Bryan Wilson barely has a moment to stop and breathe as he bustles between tables at Gaby’s, his newly opened restaurant and bar in Újlipótváros, but the smile on his face outshines the fatigue of work. Open now for three weeks alongside the sparkling waters of the Danube, the bar/restaurant has just held its Grand Opening Party, with more people in attendance than seating could accommodate.

Bryan came to Budapest in 2017, after having walked El Camino in Spain, and returned to LA with a newfound lacklustre perception of the city. “I was over LA,” he admits, and when a friend invited him to visit Europe, he arrived “with a suitcase and a one-way ticket”.

After some back-and-forth travel for work between Budapest and LA, Hungary eventually won out, and then it was time to realise his dream of opening a restaurant. The result is Gaby’s.

Gay- and dog-friendly, Gaby’s was overflowing with revellers last night trying to snag a table before those with reservations showed up for its Grand Opening Party . “I try to make this place fun for everybody,” says Bryan, “and I wanted to have a place where people could come to have a good time”.

Those who don’t get a table in time are happy to stand outside with a drink, enjoying the sunshine (albeit a bit breezy on this opening night) and soaking in the view.

The bar and restaurant is named after Bryan’s dog – who was also in attendance at the event until it became a little too exhilarating for a small dog to handle. “Apparently she walked herself back to the apartment,” says Bryan, who lives nearby, “and someone called me saying, ‘Hey your dog is in the elevator!’”

While Gaby may have found her own party too exciting, the humans in attendance were thoroughly enjoying the sunshine, live music and plentiful food. “This is the only true riverfront café in this area,” Bryan adds, and Gaby’s is fortunate to benefit from both a view of the river and Margaret Bridge, letting the guests enjoy a panoramic vista.

Inside, the décor is impeccable, with big windows bathing the interior with light, and eclectic lounge chairs creating niche spaces to sit and relax with friends. At the bar, darling brass stools line a mahogany-red countertop, and a small reception area near the entrance showcases various spirits and wines available, with the feel of a miniature showroom.

Live music – last night provided by Colombian artist Andrew Ace – is set up on a small elevated stage at the rear of the ground floor. An upstairs remains unfinished, except for the bathrooms.

Throughout the night, the chaos of such a big event caused some confusion and misplaced orders, but the staff were attentive and prompt to the last beer, and it would have been a feat indeed to find a disgruntled guest in the crowd.

“I found a bit of home here,” says Bryan as he looks contentedly over the sea of bobbing heads and clinking glasses. As Gaby’s settles into its life along the Danube, we think that the locals of Újlipótváros and beyond will come to find a bit of home here, too.

District XIII. Katona József utca 41
Current opening times: Daily 8am-10pm 
Tram 2, 4/6 to Jászai Mari tér