Budapest: seeking Hungarian restaurant with no atmosphere
OK, I'm exaggerating. But I'm wondering if someone will reveal to me his or her favorite restaurant in Budapest that (1) serves traditional Hungarian or "peasant" food that tastes great; and (2) has no pretensions. I assume such a place will be inexpensive and be without "atmosphere," though I do not view these as requirements. I happen to be staying near the Opera but would be willing to travel as necessary.
You might want to look into Aranyszarvas. Though not exactly devoid of atmosphere, we found it somewhat, how to put it, somber? The focus is on game, with a very large and varied menu. Preparation is very traditional, though to our delight, was not at all heavy (Hungarian cooking is much lighter than most other middle- and east-european styles).
Prices are moderate. It's located at the foot of the castle hill on the Buda side, but easy to get to from across the river.
Pozsonyi Kisvendéglő near Margit bridge on the Pest side is a favourite of locals - always packed and great value for money - absolutely ginormous portions.
Kádár Étkezde off Dob utca is also wonderful. The waitresses have been there for years and are lovely. Order off the daily menu - the sole waiter/cashier/man up front can help translate.
Those are my two favourite places for hearty Hungarian, but the little cheap places are everywhere around the city (though not in the places tourists tend to be).
Kadar and Pozsonyi are excellent suggestions -- Near the latter, a styand-up place, Norbi's (on Tatra, see above link) may be fewer tourists and more deep-local standup lunch place. The very large steam table place in the Cengtral Market Hall (mezzanine, center of the wall nearest the river) is not bad at all, given the relentless string of tourists it serves.
Around the corner from the Market more or less, where Lonyay utca starts, there is a cafeteria style etkezde (lunch place) with not bad food at all ... Kicsimama.
More upscale but mid-range, the Gerloczy's chicken gizzard paprikas is really good, and the Cafe Central's traditional dishes are solid in an interestingly restored venue.
Borbirosag, behind the Central Market is serious about its traditional preparations, and often has a a range of Transylvanian dishes. The cooks here care about recapturing old recipes and techniques.
Up one level more, Cafe Bouchon has very serious renditions of traditional dishes, and will do anything you ask for with enough notice (let me tell you that one of the best meals of my life, bar none, was the time I asked them to roast two geese for a small group of friends...)