Wesselényi u. 18 [map]
Pest Centre, VII, Astoria (M2), 5 min

Rating: 7.7/10

Not so long ago, I happened upon a New York Times travel article about Budapest’s VII district, a place that had really rather impressed the writer. Apparently, it was the city‘s ‘hip new spot’ whose 'recent rise to trendiness' 'warranted a comparison to New York’s Lower East Side!'

I read that, from the perspective of my (dope) bedroom on (hip) Kiraly utca in the (gnarly) VII district, and couldn’t help feeling that it was slightly ridiculous. Aside from the fact that some of the choices - such as Bobek - looked to be a touch arbitrary, the article ended with brief profiles of Szimpla and Szóda. Now, as much as I like those bars, I wouldn‘t consider either of them particularly hip… they’ve been around for ages, for one thing. Szimpla’s the bar which isn’t as authentic as it used to be, because it‘s full of foreigners (New Yorkers?), and Szóda’s the place you go to when you’ve been kicked out of Szimpla.

Szóda’s appeal is plain - there‘s no cover charge, the long thin basement has a dance floor, and if you hit it in the early hours when everyone’s a little bleary, it isn’t very hard to make friends. At this time, it can actually feel like a decidedly un-hip university student disco party, right down to the fact that in between the chart hits and old school hip-hop, the DJ has no qualms about sticking on his Grease mega-mix.

Upstairs, things are more restrained, and on weekdays, Szóda becomes a kind of coffee shop. Still, there’s something not quite right about being there with light streaming through the windows... it's the orange walls and red chairs perhaps, or the fact that the Japanese manga (which is plastered all over the ceiling), looks just that little bit more pointless.

However, as a solid late night bar, Szóda is welcoming and reliable. It's like an unremarkable friend who hangs out with you, doesn’t say anything very interesting, but is perfectly happy to carry on drinking after everyone else has gone home.

Service: 8/10
Atmosphere: 7/10

Value for money: 8/10
What people we know think: 6.5/10

From the synagogue, walk along Wesselényi utca, until you hit Szóda which is on the right hand side. Alternatively, stagger around the corner from Szimpla. Don't make too much noise!

Andy T.



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