Dining

Trabant60 adds retro flavor to central Budapest

Photo : Norbert Hartyányi / We Love Budapest

A time-transcending walk away from St. Stephen’s Basilica, Hungary’s old-school vibe comes alive amid Budapest’s modern downtown scene, as a pair of new eateries carry on historic legacies of different eras. On Október 6. Street, the Urban Betyár restaurant presents longtime traditions of the Hungarian countryside since last winter, and now the restaurant is enhanced with the new Trabant60 bar that highlights a riot of retro relics, including decades-old furniture, vintage televisions, and a communist-era car parked above the hangout’s time-bending settings.

Unveiled last year in downtown Budapest, Urban Betyár is an increasingly popular locale for meals and meetings, and with its underground mini-museum of Magyar ethnography, the eatery is also a delightful cultural destination for tourists to stop in while sightseeing. Now, adding to this countryside-style dining locale drawing on centuries-old traditions, Trabant60 opened right next door with an entirely different concept that still preserves the country’s legacy from decades ago. Accessible through a separate entrance from the street while also being connected to Urban Betyár, guests who step into this intriguing watering hole are whisked away from modern-day Budapest to a bygone era, Hungary in the 1960s and ’70s: as we look around, an overwhelming collection of retro keepsakes is astonishing, and at first we are not sure if we entered a bar or we were ushered into a museum filled with vintage artifacts.

Photo: Norbert Hartyányi / We Love Budapest

To the left, an old-school kitchen cabinet displays vintage household utensils, including traditionally patterned metal dishes that were ordinarily used for storing foodstuffs, alongside empty wine bottles and checkered trays; above this cool cupboard, a series of historic street signs is mounted on the wall to remind us of urban Budapest in the past. There are even several sights reminiscent of bars at small-town railway stations in the past, with such unconventional touches as a controller’s hat casually placed on a soda bottle, or a suitcase covered with stickers from varied destinations hanging from the ceiling.

Photo: Norbert Hartyányi / We Love Budapest

Opposite from this quirky kitchen-like area, numerous Hungarian mementos are amassed on the glass shelves of the bar, including vintage wooden radios, playful piggy banks, the oversized predecessors of boys’ beloved Matchbox cars, communist-era cigarette boxes, outdated board games, and an assortment of the world-famous Rubik’s Cube, including ramshackle pieces with the colors of the little squares already faded due to extensive use.

The hangout is enhanced with old-fashioned wallpaper adorned with geometric patterns and a massive pillar resembling a vintage advertisement column commonly seen on the city streets decades ago. However, the absolute highlight of the bar is an antiquated Trabant car that provided the inspiration when the owners were pondering what to name this place. Mounted overhead with its front facing the entrance, this classic 1962 model is splashed with baby-blue hues, and according to plans, its headlights will provide the restaurant’s mood lighting during the evening.

In addition to this substantial collection of local artifacts, themed seating areas offer comfy areas to chill out while dining and drinking in this eccentric environment. One of the lounge zones is furnished with chairs that were once used in hairdressing salons; above the table, converted hair-drying equipment lifts spirits by providing special illumination in the evening hours. Above all, a pair of decades-old televisions screen old-school mini-movies that present historic city scenes and classic Magyar cartoons for kids.

However, it’s not only the interior design that presents vintage flavor. The menu of Trabant60 offers dishes familiar to any Hungarian schoolkid, like deep-fried cheese with tartar sauce and rice, crimson sausages served with bread and mustard, veal paprikash with Hungarian egg noodles, or sweet fruit-infused rice, all presented on classic café plates. To wash down the hearty Magyar meals, the drink cart features a variety of local pálinka liquor and fine Hungarian wines, but anyone who feels intoxicated enough by the whirlwind of surrounding artifacts can order a selection of fruit-flavored syrup sodas.

Whether you visit for a quick drink and a long look around, or immerse into Magyar cuisine over a full meal, Trabant60 is a fine spot for sating your appetite for both culture and fine food amid fascinating scenes.

 

Address: Budapest 1051, Október 6. Street 18

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