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Food & Dining in Romania


Romania has combined the traditions of various and somewhat contradictory origins. Famous as the protectorate of France, it shares France’s exquisite taste – mainly in Bucharest. At the same time you can sense the strong Balkan character of the country. Food is cherished and almost worshipped. Most specialities are meat-based, with pork being the most popular, followed by beef and lamb. Vegetarians can take advantage of the delicious vegetable soups and vegetable-based meals served in most restaurants, though they were probably brought to Romania from Bulgaria. Speaking of food-influences, Romanians love their neighbours’ specialities. In most restaurants you will find Greek mussaka, Turkish meatballs and Austrian schnitzel – among countless others.

A strictly traditional meal in Romania is mamaliga (a cornmeal mush). Once known as the meal of the poor, this speciality today is prepared in many different ways depending on the region and the personal taste and served in almost all restaurants.

Most restaurants in Romania, especially in more regional areas, only serve Romanian food, even though it is similar to Western European food. Especially in Bucharest, there is a wide variety of international food, especially Mediterranean, Chinese or French. There are also fairly plentiful international fast food chains. The interesting truth about these is that they are just nominally cheaper than restaurants, with the quality of the food being of an international standard but quite much lower than that served in restaurants. Therefore, go for the restaurants when you can – they provide a much more authentic and quality experience at prices that aren't too much higher.


Bucharest is in the throes of a restaurant renaissance that has given rise to a host of delightfully decorated establishments offering enjoyable, inexpensive fare. You'll find food kiosks, cafés, grills, fast-food chains, and restaurants sprinkled throughout the city. French, German, Italian, Mexican, Middle Eastern, and Asian restaurants are thriving.

If you just want to wander around looking for a restaurant, head for Strada Episcopiei, where the streets are lined with cafés and restaurants, including the charming Bistro Atheneu. A short stroll from here is Byblos (Nicolae Golescu 14-16), a smart place to grab a drink and light lunch, like pizza, panini, bruschetta, and salad (including the delectable Byblos Salad – spinach leaves, pine-nut kernels, and Parmesan in a garlicky olive-oil dressing); at night Byblos is one of the city's more reliably classy dining venues, with reliably priced Italian fare.

For upmarket Romanian fare, many wealthy locals go to Locanta Jaristea (Calea George Georgescu 52), a fine option if you're looking to splurge in the vicinity of the Parliamentary Palace. You'll dine in wonderfully decorous, traditional surroundings, with the knowledge that a meal here is accompanied by the sharpest service.

Another upmarket restaurant, Casa di David (Soseaua Nordului 7-9), comes complete with a German car ads at the entrance and an extensive wine list. Food (Italian inspired) and ambience are at best good, but portions are small and prices are far above average for Bucharest. A 3-course meal for two with local wine will set you back over 400 Lei.

Cuptorul cu Lemne (Bulevardul Pache Protopopescu 63) is popular with the locals, having one of the best pizzas in Romania. A nice pizza place with a nice outdoor summer garden and a relaxed atmosphere (the restaurant also houses a caricature club). Prices are low and naturally it tends to be very crowded during weekends.

Cafeanua Actorilor (Strada Batişte) attracts a lot of Americans, because of the good food, and the US Embassy and Intercontinental are right across the street. The salads, especially the one called "Act II" is a meal all by itself. However, service tends to be excruciatingly slow, driving away many locals.




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