Bucharest Old Town Sunny Summer Day - Romania

Bucharest is enjoying a moment as one of Europe’s hottest foodie destinations. A tour through the city’s vibrant gastronomic landscape reveals Romania’s cosmopolitan capital as a hub of diverse taste experiences – from traditional, hearty meals in the Old Town’s lively beer halls, to upscale international dining experiences and fine wines along the city’s famous Calea Victoriei. Here’s how to enjoy the best of the city's food and drink offerings across each of its must-visit districts.

Experience culinary classics in the Central Civic District

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Mouth-watering local cuisine served at OLEA, a refined restaurant in the heart of Bucharest, JW Marriott Bucharest Grand Hotel (Photo: Marriott International)

For a taste of authentic Romanian dining, head first for Hanu’ Berarilor Casa Oprea Soare near to Bucharest’s Central Civic district. It’s one of the best spots in the city for sarmale – parcels of minced pork and beef stuffed into cabbage rolls and served with a steaming polenta-like side called mămăligă.

Sarmale make excellent fuel ahead of a stroll around the nearby Palace of Parliament, easily Bucharest’s most famous and imposing landmark, and the world’s second-largest administrative building after the Pentagon. Some of the best views of this astonishing construction are to be had from the JW Marriott Bucharest Grand Hotel, where the generously spacious rooms are perfect for unwinding after a day of Bucharest exploration. At the hotel's JW Steakhouse Bucharest restaurant, the finest cuts of beef – including succulent Kobe, not to be found elsewhere in the city – are complemented by seasonal produce harvested in-house at the hotel’s own garden. For a delicious fusion of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavours, there's also OLEA, a trendy outdoor restaurant where sharing plates can be enjoyed amidst the warm glow of the fire pits for an intimate dining experience.

Follow this wholesome feast with a short stroll through leafy Cotroceni to Ceainăria Infinitea, where a hot pot of tea at the cosiest tearoom in town will be waiting.

Drink in the charms of the Old Town

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Enjoy divine signature cocktails at The Vault bar, formerly the Marmorosch Blank Bank, at The Marmorosch Bucharest, Autograph Collection (Photo: Marriott International)

Locals will tell you that Bucharest’s buzzing Old Town is the place to party, and Moxy Bucharest Old Town places you in the heart of the action – if you're in the mood, grab a handcrafted cocktail along with your room key at the hotel’s check-in desk, which doubles as a bar.

You’ll find more mixologists around the corner at The Marmorosch Bucharest, Autograph Collection. The hotel’s renowned bar, The Vault, is an atmospheric speakeasy housed in a former bank vault, where classic cocktails sit alongside modern innovations on an extensive drinks menu. Upstairs, Executive Chef Cristian Serb injects an innovative spirit, know-how and fervent passion into The Marmorosch culinary family, establishing The Blank Restaurant as a prominent name in Romania's gastronomic scene.

One of Bucharest’s liveliest food-and-drink experiences lies just a five-minute walk away at the city’s oldest beerhouse. Literally translating as ‘the beer wagon’, Caru’ cu Bere is one of Bucharest’s best-loved restaurants, where locals and tourists alike gather to drink in the atmosphere – and the award-winning house brew – in stunning Neo-Gothic surroundings. Lively folk music and dance performances complement the restaurant’s traditional flavour, but the real showstopper here is the food. Don’t leave without trying the slow-roasted pork knuckle: locals swear by it.

Explore cosmopolitan cuisine along Calea Victoriei

Chef at the Sheraton Bucharest Hotel

A chef hard at work preparing authentic Japanese cuisine at the Benihana Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar at Sheraton Bucharest Hotel (Photo: Marriott International)

Calea Victoriei is the main artery that runs through central Budapest, a historic thoroughfare lined with upscale shops, busy bars, and iconic architectural sights like the Cantacuzino Palace. It’s also dotted with authentic eateries like Coclintă Brasserie, a small venue that’s earned a reputation as the best place in town for hand-baked plăcintă pies – traditional Romanian pastries packed with classic ingredients like cheese, cabbage, and sheep sausage. 

A little further north, the fashionable downtown neighbourhood of Dorobanți is the spot for high-end, cosmopolitan cuisine. You’ll notice a strong Italian influence here; if you’re craving fresh pasta or pizza, the local favourite is the Trattoria Mazzaluna restaurant. There’s also the superb Benihana Japanese Steakhouse and Sushi Bar at Sheraton Bucharest Hotel, where guests have a front-row seat to a cooking masterclass. Here, talented chefs prepare dishes on an open grill in the centre of the room, with more than a little customary flair. For a traditional tipple, try a glass of Romanian wine at the hotel’s Centro Bar and get a taste of why Romania is Europe's fifth-largest wine producer, then soak up the views from the Sheraton Skyview Pool & Spa.

Indulge in upscale dining in Primăverii

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Solt Dining, Courtyard Bucharest Floreasca, boasts fresh, local ingredients showcasing the best of each season (Photo: Marriott International)

Another highly desirable residential neighbourhood in Bucharest is Primăverii, known for its tree-lined avenues and serene parks. The pick of the restaurants here is Zexe on Aviatorilor Boulevard, a stylish venue that puts a very modern twist on time-honoured Romanian fare. You’ll find a range of dishes from various ciorba (soup) inspired by old Transylvanian recipes to bold fillets of zander fished straight from the Danube. Then there’s the mititei – these mouth-watering rolls of grilled minced are a fixture on every Romanian restaurant’s menu, but Zexe claim that a secret blend of broths and spices render theirs 'probably' the best in the country. Wash everything down with a glass or two of tuică – a traditional fruit brandy packing a serious kick.

Another highly-rated local option is the SOLT Dining restaurant at the Courtyard Bucharest Floreasca, which serves international dishes in a relaxed, New Nordic Dining setting. Locally sourced, seasonal produce keeps the menu fresh; the salads here are especially popular.

Discover a taste of Romania beyond Bucharest

Barsana is a picturesque commune in Maramureș composed of two villages, Bârsana and Nănești (Photo: Getty Images)

Romania’s other regions offer a whole world of mouth-watering culinary experiences. In the northeast, Moldavia lays claim to some of Romania’s most beloved dishes, from the staple mămăligă to the sweet dumpling desert papanaşi, best enjoyed hot with sour cream or tasty fruit jams. Meanwhile, in the bucolic far northern region of Maramureș, look out for deliciously traditional rustic fare like ciorbă de burtă, a vegetable soup made with tripe, and plates of pârjoale meatballs.

Then there’s the dynamic city of Cluj-Napoca in Transylvania, towards the centre of the country, whose youthful energy is expressed with a marked culinary creativity. Concept restaurants like plant-based Samsara Foodhouse specialise in inventive vegan and vegetarian interpretations of Romanian classics. Round the corner, Roata offers a fine varză a la Cluj, a regional speciality casserole baked with layers of minced meat and cabbage.

One of the best places to stay in Cluj-Napoca is the Courtyard Cluj-Napoca Downtown. Lying just a short drive from the airport, and with Cluj-Napoca’s lively Old Town on its doorstop, the hotel’s in a prime position for a day of sightseeing and gastronomic discovery – starting with the hearty breakfasts prepared at the hotel's Novum restaurant.


 

Published: June 05, 2024

Last Updated: June 25, 2024

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