Szimpla Kert

Kazinczy utca 14 [map]
Pest Centre, VII, Astoria (M2), 5 min

Rating: 8.3/10

What makes a place good? If it’s five star facilities then Szimpla Kert is rubbish. The building is a husk, a wreck; a rabbit warren of doorless rooms filled with a baffling collection of rickety chairs and tables that aren’t always capable of supporting your drink. And then there’s the famed ‘kert’: the open-air ground-floor concrete remains of a one-time building.

But Szimpla isn’t rubbish; it’s an institution. It’s as much Budapest as the Parliament building or
Széchenyi Lanchid. There are no other serious contenders for ‘social hub of the city.’ Like it or loathe it, everyone knows it and just about everyone goes there: students, tourists, ex-pats, locals... the lot.

Three bars; two floors; one kert. There’s even a no smoking room that no one uses until it gets really packed. You can get food on the first floor too – toasted sandwiches that are edible if you’re really hungry. Of course Szimpla’s not what it once was. There are those who don’t like what it’s become, no doubt pining after the days when you could get a beer for half as much; when you could listen and hear Hungarian voices rather than the international prittle-prattle of excitable Erasmus students.

However, the current Szimpla is the only one I know and it’s ridiculously sociable, despite the absence of a dancefloor. It’s not the kind of place where people keep themselves to themselves. If you’re perturbed by the fact that you haven’t met any Scandinavians in Budapest yet, endure it no longer.

Budapest is a changing city: you can see it from one year to the next. The fact that the wheel’s still in spin is what makes it exciting. In five years time people will still be saying that Szimpla’s lost its vibe. Szimpla is a picture of Budapest today: take it or leave it.

Service: 5/10
Atmosphere: 9/10

Value for money: 8.5/10
What people we know think: 8.5/10

From the synagogue, walk along Wesselényi utca, past Szóda, and turn right down Kazinczy utca. A small cream sign indicates the unlikely entrance.
simpler, simpla, simple, szimpler, szimple, zimpla, zimpler, hub choice
Andy Sz.


  1. Anonymous said...

    Not sure I agree that Szimpla is so 'sociable'. People arrive and leave with the same set of students/tourists/mates they spent the day with. The regime change party has been over for some while now. Neither Hungarians nor foreigners are living in a cultural climate which encourages free association - those days are gone. And this is no Istanbul, no Prague, no Amsterdam...

    Having said that, Szimpla's a pretty good place, especially if you come from the back of nowhere and you like a bit of downmarket chic/cred and especially if you're fed up with the PC West and its smoking ban and expensive crap german larger selection.

    Zap! Pow! Try it.

    p.s. The music is also v. bland, unless its wednesday night. Although, show me the place in Budapest where this is not also true!  


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