Why are we trying to save Hunyadi tér from destruction? First and foremost, it is the only green lung left downtown besides Nagymezo u. (of which the 6th district is likewise aggressively trying to deforest).
The playground is always full of kids, and the old plane trees are lovely. Moreover, Hunyadi tér hosts the last unrenovated market hall in Budapest, dating from the end of the 19th century, It is a beautiful hall, badly in need of renovations, but full of life and character. Let me take you on a quick tour of some of the small businesses on the square.
There is of course TREEHUGGER DAN’S BOOKSTORE CAFÉ, Hungary’s leading promoter of English language culture, used books and Fair Trade organic coffee and tea, right off the square at Csengery u. 48. Across the street, right on the corner of Andrassy Ut is a hairdresser that my landlord and several female friends swear by. I have also had my hair cut there – for men’s haircuts, make an appointment with Nunu. Also across the street to the right at Csengery u. 33 is the UNICEF STORE. Next to Treehugger Dan’s, also at Csengery u. 48 is the RICHIE ABC, open until late, and one can often find exotic and inexplicable items there such as Fair Trade banana beer.
There is also a paper store and household goods store in line, and then a good paint store at Hunyadi tér 2. At the paint store, avoid the older folks and talk to the young guy – he is friendly and helpful and patient.
Then we come to CULINARIS. Culinaris, the gourmet food emporium now has 3 outlets in Budapest; one at Hunyadi tér 3, one at Balassi Balint u., and one in Obuda. If you crave Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream, or the ingredients for Mexican, Indian, Thai, or other dishes and have a deep wallet/ purse, Culinaris is the place for you. They will also do a sandwich for you with any top-notch ingredients you want on it for under 900 huf. Hunyadi tér 3 also hosts a soda water (szikviz) bottler in the courtyard. For a small deposit on a refillable plastic bottle, you can get it refilled on the spot for 70 Huf for 2 liters! Plus, you are not destroying the environment with all the throwaway PET bottles.
There is also a HIDDEN SYNAGOGUE at Hunyadi tér 3, originally built for the Jewish milkmen at the market. About half-way between, you will find the KOCCINTO, or PAPA JOE’S BAR, which many students go to for their lunch menu.
Out in Hunyadi tér itself there is the playground and a bustling open FARMER’S MARKET all week (except Sunday), the big days being Friday and Saturday when most of the sellers come. Everything from homemade chili sauce, honey, cheese and sausages, to fresh vegetables and flowers is available.
Along the Szofia u. side on Saturdays you can catch a very reasonably priced potted plant/ flower seller. Just past the square on the right at Csengery u. 34, there is MAGDA SZABO, a nice, quick seamstress who is often open late for emergency repairs (tel:342-6594). At the other corner of Vorosmarty u. and Hunyadi tér/Szofia u. there is a good home improvement shop (barkacsbolt). There is another paper store coming back along the square on Vorosmarty u. towards Andrassy Ut, then the fantastic HUNYADI KISVENDEGLO RESTAURANT at Hunyadi tér 10 one of the only non-smoking restaurants in Budapest. Featuring large portions, quite a few vegetarian options (and not just your usual fried cheese!), good cooking, and pleasant and multi-lingual service, they arealso flexible and sometimes willing to make something for you if you do not see it on the menu. They also offer Treehugger Dan’s Fair Trade coffee. Inside the market hall, I highly recommend the fruit and vegetable stand run by CSABA, opposite the flower shop near the Eotvos u. entrance. Often a long line, but friendly and good produce.
Right around the corner from Csaba is the LANGOS (friend dough) stand (the best I have had in Hungary), and TOMI THE BUTCHER. Tomi offers all kinds of smoked meats, not just pork and beef, but mangalica pig, ostrich and horse. The chalkboard to the left of his stall, allegedly penned by his illiterate older brother, reads “Smoked Husband 499/kg” rather than “smoked head” (what a difference 1 letter can make).
There are other shops on the square but the last I will mention is the ROCK RANDEVÚ CLUB at Hunyadi tér 11 which I have been known to get slowly squiffed at while listening to hard rock music.