Budapest, Baked: the Pastry-Lover’s Cafe Capital

Savoring cakes filled with buttercream, sampling sweet fruit strudels, and sipping rich coffee is all part of the experience that awaits you when you discover Budapest cafes on your tour of Eastern Europe. Vantage’s discovery-filled Gateway to the Black Sea river cruise takes you to the timeless cities along the Danube, including the capital of Hungary. Budapest is a gem of Europe, known for its beauty, architecture, and culture. It’s also famous for its cuisine, including a long list of tempting desserts.

Cafe Culture

Budapest’s cafe culture began to flourish in the 19th century — as the meeting places for many writers, poets, and artists, coffeehouses were places that naturally inspired conversation. Even non-artists loved the environment, and in the early part of the 20th century, more than 500 cafes dotted the capital. Many were destroyed during the World Wars, and the Communists closed most of the remainder in 1948, considering them hotbeds of dissent. But today, the cafe life is back in full swing, and the historic cafes have re-opened, their impressive architecture and elegant environments restored to their original beauty. Most important, the cakes and pastries they serve remain just as tasty as those served at the peak of Budapest’s cafe culture.

Historic Cafes

When you explore the heart of the city, make sure you head to Gerbeaud, one of Budapest’s most famous cafes. It opened in the mid-19th century and features a terrace that overlooks the famous Vörösmarty Square. One of its founders and namesake, Emile Gerbeaud, is the creator behind the famous Hungarian delight known as konyakos meggy, sour cherries dipped in cognac and covered with dark chocolate. The cafe is also famous for its signature zserbó szelet (“Gerbeaud slice”) — layers of chocolate-covered sponge cake with ground walnut and jam filling. Gerbeaud doesn’t limit its temptations to baked goods…. it is the ocnfectioner par excellence, so look forward to boxing up some classic candies to bring home.

Another famous cafe is the Centrál Kávéház, or Cafe Central, which was renovated and reopened in 2000 to restore its original elegance from the days of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The New York Cafe, located at the Boscolo Budapest Hotel, also dates back a century and was once a popular gathering place for the city’s intellectuals. When you visit one of these cafes, come prepared knowing a bit about Hungarian desserts — or simply let your eyes decide! Count the seven layers of buttercream filling on the caramel-topped dobos torte, named after famous Hungarian pastry chef Jozsef C. Dobos. Another classic is malna piskotatekercs, a rich raspberry-cream roulade. See if you can point out Esterházy torte, with its signature striped fondant glaze. And if you love apples, why not try Hungarian apple strudel?

Hungarian Dobostorte

After touring the city on your river cruise, make sure to visit these Budapest cafes and sample some of the finest freshly baked pastries, strudels, and local coffee as you take in the beautiful and historic sights around you.

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