Under the direction of owner János Elek and chef/owner Olivér Sápi, a bright restaurant is broadening the varied gastronomic horizon of the Corvin Quarter. Cortez isn’t aiming to be Mexican, it simply offers solid Central-American favourites spiced with modern Texas elements. Think chimichanga, fajitas and chili con carne, accompanied by a fine, matured mezcal.
Just behind the Corvin Quarter, walking into the once grimy district of Józsefváros, newly built apartment buildings now surround a burgeoning gastro scene. Cortez is the latest arrival.
The design of this mainly Mexican-themed restaurant and bar was practically self-invented, rather than commissioned from an interiors specialist, combining casual dining with relaxed elegance, without falling into the trap of false authenticity.
The name comes from the former Cortez Sea, now known as the Gulf of California, named after the brutal conquistador who overthrew the Aztec Empire. This separates the California peninsula from the Mexican mainland off the west coast. Rather than restricting the kitchen to purely Mexican cuisine, they have adopted the restrained BBQ style of Tex-Mex.
Not only are the sauces homemade, but they also mix the spices for themselves, as evidenced in the sizzling chicken fajitas (tortilla base, Mexican rice, cheese, jalapeño, bean purée, salsa, sour cream, HUF 4,150) and chimichanga (stripped beef with cheese, steak potatoes, BBQ sauce, HUF 3,690). You’ll find chicken quesadillas and chili con carne amid the botanas platter for two (HUF 6,490), something more substantial than the nachos platter you might have been expecting.
The bar offers all kinds of rums, tequilas and meczals, as well as short drinks and great cocktails.
Cortez doesn’t claim to be authentically Mexican but nevertheless suits a rendezvous, business meeting or lively party.
1082 Budapest, Corvin sétány 2C
Open: Mon-Fri, Sun noon-midnight, Sat 11am-midnight