Bringing a slice of the countryside to downtown Budapest, SIMALIBA Belvárosi Csárda has just opened a few steps away from the city’s main shopping street, Váci utca, serving authentic Hungarian classics just the way locals love them.

When in Budapest, sooner or later you’ll find yourself wandering around Váci utca, where shops standing side by side compete for attention. If you’d like to try authentic and traditional Hungarian favourites nearby, from good old goulash soup to Hungarian pastas, goose dishes and desserts, be sure to make your way to SIMALIBA Belvárosi Csárda on Piarista utca.

What is a csárda?

A csárda is a typical and traditional Hungarian restaurant/ inn mainly in the countryside, adorned with checkered tablecloths, strings of garlic hanging from the ceiling, pottery covering the walls and other quirky Hungarian characteristics. SIMALIBA aims to bring the atmosphere of countryside csárdas to the capital but in a much more modern and sophisticated setting. 

Instead of garlic, classic old kitchen tools hang from the ceiling, the main decorative element is reminiscent of the pattern on the clothes of Hungarian hussars and only local music plays in the background. The interior is elegant yet homely and comfortable, shades of white and wood surfaces dominate, and the false windows look out to imaginary fields filled with flocks of geese – it’s a cute touch that the restaurant’s own little goose also features in these photos. The restaurant’s name is a pun, as – literally meaning 'smooth goose' – simaliba means 'no problem' or 'easy-peasy' in Hungarian slang, also referring to the goose dishes served here all year round.

This is a restaurant where you can enjoy traditional Hungarian classics just the way a local grandmother would make them. 

Among the starters, you find delicious tartare beefsteak that comes served with veggies and sourdough bread, traditional meat-filled pancakes, ratatouille with or without sausages and a lángos selection, which means three mini lángoses topped with cheese and sour cream, smoked trout and horseradish and ratatouille and sausage crumbs. 

Goose dishes galore

The menu has a separate section just for goose dishes, including delicacies like goose liver, crispy goose leg with red cabbage or goose gizzard stew. The selection will change seasonally, but at least five goose dishes will always feature on it in the future. 

A highlight on the menu is the hearty and perfectly spiced goulash soup, but if you’re after something lighter, you’ll also find chicken soup or cream of porcini mushroom soup. Hungarian pastas, generally consumed as a main course, also made it on the menu, such as cottage-cheese pasta with bacon chips, egg dumplings with salad or potato pasta.

It's a lovely touch that some of the recipes at SIMALIBA come from Corporate Chef Viktor Varju’s mum, which makes dining here feel like visiting a Hungarian grandmother. 

We take offering classic homemade dishes, just like a Hungarian mother or grandmother would make them, seriously. The potato pasta is made according to my mum’s recipe, which is different from how it’s normally made, so the chefs here all needed to learn to make this dish my mum’s way. 

Among the main dishes, you find such Hungarian classics like veal paprikash, pike perch fillet or beef tenderloin served Budapest-style with fresh ratatouille, goose liver, green peas, potato chips and mushrooms.

Potato chips are a highlight on the menu, because thanks to the paper-thin slices of Madison potatoes, they are perfectly crunchy and delicious – you can order a plateful with pretty much anything on the menu. 

The dessert selection offers chocolatey Somlói sponge cake, sweet cottage cheese dumplings, pancakes filled with walnut cream and kaiserschmarrn (scrambled Pancake) – all of them are heavenly.

The drink list features beer, wine and spirits, lemonade, syrups and iced tea, and there’s a separate fröccs (wine spritz) menu where you can see the different ratios in which Hungarians mix their wine with fizzy water and try whichever you prefer the most.

So, if you’re after a homely restaurant serving traditional Hungarian dishes just like a local grandmother would make them in the heart of Budapest, head to SIMALIBA Belvárosi Csárda. The restaurant will soon open two terraces as well. 

SIMALIBA Belvárosi Csárda