words to every song and only the smiles of friendly faces matter flashing in Anker’t’s lights matter.
But this place is much more than unforgettable parties. After these Saturday nights, Sundays show a completely different side of Anker’t with the stands of Kiskert Piac (Little Garden Market) taking over the inner yard of the old building.
Visitors find themselves in a tiny green oasis in the heart of Budapest. You can find everything from potted spices to dazzling flowers of all colors in a perfect size for downtown flats, fitting the outdoor dance floor.
However, if you are interested in health-conscious gastronomy, I strongly recommend Vegan Sunday Market that is considered a curiosity.
Hungarian small farmers present their products to the public – strictly without animal-origin ingredients. Markets have a peculiar atmosphere. Here you get a glimpse of what it is like to pick from beautiful products in an authentic Hungarian market.
But if you thought it’s only about parties and markets here, you are wrong. Anker’t is a leader in cultural life as well – perhaps that’s the reason why it has a special place in my heart.
It is home to competitions and meetings of the Hungarian Slam Poetry community. Slam poetry is a unique style of versification spreading like wildfire among younger and older generations.
The atmosphere is unparalleled at slam nights. If you happen to be around Anker’t and stumble into an event like this, don’t be discouraged by the fact that you don’t speak Hungarian. Just let the flow take you away. This way you might understand what it is like to be Hungarian.
If you are looking for the favorite refreshments of the summer, this is the place to be.
In addition to draught Czech beer coming straight from Pilsen, you can choose from spritzers, wine, and cocktails at the huge counter.
Something good for a good price. In addition to the traditional street food (burgers, crisps, quesadillas), Anker’t awaits visitors with grilled food as well.
The “leftover” permanent pizza place of the Vegan Sunday Market, Vegazzi sells pizza to those on a vegan diet made from purely plant-based ingredients according to the original Neapolitan recipe.
Naturally. The garden also welcomes four-legged guests during the summer.
pop, dance, R&B, house, retro, jazz.
lam poetry, vegan market, market, match screening.
- Beer from 600 HUF (3 dl)
- Wine from 400 HUF/dl
- Beverages from 400 HUF (2 dl)
- Hamburgers from 1990 HUF
- Salads from 1190 HUF
- Grilled food from 1290 HUF
Budapest is the city of ruin bars. They are diverse and varied, always showing something new, something different.
You can pick a favorite or visit all of them. One thing is for sure: they will await you with open arms making you feel better at their place than in real life.