Usually, when going on vacation, one can afford to be less strict about their diet (if they don’t have dietary restrictions to take into account) – especially because it would be a pity not to experience the local flavors a country has to offer.
With traditional Romanian dishes, tourists have to be prepared for rich tastes, but also lots of calories.
Another mention to be made here is what you’d call ‘Romanian cuisine’ is a mix of Balkan culinary influences with regional variations and styles of cooking.
If you want to make a shortlist of traditional meals to ask for, a 5-minute read of this article will help a great deal.
#1 Ciorba Radauteana (Eastern-Romanian Soup)
Traditionally, Romanian lunches have always included a consistent soup (sweet or sour, vegetable-only or with pieces of meat for extra nutrients).
One of the tastiest and most accessible ones is the Radauti soup, renowned for its balanced mix of vegetables (carrots, celery, parsley, onion) and poultry. The distinctive touch is given by a bit of vinegar or sour cream Romanians love to pour in.
#2 Romanian Meat Patties
This is a versatile meat dish Romanian love to cook due to its flavor.
The mix is made out of ground pork (combined with beef, sheep or poultry – depending on the region), egg yolk, potato, bread crumbs (sometimes dried), herbs (dill, cilantro, parsley, thyme) and spices.
The result is a juicy meat compound which can be served with tomato sauce, baked potatoes or as an appetizer.
We admit it, Romanian cuisine is a meat lover’s heaven and which is largely due to other Balkan cuisine influences.
But this doesn’t mean there aren’t traditional Romanian dishes vegetarians can’t enjoy – on the contrary.
Zacusca is a vegetable-based spread paste which is universally loved across Romania and can appeal to any veggie out there.
Usually, the recipe consists of a mix of red peppers, pureed fried eggplant, onions, tomato paste, garlic and, depending on the region, some other ingredients.
The spread which results from stirring this mix for several hours is fresh, nourishing and also versatile.
#4 Papanasi with Cow Cheese
And now, dessert.
This is something almost everyone who’s been to Romania may suggest when you ask for traditional Romanian dishes.
A frequent appearance on restaurants menus, papanasi are basically doughnuts served with sour cream and blueberry sauce. Imagine oversized doughnuts filled with cow cheese or ricotta and you can make a better idea.
There is, however, a variation of this beloved dessert and you may taste it if you ask for homemade cheese dumplings. These contain more cottage cheese than papanasi and are boiled, then covered in dried bread crumbs and optionally sprinkled with powdered sugar.
Simple, yet effective.
Read more about Romanian Traditional Desserts by Regions.
Traditional Romanian Dishes and Where to Find Them
If you go on TripAdvisor, you may find excellent selections of restaurants serving traditional meals (and usually each restaurant has some typical Romanian food on the menu). While these are great places to have a taste of the Romanian way of eating, there are more ways of experiencing it.
A good way to experience the Romanian traditional food and discover Bucharest at the same time is our Bucharest evening tour and traditional dinner.
Local fairs or festivals are a good idea if you want to explore more (check this list). These are the places where local producers bring their best in terms of food.
Bonus: on the TravelMaker blog, there are great pieces focused on dining suggestions for popular Romanian cities (Brasov, Bucharest, Sibiu), and if you want to read more about Romanian cuisine check this article.
If you really want to choose this option, you can contact us to learn which one of the TravelMaker private tours can grant you the best culinary experience.