Buri Buri – my favorite hamburger joint in Debrecen

One of the culinary high-points of our vacation in Hungary this summer was the hamburger we had in Debrecen at Buri Buri, a hole-in-the-wall burger place which serves extraordinary “street food”. My wife and I were tired and hungry. It was an unusually hot June evening and we wanted to eat outside. “How about a hamburger?” – suggested my wife.

I want to make it clear that we are not big beef eaters, but once every two or three months we have a “California burger” at our regular restaurant with the right amount of beef, lettuce, tomato, red onion, pickles and “low fat” French fries.

Hamburger in Debrecen? Come on, be realistic. This is the Calvinist Rome, where the favorite meal is pörkölt, a heavy meat stew with tons of paprika. It is served with galuska, the Hungarian equivalent of dumplings. Heavy choice for a light supper on a hot day.

By the way, Debrecen never looked better. The center of the city has been repaved, the buildings are fixed and freshly painted, and the imposing Calvinist Church, the Nagytemplom with the ancient Kollégium complex behind it, still rules the town. The brand new tram line is finally finished and the super-sleek, air-conditioned Spanish built trams are the best refuge from the summer heat. Coffee houses and ice-cream parlors are everywhere.

We were looking for a restaurant on Simonffy utca which had a couple of promising outdoor establishments, but no suitable food. No hamburger! This street leads to a small rectangular square, called Hal köz which literally means, Fish Gap.

Having growing up in Debrecen, I remembered well this place. It was the center of the fish trade in Debrecen, and the only place where you could buy fish in the 1950s: fresh carp or frozen tuna. That’s all! The Halcsarnok (Fish Hall) was on the right, it is a bar today. As a child, I admired the giant concrete tanks full of fresh carp from nearby Hortobágy Lake and had lots of fun with my friends running around in the surrounding old houses and yards which were all connected at that time. If you knew your way around, you could take a shortcut to Bajcsy-Zsilinszky utca. I also remember the old fish restaurant at the corner, with its ragtag gypsy band and fish soup overflowing with red fat and spicy paprika.

The fish market and the old restaurant are gone, the square today is lovely and stylish with a new condo building at the corner, a fountain in the middle, and under the trees several outdoor restaurants and bars.

Buri Buri has an English sign on its door – “It is not fast food, we love street food.” They buy their ground meat from their own butcher, and the buns are from their own baker. We ordered two “Classic” hamburgers with fries at the small window and sat down under the trees.

Burgers in Debrecen, at Buri Buri.

Burgers in Debrecen, at Buri Buri.

The burgers arrived in a cute basket, the meat was fresh and tasty, the buns perfectly toasted, the onion just right. The French fries still hot, freshly cut. I hate greasy, dripping burgers, ours was moist without extra grease. To be honest, after the first bite I was in disbelief; is this a trick? Am I having this fantastic burger in Debrecen?

If you happen to be in Debrecen, and want to have a great burger at a reasonable price – try Buri Buri at Hal köz. You will be pleasantly surprised, they serve by far the best “street food” (utcakaja in Hungarian) we had on our trip. Another sign on their door says: “Nálunk a hamburger kézműves” which translates: “Our hamburger is hand crafted”.

I sincerely hope that it remains that way for a long time and Buri Buri will not lose its fresh charm. Indeed, they serve excellent street food!

György Lázár

2 Comments

  1. Here are some kinder alternatives that are not based on causing needless agony to innocent beings: https://www.facebook.com/groups/VeganInHun/1454579691514004/?notif_t=group_activity

  2. Hát, tisztelt Lázár György úr, mivel annyira ellenségesen nyílatkozott épp itten Magyarország és a demokratikus megválasztott kormánya ellen, másfelől pedig dicséri, mi minden anyira szép volt Debrecenben amit éppen ez a “gyalázatos” magyar kormány tett, csak csodálkozni kell. Mi hajtja Önél a magyar ellenségeskedést? Nem látja a borzalmas kárt? A legerösebb hatalmat, akik hatalma kb. 60 millió legyilkolt indigen ember árán múlik? Akik az 1917 USA intervencióval Magyarország 72 % feldarabolasat okozta? Erre soha nem gondolt? Akar ebből a maradék 28 % bol az USA és Izrael segítségével ott is egy Szomáliai, vagy Líbiat?

    Persze elgondolkodtató, hogy mivel 1980-ban került oda, hogy nagyon megbízható lehetett. Honnan ez a protekcija? Kérem legalább ne nyilatkozon, hanem védje szerencsétlen volt hazáját.

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