Romanian food can inspire your taste buds, as well as your next steps in your journey. In many cases, tourists try out popular restaurants, not necessarily the ones that serve traditional dishes. We are here to make sure you have a complete experience and you don’t miss out on any unique culinary delights.
If your plane is bringing you to Bucharest, we can help you even more. To enjoy a traditional Romanian dinner all you have to do is let us know. Our tour includes sight-seeing the Victoriei Avenue area and ends with a delicious meal. Book the tour today.
Choosing the right ingredients and spices was influenced in the Romanian culinary history by many neighboring cultures. The current dishes are influenced by several cultures including:
- Austrian with dishes like the traditional schnitzel
- Turkish adding fried meats like mici and chiftele
- Hungarian introducing paprika as a spice and gulaș as a dish
- Bulgarian with vegetable-based dishes like zacusca
- Greek influences you can taste in moussaka
- Serbian similar dish sarma.
Now let’s focus on what the whole meal experience is. When visiting our country, it’s important to appreciate the environment, not just Romanian food.
What Is a Typical Romanian Meal?
There is a clear connection between eating and community. You will see this eat time you sit down to enjoy a meal. The family or group of friends gathering around a table to eat, is also a reason to share news and discuss problems.
What this translated into is:
- large portions of food that you could easily share,
- long meals that give you the time to chat,
- having typically at least 3 courses,
- a great assortment of wines and spirits to keep the conversation going.
From this point of view, we’ll continue showcasing some of the most popular Romanian food throughout the whole country. You should find these dishes in any traditional restaurant on your trip.
To answer shortly what you should order right now, check out this article.
They are also dishes that have a bit of a different way of cooking from region to region, so make sure to order them several times in different cities.
We’ll organize them according to the 3 main parts of a meal:
- main dishes and
In most cases, appetizers consist of plates of cheese, cured meat, vegetable paste. Many Romanians might order an appetizer followed by soups, while others will just enjoy their soup. Some restaurants also serve salads if you’d like to focus on the local produce more. Here are the top 5 options you should try when starting your meals:
1. Salată de Vinete – Eggplant Dip
Vegetable spreads are popular across the whole Balkan area, not just in Romania. Their practicality made them last throughout the ages. It is not just a tasty way to start a meal or a healthy snack. It is also the best way to use vegetables during the cold season.
The eggplants are smoked whole on a Barbeque or directly on coals. After they are properly cooked, the skin is taken off. The pulp is minced and optionally oil, lemon juice, homemade mayonnaise, and onions can be added. It’s a great option for vegetarians as well.
2. Jumări cu ceapă – Pork Rinds with Onions
A very popular snack, traditionally made after the pork is butchered before the Christmas holidays. The dish has a soft fat texture inside and a crispy bite on the outside. They are usually served with slices of red onion to balance out the fatness.
3. Ciorbă de burtă – Tripe Soup
Either you fall in love with this Romanian food from the first taste, or you never want to try again. Keep that in mind when you order it for the first time. Even the locals are just as split on this.
The main reason is its powerful sour taste. There is a high concentration of cream in the soup, that hides some of the sourness.
4. Ciorbă de fasole cu afumătură – Bean Soup With Smoked Ham
This dish has become an icon for many restaurants across Romania. It is usually served in a bowl made out of bread. Which makes it an amazing experience for the eyes not just for your mouth.
Traditionally it is cooked with smoked ham but you might find it as a vegetarian option as well. Make sure to ask before ordering.
5. Ciorbă de perişoare – Meatball Soup
Perișoare are meatballs made out of minced meat from either pork, beef or a combination of the two. They also have rice, egg and spices.
The soup is mainly a vegetable one which makes it a great healthy meal. The meatballs are boiled in the soup which gives it an incredible taste and makes the meatballs better as well.
When you are in Bucharest, we can make sure you have the full experience of a traditional dinner. You’ll get to enjoy many of these dishes. On some nights, the restaurants we take you out to have live traditional dancing performances as well.
For a savory taste of Romanian food, we’ll continue with the most popular dishes to order for your main meal. You might have heard about some of these servings but this way you can be sure you’ll try them out.
1. Sarmale – Stuffed Cabbage
Probably the most famous Romanian food and for good reason. Regardless of where you land this is a must-try. Like most dishes, it is served with a big portion of sour cream. It’s what makes it perfect.
The ground meat is wrapped and cooked in cabbage leaves. In some areas, you might find the rolls with grapevine leaves instead.
Some restaurants even offer a vegetarian option that uses mushrooms instead of meat.
2. Tocanita de pui – Chicken Stew
Great comfort food that will help you especially when you are homesick. This Romanian food is made with fried chicken coated in flour and tomato juice.
3. Pomana porcului – Porks Feast
This dish is originally served in the cold air of December. The meal was prepared after the deaf of the pig. The dish is made from fresh cut pork fried in its fat.
It’s best paired with pickles. Many restaurants offer this dish but the original is always much more flavorful.
Very similar to mamaliga, the bulz is also made with boiled cornmeal. From an international point, these are very similar to polenta.
The bulz is usually served with white cheese and a fried egg on top. It is finished in the oven, which gives everything a nice crust.
5. Ghiveci cu Pește – Fish with Mix Vegetables
Offered in many locations where fresh fish is available. A classic and simple dish that helps you slowly cook the peppers, tomatoes, onions, carrots, and the fish.
As a large variety of ingredients can be found in Romania, the dishes you can try are just as varied. Add all the culinary influences together and you get the incredible tastes. In your travels, you can find:
- Turkish inspiration,
- Hungarian spices,
- Saxon cooking,
- And a bit of Russian borș.
But we all know that no meal is complete without a bit of sweetness at the end. So let’s focus on deserts, next.
It seams Romanians have a sweet tooth. We love to munch on pastry and pies that have a homemade feel. Here are some of the best ways to finish up your order.
The most common pastry option found in most restaurants across Romania. It is sort of a deep-fried doughnut. In a few regions, the dough is boiled, not fried.
Best served with sour cream and jam or chocolate. There are always best enjoyed while hot.
2. Cozonac – Sweet Bread
Originally it was made for special holidays like Christmas and Easter but now you can find in pastry shops any day of the year. They are sold as loaf glazed with egg and sugar while it’s being cooked.
There are numerous flavors some of the most popular includes:
- Popeye seeds,
- Or Turkish delight.
3. Salam de Biscuiți – Romanian Biscuit Salami
It’s a salami like looking dessert with a crumbly texture. It has a strong rum after taste. It’s a simple recipe that requires no cooking just using good store-bought biscuits and cocoa powder. You must try at least a slice.
There are some commercially available options in Romanian stores but the ones in pastry shops are always much better.
If you’d like to try out more deserts and on the go snacks while in Bucharest you should book our tour. You’ll get to see the most famous fresh produce market, piața Obor, learn about Romanian history while snacking on some great food.
Learn more about the Most Delicious Traditional Desserts by Regions.
4. Plăcintă cu mere – Romanian Apple Pie
There are a million versions of this pie but you will enjoy it nonetheless. A classical dessert that can put a smile on anyone’s face.
5. Brânzoaică – Sweet Cheese Pastry
The pastry is folded over itself and it looks like a pocket full of sweet cheese. In most cases, the filling also has raisins. You might not find it in restaurants; it is most commonly eaten as a snack on the go. You will find in all pastry shows and at bread stands.
Trying new food while traveling is a must. It might be your only opportunity to enjoy these dishes. In some cases, you might be just a few steps from tasting authentic dishes. So let’s dive into the must-try traditional dishes organized based on the areas in Romania you’ll find them.
Romanian Food to Try from Each Region
As each region had a different background, there are several dishes you won’t find in the rest of the country.
The different geographical region cuisines are influenced by the most common resources in the area, as well. For example:
- The abundance of fish in the Danube Delta and Dobrogea
- The mountain areas with fresh mushrooms, berries, goat cheese
- The beans and borș used in the Moldovian cuisine.
To make sure you get to have one unique experience based on the region you visit will mention a few areas and their specific recipes.
Mucenicii Moldovenesti – from Moldova
They are usually baked on the 9th of March for the Mucenici, a local Christian feast. This celebration is specific to Romania and the Republic of Moldova. Only in these two countries will you find this pastry, so you need to try it.
Mucenici have the texture of sweet bread but they are even more delicious. They are coated with honey and sprinkled nuts. They look like a circular braid and are just the best way to end your meal.
Varza a la Cluj – in Transylvania
This dish means cabbage from Cluj. A flavorful traditional Romanian food makes through cooking pickled cabbage with:
- minced meat and
If you tried and liked sarmale, you’ll most likely enjoy this dish as well. Like most dishes in the area, it is usually served with sour cream.
Malasolca from the Danube Delta
In the other corner of the country where you can visit the wetlands of the Danube River one of the specific dishes is malasolca. The secret behind this simple dish is great to fish. In the past, it was commonly eaten during winter.
The pike is left on salt overnight or longer. The potatoes and pike are usually boiled together, to flavor the dish. While traveling in the Danube Delta, you’ll find this dish served with garlic sauce.
Hencles – near Sibiu
As the Romanian food near Sibiu was strongly influenced by the Saxons traditions, it is no wonder there is a local version of the Hanklich cake. It has a puff pastry with butter and sour cream crust.
Compared to the one you can find in some areas of Germany, the Romanian version usually incorporates different types of fruit or jam, in the filling. These could be:
- or sour cherries.
Paturata pe crumpi in the Banat region
If you are visiting Timisoara, and the areas surrounding it, one traditional Romanian food you can try is the “paturata pe crumpi”. In translation that would be “blankets on a bed of potatoes”. It’s a strudel like pastry, boiled on top of potatoes.
It is considered to be one of the oldest recipes in the country. The best place to try it would be at culinary festivals. There, the dish is cooked in a big cauldron which many consider makes it even better.
It’s a great vegetarian option as it is eaten during the Easter and Christmas fasting period.
Bocanetele from the North of Dobrogea
This delicious dessert is a thick pastry pie filled with whey cheese. Their taste will remind you of childhood treats. As it is not extremely sweet, kids, as well as adults, love it.
Don’t miss out on trying it while you travel near the seaside area in Romania.
If you have a short visit, and you’ll only get to see Bucharest, we have the best option for you to enjoy some of the popular Romanian snacks. The tour will guide you through the capital’s history as well as the best to-go meals you can have.
Where to Eat Traditional Romanian Food in Bucharest?
To enjoy an authentic experience while in Bucharest you need to dine at a restaurant that offers traditional recipes. There are many options throughout the Romanian capital but we will focus on our top 3 recommendations
1. Caru cu Bere
The great part about this location is it’s incredible architecture and history besides the great Romanian food you can enjoy. It is famous for its unmistakable art nouveau decoration and delicious food.
You can visit the location just for a local beer as well.
You can reserve a table on the site.
Address: Strada Stavropoleos 5, București
They serve authentic traditional food on ceramic plates with Romanian motifs. It’s a great option to enjoy the real atmosphere of a local dinner. The staff is welcoming and will help you decide on the dishes.
You can book a table at Vatra Restaurant directly on the site.
Address: Strada Ion Brezoianu 19
3. Lacrimi și Sfinți
This restaurant is a bit different than what you’d normally expect from a traditional Romanian restaurant. They have more of a modern approach. In their design, they incorporate traditional elements with a more minimalist background. The recipes are contemporary interpretations of century-old cuisine.
Address: Strada Șepcari 16
Tips When Ordering in a Romanian Restaurant
Any trip is an adventure and sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. Maybe the restaurant looks appealing but the menu is only in Romanian. Maybe it’s just hard to understand the waiter’s accent.
That’s why we came up with the most important tips and questions you might have about Romanian eating that will help have a smooth experience even if everything is not clear cut.
Tip 1. Romanians eat in large quantities
Most portions in traditional Romanian restaurants are large. So take your time and order your food in turns. It’s not great to overestimate your hunger and order a lot of food that you won’t be able to eat.
Order each course and only after you have received it consider ordering the next one so you don’t get more than you need.
Tips 2. Meals are well cooked and take about an hour.
Lunch and dinner usually take around an hour or longer so know that the food won’t be immediately served. Make sure to order something to drink and take your time to chat with people at the table between courses.
But the reason behind this is what makes the food delicious:
- It’s fresh and cooked when ordered
- Meals are cooked with your specified details. You can tell the waiter to exclude an ingredient if you’d like and it won’t be a problem.
- Food is cooked in the order you asked for it. It is also brought to the table hot when all plates of one course are ready.
- Most good restaurants are usually packed. That’s why it’s a good idea to book a table in advance
Tip 3. Notifying your waiter
To get the attention of your waiter it’s not enough to make direct eye contact. A small gesture of the hand will bring him to your table to help you with any questions or tasks.
Tip 4. Payment and tips
Most restaurants accept card payments and cash in lei. The bill will never include the tips. So if you choose to pay by card make sure you have cash enough for the tip.
It is a common courtesy to leave about 10% of the total bill.
These were the most important tips for a great restaurant experience in Romania. Now we want to answer some of your top questions around this topic.
Top Questions about Romanian Food and Their Short Answers
1. How Do You Say Food in Romanian?
Food in Romanian is “mâncare”. If you’d like to ask someone for a place to eat Romanian food you’d say “ Unde aș putea să încerc mâncare romanească?”.
2. How to Cook Romanian Food?
It’s all about practice and having a great teacher. Romanian cuisine is made to be easy to cook at home as long as you have fresh ingredients. To learn more about your option for cooking classes in Bucharest just read this list we’ve created.
3. Is Romanian Food Spicy?
It is a flavor cuisine but not necessarily spicy. There are many herbs usually rather than powdered spices. Some of the most common ones you’ll see in your dishes are:
- or marjoram.
Most dishes use garlic or onions in the cooking process. But even the dishes that can be spicer are left to your own choice.
That’s why the hot pepper is usually served on the side of soups. So depending on your taste you can make the dish spicer or mild. Make sure to taste a bit of the pepper before you put it in your soup to know how hot it is.
4. How Can I Order Vegetarian Dishes?
Most Romanian dishes contain meat they also offer lent dishes (“mâncare de post”). Most lent products don’t contain animal products either, like cheese or eggs.
Best options to choose in a traditional restaurant would be:
- Eggplant salad
- Zacusca or
Diverse Ways to Enjoy the Tradition Romania Food
Trying out food while traveling to Bucharest or any other region will be a great experience. The meals might overwhelm you with options and the large quantities but each bite will be a great treat.
Even if each region has it’s way of showcasing their originality you can sample the tastes even in one dinner. If you’d like to learn more about the culture and have someone to guide through your menu options, you can book one of our tours:
Here’s to a great experience in Romania.