Traditional Hungarian Goulash

On the same street as Denver’s highly esteemed sister sushi restaurants lies a Denver gem that I am newly head-over-heels in love with:  Budapest Bistro.

I know what you’re thinking. What the hell do they eat in Budapest?

The answer: melt in your mouth beef served over fluffy mashed potatoes (goulash), succulent chicken breast cooked in creamy paprika sauce and served over späetzle (doughy egg noodles), lightly breaded and fried pork loin smothered in a tangy mushroom and garlic Cabernet sauce…

Comfort food at its best.

My college roommate, Tracey, had been raving to me about this place for months. So finally, we went. Of course, she got stuck in traffic, and I sat alone with my cup of joe looking like a stood-up loser on a blind date. Luckily, the restaurant has a cozy ambiance with the red and black decor and flavorful aromas snaking through the dining room. So I didn’t mind waiting.

Meanwhile, in the booth next to me sat a middle-aged couple on their Friday night date. The female half of said couple was having a “When Harry Met Sally” moment regarding the dish in front of her. (You know, the scene in the diner when Meg Ryan convinces Billy Crystal that women can, in fact, fake orgasms?) So, naturally, I told the waitress that I would have what she was having, before I even knew what was inducing all those exclamatory oohs and ahhs.

What she was having was Spicy Pumpkin Soup, a seasonal item on their menu. This hearty, velvety soup is blended with just a tad of coconut milk and seasoned with a perfectly appropriate amount of cayenne pepper, leaving your mouth tickled with spice but not overpowered with peppery heat.

For the main course, I had the tilapia fish entrée. Tilapia, being a very mild fish, can be fried, baked, broiled and served with a variety of sauces and side dishes. In other words, it can be cooked a myriad of ways, but I think the Bistro got it just right. The menu offers the option of broiled or fried tilapia, but since it comes with a heaping mound of mashed potatoes, I opted for the lighter side.

With one pierce of my fork, the fish fell into perfectly flaky pieces, mingling with the tarragon garlic mayo drizzled on the plate.  By the time the waitress came to ask how everything tasted, I had a mouthful of food and my fish was gone. So I just pointed to my half empty plate as to suggest, ”what do you think?”

Even though I was incredibly full after I’d devoured the fish, I scarfed every bit of potatoes and sauce off that plate. That’s when I know I’ve reached a moment of divinity – when I am full up to my esophagus but just can’t put down the fork.

Now I know – that if anyone ever asks me at any time of day– yes, I am absolutely hungry for Hungarian.

Click here to check out their menu.

1585 South Pearl Street