The pub life of Pécs, the fifth largest city of Hungary #1
Pécs, the fifth largest Hungarian city is worth to visit for many reasons. It has beautiful natural environment because of the Mecsek mountain range, it has a rich history (which is still in the air through the buildings and monuments), very charming small streets, a tidy downtown…what else? What else? Ahh, I almost forgot, there is a wide selection of pubs of more genres. Here is my story with the first ones I explored:
When I was in Pécs last year there was a carnival in the city within the framework of the so called “Pécs days”.
First I went to the main street, Király(=king) street with the biggest buzz and looked for Nappali(=Living room) (453rd stop, 1st Pécs stop).
Because I traveled there with a car sharing service and I have met local people already on the way, I had the chance to make notes about their recommendations. Nappali was frequently mentioned. When I entered, I immediately knew why. It was the perfect hybrid of a conceptional retrospective bar and a modern one.
A gathering place for young people and also to the artistic-minded older ones.
They frequently have live music. At the time of my visit, there was a DJ on the street and good mood everywhere. People – like the Italian – rather used the terrace and there weren’t so many guests inside.
Of course the inner space wasn’t empty either but multiple times there were more people behind the bar than outside of it because of the great bar staff.
Altought it was early afternoon when I first got there and everybody was at the carnival. Two days later, I arrived at dawn, because this is one of the pubs in Pécs with the longest opening hours. I met Hungarian and foreign people too. At the second occasion I sat with a group of Transylvanian guest actors who played a game. They could only drink or smoke when they quoted or wrote a poem. I played with them. I made up a four liner too, the lowest quality one for sure.
I especially liked in Nappali that it wasn’t a too cool, too cold, copy+paste fancy industrial bar, neither a too crowded ruin pub. It was the perfect middle ground with homely colors and cozy atmosphere.
Nappali had Pécsi beers on taps. Pécs is one of the few regions in Hungary with a local medium size beer company (with the trademark: Szalon).
They also offered some easy snacks like this one reminding me of my elementary school sandwiches.
My next stop I found in a crossing street.
“Vendéglő” means inn in Hungarian. I was fascinated with the spirit of old times right after I entered.
It was called the István pince (=”Steven cellar”), such an authentic, characteristic, classical old school Hungarian tavern cellar that is harder and harder to find every month. It is a wine bar and serves traditional Hungarian dishes like bean goulash or gypsy roast. Here you can eat your meal sitting in smell of garlic while listening to the sounds of meat tenderizing from the kitchen.
I loved the old mosaic style floors with the grapes motive and the the wooden map of all the wine region of Hungary.
There were more types of people: as youngsters, so middle aged and elderly ones. Everybody was receptive for this eternal atmosphere.
The portions were huge and the service was very natural and kind. One colleague yelled to the other: GO AND FIND THE YOUNG MAN WHO ORDERED THE FISH.
My fish arrived with a plastic bottle of mayonnaise.
– Mayonnaise will do it, right – they asked. Even if it wouldn’t, I loved this naturalness so much that I wouldn’t deny. But mayonnaise fit my breaded fish. It was the most natural thing of all that I returned also next day to have my lunch here again.
I talked to staff about the age of the place. There wasn’t a final exact answer, but it turned out to be more than 100 years old. There was a mascot witch on the fridge that was originally a New Year Party decoration but the guests liked her and she stayed forever. Now she is the guardian spirit of the place.
As other sacred relic you see an old bottle of Szalon beer from 1994.
The thick pencils story wasn’t revealed but Bori, the lady in the bar joked: whoever behaves naughty, gets the bill written by these pencils.
I had a great time there, I wish them to remain forever like this. Another historical moment attached to this place was that I drank here my first Mecseki itóka. (Mecsek is the mountain range close to Pécs), itóka is a nickname for a drink in Hungarian.
It was a legendary local drink before made out from 4 different herbs but after 35 years they stopped producing it. Lately, the Zwack liquor company – also responsible for Unicum – revived the brand. I as ginger fan liked it a lot but however if you come to Pécs it is obligatory to taste it, just like to visit Nappali and István pince as well.
To be continued
NAPPALI AND ISTVÁN PINCE ON MAP
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Facebook page of Nappali: https://www.facebook.com/nappali.bar/
Facebook page of István Pince: https://www.facebook.com/istvanpince/
Previous posts about Pécs:
I say a little prayer for the good, old Papucs (Pécs, Hungary)