Serbo-Cuban Hits the Spot

The Castro Bistro is neither Cuban nor French. Instead, it’s a crowded Serbian restaurant tucked neatly into the old Jewish section of Budapest.

The Castro is just the kind of restaurant I like – crowded and noisy, it draws a diverse crowd of locals, students, and a handful of lucky tourists. The chalkboard menu hanging behind the bar lists a variety of Serbian dishes as well as more typical fare. I started with the paprikas, which was served piping hot with a half-loaf of crusty bread. Paprikas is Serbian Goulash – and as you may have guessed it is made with a heaping pile of paprika. Spicy and hearty, it was a perfect match for my travel-hungry stomach.

Next up was Pljeskavica. Some time in Serbian history, somebody myst have looked at three bacon cheeseburgers and thought “this would sure be a lot better with no bun, lettuce, or tomato”. Like a calzone, except where the Italians use pizza dough, the Serbs use beef. About a pound of it, stuffed with a pocket of chopped bacon and melted cheese. Needless to say I didn’t have room for desert.

The end of a traditional Eastern European meal is always alcoholic, and I finished up with a shot of pear brandy, followed by a chaser of Hungary’s national liqueur, Unicum . Now if I could have found a Monte Cristo no.2 my trip to the Castro would have been perfect.



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