It may sound cruel to say so, but with just a few exceptions, all the burgers I’ve eaten as part of the Budapest Burgerwar™ have been not just inferior to the average American restaurant burger, but something akin to imposters. So it was with a sense of triple trepidation that yesterday I found myself ordering a burger at the Claro Bistro (click link for contact details and user feedback) on District IX’s café-crowded Ráday utca.
Aside from the normal sense of unease one gets when ordering a burger in Budapest – Will it be made from pork? Will there be pickled cabbage salad on it? Will they serve it on a goddamn donut? – there was the strange situation of Claro itself, which “replaced” the beloved Castro Bistro in a downright invasion-of-the-body-snatcher-style switch several years ago. (You can read more about that weird story, which predated the existence of this website, here.) And to top it off, I chose not the normal burger, or a cheeseburger, but a “Texas burger.”
Before getting to the beef, let me say that, as much as the body-snatching of the old Castro creeped me out, the Claro is a pretty swell place. Though this, of course, is not so surprising, as pretty much the only thing the new proprietors did after taking over was to swap the “astro” in the name for “laro.” It still has the same nice beatnik feel, and a seemingly simpatico staff, if one that hasn’t been drilled into asking how eaters want their burgers cooked. Not that it really mattered how I’d ordered my burger, because the patty was thin enough that it was going to be well done even if I’d ordered it raw.
That said, the meat was tasty, and definitely of beefy origins. And adding to the flavor was a nice slathering of some kind of barbeque sauce, and two generously-sized but sadly under-crisped slices of bacon. Whether this would make a genuine Texas Burger Guy feel at home I’m not sure, though even if it did, he’d still have a Lone Star-sized fit over the sight of cucumbers on his burger, as well as a puffancs so soft and poofy that within seconds I was up at the bar begging for a backup szalvéta.
But this, of course, is Hungary, not Houston, so one has to look at the bright side. And the bright side in this case was a pretty tasty, non-lizard burger and better-than-okay fries served up promptly and without a lot of talk-back. Meanwhile, at Ft 1,250/€5.40 the price isn’t bad, assuming you are not actually from Texas, where a handful of HUF this size would work out to $8.40, probably enough to buy you a juicy burger as big as a ten-gallon hat.
How They Stack Up:
Total Score: 6.0/10