Budapest’s iconic Kispipa restaurant of Gloomy Sunday fame revived as a cool cocktail bar


  • Péter Blazsovszky

08/10/2021 12.57pm

The history of the Kispipa restaurant dates back to 1954. Every night between 1958 and 1968, Rezső Seress, composer of evergreen torch song Gloomy Sunday, played the piano here. Curious Westeners exploring behind the Iron Curtain would pop in to see the famed songsmith whose tune had been covered by Billie Holiday and Sarah Vaughan. Now the Kispipa has taken a new direction as a cocktail bar with contemporary food to match, respecting its heritage while looking to the future.

Entering the transformed Kispipa, the visitor senses the duality of past and present around the interior, in the logo, the furniture, the lamps and the atmosphere. Legend and tradition dovetail in a modern-day ambiance.

Photo: Medgyesi Milán - We Love Budapest

Reminders of Rezső Seress in today’s Kispipa are not there to dwell upon, which is a virtue as elements of the interior design by Géza Ipacs, well-known in the wine world, avert your attention. The end result merits the time and energy spent here, as retro is not the focus but a piece of living history in contemporary garb.

Hunting Mule cocktail with Beluga Hunting Berry

Photo: Medgyesi Milán - We Love Budapest

Many older locals have their own stories about the Kispipa. Louis Armstrong, Marcello Mastroianni, Spencer Tracy and Jane Fonda all patronised the storied restaurant. Legend has it that the former mayor of New York once came in, sat down and just pulled a note out of his pocket with the Hungarian words for venison-and-tarragon soup.

Bar manager Dániel Ujj

Photo: Medgyesi Milán - We Love Budapest

More relevant to the younger generation is the key location of Akácfa utca in the nightlife quarter. Overseen by bar manager Dániel Ujj, cocktails follow the international trend of fine drinking, mixes created with high-quality base spirits. A weekly changing selection is chalked up on a board to complement the regular drinks list.

Inspired by a handwritten menu from 1964 and given the expert touch of renowned gastronome András Jókuti, dishes include katsu sandos, the Japanese fried-meat sandwich, for which they bake the toast-shaped bread based on their own recipe. There are also fried pork (ibérico and Hungarian), bone marrow, mushroom and blood-sausage versions with homemade pickles for 1,990 forints, the sauces also homemade.

In addition, the hamburger (wagyu or Omaha beef with homemade sauce, HUF 2,890) is a must here in the party district. The offer is completed by the terrine selection (HUF 2,890), ideal for pairing with cocktails.

Kispipa awaits visitors with an exciting, intelligently conceived cocktail menu, high-quality bar food and Paulaner beer on tap. The regular live bar music evokes an earlier age, preserving and nurturing one of Budapest’s most enduring and endearing legends.

Venue information

1072 Budapest, Akácfa utca 38
Open: Wed-Thur 5pm-1am, Fri-Sat 5pm-3am

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