Cross-Posted from Calgary is Awesome.
I'd driven past Jonas' Restaurant on my way home out of downtown on 6th Ave many times, but never gave as much as a thought as to whether the restaurant was even open, let alone the signage on the window boasting that it served Hungarian cuisine. Fortunately for Janos and Rosza Jonas, the husband-and-wife team from Budapest who own the cozy, family-run hole-in-the-wall, there are Calgarians out there looking for some homestyle Hungarian cooking and after over 10 years, business is still going strong for the only Hungarian restaurant in the city.
B. and I went for a relatively early supper on Friday evening in an unsuccessful attempt to finish in time to catch Rebecca Northan's Blind Date (part of High Performance Rodeo, which is running till the end of the month!) It was quiet when we - ok, he, I was 15 minutes late - first arrived, but the tiny restaurant quickly filled with a crowd that seemed to mostly be made up of regulars, and Rosza (who waits tables along with a young man who I'm guessing is her son) had no trouble squeezing everyone in.
Hungarian cuisine is a slightly different beast from most Eastern European cuisine - there's no borscht or perogies/pyrohy here, but there are hearty and soul-warming dishes like goulash, beef stew, cabbage rolls, potatoes and paprikash. I wasn't feeling too hungry that day, so I probably chose the lightest, most non-Hungarian item on the menu - a small order of Breaded Catfish with Homemade Potato ($13.00).
The catfish was pounded thin and breaded heavily, similar to schnitzel (also on the menu) - even the seafood-hating B. didn't mind trying a bite. The fish was served with a creamy, slightly sweet tartar sauce that contrasted well with the savoury fish. My favourite part was the potatoes - it had a bit of a sweet, tangy note that reminded me of potato salad... was it the onion? mayo? herbs? I don't know, but the potatoes were creamy and comforting.
Jonas' offers daily specials and Friday's was Potato Pancakes with Beef in Paprikash Sauce ($16.50), which B. ordered. The potato pancakes were not small and crisp like latkes, but much softer and more pancake-like, encasing the rich, stewed beef. Both of our dishes were served with a side of peas, corns and carrots (like the frozen stuff that comes in giant bags), which added to the humble, home-cooking feel of the restaurant.
We didn't have time nor room for dessert, but it looks like they have some homemade crepes with a variety of toppings to choose from - I would love to go back and try them some time!
Jonas' Restaurant is certainly not the place to go for fine dining, but it's a lovely, comfortable little place (with Hungarian kitsch on the walls and a waitress who looks at you funny if you don't order alcohol!) to duck into and warm your belly during the harsh winter.
937 6 Ave SW
Calgary AB T2P 0V7
Open for lunch Tues-Fri 11:30 AM-2 PM. Open for dinner Tues-Sat 5-9:30 PM. Closed Sundays and Mondays.