Food Scene in Bucharest
One of the top cities in Europe for going out, Bucharest has a lively and diverse restaurant scene, with an excellent range of dining options. You can find anything from Romanian traditional food, to Mediterranean cuisine, Asian cooking or steak houses, and the number of restaurants, bistros and elegant cafes is growing year by year.
It is recommended to call in advance and reserve your table if you intend to dine. Tips are not included in your bill (nota de plată), and it is customary to leave an extra 10-15% of the total amount for the service.
A full meal will cost you anywhere between the equivalent of 10 to 50 euros, depending on the restaurant and your choice. Fixed menus are only offered in a few restaurants, and mostly at lunch time.
Romanian cuisine is a unique blend of Central-European and Ottoman flavors with a distinctive touch. Many dishes are versions of specialities found in Hungary, the Balkans or Ukraine with savory local ingredients and spices. Delicious as it may be, don't expect it, however, to be for the faint-hearted: Romanian food is rich in pork, cheese and dairies, mutton and other ingredients rarely found on fitness diets.
Romanian meals are generally multiple-course, with a first course, a main dish, and a dessert.
- Ciorbă de perișoare - A type of thick soup, with meatballs and pieces of vegetables.
- Ciorbă de burtă - A thick tripe soup, with cream and garlic
- Borș - The Romanian version of the Russian borsch, it is a sour soup generally made of beetroot
- Pilaf - A rice and meat-based dish, originally a Turkish speciality
- Sarmale - One of the most typical dishes of Romania, these are pickled cabbage rolls with a meat and rice-based filling. They are consumed on most special occasions and typically eaten with sour cream.
- Mămăligă - The Romanian version of the polenta, a side dish made of corn flour and water.
- Cârnați - The Romanian sausages are savory and have heaps of garlic
- Tochitură - a typical dish from the Moldavia region, it has fried pork, sausage, beef and ribs, served with mămăligă and cheese.
- Salată de vinete - A delicious puree made of roasted eggplants
- Zacuscă - A vegetable spread served for breakfast or as a starter
- Papanași - A classic Romanian dessert, it is a cheese-based doughnut served with sour cream and marmelade
- Cozonac - a spongecake with walnuts and raisins, prepared especially for Christmas and Easter
Vegetarian Food in Romania
There are few places serving only vegetarian and vegan food in Bucharest, and even fewer manage to survive throughout the years. Many regular restaurants offer a vegetarian option.
Vegetarian Restaurants in Bucharest
- Rawdia (Str. Puțul lui Zamfir 50-52): One of the oldest and best raw vegan restaurants in Bucharest, it has recently expanded to other cities in Romania.
- Casa Satya (Str. Banu Manta 25): A vegetarian restaurant with Indian-influenced cuisine.
- Rawyal Brunch & Cakes (Str. Ardeleni 24): An exquisite raw vegan pastry and fast food
- Barca (Str. Pictor Barbu Iscovescu 19): A raw vegan restaurant with a diversified menu
- VegUp (Calea Floreasca 169): A self-service vegetarian option in the North of Bucharest offering the vegetarian option of classic Romanian dishes
- Cofetaria Ostraw Vegan (Bd Ferdinand 1): A vegan and raw vegan confectionery.
Restaurants in Bucharest
The most popular dining area for tourists is the Lipscani Old Center. However, keep in mind that these are not necessarily the best ones.
In order to avoid the noise and the crowds and have the best experience, you should look for restaurant recommendations in other parts of the city. Useful resources include Restograf and Metropotam. We recommend:
- Caru' cu Bere (Str. Stavropoleos 5): It is the first and most popular choice of both tourists and locals when it comes to a typical restaurant, and for good reason. Possibly the oldest restaurant in the Lipscani area, it offers traditional dishes and a Romanian decor.
- Cafe Verona (Str. Arthur Verona 13-15): An excellent restaurant in the backyard of the first Cărturești bookshop in Bucharest.
- Zahanaua Zexe (Str. Icoanei 80): Gourmet Romanian cuisine cooked by century-old recipes. One of the best restaurants in the city.
- Red Angus Steakhouse (Str. Franceza 56): An excellent American steakhouse in the city center.
- The Artist (Calea Victoriei 147): Opened by Dutch chef Paul Oppenkamp, it offers a fine dining experience with a contemporary European menu.
- Dianei 4 (Str. Dianei 4): Open from early morning to late at night, the restaurant offers not just a menu, but a varied program of cultural and artistic events.
- Beca's Kitchen (Str. Mihai Eminescu 80): An intimate restaurant with home-made food.
Fast Food in Bucharest
Bucharest has many options for fast food, and choices include burgers, pizza, sandwiches and șaorma, the Romanian version of the typical Middle-Eastern dish. Fast-food is scattered throughout the city, but many are found in the Lipscani Old Center. You should expect to pay around 5 euros for a fast food meal.
- Burger Van Bistro (Str. George Vraca 4): A burger chain in the North of the city.
- Urban Burger: Burger truck with a variety of classic and speciality burgers.
- Super Falafel (Bd. N. Balcescu 34): Falafel store with Middle-Eastern and vegetarian specialties.
- Springtime (various locations) A classic fast food option in Bucharest. Offers sandwiches, salads, pizzas and pastry.
- La Matache (Str. Berzei and Popa Tatu): Typical Romanian dishes in fast-food format. Delivery available.
- Shaormerie Dristor,(Bd. Camil Ressu 1): One of the oldest and most famous fast-food chains in Romania. Not necessarily the best food, but a Bucharest classic.
Drinks in Romania
Going out in restaurants and bars has less to do with drinking, and more to do with meeting friends and having a good time. Romanians love to chat with people over a glass of beer or a cup of tea, and the city has an excellent offer of bars and cafes. Having a drink in a summer garden in the backyard of an old historical house is the delight of Bucharest locals from May to September.
Non-Alcoholic Drinks in Romania
- Water - Tap water (apă de robinet) is generally safe to drink in Bucharest, but bottled still or sparkling water is generally offered. However, as many restaurants are in old buildings, it is usually better to ask if the tap water is safe before ordering.
- Tea - Even though not among the traditional drinks, tea (ceai) has become increasingly popular during the past few years, and elegant and cozy tea houses with a broad range of options are now among the typical offerings of the Romanian capital. See below a list of the best tea houses in Bucharest.
- Coffee - A coffee (cafea) generally means a small cup of espresso in most Romanian restaurants and bars. However, this has changed and now Bucharest has a good array of coffee houses that boast speciality providers and highly-trained baristas.
Classic Tea and Coffee Houses in Bucharest
- Bernschutz & Co (Str. Eremia Grigorescu Nr. 5)
- Green Tea (Str. Dr. Burghelea 24)
- La un ceai (Str. Luigi Cazzavilian 25)
- Rendez-vous (Calea Floreasca 102)
- Bohemia Tea House (Poiana Narciselor 1)
- Infinitea (Str. Grigore Romniceanu 7)
- Ceai La Vlaicu (Str. Aurel Vlaicu 47)
- Aristocats Bistro (Str. T. Stefanescu Nr. 1)
- Caffee D'Arthe (Str. Popa Nan 7)
- Joie de Vivre (Str. N.Paulescu 61)
- Serendipity (Str. Dumbrava Rosie 12)
Best Cafes in Bucharest
- T-Zero (Str. Dianei 1): A cozy cafe close to the University Square
- Beans & Dots (Str. Ion Brezoianu 23-25): An elegant cafe serving lunch, desserts and speciality tea and coffee
- Artichoke (Calea Victoriei 45): A cafe with a London feeling and a terrace overlooking the Victoriei Square.
- Orygyns (Str. Jules Michelet 12): Modern design and quality coffee
- M60, (Str. Mendeleev 2): A popular cafe with a wide array of coffee types, snacks and a Scandinavian design
- Origo Coffee House (Str. Lipscani 9): One of the first speciality coffee houses opened in Bucharest, Origo has a variety of coffee breeds that are roasted in-house.
- Black Eye Coffee (Bd. Regina Elisabeta 59): Some of the best coffee in the city with specialties like a cappuccino in an ice cream cone and latte art.
- Bloom Speciality Coffee (Str. Vraca George 7): Another popular cafe with a variety of coffee types from all over the world.
Alcoholic Drinks in Romania
Distilled spirits made of plums (țuică, pălincă) are the traditional drinks in Romania. However, you will rarely find them on a restaurant menu, as they are usually drunk during family events or other intimate contexts. Beer and wine are most consumed beverages when going out.
- Beer - Beer is the most common drink in Romania. Many beers are imported, but there are some brands that have been historically produced in Romania.
- Wine - Although lesser known than the wine-producing nations from Western Europe, Romania has one of the oldest wine-making regions in the world with assortments of grapes that cannot be found anywhere else. Romanian wineries have made significant investments in order to blend this tradition to modern production techniques to adapt to the palate of a sophisticated market, resulting in wines of an excellent quality. The most typical varieties of Romanian wine are:
- Fetească alba - a semi-dry white wine produced especially in the Moldavia region
- Fetească regală - a white grape variety grown mostly in Translylvania
- Tămâioasă românească - a Romanian semi-sweet white wine with a flowery bouquet
- Grasă de Cotnari - a white wine variety typical to the Cotnari region in Moldavia
- Galbenă de Odobești - a white wine from the Odobești region
- Fetească Neagră - the most well-know variety of Romanian red wine
- Băbească Neagră - a fruity red wine from the Moldavian and the Wallachian region
Liquor Laws in Romania
The legal drinking age is 18. You may be asked for ID when ordering alcoholic drinks or entering bars.
Drinking and driving is strictly forbidden in Romania. The current limit is 20 milligrams of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood.