Kebab Roulette in Budapest

There is a nightclub in Budapest called Corvintető. On the street below there are two consecutive eateries along the sidewalk. One peddles langos, which is a sort of funnel cake covered in sour cream and sweet cheese, as well as strange hot dogs and mystery burgers, and one is a typical gyros, or kebab stand. A first glance both look like the last place you would want to eat. But after a long night of sweating it out on the dance floor and too much palinka, langos and gyros are very enticing because they cover the entire spectrum of savory to sweet.

There is no shortage of kebab stands in Budapest and one must be discerning. Star Kebab is a solid choice, they own a few different spots around the city but for the most part they’re all the same and you have to find subtle differences among them. The one below Corvinteto was a favorite of mine because their pickled salad set it apart from the others. You can get a gyros for about 600 HUF (roughly $3USD), usually with the option of chicken or beef but at this particular place one assumes it’s chicken.

I left Budapest for about six months. After a night at Corvinteto for the rewind party I took the rickety lift down to the street and ordered a kebab. I noticed the slightly different pickled salad and an unrecognizable guy shaving off the chicken. I thought nothing of this until the next evening when I woke up covered in sweat and felt like the meat demons were making macrame out of my guts.

It almost seems cliché- eat suspect street food, get food poisoning. Fair enough, but it’s a dining experience that stays with you, physically for a few days and then lives on in agonizing memory, of which you keep the details to yourself. It never tastes bad going down but the wretched aftermath is unmatched. There’s no real way to avoid this kind of thing but there are better times and better locations that could cut down on the probability of spending the next few days in the toilet. Just think about this next time before you pull the trigger on that late night street food binge.

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