FASOR Espresso – A „pubmuseum” built around the most surprising cash tray of all
168. stop (147. Budapest stop) after 2 visits
Buda is always charged for being the much more silent half of Budapest, but the inner areas are spectacularly catching up. However, alongside the „feels like evergreen” park of Városmajor, you can’t describe Buda as frequented anymore for sure. At the gate of this new world you will find FASOR Espresso as first pub.
„Fasor” means a line of trees in Hungarian, and it was named after the Szilágyi Erzsébet FASOR (<avenue) where the pub is located. The category Espresso is referring to the type of the venue. This name (or just Presszó) was frequently used in the socialist era of Hungary for drinking units to make people associate more to decent coffee shops about them than sinful liqueur stores. Fasor is a living memento of that era, so the name is a matchmaker.
It can be approached easily enough from the Széll Kálmán square and metro station. It takes you approximately six minutes to get there on foot, but the environment and the atmosphere is completely different than those recently renovated square’s nearby. It is like a bit of Nothing Hill and a bit of a random old black and white Hungarian movie at the same time.
The huge and colorful retro posters on the outside walls are practically shouting at you already from the other side of the street, to come over and to come in,
but good news is that they won’t be the only thing you get surprised by at the entrance. Even going through the main door is a challenge, as you get so distracted by the storefront. One of the shopping windows has a curtain made out of old cassette tapes, the other has drapes from flattened beer and soda bottle caps. And the shop logo itself is “riding” on a children’s bicycle.
So you standing outside and looking at these objects may feel like you’ve seen it all, but you will immediately revoke this thought at the moment you step in.
They should seriously have people buy a museum ticket for the entry. For those, who are more receptive to the design, it takes serious concentration to order the first drink within a considerable time period after coming in, while having the eyes constantly roll around the place and gather all the visual impulses. Even from the bar you can only estimate the amount of surprises and spectacles that still wait for you in the „livingroom-like” saloons. For example you can count on walls covered completely with old VINYL record covers or even another wall full of graffitis, completed with small ornaments and objects to whole exhibition concept.
The entire place definitely qualifies to be an experience as good as a professional retro exhibition, but it is still cozy and welcoming and does not make you behave like in an actual museum. The audience was a mixture of all styles and ages. The first time I visited, most of the people inside were regulars, sitting gentle around the bar, but there was a young, foreign, blonde girl as well, just thanking the bartender for the water for her dog and the phone charger she borrowed from him. A little further apart from the bar in the armchairs a multinational bunch was playing cards. Young girls sitting with their dogs were chatting, while their pets were wrestling on the carpet next to them. Others were having their first date, or at least tried to have one, older couples were having double dates with their friends, two guys were watching the football game. The shooting scene was complete.
In the living room on the right felt just like sitting at home and at the same time it also felt like a timetravel to the eighties. I could see with my mind’s eyes my aunt coming into the room with a tray of freshly baked cookies. The most obvious difference was the view, Városmajor (park) out of the window, that make me realize that this is not a family gathering 30 years ago.
Fasor is not like the usual ruin pubs just throwing around retro objects. This one gives you a realistic simulation of those time. In this place even the overused pub-decoration elements like the old radios and dial phones seem to be authentic, because you can tell that they have been placed there before the whole retro madness started in the central pubs and places.
Meanwhile even the records played, were matchmakers; American Woman and Knocking on heavens door, etc.
From my armchair I could watch others stop at the shopping window and stare at the things, like I did few minutes ago, while Peti, the bartender that time, was bringing the “usual” for his regulars. He worked there for six months then, but you could feel his passion towards the place already. He visited this spot as guest before. Although there are a lot of iconic objects all around, his all time favourite was always the beer tap, that is treated with bigger care, than in the other pubs he knew. Besides Peter’s mascot, there were a lot of runner ups for the position, an old slide-projector, a ticket puncher, an actually operating traffic light, a coffee grinder from the socialistic era, shop scale and a collection of old cigarette boxes in the old fashioned cupboard.
One of the most surprising objects I’ve ever seen as pub decoration, I found here: a cash tray with a show-business celebrity, Korda Gyuri, our Hungarian version of Karel Gott on it, in his younger years. Google it!
The Fasor designers did not miss to get one of the biggest Hungarian household hits of that era either, the corn patterned cups and jar set.
You don’t even get bored in the restroom, were the crazy minds put the sink on an old bicycle and furthermore they even managed to shake up the intimate atmosphere of the actual toilet cabin with the already mentioned flattered bottle caps, now in the role of the toilet flusher.
According to Peti, the owners are supposed to be around the age of 40-45. I did not have the luck to meet them, despite the fact that they are also working behind the bar frequently. But I managed to talk to someone who is returning guests for decades now. Lets call him Anonymous 167. He visits this place for 25 years already, as he lives nearby. He told me, that there was always a “presszó” (>pub) here, for at least 25 years. Back then it was not „retro”, tough, just up to date in that time, no hype, just as simple as it gets.
One scene of the Hungarian cult movie, „Moszkva tér” (Moscow square) from 2001, was also shot here. You would not think of the attribute „new” in no aspect by describing this place, but it is nice to know, that 6-7 years ago it got a refreshment of design, and just recently again. The managers develop this venue all the time. But any renewing within this walls can only mean bringing more antiquities inside.
Anonymous said: there are some places in the city which are retro in a bad way. This is not like them, it is real retro in a good way – he said – 20 some years ago it was not this good. The bartender was not kind at all, if he was in the mood he served drinks, if he wasn’t, he didn’t. But we liked him as he was. Once fire broke out on the roof of the building, and the firemen coincidentally broke the door of the pub to get up to the roof and that bartender was just kept cleaning the glasses and said them calmly: „Don’t you see, I am closing?”. Even after this, downstairs in the bar nothing has changed, while the fireman fought against the flames on the rooftop.
FASOR is a place which I recommend you – even as Pubtourist – to visit as an all-nighter, as it has too much to offer for the first occasion. If you want to explore it in depth, you will need time. Fortunate for you, it is not in a tourist-centered area, so expect Fridays and Saturdays it is quite silent for one to enjoy and discover it undisturbed.
DRY MATTER CONTENT:
The only disadvantage is, that they don’t have warm pub food, only have Ropi (classic Hungarian salty sticks), peanuts and some salty biscuits.
Beers on Taps: Zlaty Blazant, Soproni, Soproni Démon
Pálinka (traditional Hungarian spirit): Gusto
Characteristic features: They don’t offer any shots in 2cl quantities, only 4cl
Unicum is more here popular than Jägermeister
The place is dog-friendly, I saw like 4 dogs within one night.
They speak English. Surprisingly, despite the fact, that this part of the town is not so visited by tourists, there were 4 groups of foreigners in one night, although one of them was brought by Hungarian friends.
Address: 1024 Budapest, Szilágyi Erzsébet Fasor 13-15
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/fasoreszpresszo/?fref=ts