It took us a few weeks to sort out the small but high quality craft beer scene in Budapest. Our favorite Hungarian beers are brewed by Foti, Hopfanatic, Legenda and Tavoli (a gypsy brewer currently only producing 1 beer; Galaxis IPA). We recommend the following four places for beer in Budapest and we have included a map at the end of the post for a beer crawl.
Csak a jó sör!
This translates to ‘Only Good Beer’ (Sometimes seen online as Csakajosor – all one word)! Csak fashions itself both a bottle shop and pub and it is always full of locals, expats and a few beer loving tourists like us! We are proud that we were regulars at Csak for the month of November. Right now we are loving the German beer selection. The owner drove to Germany a couple of weeks ago and he brought back the sweet tasting Ayinger Weizenbock that costs a mere $2.75 (600 HUF) a bottle. On our first visit, Csak had Southern Tier Unearthly DIPA on tap which tasted like heaven after Croatia. Csak fills up on from Thursday to Saturday so be prepared for crowds. He has a small space and it can’t accommodate everyone that wants to come in and drink. Csak carries all of the Hungarian craft brews along with Belgians, Germans and even quite a few awesome beers from the US. We imbibed on a Port Brewing Mongo IPA one day we felt like we were back in San Diego! Csak is hands down our #1 place to drink beer in Budapest.
Open at 2pm most days, although sometimes at 4pm if he is brewing. Closed Sundays.
*If you are hungry at this point, you can walk a few blocks to Pig 37 for a delicious burger.
Akacfa Utca, 24 and it less than a 10 minute walk.
A three month old microbrewery, Hopfanatic already produces the best IPA on draft in Budapest with No Hop Limit, their Douple West Coast IPA (8.5%). Dying for hoppy beer after a beer drought in Croatia, Hopfanatic was one of our first stops in Budapest. Their other main beer is Angry Beast, a Russian Imperial Stout (12.5%). However, they are currently out of this beer everywhere in Budapest so we could not try it. Everyone at the extremely spacious and comfortable Hopfanatic is very friendly. If you research Hopfanatic on the interweb you will find next to no information in English. Nonetheless, they are definitely worth checking out. Open everyday at 3pm.
If you ask people where to find craft beer in Budapest they will undoubtedly tell you to go to Eleszto, part ruin pub, part beer bar with 17 taps. Eleszto has mixed reviews online from the beer community. Some people do not like the fact that they take credit for the craft beer movement in Budapest. For example when we were there they reminded us that they were the first place in Budapest to do beer cocktails. Not sure how much that matters and all. At any rate, it is worth visiting. On our second visit we finally understood the aesthetic at Eleszto. With a steampunk vibe and aggressive hipster type employees, Eleszto comes across as a bit pretentious. When we were there they had several London Fields (pretty impressive) beers on tap as well as locals including Tavoli Galaxis IPA and Hopfanatic No Hop Limit. Tue, Eleszto has the most taps in town, but overall it seems like the real beer geeks in Budapest drink at Csak. Eleszto is a mere 30 minute walk or ten minute tram ride (on the 4/6) from Csak and Hopfanatic so it can certainly work for a beer crawl.
LEGENDA Beer Truck
Legenda has a large and uninviting brewpub that seems sad as a space – way too large and empty. Therefore we preferred drinking at their beer truck, even though the weather disagreed with outdoor drinking. Poker Face pale ale was one of the first beers we had when we arrived in Budapest (at Kandallo) and it is an easy drinking hoppy pale. We also like their Brutal Bitter and their Joker Face IPA. Their beer truck happens to be parked right near another beer bar called Lehuto that only carries Hungarian craft beers on tap. That means you can go to Lehuto when you get cold or need to use the restroom! Lehuto was pretty but only so-so for us as it had very Irvine/San Jose boring feel to it. Overall it is clear that our first love for drinking beer in Budapest is at Csak which could definitely fit in to the North Park area of San Diego.
We give an honorable mention to Kandallo which is across the street from Csak. They have about six local craft beers on tap and they are a good place to go if Csak is closed or opening late that day. They also have a solid three course lunch menu for $6 (1190 HFT)
*We did try Public Pub as we were told it is all about craft beer. It is not on this list for a reason. When we were there they were out of most everything we wanted to try and in general it is a very boring/touristy looking space.
For a beer crawl map, see below. The total walk time is less then an hour between all four places, so stumble well! Note that “A” is Hopfanatic, “B” Csak, “C” is Lehuto/Legenda Truck, “D” is Eleszto: