Lapped by the Danube, the Kacsakő Bisztró sits at the end of Szentendre’s riverside strip of restaurant terraces, each more mainstream than the other. Here, a distinctly bohemian crowd, among them many cyclists, children and dogs, gather under partial shade for live music, a decent kitchen, enticing draught beers and another go on the retro, pour-your-own ice-cream machine. All this is an easy hop from Budapest, by bike, boat or suburban HÉV train.
Although only five minutes’ walk from civilisation, the Kacsakő Bisztró has something of the lost hippy village about it, regulars lounging on deckchairs and propped up on large logs presumably washed up from the river that provides a constant ambient backdrop.
Homely even though it's open to the elements, the summer-only Kacsakő Bisztró suits Szentendre to a tee, the long-established cultural fraternity of this gallery-dotted Danubian getaway flocking here to chill, chat and even take to the stage now and then. Ef Zámbó, for example, distinguished alt-rock stalwart from Szentendre’s pioneering Bizottság scene and a noted artist in his own right, often plays here with his Happy Dead Band.
For those coming from Budapest, it’s now an easy cycle along the water. The weekend Mahart boat from Budapest city centre takes 90 minutes, dropping you a little further up the riverfront, while the frequent HÉV suburban train is 40 minutes from Batthyány tér, arriving at Szentendre’s main transport hub a 15-minute walk away.
When you get here, descending the steps of the embankment to reach water level, you soon ascertain that this appealing sprawl is divided into three main elements: the bar, the food outlet and everything else, a moveable feast of chairs, upturned barrels doubling up as tables and guests in relax mode. Somewhere amongst all this is the stage. The live entertainment is free.
The beer range wanders a little around Europe without ignoring Hungary’s current craft revolution, spritzers are sunk by the bucketload, while the food menu starts with carp soup, moves on to the inevitable burgers (including the house variety of 100% beef with bacon and duck-liver confit, HUF 2,390) then includes Balkan meat favourite ćevapčići, grilled squid and BBQ spare ribs. Hardly anything, except the aforementioned monster house burger, is more than 2,000 forints, and kids can get stuck into chicken nuggets and chips.
There's even a little splashing to be had in the Danube, but exercise caution, and by no means let kids swim off alone.
Along with the esteemed ef Zámbó, the musical agenda comprises acoustic and jazz concerts, with kids’ parties on weekend mornings, acclaimed singer Bori Rutkai on Sundays and ethno DJs almost all of the time otherwise.
Opening hours have just been extended, though this is no late-night haunt. What it does do, from mid-afternoon on weekdays, mid-morning at weekends, is provide ample reason to head up to Szentendre. Getting out of that deckchair to head back again may not be as easy.
Duna korzó 21, 2000 Szentendre
Current opening hours: Mon-Thur 4pm-10pm, Fri noon-10pm, Sat-Sun 10am-10pm