What was once a crumbling 19th century market hall, largely ignored by both locals and visitors, is now the centre of Budapest’s gastronomic goings-on. The Downtown Market, also known as Hold Street Market Hall, is steeped in history, but a modern refurbishment has restored it to its former glory. From an abundance of the freshest local farm produce to seriously appetising gourmet food stalls and the opportunity to try plenty of local recipes, Downtown Market should be on every food lover’s list when in Budapest.
The original Hold Street Market Hall first opened in 1891, when it was designed by Hungarian architect Győző Cziegler and built between Budapest’s Hold and Vadász Streets. The market was impressively large from the outset, home to 174 fixed stands in addition to 80 temporary stalls and room for 140 more stalls upstairs on the gallery level. Furthermore, Hold Street Market was also well regarded for its innovative facilities which included refrigeration rooms and separate toilets for men and women. During the course of its 127-year history, the market has been subject to several name changes, the likes of which include Count Klebelsberg Kuno Street and Rosenberg Couple Street, before returning to its original title in the 1990s.
After the fall of communism in Hungary, the market underwent a major refurbishment, designed to honour its heritage while also transforming it into a modern marketplace. Once again, the market was given a new name to complement its new identity: Downtown Market. The farmers’ market continues to be the heart of the establishment, and it’s where visitors can find displays of the finest regional produce and local specialities, such as Mangalica pork and Hungarian Grey Cattle beef.
Visitors to Budapest also flock to Downtown Market for the array of street food stalls which can be found on the gallery level. Carnivores will appreciate a trip to A Séf utcája, the deli and butcher shop eatery from Hungarian chef Lajos Bíró where diners can tuck into the likes of a hearty stew or Hungarian sausage sandwich. As well as local gourmet goodies, there’s also plenty of opportunity to sample dishes from further afield. Asian-influenced Steamboo is the brainchild of Hungarian actor Győző Szabó and serves up flavourful dishes prepared in a bamboo steamer. Additionally, award-winning Hungarian chef Tamás Széll takes charge of the kitchen in Stand25 Bisztró, where fine dining finesse meets hearty comfort dishes. Opt for the goulash soup or wild boar cheek stew.
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