BUDAPEST UNDERGROUND — the best coffee & tea houses you (may) have never heard of

Wandering around the big city and stumbling over hidden treasures might just be the best pastime. Previously we've taken you on a virtual sightseeing tour around Budapest, and today we've compiled the best underground coffee and tea places we could find in Budapest for you to discover and enjoy too. 

Altair & Sirius

A strong start to this list are these two amazing tea houses hidden in plain sight, just a step away from Kálvin Square. They are built to suit all your needs with nooks and crannies everywhere to hide away alone, with friends or with your partner. If you need a solitary place to just enjoy existing for a little, Altair and Sirius both got you covered. And they are also perfect to host this week’s game night as many tea-loving nerds and even the staff will attest to. 

The atmosphere is impeccable, and it is even more enhanced by the encouragement to leave your mark on the place. Every free space on the walls is decorated by enthusiastic visitors, from kind messages to absolute strangers, to the classic drawing of initials in hearts by young lovers. 

Their tea is always on point, and even has a staff’s choice option for those who can be indecisive. To make the decision easier, here’s a recommendation for you: try ‘Love Affair’ when you visit Altair and ‘Pillangókisasszony’ (Lady Butterfly) if you’re in Sirius. 

The places are also both incredibly queer friendly if your gang or you and your partner wanted somewhere hidden to wind down sometimes. 

Mon Chéri

This little gem is located at Astoria and is well appreciated by the students of the area, both for its great options in coffee (and hot chocolate if caffeine is not your style) as well as its perfect study accommodations. 

This place is divided into two sections. The main one is a general little sitting area with vintage mood and furniture, where you can truly enjoy the café vibes and the buzzing conversation all around you. The other section, towards the back, is decorated as an old school library, with desks and lamps and shelves of old, semi-interesting books around to get you into the flow of studying. Of course, you can still find masterpieces if you look hard enough. And what’s better to help you through writing an essay than a good cup of coffee, music and adequate mood lighting. 

This darling little place will fly you back into the forties for a little while — only the vintage, not the mindset of people back then, mind you — and what is life if not a bit of escapism from the rush of modernity to sit down for a nice hot drink and read a good book? 

Vörös Oroszlán (The Red Lion) 

This adorable tea place is perfect for all your serenity needs. Clearly taking inspiration from East-Asian (mainly Chinese) sources, the shop gives off a calm and comforting aura. In its main seating area, the scene is elevated by an interpretation of the Life Tree, to give you that extra feeling of safety. 

Out of all the places on this list, Vörös Oroszlán is the most classic for its purpose. It screams tea-house the moment you step in, and it doesn’t disappoint. 

Although classic and to the point, the place, or more likely its supply of beverages can offer a bit of a surprise. Besides the well-expected tea, they also offer something described as “Goblin Coffee”, perfect for that one D&D nerd in your life, and the drink menu will surely elicit a laugh out of anybody even slightly familiar with the practical jokes placed there. 

Budai Rétesvár (Buda Strudel Castle) 

A bit of an outlier on this list but still very much fitting in its vibes, this tiny little place hidden in the heart of the streets of Buda Castle, as its main focus is not coffee or tea, but a certain very Hungarian delicacy, bread dough. This pizza-like dough is made of bread and topped off with cottage cheese, onion and bacon, creating the perfect Hungarian flavor. 

Weary travelers — tourists — have stopped by for a cheap and delicious lunch, topped off with a strudel and a nice espresso, or, for those who are looking for something a little bit different, raspberry syrup or lemonade, both of which complement the food greatly. 

The staff is incredibly friendly and ready for conversation both with Hungarian, and foreign folk. 

Rengeteg Romkafé 

Last on our list, but most certainly not least, is Rengeteg, a place for all the little bears in your life. No, not those bears. Well, not necessarily, but all goes here. This little ruin-café is unlike anything you’ve seen before. Filled to the brim with stuffed teddy bears, old books barely (pun intended) hanging on by a thread and street signs gathered from dubiously legal sources, Rengeteg definitely takes the cake for best design and atmosphere.

While you’re at it, don’t forget to check for little crevices where papers can be hidden, as most visitors to the place have left little messages by each table — some personal, some speak to the unknown Reader and some again tell words of poetry. You may even find the message we left there (although I doubt you’ll realize). 

Rengeteg’s greatest asset, however, isn’t the huggable interior, but the incredible hot chocolate options they offer. Crafted with obvious care and knowledge, we can (and will) guarantee that you will drink the best hot chocolate you’ve ever had if you ever visit here. Technically they don’t have a menu, if you have an idea they will make it for you and the number of combinations is almost infinite — but at least 1600 according to them. But as a personal recommendation, try their milk chocolate with nuts and a smidge of vanilla ice-cream, you won’t regret it.