Romanian Food

Find out all you need to know about the best Romanian food and drinks before your trip.

Romanian food is among the most diverse in the world, inheriting methods and ingredients from Turkish, Eastern, and Central European cuisines. Romanian dishes mostly consist of vegetables, cereals, dairy products, and meat. It has various branches including a wide range of soups, appetizers, olive oil dishes, and spirits. You will find local versions of the iconic Balkan dishes, consumed as part of the same rituals widespread in the region. It may be overwhelming to choose among a sea of quintessential dishes, so make sure you know all the essentials to have the ultimate food experience. Before you arrive, also keep in mind these Romanian food tips:

  • Romanians eat three times a day, so you will see lunch and dinner served at most local restaurants. Dinner time usually begins at 8pm.
  • You may see the same dish with different ingredients in the cities of Romania. Make sure you try different varieties, as each region brings its own addition to Romanian food.
  • Romanian cuisine has a deep history of Ottoman and Turkish influences. Try these authentic delicacies such as moussaka and pilaf, which you will see a lot on the local menus.

Must-Try Romanian Foods

Here are the top dishes of the Romanian food scene that will help you eat like a local:

Romanian food
Mici

The name describes it all—meaning ‘little ones’, mici is small sticks of minced meat seasoned with garlic, pepper, caraway seeds, coriander, thyme, and many more. Legend has it that a famous cook in Bucharest invented mici when the restaurant ran out of sausage casings three centuries ago. They are unique in taste compared to other meatballs across the Balkans due to the sodium bicarbonate in the mix. You will come across tasty micis being barbecued on the street at almost every corner, especially during festivities.

Romanian food
Sarmale

A Balkan delicacy to the bone, sarmale is a traditional Romanian food that has been served in homes for centuries. It consists of a mouthful of cabbage rolls filled with ground pork and rice, cooked, and served with sour cream or yogurt which complements its salty taste. A cultural element in many Balkan countries including Romania, sarmale has roots in the Ottoman cuisine. Try it in different regions as you travel across the country to taste unique varieties.

Romanian food
Ciorba Radauteana

Creamy, plentiful, and incredibly delicious, ciorba radauteana is the queen of Romanian sour soups. A chicken breast is usually the source of meat, and nutritious vegetables like carrots, onion, parsnip, and celery go into it. What makes radauteana a comfort food is a creamy broth fueled by lemon juice and garlic. One bowl of this scrumptious soup will take away your fatigue after a long day of exploring Romania’s sights.

Romanian food
Bulz

Romania’s staple ingredient finds a soulful shape and flavor in bulz, chunks of stuffed polenta (boiled cornmeal). Locals believe that shepherds first prepared bulz on open-fire grills. The filling is creamy and consists of butter mixed with soft sheep’s cheese. You will find the most authentic flavors of the Romanian mountains stuffed in little balls of bulz. Depending on where you are eating it, fried eggs, sour cream, or butter will accompany it on the side.

zacusca sauce
Zacusca

Breakfast condiments are an essential part of Balkan cuisine, and the aromatic zacusca is the Romanian food contribution to it. The country has a long tradition of preparing zacusca during the autumn harvest to store and consume it during the long winter months. The base consists of roasted eggplants, and roasted tomatoes, Romanian bell peppers, sauteed onions go into it. Zacusca has a spicy taste, mostly due to bay leaves, but its aroma is comfortably mild. If you want the ultimate experience, spread some zacusca on freshly baked bread.

Romanian food
Papanasi

Papanasi singlehandedly represents the sweet side of Romanian food as an authentic version of the fried dough you will see across the Balkans. What makes them so special is the filling of melted Romanian cheese. Locals usually use Urda cheese, which blends perfectly with the softness of the dough and the sugary topping. You will love dipping the dough into the sour cream and blueberry jam sauce. The small sphere of dough placed at the top of the cheese-filled one is another Romanian addition to the dessert.

Must-Try Romanian Drinks

Tuica

Made from homegrown plums and fermented in large barrels for almost 2 months, tuica has been an essential part of Romanian culinary tradition for centuries. It is a brandy that is even more popular than wine in the country these days. It won’t take long for some locals to offer you a hearty glass of tuica to finish your meal, and we recommend having a sip before you leave. We guarantee that it will make your nights in Transylvania more colorful.

Romanian food
Socata

You won’t see a drink so handsome and aromatic—socata is Romania’s most special drink. It is non-alcoholic, incredibly refreshing, and the first choice of travelers looking to unwind after a long day of sightseeing. Restaurants begin to serve it around May and June, as it is the harvest season for the elderflowers across the countryside. The elderflower syrup that is used in socata is now common across the world in the finest cocktails.

Romanian food

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