Huszar, a Hungarian bar and restaurant in the North Side, is the kind of place Pittsburgh could use more of. With a community vibe, bi-weekly live music from a gypsy strings group, and traditional Hungarian food and drinks, it's a great addition to the North Side scene.
A Long History in Pittsburgh, with a New Twist
Huszar has an interesting history. The building used to be owned by the current owner's, Judy Torma's, parents, and was a neighborhood watering hole known as the Recovery Room. After Judy's parents died, she took over the place and decided to turn it into a Hungarian bar and restaurant to honor her family's heritage.
We just happened to be driving by one day when we saw signs outside Huszar for a “bacon roast” which had us frantically googling what a bacon roast was and what this new place called Huszar was all about. We learned that for now Huszar is primarily a bar with occasional Hungarian-themed events involving music and food, and offers an annual Pittsburgh bacon roast event that we later enjoyed and can't recommend enough (click our previous link to read a review of the roast itself).
As Hungary (specifically Budapest) is our favorite destination in Europe, we were all about this and wanted to get in right away.
Plan Ahead for a Visit to Huszar
Our first attempt to attend one of their Gypsy Strings Nights (held every other Thursday night) was not successful as all of the tables had already been reserved. We learned our lesson, though, and reserved a table for the next one about a week ahead of time.
On our recent visit during a Gypsy Strings Night, we arrived around 7:00 to get a head start on eating and drinking before the music started around 7:30. We started with a few Karlovacko's, a Croatian pilsner that made us nostalgic for the time we spent in Croatia a few years ago.
The food menu was brief with traditional Hungarian foods like chicken paprikash, stuffed cabbage, and a kielbasa sandwich. We started with the Taste of Huszar, a beautiful cured meat and cheese board served with an array of sauces, fruits, and hunks of bread. We particularly loved the spicy red pepper sauce on the side.
For entrees we ordered the chicken paprikash and the stuffed cabbage, both of which were hearty and pure comfort food. The stuffed cabbage was bathed in a nice tomato sauce and was full of tender, well-seasoned ground meat. The chicken paprikash was our favorite with melt-in-your-mouth shredded chicken and super buttery homemade spaetzle.
With delicious food, huge cold beers, and a front seat to some great music, what more could you want? Dessert, of course!
Although we were quite full, when the owner brought out plates displaying the options, we couldn't resist. The choices were a nut-filled pastry, crepes, or a cream cake. We knew we had to get the cream cake as we were obsessed with a similar style cake we had while traveling in Europe. The cream cake consisted of a layer of pastry cream and a layer of whipped cream sandwiched between two layers of flaky puff pastry and topped with powdered sugar. Perfection!
If you're looking for home cooked Hungarian fare, entertaining live music, and hospitable hosts, Huszar is the place to be.
Huszar is located at 627 E North Avenue. The Gypsy Strings Night is held every other Thursday.
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