With a uniquely bright ambience and warmly convivial character, Mazel Tov is set to become one of Budapest’s hottest new hangouts of summer 2014, opening its doors this weekend to welcome everyone with fruit-filled drinks, healthy food, and cool cultural programs. We Love Budapest was invited to check it out while the finishing touches are still being installed, and what we saw looks positively promising.
Located next door to Fogasház in the Jewish Quarter of District VII, the long-abandoned brick building at Akácfa Street 47 still appears deserted from the outside, but after stepping inside we discover that the team behind Mazel Tov is working hard to create a new kind of ruin pub. A gigantic skylight secured with freshly hewn wooden beams shines bright rays across the central courtyard, and the tree-shaded seating area in back is lined with lush flower gardens, presenting a lively yet relaxing atmosphere in tune with the genial perspective of the founders. In addition to providing an everyday hangout for locals, they aim to make this an inclusive community center for diverse concerts and performances – this will be a primary venue for Budapest’s Jewish Summer Festival, beginning in late August.
The interior was created by the designers of Fröccsterasz in Erzsébet Square, and similarly to that alfresco hotspot, the appearance of Mazel Tov has a gently nostalgic air – retro lamps and exposed bulbs illuminate the colorfully tiled bars, while a section of simple wooden picnic tables welcomes diners with full-service hospitality. From a complete kitchen operated by the purveyors of Hummus Bar (Budapest’s leading ambassadors of Middle Eastern street food), servers deliver a variety of dishes suitable for vegetarians, vegans, and carnivores alike, all offered with fresh ingredients and inexpensive prices; several menu items will be perfect for sharing among friends.
Meanwhile, what we were told about the liquid attractions is already making us thirsty – the cocktail selection is simple, yet many drinks will be loaded with lots of fresh fruit chunks (“enough so that a drink could be a dessert”), especially the wide range of tropical drinks that will include a perfectly poured mai tai. Hard liquors will include many excellent types of Hungarian pálinka brandy and kosher vodka, but surprisingly, it’s the non-alcoholic beverage list that has us most intrigued – an assortment of inventively crafted lemonades includes elderflower with ginger, melon with papaya, grenadine with lemongrass, and cherry with lavender; iced-tea varieties include lemongrass with strawberry and cinnamon with pear; and all syrups for the sparkling sodas are homemade.
All in all, Mazel Tov has great potential to transcend the down-and-dirty decadence of many Pest ruin pubs – families will be welcome amid this light atmosphere, and the ongoing series of concerts, exhibitions, open discussions, and international DJs should provide plenty of cerebral appeal for everyone… but nonetheless, this will still serve as a fun-loving party place, considering that after the grand opening on Saturday, July 19 at 3pm, Mazel Tov will remain open until 4am every day of the week.