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Budapest’s Szimpla Market: Where Food and History Collide

Weekend lunch at the Hungary tourist attraction, 11:30a.m. on a Sunday.

Hillary Dixler Canavan is Eater's restaurant editor and the author of the publication's debut book, Eater: 100 Essential Restaurant Recipes From the Authority on Where to Eat and Why It Matters (Abrams, September 2023). Her work focuses on dining trends and the people changing the industry — and scouting the next hot restaurant you need to try on Eater's annual Best New Restaurant list.

Welcome to the photo series Eater Scenes, in which photographers visit some of the world's great food sites to capture them at a certain, and very specific, point in the day. Today, photographer Gina Weathersby visits Budapest's Szimpla Farmers' Market, a new addition to the city that harks back to another time.

Every Sunday, crowds of hip Budapest residents and visitors spend their Sundays in the city's rapidly changing Jewish Quarter shopping, wandering through stalls at the Szimpla Farmers' Market. And while the building are old and the activity itself timeless, the Szimpla Market is actually relatively new, having opened only in 2012.

The market is a creation of Szimpla Kert. Widely accepted as the first romkocsma, or "ruin pub," Szimpla Kert kicked off the trend when it opened in the early 2000s. The hallmarks of a romkocsma: they're often located in a run-down or abandoned building, offering plenty of booze, some outdoor seating, eclectic decor, and an artistic sensibility. Once an underground phenomenon, these ruin pubs are now a major part of Budapest drinking culture and are widely credited with sparking the renewed interest in the quiet, dilapidated Jewish Quarter. Ever a trailblazer, Szimpla Kert added the Sunday market as a way to expand their offerings. (For more on ruin pubs, their future, and the thorny issues around the transformation they represent in the Jewish Quarter, do check out this article from CityLab.)

Eater photographer Gina Weathersby visited the market on a recent Sunday morning, where she found a bustling scene under grey skies. Farmers and food makers were selling their wares to customers of all ages, locals were picking up bowls of body-warming soups, and plenty of folks found time for an afternoon drink, as seen in the gallery above.