Finding bars or restaurants with well-defined themes has become quite a challenge ever since “industrial chic” became the go-to décor on the Budapest scene. To offset this stylistic uniformity, a brand-new tapas bar called Vicky Barcelona opened for business just a few days ago with authentic Spanish vibes, enhanced by authentic interior design and an Iberian-inspired selection of food and drinks. The lively delights of Barcelona and Madrid now await everyone at the Dob Street entrance of Gozsdu Udvar.
Known as one of Budapest’s most vibrant pedestrian thoroughfares, Gozsdu Udvar is always capable of delivering surprises: while some of the “original settlers” have moved out of this historic complex since its thorough renovation a few years back, renewed storefronts – like the hip, new locale 4BRO Downtown on Király Street – pop up from time to time, keeping this central vein of the Magyar metropolis fresh and up-to-date. For some inexplicable reason, the opposite end of the passage tends to be a lot less busy, but the quiet period there is officially over now, because Vicky Barcelona is here to welcome tourists and local city dwellers with a Mediterranean atmosphere on workdays as well as weekends.
Providing patrons with a cozy heated nook in winter, a pleasant cooling breeze in summer, and a prime view of bustling Gozsdu Udvar all year round, the outdoor bar area by the huge windows is the first unique feature you spot while approaching the premises – smoking guests will particularly appreciate this section. As you step inside, you’ll see a long indoor bar with a constant supply of the best tipples in town, and an exceptionally designed and inviting interior. To achieve a special and distinct effect, the owners decided to refrain from hiring trendy interior designers or firms that have been in high demand recently. The hall is fairly narrow, which, instead of being claustrophobic, evokes an unexpectedly comfortable Latin feel. The intricate wall tiles by the somewhat secluded booths and the mosaics above the main bar are like art pieces from a bygone era. It would be quite neat if you could close the curtains around these quasi-private seating areas for a personal dinner party, but the strings attached to the curtain rods are unfortunately fixed – who knows if the rules will change, though, when a lively group gets out of hand here one day.
Everything fits into the Latin theme: most of the cooks are from Spain, and many of the bartenders come from Spanish-speaking countries, or can communicate in Spanish. The ingredients used in the kitchen come from the Iberian region as well, even the seafood. Hungarian words tend to be few and far between: during our recent visit, a few days after opening night, the place was packed with patrons from abroad, and friends of the owners that are appreciative of Spanish culture and cuisine. Everything about this bar feels foreign in a good way, and while you may have walked over from Astoria to get here, you most certainly get the feeling that you’re hanging out with the locals in a hip establishment in one of Madrid’s atmospheric alleys instead of downtown Budapest.
Eating together and trying many different flavors within a single meal is what the tapas system is all about. If you wanted to find a Hungarian counterpart, you could say it’s something like a traditional breakfast or dinner with sausages, ham, greaves, vegetables, and cheeses served on a wooden platter. The main difference is that the Mediterranean snacks are a lot lighter, but they go equally well with fine wines. While we’re on the subject of drinks, Vicky Barcelona boasts a wide cocktail selection. Our favorite was “Picnic in Délegyháza”, a unique concoction served in a jam jar with a wooden spoon, but the sangria – Spain’s traditional wine cocktail that comes in a pitcher – was wonderfully flavorful as well.
Some of the delicacies we tried included goat cheese salad with mango dressing (1,450 HUF), twice-baked potatoes with alioli (a homemade, mayonnaise-like sauce with beetroot and garlic) for 650 forints, octopus prepared in beer (2,700 HUF), fried Andalusian sepia (1,800 HUF), the Iberian ham and chorizo platter (2,700 HUF) and vegetable croquetas (900 HUF). While all of the flavors were fully convincing and totally reminiscent of Spain, we especially loved the croquetas and both seafood dishes. The menu features a variety of desserts, such as baked rice pudding, Catalan cream, and the cheesecake of the house.We were absolutely sold on the fiesta vibes, the mouthwatering food, and the friendly service, not to mention the extraordinary interior. We don’t have a photo of what the bathrooms look like, but you should definitely check them out – we think they are some of the most stylish toilets in the city. The signature Vicky Barcelona ambience will soon be made complete with DJs and live Spanish music, which is awesome news for lovers of Latin melodies. One tidbit of hard-earned wisdom to pass along: while the service is excellent, the bartenders are eager to recommend premium drinks as you are dancing the night away, so think about which cocktails or shots you say yes to in the heat of the night, because these extra items can rack up your bill really quickly.