The New York Cafe boasts being the most beautiful cafe not only in Budapest, but in the entire world. So as a lover of beautiful places who needs no excuse to say yes to fancy brunch, I was, of course, dying to go. But is the New York Cafe in Budapest worth it? Should you add it to your Budapest itinerary?
Let’s find out!
Yes, the New York Cafe in Budapest is stunning. There’s really no debate there. This place looks like Versailles with gold trim, ornate ceilings, beautiful detailing on the walls and fancy AF staircases. The setting is simply gorgeous.
Is it the most beautiful cafe in the world? I don’t know. I haven’t visited enough to say for sure. If you’re super into the Versailles look then yes, you’ll be in love. But if that’s not your look, you might be less into the New York Cafe.
And, to be honest, I did find some of the decor elements a little bit underwhelming. The chairs felt cheap and the tables have a glass top with photos and stories underneath, like what you’d see at a diner. I went to the bathroom expecting to be blown away but it seemed like an ordinary hotel bathroom to me.
So yes, it’s beautiful, but not every element is as gorgeous as I had hoped.
Sadly, service is where the New York Cafe in Budapest lost a lot of points with me. Because I’m obsessed with travel planning and research, I had made us reservations for breakfast weeks in advance of our Budapest visit in late October. When we arrived, the foyer was full, mostly with people standing in line. It was pretty unclear whether we needed to line up or wait elsewhere since we had a reservation. We noticed another couple showing their reservation to a server, so we stood behind them. But still, it took a long time until someone came to talk to us.
Eventually we were seated in a room off the side of the main dining room. If your server tries the same with you, get out of there! This room is a complete let-down. It’s not at all what the New York Cafe is supposed to be – it looks half dressed for bed compared to the main room’s ballgown attire. We were shocked to be seated here, considering we had been promised the most beautiful cafe in the world.
As we mulled over the menu and fidgeted in our seats, two ladies were seated near us. Immediately, they too were unhappy with the room and one went to speak to the hostess. She explained to the hostess that they had a reservation and preferred to sit in the main room where there were tables available. The hostess refused to move them, stating the other free tables in the main room were reserved. Which doesn’t really make sense, considering these ladies also had a reservation! And so, the ladies left.
We considered following suit. We were already very uncomfortable being sat in that room and I was so turned off by how rude the hostess had been to the two ladies next to us. So we spoke to our waiter and explained that we had made a reservation and didn’t want to pay $50 for breakfast to sit in an ugly room. After chatting with him for a while, he agreed to speak to a different host on our behalf and, to our surprise, we were moved to the main dining room.
Our new server and every other person we interacted with after that were all nice. This part of Europe isn’t known for great customer service, so having a server not sneer at you is usually considered a win. All in all, I’d say the service was okay at the New York Cafe but that one hostess definitely rubbed me the wrong way.
The New York Cafe in Budapest is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can also come for drinks, dessert and afternoon tea. We opted for breakfast, but declined the pricy breakfast buffet (€30 or $44 CAD per person). Instead we ordered the Italian breakfast and the pancakes.
The Italian breakfast came with a coffee, a juice, a few pastries, a bowl of fruit salad and some jams. And it was…fine. The pastries were pretty good but nothing to rave about. The drinks were small. And the fruit salad kind of looked like it had been sitting out for a few days, as half the bowl was just fruit juices.
Colin’s three pancakes were served with mascarpone cheese and berries. Sounds yummy, right? The only downside was the quantity. While three pancakes sound like a lot, these pancakes were miniature – about the size of my palm. And they sure were stingy with the berries, putting only five on the plate.
Suffice to say, we were not overly impressed with the food (especially when you compare it to the prices!). We had just come off of two amazing breakfasts in Bratislava, so this really paled in comparison. Nothing we ate was bad, but nothing was great either. I can’t speak to the other meals, but have read reviews about the lunch/dinner options also being unimpressive. Maybe dessert is where it’s at?
Unfortunately, the New York Cafe in Budapest isn’t going to win any points with me on costs. I found the prices to be outrageous. Of course, we knew how much things were going to cost coming in. We had looked up the menu online so there were no surprises. You’re very obviously paying for the setting, not the food. But even still, I would expect more for what we paid.
The Italian breakfast (pastries, two drinks, fruit salad) was €20 ($29 CAD) and the pancakes were €11 ($16 CAD). And these were some of the cheapest items on the menu. Dessert will set you back €10 ($15 CAD) per slice, snacks come in around €18 ($26 CAD), lunch and dinner entrees are between €24-34 ($35-50 CAD) and the afternoon tea sets are in the €60 ($88 CAD) range.
We tried to order strategically to get the most bang for our buck (i.e. my meal came with two drinks so we got one each), but still felt pretty unsatisfied. Plus, there’s an automatic 15% gratuity added to the bill, which didn’t sit right with me. Even in North America, where tipping is customary, it’s uncommon to see an auto-grat on groups of less than six people. But to do it to only two people in this part of Europe where tipping is not only rare but usually capped around 10%? That’s not nice.
So we spent over $50 CAD on breakfast. Even if we had spent half that, I would have found it overpriced for what we got and the experience we had.
So, is the New York Cafe in Budapest worth it?
No. (I think you saw that one coming.)
Of course, that’s just my opinion. I know people who have gone to the New York Cafe and totally raved about it. But to me, it’s not worth it. The decor is pretty, but it doesn’t blow you away. The service is pretty good but has room for improvement. The food is mediocre and the prices are extremely high for what you get.
We didn’t wait in line since we had reservations, but I’ve heard the wait is painful if you come without a reservation. I can’t even imagine how unsatisfied I would feel if I had our experience and I had to wait for it.
My advice? Walk into the foyer of the New York Cafe to admire the decor and take a few photos, but then head elsewhere for your meal. If you must try it, make a reservation online (though we know that doesn’t guarantee you a good seat) and go halfsies with a friend on an overpriced dessert.
Have you been to the New York Cafe in Budapest? Did you think it was worth it?
If you haven’t been, do you think you would go?
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