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First Hungarian Literary Society

323 E. 79th St. (Second Ave.) Send to Phone
A hidden taste of Hungarian cuisine in an unexpected locale.

Dinner Fri.-Wed.
  • Dress code: Casual
  • No Credit Cards
  • Reservations suggested

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First Hungarian Literary Society Restaurant Review

: A relic of the past. A true step back in time. Whatever you call it, this Central European-themed spot is a sight to be seen. Founded in the late 1800s to foster the arts among the Hungarian community in New York City, the First Hungarian Literary Society these days hosts competitive card games for elderly émigrés. For a select few who reserve a table ahead of time, the society also cooks genuine Hungarian cuisine, and you needn’t be a card shark to have a taste. The menu changes daily, but odds are that several Magyar classics will be available. Starters range from a silky liver pâté served on a plate like a scoop of chocolate ice cream to a far healthier half a grapefruit. Entrées tend towards heavy dishes like csirke becsinalt (a Hungarian version of chicken and dumplings), a sampling of kielbasa, plain and blood sausages, and tender beef goulash with sauerkraut. Desserts are perhaps a little too authentic. Chestnut purée topped with whipped cream has the strong flavor of marzipan and a type of babka is so dense that light does not escape its surface. Still, this restaurant fits the bill for an inexpensive meal in an unorthodox location.
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