What Is A ‘Cukraszda’?


Cultural institutions are not the same from country to country. Take a pub, for instance. A pub is a pub, different from any other establishments, with its own rules and mores, and you can only really call your establishment a  pub if it mimics the original, British watering holes of yore. In Hungary, we have a thing called a Cukrászda.

A Cukrászda defies translation. It is a place where you can get coffee and sweets, and as such could be called a café, but this would be misleading. The emphasis is not on coffee, that is just a side thing you can get. The emphasis is on the sweets, yet this place is not a confectioners, because it has the social aspects of a café; it is elegant, airy, and gives room for the people, particularly old people, to sit down and enjoy each others company for a half hour or so. It is not just a place you jump in to get some cakes, it is a place with a clientele of regulars, with prestige and a memory of when saloons and cafés were a new thing in this city. It is a harking back to the days when Vienna and Budapest were capitals of Europe.

Hungarian Cukrászda have some very unique cakes and sweets that you do not have in other parts of the world; they are sophisticated, involve nuts, grillage, cream and toffee, and they all have their own crazy names, histories and flavors. Here are three of the best places to sample some of these sweets, like the Dobos, Eszterházy or Lúdláb cakes:


The original café and cukrászda, with the original recipe for a cake made by Hungarian grandmothers all across the world; the zserbó (correct spelling: gerbeaud). This place is located in the middle of Vörösmarty square, in the most elite and prestigious part of the city, the mouth of the Váci street. The place has huge golden domes and an internal height that is surprising even for Budapest standards. The service is of course great, but this is a place which requires you to be dressed for the occasion, as this one of the most elegant places in Budapest. The prices are also something that is quite out of this world, so be prepared.


Located near the Hungarian Academy of Music on Liszt Ferenc square, this is a cukrászda which has gotten with the times and very little remains of the original atmosphere. Indeed, this place is now part posh eatery, part café and only part cukrászda. The place feels modern and new, even though it is one of the oldest establishments in Budapest, which shows through in the fact that they also have rooms to stay in besides being essentially a café.

gerloczy  What Is A ‘Cukraszda’?


The ‘Ice buffet’ is one of the oldest establishments in Budapest, being around in its current form since 1952, in the same location. It was one of the newer cukrászda when it began, but by now, it is one of the few that remains intact, and thus has its named lumped in with the classics. They sell mostly salty and sweet snacks along with hot chocolate, coffee, and the likes. The pastries are to die for, and this place is definitely aimed at the common man, with prices that are down to earth, and service that is fast. The only thing is that mostly the stuff you buy here will have to be eaten on the go; there is not much place to sit, and the spots are mostly always taken.

jegbufe  What Is A ‘Cukraszda’?

The tradition of the Cukrászda seems to be doing quite well and is in no danger of dying out either, as a new breed is opening its doors, relying heavily on the old tradition and filling the same niche. Places like the Cake Shop or the decidedly internationalist Sugar! are representative of a breed that would like to take the establishment of the cuzkrászda and transplant it into the modern world, instead of looking back into the days of Monarchy for legitimization.

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