Firecrackers and buckets of champagne are all good fun at the end of the year, but we’ll show you something even better: we took a look back at the past year, and held a subjective vote at WeLoveBalaton HQ to see which 15 places we adored the most in 2015. The choice was much more difficult than we had thought.
New-wave csárdas are still not an obnoxious hipster fad; they are actually a way for the genre to survive in the 21st century. All you need to know about this exciting spin on the traditional Hungarian-style eatery is that not every dish gets the breadcrumb treatment, and there's much more on the menu than platters of fried food. Baricska is a reliable player on this as of yet unusual field of gastronomy, and the selection always includes surprising and spectacular dishes.
Tucked away within Keszthely’s Phoenix Marina, Bistro Classico caught our attention during our quest to find the best burgers around Balaton. The restaurant of Vilmos Kreil has become a firm favorite of ours because of its tranquility and unique dishes. Not many restaurateurs dare to make hamburgers from wild boar or serve tenderloin with fried brains, but it’s all possible at this gem of an establishment on the northwestern edge of Balaton.
Bistro Classico (closed)
Address: 8360 Keszthely, Phoenix Marina
The times have long passed when we were baffled by how many excellent restaurants you can find on the main street of Köveskál. Out of all these fine eateries, this list features Káli Art Inn where everything exudes style from the elegant terrace and the beautiful garden to the exquisite culinary creations.
Getting into the unusually peaceful Káli state of mind is easy as pie at Kapocs, which offers a wide variety of drinks from coffee to fröccs, as well as top-notch grub made from locally produced ingredients. Kapocs is very much alive and well: this summer it turned out that you can fit an entire band into the back garden, and if anyone is looking for some refreshing fröccs in the area, this is the place we’d recommend.
András Dobai, the former MC of the highly successful Hungarian band Brains, deserves praise for staying true what Kredenc represents, filling Blaha Lujza Street with reggae music and first-rate wines throughout the year. Don’t know what the sub-Mediterranean café vibes are all about? We can promise you that you won’t regret finding out all there is to it for yourself.
Kishableány, run by the Laposa-Bezerics team, was a major hit this summer, but it looks like the stunning panorama of the Laposa family’s estate was a little bit closer to our hearts in the past year. You simply can’t leave here without tasting their wines. Owner Bence Laposa is not only a fan of tasty vintages, but also of making the most of what Balaton has to offer – he’s recently assumed the post of president of the winemaking advocacy group Balatoni Kör.
We still love that Tamás Járosi is on a mission to grow produce of the highest possible quality. With chef Jacek Luzsa back at the helm since this summer, Malackrumpli is a place for lovers of honest gastronomy. We tested it a couple of times this year, and it never failed to impress. Their burger is a must, of course, but you can’t go wrong ordering anything with mangalica meat produced at the owner’s organic farm in Balatonhenye.
When we traveled all around the lake in search of the best burgers, we had no idea that we’d find the perfect option for vegetarian epicures in Balatonfüred: hats off to Matróz’s own version with goat cheese, served in a beetroot colored bun.
A one of a kind beach food joint that has played an important part in finally establishing healthy and hearty beach cuisine on the shore of Lake Balaton. Instead of serving traditional beach snacks, Neked Főztem dares to be a truly revolutionary eatery, offering soups, fantastic main dishes, salads and great hamburgers. We hope the trend continues next year, so that we can all say goodbye to Uruguayan hake for good.
The story of Pegazus being done up step by step over the last few years has remained one of our favorite projects in the area. They’ve already tested the dance floor by hosting a few weddings, and they’ve held a contemporary art exhibition with memories from Balaton as well. The cuisine has also gone through lots of positive changes. If owners Sára and Olivér can help it, Pegazus will be soaring for many years to come.
Hegymagas is one of the up-and-coming regions of Balaton, and Szászi Cellar has everything you’d expect to find at the best catering establishments: the wines, a new restaurant, and a view that could easily rival the beauty of Tuscany. And that’s not all: we were told the last time we visited that if the estate wins an upcoming tender, they are hoping to set up some guesthouses to promote wine tourism, and showcase how winemaking is really done up close.
One of the best surprises of the year was Szent Donár Cellar’s restaurant getting its own name, character and direction. Located on the amazingly scenic hillside of Csopak, the eatery has become one of the most promising spots on the north shore by the summer. The outstanding cuisine of Márga has recently been distinguished with a Gundel Award, and the establishment also deserves props for staying open practically all winter long. The team will take a short break in January, but they’ll get back into the swing of things come February.
We could hardly believe our taste buds when we came upon the most delicious ice cream of Lake Balaton. Várkávézó in Szigliget makes wonderful icy treats from heaps of fruit, and the result is so mind-blowing that even the National Food Chain Safety Office agreed with us about the exceptional quality of their ice creams.
We hit up all the places managed by Dani Bezerics from spring to autumn, and we found hamburgers to die for and a hard-working host who knows how to do catering properly: whether it’s new-wave beach food or a restaurant/bar open throughout winter, the Bezerics engine keeps going. Wherever you are in the western basin of Lake Balaton, you’ll no doubt come across one of the brand’s highly praised locales.
We can finally admit that Villa Millennium in Balatonalmádi was one of the reasons we started compiling our list of stunning guesthouses around Balaton – we felt obligated to let you all know about gorgeous places like this. Villa Millennium only opened earlier this year, but we had waited a long time for such an understated, stylish spot, which makes you feel you’re on vacation on the pages of a fashionable interior design magazine.