I would like recommendations on unique places for a memorable dinner in Prague and Budapest (Memorable doesn't mean "fancy", and doesn't mean expensive--but we're not looking for "cheap"). We'll be using public transportation exclusively, so locations within a 10-15 minute walk or so of transportation would be good. We will be in each city three evenings and would like to visit a different place each evening. Our lodging is near the Prazskeho povstani Metro Station. By the way, what is considered "proper" tipping?
Memorable? The worst meal I ever had was my most memorable? Just kidding. If you go to the following website and download something called "The Guide.pdf" there is a page or two of unique places in Budapest and another page of places close to the Opera House. Maybe on that list or maybe not (dont remember) is Spinoz'a which does a Jewish Hungarian menu and a Klezmer Band concert on Friday nights. I've enjoyed that enough to do it a couple of times. The other places identified are interesting as well. Since everyones taste and interest varies if anything looks interesting go to their website and learn some more. My most memorable dinners in Budapest are a outdoor cafes on Andrassy ut watching the people walk by in the light of the Opera House. That would be Callas Cafe among a few others. Or possibly just bread and decent pate and wine on a stool on the street corner in front of Kadarka Borkostolo (a wine bar) http://budapestflat.shutterfly.com/fivedaysinbudapest
Jon In Prague we had a really atmostpheric meal at Vinarna U Maltezskych rytiru (At Knights of Malta.) Not the cheapest, but not ridiculously expensive either. Good food in the cellar of an old house just off of Charles Bridge. There are some reviews and photos on Trip Advisor http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g274707-d1097076-Reviews-Vinarna_U_Maltezskych_rytiru_At_Knights_of_Malta-Prague_Bohemia.html Cheers Alan
My most memorable meal in Budapest (and in a good way) was at the Trófea Grill Étterem. It's an all you can eat buffet, which sounds dire, but the food was good, and there's no language barrier (you can try a bit of everything, then get seconds of what you like). The price was good, particularly considering that it is all inclusive (only some specialty wines are extra). It costs more on weekends, though. It was especially fun because whole families come, and it seemed I was one of very few non-Budapesters in the place. Just thinking about the grilled squid (not breaded, just fresh grilled) makes me want to go back now. And the dessert selection includes unlimited whipped cream and unlimited chocolate sauce, so save room. To get there, take the Metro line 1 (yellow) to the last stop Mexikói. When you reach the top of the stairs of the metro station, turn right. You will see tram tracks: cross them, and turn left. At the end of the block you will see the restaurant.
A few years back one of our guests went to the Trofea Grill and came back raving about the place. I don't do buffets so I was just grateful that they had a good time. There is another location on Kiraly utca (as well as a few others around town). Kirlay utca is a street that borders the tourist zone but is still very much typical Budapest and is also known for the number of design stores located on it. It's a lovely road and one worth visiting. We find ourselves there often and on one visit we decided to see what all the fuss about the Trofea Grill was about. You know, this is a gem. The food is primarily traditional Hungarian and its very, very good and the atmosphere is just enough upscale to be a very nice environment. Like the location in the Harlods post you will find you are one of the few English speakers in the place which adds to the experience of being among the locals. I don't know why I don't think to recommend it more often. The location is convenient to Andrassy ut and the District 5 tourist attractions and to the Dohany Synagogue. The location Harold visited is further out but also in a very traditional zone and one worth seeing once you finish all the traditional places of interest. Excellent idea Harold. Harold, tell them about the joys of the M1 metro. The history and where it goes. This is also a gem of Budapest.
Alan, James, Harold:
The recommendations sound great, just what I was looking for. Incidentally, when booking lodging I've learned many small hotels don't use credit cards (only cash); is this true in restaurants/cafes as well? Are there ample ATMs in Prague and Budapest?
I don't know about any hotel in Prague which would not take credit card. Maybe some small pension (B&B). Most restaurants and bigger cafes also take credit card. ATMs are plentiful. Proper tipping: in Prague just round the sum up. For example 289 crowns, you hand the waiter 500 crown bill and say three hundred ( that means what you wish to pay) and he will return 200. In upscale restaurants serving mostly foreigners staff became used to american tipping.
In Budapest I haven't heard of a hotel that doesn't take a credit card, but i guess its possible. On occasion I have come across a restaurant that doesn't take credit cards and that's a good thing in that it means you got out of the tourist district and you are living the life. ATMs are very common in Budapest and its almost hard to walk down a major drag without seeing one. I just went to the otp bank ATM locator page and there are 45 pages, each with 10 locations listed on it. https://www.otpbank.hu/portal/en/Contact/ATMlocator It is not uncommon for rental apartments to be cash only; and cash in advance; and in Euros only for that matter and that can be a little un-nerving if you don't know who you are doing business with. But I have never heard of anyone actually be ripped off.
I loved Menza in Budapest (http://www.menzaetterem.hu/) near Oktogon metro stop. Not terribly expensive, hip atmosphere, good food.
Menza is very, very good and very "in" right now and is located in Franz Lizst ter (square); which is a interesting pedestrian square chock full of restaurants. Among them (unfortunately??) is a Hooters. Also in the same square is Café Vian which has an excellent breakfast and decent food all day long. But I prefer the Café Vian in the Gozsdu udvar (Courtyard). Not to be missed is the Franz Liszt Academy of Music which unfortunately is undergoing renovations so you can only see the outside for now; but the interior is spectacular. Also on the side streets you will find fantastic little musical instrument stores. If you like Menza you might try Balett cipo (ballet shoes) on a pedestrian street that runs up one side of the Opera House http://balettcipo.hu especially in good weather when you can sit outside and watch the people go by late into the night. Both are very good. See, just too many good places to choose from.
We went to Menza in 2011. Very good. Interesting food. Decor is kind of weird 1960s kitsch. We ate in about 5 places in Budapest. All were very good, and reasonable. We also ate at Marxim Pizza at the North end of Castle Hill. Very amusing - pizzas are Commie-kitsch.
In Budapest we enjoyed Toscana located near the river and also a great little restaurant for lunch with a name that translates to Little Cuckoo. It is located on a street that runs parallel to the Margrit Bridge-about a block away. It had the feel of dining in a library (bookcases throughout). Duran is good for nice open face sandwiches. Our favorite dinner in Prague was at David Restaurant located behind the Alchemist Hotel in the Mala Strana area.
Hi Jon! In Budapest, we ADORED Cafe Kor, which is also well-reviewed in the Rick Steves guide. It was fabulous. Be sure you get a reservation ahead. Prague has lots of good places to eat. If you're looking for something a bit more upscale, Mlynec was one of the best dining experiences I've ever had. Great service, wonderful views of the Charles Bridge, and really excellent food with superb presentation. It also has one of the more extensive lists of wine by the glass in Prague (most places have one house wine available by the glass and then bottles). Other Prague favorites: if you want really traditional Czech food in a pretty traditional cafeteria style setting, try Ceska Kuchyne on Havelska. You go in, they hand you a slip, you point at what you want, they mark the slip, you pay at the end. Great food, really inexpensive. Don't be afraid to just join others at a table. If you want non-Czech food in Prague, Maly Buddha (also in the Rick guide for Prague) is great for Asian fusion in Mala Strana near the Strahov Monastery and The Pind is great Indian near Jiriho z Podebrad. Not far from where you'll be staying, there is a great Thai place just at the Vysehrad metro stop. Enjoy!