Even if you’re visiting the Hungarian capital, you don’t have to eat goulash or fish soup all the time. There are – for example – brilliant Spanish bars and restaurants.
The so-called tapas bars are something we are really happy about: in the previous years some really good places opened in the city. But what are tapas? The Spanish word means lids, but it also refers to every small snacks and appetizers, that can be divided into small portions: small sandwiches, sausages, ham, fishes… Tapas are the national food of Spain, and several stories circulate about the origin. According to the most probable version, innkeepers invented this delicacy. They put a small plate with some bread on it on the top of the glass or bottle, preventing the beetles to fall into the guest’s drink. Finally, they get bored of the empty bread, and started to serve toppings with it. And the top 3 contemporary implementers of this nice tradition are the following.
This tiny, homely place in the city center is my all-time favorite place. All dishes are made from incredibly good and high quality ingredients, all of them are 100% authentic, but without the far-fetched, oppressive feeling of the forced Mediterranean lifestyle. The menu is constantly changing, so it's hard to tell a perennial favorite (don’t worry, I will). To begin with, the best decision to order a glass of sangria. If you come here, be sure to taste the mini fishes and the mini Padron peppers the bar was named after. But my all-time favorites are the sausages in red wine sauce. They are ambrosias, I swear. Also try their new chocolate cake with pomegranate and their signature dish, the rosemary lemon cake (2nd favorite). But you know what? As the menu is under renewal, just go and try it yourself. Be sure to reserve a table days in advance: the restaurant is always full in the evenings.
Pata Negra is the oldest tapas bar in Budapest, a true pioneer of the genre. They have 2 units: the one in Pest opened in 2004, the Buda-side restaurant in 2009. The place is a tribute to the Spanish culture and gastronomy: evoking the ambiance of genuine Mediterranean atmosphere in every detail but deftly avoids the kitsch. The two places have the same assortment and style: they offer more than 40 different tapas: original Spanish serrano and Iberian ham, manchego, goat and sheep cheese, and a large selection of fine Spanish and Hungarian wines. From such a huge selection it’s completely no chance to choose the best, but I really like the baby squid grilled on iron plate, the cold marinated black mussel salad and the passion fruit mousse with raspberry cream and a sweet crumbs.
Vicky Barcelona is the newest bar on the list, but brings the atmosphere of the Spanish tapas bars perfectly. So much, that everything is Spanish here: the staff, most of the cooks in the kitchen and also the waiters came from Spanish-speaking countries, or at least speaks the language very well. My absolute favorite was the octopus in beer, the Andalusian squid and the veggie croquetas, and heard only good things about the goat cheese salad with mango vinaigrette. And finally I made it and eat crema catalana that is so big classic that it’s a shame how rarely we eat it. One more additional info: as the place is in Gozsdu court, the atmosphere is a bit more snobbish, or better to stay stylish, but fortunately not in an oppressive way. And also this is the place where dinner easily turns into a Wednesday-night party.