Kis Pozsonyi & Lecsó

It's easy to develop a lazy routine as a foreigner in Hungary. You get to know a few places that you like and you just keep on going back for familiar grub, at a familiar spot in a familiar restaurant. But those who earn an average Hungarian wage aren't hitting up sit-down restaurants every night; their bankroll simply wouldn't allow it. So, every so often, when in Budapest, why not do as the Budapesters do?

Fortunately for me, two brand new canteens - "étkezde" - opened up a couple months ago in my neighborhood. Literally, one just around the corner from the other. The first is the size of a walk-in closet, the second, a two-floor behemoth.

Kis Pozsonyi
Pannónia utca 2 [map]
Pest, XIII, Jászai Mari tér (T4/6), 1 min
Cuisine > Hungarian, Fast food

Rating: 7.6/10

For weeks I watched a little hole in the wall get transformed into one of these canteen eateries. While the construction was taking place, I fumbled to fathom what might be going in here. Once opened, I was still unsure what Kis Pozsonyi was exactly. The intimacy of the unassuming space was perplexing. Do people eat in this little place? After much internal struggle, I mustered up the courage, and decided to be the intruder on true Hungarian eating culture.

The first couple of times I ate here, I went for soup, sometimes,
főzelék, sometimes an additional meat portion. The major selling point: it's cheap. Almost insanely cheap. I grabbed a quick főzelék and a beer, and realized that the more expensive of my two items was the beer, with my check totaling just over 400 forint. That's another selling point, they've got beer—230 for a pohár and 380 for a korsó of Dreher. The rest of the menu is similar fare, Hungarian staple foods all warming in stainless steel trays.

For one thing, at high lunch-traffic time, you can't move in the place. You might have to take a couple of walks around the block before some elbow space frees at one of the maybe ten chairs. Presumably, this is when most of the food gets devoured here, so get there early for the best selection, though they're open 'til 8pm daily.

The people that come here are of all sorts. I've seen cute girls scamper in the door, construction workers just off the job, a flock of French women, and eagerly hungry 30-something males popping in for a quick bite. The fact that it’s family-owned and operated adds to its allure.

It wasn't until after snagging their last leg of duck one day that I came to a stark realization. This must be the little brother to Pozsonyi Kisvendéglő, which I reviewed with much acclaim not long ago. The taste of the duck, along with the red cabbage (accompanied by fries, a simple soup and a beera mountain of food for under 1200 forint) was strikingly similar as the restaurant's big brother, which helped me finally put two and two together. Though the smiling chef decal in the windowwhich the big Pozsonyi sharesshould have given it away to me.

Kis Pozsonyi has quickly become my place to go for a quick meal, one that's inexpensive, tasty enough, always reliable, and saves me having to contemplate cooking.

Food: 6.5/10
Service: 8/10
Atmosphere: 7/10

Value for money: 9/10

Szent István körút 10 [map]
Pest, XIII, Jászai Mari tér (T4/6), 1 min
Cuisine > Hungarian, Fast food

Rating: 5.1/10
Lecsó (named after the Hungarian stew) feels like walking into a bathroom where they serve Hungarian fast-food, thanks to the fresh tile everywhere. The puzzled-looking women behind the troughs of food are robotic in everything from their insincere "szia" to their green look as they spoon out your food. Maybe it's because Lecsó is the new kid on the block, and boy can you tell it. It's big, two floors, and rarely filled with people, except maybe at lunchtime.

Sure there's plenty to choose from, Hungarian soups, goulash, assorted deep friend meats, even desserts and salads, but the employees don't even seem to know what any of it is. Perhaps most off-putting: people watch you eat. The bored ladies have no trivial small talk or menial tasks to tend to, so they stare, silently. Eat here and you'll know how monkeys in cages feel.

The food is not particularly inspiring either; insipid, in fact. Worse still, it’s insanely expensive. On one of my few trips into the place, they managed to con me out of 1070 forint for a dry piece of breaded chicken and a bowl of unidentifiable
főzelék! It could have been white beans, maybe potato, who knows?

Oh and a side of rice is 290 forint! Rice? 290 forint!?!
Highway robbery!

The only time it might be acceptable to think about eating in Lecsó is from 8 to 10 in the evening, when the food is half price (and still too expensive at that). At least there's no risk of it losing its flavour!

Food: 5/10
Service: 6.5/10
Atmosphere: 5/10

Value for money: 4/10

Both restaurants are a quick jaunt from Jászai Mari tér. Just walk away from the Danube down the körút and Lecsó is on the left. Kis Pozsonyi is on the left a bit further down, on the corner of Pannónia utca, immediately before Vig Színház.
Letcho, Lecho, Lecso
Jacob P.



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