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2019.05.09 - What’s the beach menu?

What’s the beach menu?

Who goes to the swimming pool usually gets hungry after a while. Beaches and swimming pools have a special individual culinary culture. Let’s see how much it has changed in the last few years. 


Beaches and swimming pools have a hard time breaking up with the retro style. Not only the menu, but also the pavilions remind us of the past: modernist pavilions from the 60s and 70s with colourful iron chairs and concrete tables. In worse cases plastic chairs and cutlery kill the retro feeling. The same things are true as far as the menu is concerned. Lángos is immortal. It would be hard to make it disappear, but it’s also unnecessary since it is a Hungaricum. New snacks have appeared besides lángos such as hot dog and waffle – it seems like only foreign food, such as hamburger, chips and ice cream is popular. People who don’t like these kinds of food can bring some sandwiches or boiled corn on the cob from home and eat them sitting on their own blanket. Let’s admit it that spas can’t really fit into this type of culinary culture, since it is not very pleasant to sniff the smell of oil and grilled meat inside a steamy bath, and it is not very stylish to crave these snacks wearing just a swimsuit. 


Famous spa hotels in Budapest lead the way in combining culinary culture and bath culture. For example Rudas bath has its own bistro that offers a sophisticated culinary experience in addition to having a bath in the 500 years old bath. Naturally, this is not the place to have a snack between two slide rides. This connected service is recommended to be tried out during a romantic wellness weekend, after a long relaxing day in elegant clothes, to really experience the fancy feeling of the place.

Besides Rudas, Széchenyi bath also has a famous restaurant. Széchenyi Garden Restaurant is found in the heart of Budapest on the side of the bath. The close connection between the two institutions is perfectly shown by the fact that the closed terrace part of the restaurant is being heated by thermal water from the bath in the winter. This restaurant was opened by Marth Károly right after the building of the bath in 1927. It was called Ezerjó back then, and it only got the name of Széchenyi in 1996. Obviously we cannot leave the Gellért bath out. The hunger of the ones having a bath is being soothed by the Gellért Grill Garden with fresh, high quality dishes.

The food stalls are rarely run by the bath, usually they belong to a third party entrepreneur. This is probably why it feels like that these small restaurants, bistros and cafeterias are way below the bath’s standard. Naturally a closer cooperation between the two companies would be better for the visitors, and for both the bath and the food joint.


Further from the capital a so-called culinary new wave can be discovered, primarily at the beaches of Lake Balaton. Several cooking magazines write about the fancy restaurants near the lake, and besides the concept of “street food” there is now also “lake food” which is an individual blend of traditional and modern cuisine that is starting to become more and more popular. One of its features is that they cook only from local, seasonal organic ingredients, and they bravely reinterpet the basic traditional dishes. Obviously these dishes are not cheap, but you can’t be price sensitive if you create something valuable. The restaurants on the anchored boats had such a huge success that several councils had to introduce the gastro tickets besides the beach tickets for those people who just want to eat there on cloudy days, which aren’t suitable for swimming.