If you’ve ever searched anything like “what to do in Budapest” then you’ve probably stumbled across ruin pubs. These famous bars are practically everywhere you look in the Jewish Quarter. Famous for being a Jewish ghetto near the latter part of World War II, the Jewish Quarter was abandoned and run down until the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 90’s. Privatization kicked in and some very smart artists began buying up property. It turns out that people liked to come hang out in these areas for the art. Then came the food and drink.
The first ruin pub was opened in 2002. Today there are many of these ruin pubs for you to enjoy. From old meat processing facilities and run down apartments, to any kind of building that was about to be demolished, you can find a ruin pub full of flare. In this post we talk about the ruin pubs we visited during our time in Budapest.
If you’re looking for more than just drink then check out our post on some awesome restaurants in Budapest!
This is the oldest ruin pub in Budapest. 2002 doesn’t seem very old, especially when Budapest’s history dates back more than a thousand years. However, this ruin bar is less about its history and more about its uniqueness. It’s easy to get lost in this pub but that’s what makes this place so cool.
The space is packed with “recycled” art and there are bars on multiple floors. Beer is more expensive here than at other places. However, that’s the case in most of the Jewish Quarter. A .5 L of cold lager will run you about $4-5 USD. To be fair, that’s still pretty cheap but it’s expensive compared to elsewhere in Budapest.
Szimpla Kert also serves as a cinema and performance space, whether that be concerts or theater. This is the most touristy ruin pub but don’t let that deter you. Being so large, Szimpla Kert has plenty of nooks to post up with a cold one and enjoy some friendly conversation.
Also located in the Jewish Quarter, Mazel Tov is in stark contrast to Szimpla Kert. Szimpla Kert’s interior comes to our minds when we think of ruin pub because it’s the oldest and also the first one we visited.
However, Budapest ruin pubs come in many forms! Mazel Tov’s drink menu is good, being priced similar to Szimpla Kert, but what makes Mazel Tov awesome is its delicious cuisine. It’s a kind of Israeli and Mediterranean fusion. We tried the fried eggplant hummus with peppers and it did not disappoint.
Come for the chill, green-minded atmosphere and enjoy some creative cuisine. If the weather is right, try to time your visit around a garden party. The greener the merrier! They’re dog friendly as well!
First off, let us say that we think this ruin pub could be really awesome. Our experience was less than okay. In Ellátó Kert’s defense, we were there early in the evening before the vibe really picked up. The place is massive. It’s similar to Szimpla Kert except there’s a lot less neon going on. You can find Ellátó Kert just down the street from Szimpla Kert.
Open air seating outside or comfy couches indoors, you have your pick! Visiting in January, we obviously sat inside. You can also try your hand at some pool or foosball.
Ellátó Kert is a ruin pub but it’s also a taqueria. You can find the small kitchen by walking all the way to the back. We tried the “nachos” but it was just tortilla chips and a big cup of dip. Our experience was just meh, but we’ve heard great things about Ellátó Kert. If you want our advice, go later on a weekend and try the Pinky shot!
Okay, we’re going to venture out of the famous Jewish Quarter (District XII) and head into District XIII. It just so happends that our Airbnb is 6 blocks from Élesztőház. We had no idea until the last week of our stay. Sad day! If you’re a fan of craft beer then Élesztőház needs to be on your to-do list. There are 21 Hungarian craft beers on tap and they have some amazing IPA’s! It made us so “hoppy”. Ok, that was a really lame pun. But it’s true.
Situated in an old meat processing plant, Élesztőház is near the popular Corvin Plaza so don’t think it’s hard to get to. Just take the M3 (blue line) to Corvin-Negyed and you’re there in a few minutes! The place was filled with locals which gave Élesztőház a great vibe.
Élesztőház doesn’t just offer the awesome hops. There’s a butcher’s kitchen, a coffee shop that’s open late, a brew studio for those interested in how to brew, a wine and tapas bar, and even a “Hopstel” for the beer tourists out there. Maybe on our next trip though Budapest we’ll give it a shot. Or a few liters…
Summary of Ruin Pubs in Budapest
There are so many ruin pubs in Budapest. Just start walking in the Jewish Quarter, taking in the awesome street art, and you’ll find yourself a ruin pub. The best part about there being so many ruin pubs in Budapest is that your options are endless. Whether you want to experience the colorful and vibrant Szimpla Kert or you simply want to taste the craft Hungarian beer at Élesztőház, Budapest’s ruin pubs have something for every traveler.