Dob utca 15 [map]
Pest Centre, VI, Király utca (T4/6), 5 min

Rating: 9.1/10

Beneath the respectable Spinóza Café, lies a dark basement.

A small sign reading "Lámpás" hangs over a metal door, which opens onto a concrete staircase. Not exactly inviting but intriguing, perhaps. "Hey, what kind of place is it?", an American voice rang out from the opposite sidewalk. That's the thing with Lámpás: from its outer appearance, it could be a brothel, for all you know. It isn't.

For a basement bar, Lámpás is pretty cosy, despite being fairly rudimentary. The huge silver pipes are disguised with green netting. Where the ceiling is low enough for you to bump your head, they've placed ample wedges of foam (making it all the more likely that you will bump your head, if in a pleasant kind of way.) Like the vast majority of atmospheric bars in Budapest, Lámpás leans towards the red, despite a variety of coloured lamps and globular fairy lights. The combined effect comes out kind of Christmassy.

Tables and chairs fill almost the whole floorspace, although in the evenings, you'll be lucky to find any that are free. Just as frustratingly, getting to the tiny bar can be a problem, with two or three bar staff working their way through, on average, three rows of people (which is actually only 6 or 7 people).

Once there, however, the prices will warm your insides almost as much as the pálinka itself, of which there's enough to weather a nuclear storm in fairly high spirits. For a bar steeped in underground cool, it's astonishing that they've kept their prices down - a korsó Borsodi (a perfectly reasonable pint) costs no more than it would in a working class söröző, and undercuts Szimpla, for example, by over 100 Ft!

Lámpás' value doesn't rest there either. Although there's hardly space for it, musicians perform regularly: those that don't have too much kit. Jazz bands or DJs usually, in my experience. The program of events is a little hard to come by, although it is posted on the wall, if you can decipher it.

So really, you have to take your chances with Lámpás. If there's a seat, sit down; if there's music, enjoy. If you're not sure which toilet is which, guess. Cosiness, foggyness and cheap drinks, on the other hand, are all guaranteed.

Service: 9.0/10
Atmosphere: 9.0/10

Value for money: 9.5/10
What people we know think: 9.0/10

Lámpás opens from September to May, since no one wants to sit in a basement while the sun's out.
Walk up Dob utca from Károly körút and its ominous door is just to the left of Spinóza Café.
Lampas, Lampás, Lámpas, Lampash, hub choice
Andy Sz.



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