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Basic Bár lives up to its name, and then some


  • Nick Robertson

14/10/2015 2.00am

A few steps away from the bustling intersection of Kazinczy and Dob in Budapest’s District VII, yet another new pub opened for business in September… but unlike most establishments that debut in this trendy neighborhood nowadays, Basic Bár isn’t trying to draw customers with snazzy interior design and cosmopolitan concepts. No, Basic Bár provides exactly what its title declares – a simple pub where just about anyone can drop in for a drink or three. However, with an impressive selection of deliciously cheap craft beers all made in Budapest, this place definitely offers more than meets the eye.

Occupying a modest location within the recessed arcade of a low-key apartment building between Macesz Bistro and Filo Bar, Basic Bár is quite easy to miss when walking along this nondescript stretch of Dob Street; aside from the pub’s color-free neon sign illuminating this graffiti-coated alcove that surely attracted countless public urinators over the years, only a slender chalkboard and a few worn wooden tables indicate the presence of a new tavern here.

Photo: Norbert Juhász - We Love Budapest

Inside, the design of Basic Bár could be generously described as Scandinavian – white lamps shine on gray walls completely devoid of pictures, unpainted metal stools offer minimally comfortable seating, and it’s impossible to tell if the exposed wiring and ventilation ducts are an attempt at ‘industrial chic’ or are merely the most economical means of conveying electricity and air through the remarkably plain premises.While some may consider this spare setting to be devoid of personality, we appreciate the unpretentious nature of Basic Bár, especially in comparison to some of the more ostentatious (and overpriced) hangouts that are opening around District VII recently… but what we really appreciate about this place is that the management was quite elaborate when creating the bar’s most important feature: the alcohol selection. Basic Bár proudly pours a wide selection of craft beers brewed by Budapest’s own Mister Sörház in District XV, which serves as the headquarters for several Mister Söröző dive bars scattered citywide since the mid-’90s.

Photo: Norbert Juhász - We Love Budapest

While “Mister Sör” is definitely not the highest-quality beer in the world, the local brewery has honed its expertise considerably over the past two decades, and now Basic Bár is downtown’s premier showcase for the full range of these satisfying suds. The selection on tap includes original Mister Sör lager as well as a quite delightful unfiltered variety (both sold for a paltry 370 forints per half liter), while a new line of draft microbrews includes cherry, plum, and elderflower flavors along with a dark beer – all sold for only 490 forints for a large mug.

Photo: Norbert Juhász - We Love Budapest

The fruit-flavored beers are a little sweet but certainly good, while the dark and unfiltered options are actually enjoyable enough to compete against some of the fancier microbrews offered at surrounding bars for much higher prices. Basic Bár also carries Mister Sör’s strong apple and pear “Sunlight Cider” on tap for 490 forints per .3-liter glass, and even offers a bargain-priced selection of rather fine Hungarian wines, including the 2013 Sauska Cuvée 13 and Legli Pinot Noir 2012 – both sold for only 465 forints per deciliter.

Photo: Norbert Juhász - We Love Budapest

Meanwhile, Basic Bár patrons looking to leave all sobriety behind have plenty of options when it comes to hard liquor for low prices – premium potent potables include Grey Goose vodka (2cl for 600 HUF), Highland Park 12-year-old single-malt scotch (2cl for 695 HUF), and Hungary’s own Unicum bitters (2cl for 295 HUF). But the most appealing aspect of Basic Bár is its friendly staff; unlike the bartenders at many inexpensive inns, the vivacious employees here are always smiling and happy to help customers make their choice among the Mister Sör selection with free samples of suds poured into shot glasses.

Photo: Norbert Juhász - We Love Budapest

So, while Basic Bár probably won’t be earning a place in 2016-edition Budapest guidebooks as a hip new hotspot of District VII, we know that this will be one of our regular stops in the neighborhood from now on, especially as an amiably affordable pre-party place before progressing to the more costly locales found just a short stumble away.
Budapest 1072, Dob utca 28-30Facebook

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