Is the New York Café Budapest Worth it?

You don’t have to look at many Budapest itineraries to see mention of the New York Café. I too was lured to “the most beautiful café in the world” by the promise of dining in an opulent setting.

So was the New York Café Budapest worth it? From this traveller, the answer is a resounding “no”.

Although the main dining area is gorgeous in an overblown way, it is astronomically expensive and the service doesn’t match its cost. It is also Instagram Hell.

Get the lowdown in my honest review of the New York Café in Budapest.

people dining in the ornate interior of new york cafe budapest

A Brief History of Budapest’s New York Café

So how did a café in Budapest get named after an American city?

The building in which it is housed –  the New York Palace –  was created for the New York Life Insurance Company. Built between 1891 and 1895, its café on the ground floor was designed in the mould of the coffee houses of Vienna as a beautiful space where people could conduct business.

As Budapest evolved as a cosmopolitan city, the New York Café became a magnet for the city’s writers, poets and aristocrats.

The café suffered significant damage in World War II. After a brief reincarnation as a sporting goods shop, the Italian Boscolo Group restored it to its former glory, transforming the building into a 5-star hotel.

mythological creature with wings holding a lamp on the exterior of budapest new york cafe
Exterior of New York Café Budapest

My Experience of the New York Café Budapest

I visited the New York Café for coffee and cake in April 2023. This New York Café Budapest review is based on this experience.

  • MY RATING: 3.5 / 5

Reports of the New York Café’s beauty are not exaggerated.

Walking into the café has that wow factor. For a few minutes, you don’t mind the prospect of blowing the best part of your day’s travel budget on coffee and cake.

It is the last word in decadence. There are marble columns, painted ceilings, sparking chandeliers and gilded reliefs. It’s over-the-top but I guess that’s what you pay for.

painting of cherubs and gods on ceiling
gilded ceiling and pillars of budapest new york cafe

A piano tinkled gently in the background amidst the animated chatter of clients from all corners of the globe. The music morphed into tracks from The Sound of Music ( I kid you not) until a string quartet took over musical duties with a rendition of Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik.

So far so gorgeous. So why have I not given the setting a five out of five rating?

Well here’s the thing. The café is arranged in three levels and not all seats are equal.

If you bag a table in the main area, close to the musicians, you should be as happy as a clam. The same can’t be said for the dingy, atmosphere-free areas towards the rear of the New York café.

Spin that roulette wheel now.

people dining in the ornate interior of new york cafe budapest
One of these tables?
table and 5 red chairs in a room
Or this table?

The cheap-looking chairs and tables didn’t match the grandeur of their surroundings. It didn’t help that the table had a glass top under which were photographs of the café’s food.

  • MY RATING: 3.5 / 5

The menu at the New York Café includes sweet and savoury dishes. It is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and anything in between.

It serves all-day breakfasts, from Eggs Benedict to an Italian breakfast set which includes a hot drink, fresh orange juice, a selection of pastries, fruit salad, bread, jams, honey and butter.

If you visit for lunch or dinner, expect dishes based on traditional Hungarian cuisine – so-called Essential Hungarian Gastronomy – and international staples like Caesar Salad.

Those with a sweet tooth are well served. Budapest New York Café is famous for its afternoon teas and decadent cakes.

I ordered the New York chocolate cake with Valrhona chocolate and an Americano coffee. The cake was delicious. The coffee was very average.

small piece of chocolate cake on a white plate chosen from new york cafe budapest menu
My small but delicious chocolate cake
  • MY RATING: 3 / 5

I didn’t have a reservation but only had a ten-minute wait for a table on a Saturday afternoon. The hostess showed me to my table towards the rear of the main area on the ground floor.

Although service was courteous and prompt when it came to taking and serving my order, I had to ask two people before I was finally presented with the bill.

people dining in the ornate interior of new york cafe budapest seen through 2 arches
  • MY RATING: 2 / 5

My coffee and cake were eye-wateringly expensive, costing €21. And that’s before the 15% service charge was automatically added.

You’ll pay more than €12 for a bowl of soup and a simple pasta dish is over €20. A scoop of ice cream will set you back 11 Euros. The cheapest coffee on the menu was an espresso at €6.50. All prices are subject to that 15% service charge.

Whilst some cafes in London will charge these prices, this is Budapest where prices are significantly cheaper.

Whilst I knew this would not be a cheap visit, I did think that the New York Café was taking the mickey, trading on its reputation as “the most beautiful café in the world”.

I’ve paid similar prices for an afternoon treat in the past and I’m prepared to accept this if the ambience of the setting, food and drink quality and service justify it. It pains me to report that the New York Café Budapest didn’t represent a good bang for my buck.

budapest new york cafe 19

Is the New York Cafe Budapest Worth it?

Based on my experience, I don’t recommend adding the New York Café to your Budapest itinerary. (no great surprise there). It makes no sense to pay a hefty premium for the setting when you could be sitting in a dingy corner wishing you had bagged one of the good tables.

And it’s Instagram Hell. On my visit, a constant stream of people wandered around, phones aloft. And yes; the irony isn’t lost on me.

By all means poke your head around the door to peek at the décor. But eating there? Choose somewhere else.

gilded grey marble and wrought iron balustrade of budapest new york cafe

Practical Information

ADDRESS: 1073 Budapest Erzsébet krt. 9-11 near the Jewish Quarter on the Pest side of the city. It’s a ten-minute walk from Dohány Street Synagogue.

OPENING HOURS:  Monday to Sunday: 8 am until midnight

RESERVATIONS: Only available for dinners after 6 pm. From 8 am to 6 pm, tables are allocated on a first come first served basis

I hope that my New York Cafe Budapest review helps to know what to expect if you dine there

There are plenty of travellers out there that love it. I’m just not one of them.

Happy travels!

bridget coleman the flashpacker 2

About Bridget

Bridget Coleman has been a passionate traveller for more than 30 years. She has visited 70+ countries, most as a solo traveller.

Articles on this site reflect her first-hand experiences.

To get in touch, email her at or follow her on social media.

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