Liszt Ferenc tér, Budapest Should be Completely Avoided

Liszt Ferenc tér, Budapest Should be Completely Avoided

I think it was our second night in Budapest where we wandered over to Liszt Ferenc tér in the center for a meal. By and large, there are restaurants just about everywhere in Budapest. It just happened that when we headed out with some friends, we really couldn’t find anywhere to eat in our vicinity. After a bit of walking, this tree-lined square came in to view. It seemed that our prayers had been answered with one restaurant after another to choose from.

Once walking around though, it quickly became apparent that this was the Budapest version of Belden Place wherein it is just an endless line of restaurants that all have outdoor seating, similar menus, and similar prices. We walked through all of this for a bit with various hosts shoving menus at us, again just like Belden Place. It got to be more than a bit discouraging and it seems that the two Belden Place owners based most of their ideas on hospitality on annoying places like this, only to have the nerve to claim that it’s “European”. I’ve had hangovers that were more European than this.

We really should have gone. There was only one restaurant that looked promising, but it had this damned reservation system and it was impossible to even wait for a table. We were getting tired though and committed the “Italian sin” which is that we sat down to eat at an Italian restaurant in Europe that wasn’t in Italy. This should never be done and again, we really should have gone.

The meal was so-so. The prices were high. The service was horrible as the girl waiting on us was an idiot with an attitude. The tips were forcibly included. I have no doubt that the situation would have been the same at any other restaurant as out of the 20 or so restaurants that are here, only one makes it in to any guidebook.

Then there is the scene. It is very much a crowd of people out for a night and wanting to be as hot as they can be. All the guys look like thugs. All the girls look like hookers. I’m not really sure if these are Hungarians or not, but all of them were unappealing. Then, in the middle of this, an old man walks along wearing a worn suit, his body skinny and crooked with age, as he tries to sell roses to all these fancy people who just ignore him. From table to table he bounced like some dog begging for table scraps.

Let me just state that it is so incredibly wrong for children or the elderly to be begging. I’m not saying that they don’t have a right to do it. I’m saying that if a society has pushed them in to this, then there is something wrong with that society and there was very much something wrong with this microcosm of a society out for a night on Liszt Ferenc tér. Of course the irony is that all these glamorous people out spending all their money will inevitably end up like this fellow someday.

Anyways, #1 Fan and I felt pretty rotten with this whole scene. We are not fancy people and this square was an ill place. I bought one of the roses this old man was selling. I paid him the equivalent 4€ because I didn’t have anything smaller. He tried to explain how he was selling them, but he only spoke Hungarian and German and me, well… neither of those. Of course, all of the fancy people were watching me do this transaction, apparently stunned that someone would give a damn about someone, because that’s just not done.

Yes, in the end I did overpay for a rose that really wasn’t that good, but I would much rather blow my money buying a rose from him than being forced to pay a 12% tip to the restaurant we ate at with crappy service and so-so food. Admittedly, I did wonder if maybe this was a scam by this guy, but later the next day, I saw him coming out of a Metro station, wearing the same wrinkled suit, dragging his aging body up the stairs with a small bag of cheap groceries. My guess is that he’s on his own and just squeaking by until his days are over. Or maybe he’s scamming everyone, but I prefer to not think that. I would rather think ill of the dining crowd.

So, to sum up, Liszt Ferenc tér: bad. Watching an old man begging to sell roses to glitterati: even worse. Blogging about how horrid this square is and telling everyone who reads this to avoid it at all costs: priceless.

8 Replies to “Liszt Ferenc tér, Budapest Should be Completely Avoided”

  1. Im a foreign student studying in Budapest. Ive lived there for 2 years now.

    Let me just calrify something about Budapest. What you have described here is what you basically get where-ever you go in Hungary. The elderly beggers, almost-naked-fake-boob-women(shemale?), rude waiters, forced tipping system etc.. Its how it works there and everyone is used to it. The country still has a lot to improve, in the end it is still under communistic influence. They are not very used to tourists, to be honest, they hate them. Its a sad reality since tourists are about the only thing that is improving the Hungarian economy. lol But give Bp a few more years and I believe it will look like Vienna, Im convinced.

    In my opinion, Liszt Ferenc Ter is not so bad compared to some other options you may have. You just need to know in prior to make reservations and that its where ALL the tourists go in summer. The food is not great anywhere in Hungary so dont let that be the goal of your trip. And the high price, well its inevitable. After all, Liszt is a tourist spot. If you prefer more quet places, Liszt is not the place to go. Try Castle destrict, Andrassy or Vaci utca.

    Every country has their way and tourists need to know that its not always peaches and cream!

    1. I travelled to Bp. last summer, and unfortunatelly I had gout at the time. I end it up on Franz Liszt Square, and liked it so much, I returned almost every evening for supper there. I was warned not to order “rich” foods because my gout but I ate everything, and lone behold; my gout went away in few days. Must be the European way of cooking or something, because in Canada, where I reside, the foods has practicly no taste, and often gout causing. About the service in Liszt Square; I can sit there for a very long time witout anybody bothering me to have another drink. The waiters are all bilingual, and just as etikett as anywhere in North America. I have no comment on Hungarian foods, don’t need to comment.
      Great place to hang out at Franz Liszt Square in my opinion. Of course not too many people goes there with baseball caps on their head, and they do not drive halfton trucks..

    2. About a week ago we had a bad experience on th same square in an Italian restaurant. I can’t remember the name but it’s on a corner next to MENZA. It’s got two television screens showing football all the time. We sat down and ordered drinks. we sat there for about 15 minutes and the drinks never came and noone took our orders. eventually we decided to leave. When we told the two waiters (who were standing at the bar doing nothing) they shrugged their shoulders and couldn’t care less. We then went to Passion Cafe on the same square where we had a lovely meal at reasonable prices. That was our only bad experience during our visit. In all other places service was attentive and friendly.

    3. Good to know that something decent exists there. I doubt I would ever go back and tempt fate given how many good restaurants there are outside of that area and how much I enjoyed general Hungarian food.

    4. Serves you right for committing the “Italian Sin”. Most of the restaurants on Liszt Ferenc are characterfully individual and the touts can be fun and informative. OK during the summer it becomes very touristy but you’d be surprised how popular the resto’s are with locals in winter. I’ve had one so-so meal with great service at Birdland and an excellent meal with superb service at Bohemia. Bohemia was twice as expensive as Birdland – but then you get what you pay for.

      It’s naive to base your impressions of a place on a single visit.

    5. I have been to Liszt Ferenc Ter many times over many years. I think every area has its pros and cons…and every area has both good and bad restaurants….I have had nothing but wonderful times in Liszt and I would highly recommend for locals and tourists…it is a fun place….lots of unique venues. Beggars? The man selling the flowers is not a beggar…he is making a great living doing this and only a tourist would think he was a beggar…he puts on the right clothing to sell his flowers to the stupid tourists! He is the smart one!

  2. dear Miquel, the guy selling roses is part of the budapest night since many many years, I don’t know how old he is, must be like 100 years old… When I used to live in Budapest I would buy his roses every time and lots of other hungarians do so as well, everybody knows the guy and loves him. He is a legend. He is not a beggar; as you might have noticed there are no others selling things at your table. The rude waiters and bad food at the place you went to is a classic, unfortunately. Next time try Menza where you find great food and nice service.

  3. I totally agree to Miquel Liszt Ferenc Ter is a complete disappointment for me and my husband. We have been to the Lisztro Bisztro restaurant and were very annoyed with the whole experience. We had a terrible service, the food was very mediocre. It came late, the pea soup was sweet, the duck salad was incipit, the chicken was cold.The waiters were more interested in ogling at women and in top of everything they charged 10 o/o service. I wouldn’t recommend going anywhere near to this place. It doesn’t give any justice to Budapest. What a shame!

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