- 2foodtrippers Bucharest Food Guide
- Modern Dining
- Traditional Romanian Food
- Burgers and Quick Bites
- Piaţa Obor Market
- Food Experiences
- Book Your Bucharest Hotel
- Start Planning Your Trip Now
We spent a month and eating and drinking our way through the Romanian capital to create this Bucharest Food Guide with all of our favorite Bucharest restaurants, cafes and bars.
Bucharest is a city on the verge.
Like Sleeping Beauty awakened from a long slumber, the city is emerging from the darkness of Communism and totalitarianism while embracing the modern conveniences that many Westerners take for granted. In some areas like coffee and internet, Bucharest has not only arrived but has leaped past many global cities. We adored the city’s cafe culture with its seemingly endless variety of cafes, each serving well-roasted coffee with a side of lightning fast internet in ultra-cool spaces haunted by the ghosts of the wealthy bourgeois who used to inhabit them.
Despite all the coffee available in Bucharest, the wine flows even more freely. This should be no surprise considering that Romanians have been producing wine since the 1400’s in what is currently the world’s 13th largest wine producing country. At first, we were satisfied with the wine readily available in Bucharest grocery stores, but we didn’t fully appreciate the Bucharest wine scene until we drank “the good stuff” at Pâine şi Vin and VINO Wines + More (see both below).
We had a rockier start with Bucharest restaurants. After eating more than our fair share of overcooked eggs, we started to doubt the potential of the Bucharest food scene. However, once we dined at The ARTIST, Bucharest’s most exciting restaurant, the tides turned for us. By the end of the month, we found a number of places to eat in Bucharest that delighted our taste buds and left us excited to return to the city to eat more in the future.
2foodtrippers Bucharest Food Guide
Whether you’re planning a Bucharest city break or opt to visit Bucharest for a month like us, you will surely want to eat great food while you’re busy exploring the many Bucharest attractions sprinkled throughout the city dubbed Little Paris. Follow our Bucharest Food Guide, and you’ll experience an ideal mix of modern cuisine and traditional Romanian food at all price points. Bon Appetit or, as they say in Bucharest, Poftă Bună!
Bucharest is changing both dramatically and quickly – with the younger generation leading the way. We found this modernity in various aspects of the city including the food. Sure, the city still serves its fair share of traditional Romanian food, but that’s just part of the Bucharest food story.
If you only eat at one restaurant in Bucharest, you must eat at The ARTIST. Without a doubt, it is the city’s best restaurant.
At The ARTIST, Chef Paul Oppenkamp uses his bag of molecular gastronomy tricks to take Romanian food to the next level. He does this in a historic villa just a few blocks northeast of the center of town. As typical in many Bucharest buildings, The ARTIST’s setting is a gracefully decaying building with a grand staircase and chipped paint. In this building, the simple, white, vaulted ceiling dining room provides an elegant complement to the chef’s cutting-edge food made with local ingredients.
During our meal, we shared two starters – the Mangalitsa Pork Terrine pictured above and Hot Smoked Grilled Trout. However, we diverged during our main course, with Daryl opting for the White Cod and Mindi selecting a Spoon Tasting which literally included a spoon of each of the seasonal menu’s main courses. While we don’t recommend doing a Spoon Tasting exclusively, this fun option provides an opportunity for visitors to sample a full range of the restaurant’s menu items. You may be tempted to order an entire series of spoons for all courses and, while this is fun, we don’t condone this approach. The food is gorgeous here and you should see and taste everything that this remarkable kitchen can do. The cutting-edge food at The Artist, while displaying a large degree of virtuosity, still feels and tastes utterly Romanian right down to the pickles served with the local Mangalitsa pork. The Artist is the kind of restaurant that, in years to come, could elevate all the kitchens in Bucharest.
The ARTIST is located at Calea Victoriei 147, Bucureşti 010073, Romania.
Pâine şi Vin
Ironically, our second favorite Bucharest restaurant has a menu far simpler than at The ARTIST. Pâine şi Vin features freshly baked flatbread pizzas, plates topped with locally sourced cheese and charcuterie plus an exciting local wine list. Once we bit into the restaurant’s Mangalitsa charcuterie and savored the creamy buffalo burrata, we knew that we had to go to Transylvania where this food was produced. As an extra bonus, Pâine şi Vin’s multi-level space is sleek and buzzing with positive energy.
Pâine şi Vin is located at Strada Actor Ion Brezoianu 4, Bucureşti 050023, Romania.
We had a dilemma when we arrived at Mahala – choosing to sit inside the artfully decorated restaurant outside on the restaurant’s terrace. Since the weather was favorable, we chose to sit outside. We then had to choose our food, another difficult task due to Chef Sorin Cucu’s menu featuring local dishes prepared with French techniques. Though the food was solid at Mahala and definitely worth a visit, the service was not up to par. We were not amused when the server added a 22% tip to our check since the standard tip in Bucharest is 10% for excellent service.
Mahala is located at Calea Rahovei 147-153, Bucureşti, Romania.
The Romanians have a thing for Italian food, often explaining their Roman connection to us when we commented about the number of Italian restaurants in Bucharest. We finally bit the Italian food bullet and ate pasta at Restaurant Gastronomika, a relatively new restaurant situated in a vintage building previously owned by the Governor of the Romanian National Bank during the early 20th century. The restaurant serves a more than adequate Caprese salad along with fresh Roman-style pasta and a variety of seafood dishes.
Restaurant Gastronomika is located at Strada Viitorului 34, Bucureşti 030167, Romania
More than one person recommended Simbio to us as the best place to eat brunch in Bucharest, and we enjoyed the restaurant’s weekend scene filled with multi-generational diners enjoying food in the neighborhood restaurant’s outdoor setting (pictured at the top.) Sadly, we were not impressed by the overcooked eggs in our Shakshuka. Go here for the lively backyard garden scene, but not so much for the breakfast food. Can anyone properly cook an egg in this city?
Simbio is located at Strada Negustori 26, Bucureşti 030167, Romania.
Situated in a former print shop, Energiea serves über portions of comfort foods like ribs and burgers and well as jumbo salads, smoothies and lemonade. Although owned by the same team that runs Pâine şi Vin, Energiea is not a fine dining establishment. Instead, Energiea is the place to eat when you have a hangover or just ran a marathon. If you feel you want to plow down a serving platter loaded with fried potatoes, then this is the place for you.
Energiea is located at Strada Actor Ion Brezoianu 4, Bucureşti 030167, Romania.
Traditional Romanian Food
We were immediately comfortable with traditional Romanian food since it reminded us of food prepared by our grandmothers, descendants of Eastern European immigrants, back in the day. Though our ancestors hailed from Poland and countries of the former Soviet Union, we felt a familiarity in Bucharest’s traditional Romanian restaurants with their influences from countries like Hungary, Germany and Turkey. Typical dishes include Sarmale (stuffed cabbage), Cirobă de Burtă (tripe soup), Mici (caseless sausage), Papanași (fried dough topped with fruit and cream) and Mămăligă (Romanian Polenta.)
Though we wouldn’t want to eat traditional food all day every day, we enjoyed sampling classic Romanian cuisine at the following restaurants:
Open since 1998, Zexe Zahana harkens back to the early 20th century, between the two world wars, with its mannered setting and time-honored recipes. This is the type of restaurant where families flock to celebrate birthdays on the weekend and businessmen dine with colleagues during the week. Though tourists are welcome at this restaurant, out-of-towners are definitely in the minority at Zexe Zahana.
During our feast at Zexe Zahana, we inhaled starters like local sheep cheese, pickled vegetables and fried lardons, but our favorite dish was the restaurant’s Mangalitsa pork. This was our first time eating the famed Hungarian pork known for its juicy meat and sheep-like wool fleece. We toasted each other with a fine bottle of sparkling water as we savored every luscious bite of the ‘lardalicious’ pork under a ceiling that opened up to the blue sky above.
Zexe Zahana is located at Strada Icoanei 80, Bucureşti, Romania.
An urban oasis near the Cismigiu Gardens, Vatra Restaurant serves some of the city’s best Romanian food in a laid-back setting. Romanian dishes like Salata de Vinete (eggplant salad), Samale (cabbage rolls) and Salata de Icre (fish egg salad) go down easily with beer. If you’re lucky, dancers festively attired in traditional outfits will perform during your meal.
Vatra Restaurant is located at 010131, Strada Actor Ion Brezoianu 19, Bucureşti 030167, Romania.
Caru’ cu Bere
Don’t be fooled by the festive beer hall vibe in Caru’ cu Bere’s German beer hall meets interbelic building located in the heart of Europe’s newest Old City. This popular Bucharest sightseeing spot is a fine, albeit touristy, spot for sampling traditional Romanian food prepared with German influences. The name of the century-old restaurant translates to the beer wagon, but the food served here is solid and hearty. It’s no surprise that many people consider Caru’ cu Bere to be one of the top restaurants in Bucharest.
Though Caru’ cu Bere wasn’t our favorite restaurant in Bucharest, we recommend their signature dish – a slowly roasted pork knuckle served with braised cabbage, mămăligă (polenta), fresh horseradish, pickles and green chili peppers. Server Orlando Grecu advised us that the dish was large enough for us to share; however, it was so big that we took half of the meat back to our Airbnb apartment and cooked it with pasta at dinner the next night and had enough left to feed four people.
Caru’ cu Bere is located at Strada Stavropoleos 5, Bucureşti 030081, Romania.
Burgers and Quick Bites
Like most people, we sometimes prefer to dine in more casual settings. And, as Americans, we occasionally crave hamburgers and pizza. With this in mind, we’re pleased to report that Bucharest has a slew of eateries in the casual category. These were our favorites:
Did we find the hamburger of our western dreams at Modelier? No, we did not. (Bucharest hamburgers have the texture of meatloaf, which is not our personal preference.) What we did find was a fun spot with cool graffiti, tasty grub, cold beer and refreshing lemonade. We liked Modelier so much that we ate in the restaurant’s colorful outdoor terrace three times during our visit – a claim that we can’t make about many other Bucharest restaurants.
Modelier is located at Strada Duzilor 12, Bucureşti 021472, Romania.
With its open kitchen and cheerful decor, Ză Lokal is a solid choice for hamburgers and pasta near central Bucharest’s Victoria Square. Our burger’s large, crumbly patty was constructed correctly, something we can’t say for most burgers we ate in Bucharest. Since we were less enthused about the burger’s blue cheese topping and overly sweet sauce, we’ll order a plain burger here next time.
Ză Lokal is located at Calea Victoriei 214, Bucureşti, Romania.
Gyros Thes Salonikis
After we discovered Gyros Thessalonikis across from the Bucharest Mall and near our second Bucharest Airbnb apartment, we became repeat visitors at the casual eatery with a wide selection of Greek and Cypriot fast food. Ironically, we’re not Gyros Thessalonikis’ only fans. It turns out that many of Bucharest’s Uber drivers also love the tasty, reasonably priced gyros. Who knew?!
Gyros Thessalonikis is located at Calea Vitan 58, Bucureşti, Romania,
The more we walked around Bucharest, the more we noticed the La Plăcinte chain of diners sprinkled throughout the city. We finally ate at one and found the casual eatery to be a good option for a quick meal at a reasonable cost. Menu options include a range of sweet and savory Moldovan specialties including grilled meats and polenta.
La Plăcinte has multiple locations in Bucharest.
Romanians have a thing for pizza loaded with toppings. And by toppings, we mean a lot of toppings. We prefer simple pies like the ones we ate in both Naples and Caizzo. This could have been a problem had we not discovered Latin Pizza near our first Airbnb apartment.
Latin Pizza serves freshly made Roman al taglio pizza with top quality ingredients like prosciutto, mozzarella di bufala and spicy sopresatta. Similar to pizzerias in Rome, the shop sells its pizza by the slice and charges by weight.
Latin Pizza is located at Bulevardul Ion C. Brătianu 34, Bucureşti 030167, Romania.
Considering Bucharest’s nickname of Little Paris, it’s no surprise that the city has an inordinately large number of shops selling sweet treats. Just like in the original Paris, it’s difficult to walk down a busy Bucharest street without passing a covrigarie (sweet and savory pretzel shop), a gogoserii (donut shop) or a patiserii (pastry shop). With so many of these shops, you might think that there were no other dessert options, but you’d be wrong.
Upscale cafes sell fancier desserts similar to those sold in France, including at Paul, the popular French pastry chain. Plus, many of the best restaurants in Bucharest serve traditional Romanian desserts like Papanași (Romanian donuts). However, if you’re in the mood for a different dessert, check out these two great options:
Ceainaria Infinitea, a charming tea house in the Cotroceni neighborhood, is a great spot to relax with a pot of tea and good friends. For our visit, we opted to sit in the tea house’s delightful multi-level garden and share a decadent slice of cherry cheesecake. When we’re back in Bucharest, we plan to return to Ceainaria Infinitea and order the same thing. The cake was that good.
Ceainaria Infinitea is located at Strada Doctor Grigore Romniceanu 7, Bucureşti, Romania.
As hardcore gelato fans, we couldn’t resist checking out Cremeria Emilia, Bucharest’s most lauded ice cream parlor. We liked Cremeria Emilia’s vibe with its long counter, traditional gelato flavors and fanciful design. Apparently, we’re not alone with this sentiment – the Old Town shop always has a line streaming out the door.
Cremeria Emilia is located Strada Franceză 42, Bucureşti 030167, Romania.
Piaţa Obor Market
Although every Bucharest neighborhood has at least one market selling fresh produce and local Romanian delicacies, a visit to Piaţa Obor is a must for all food loving visitors. Not only is Piaţa Obor the biggest market in Bucharest, but it’s also the biggest market in Romania. Restauranteurs and bunicas (grandmothers) shop at stalls for items like the fresh strawberries pictured here as well as spices, fish, meat, cheese and even household items.
With so many great options for Romanian drinks, there is no need to be thirsty in Bucharest. We visited several of the best bars in Bucharest and drank it all during our visit! Though there are plenty of Bucharest pubs serving all varieties of beer, we recommend you check out our favorite spots for the city’s best beverages – coffee, cocktails, wine and lemonade.
Bucharest’s cafe culture rivals or surpasses every other city we have visited including Seattle, Naples and Cape Town. We can’t call it the best coffee city in the world because we have yet to visit Melbourne, but we confidently consider it to be one of the world’s best coffee cities.
Watch our video to learn more about the third wave coffee scene in Bucharest. Then follow our YouTube channel for meals and conversations with the 2foodtrippers.
We don’t usually drink cocktails at coffee bars, but we were happy to do so in Bucharest because Origo (mentioned above in the coffee section) morphs into an avant-garde cocktail bar when the day turns to night. We sampled the salty Never See cocktail crafted with Whiskey, Grand Marnier, Saline Solution and Salty Caramel as well as the layered Evolving Flavors cocktail with Whiskey, Orange, Lime and a sweet Apple Juice Foam. Perhaps because it was served in a conch, the Never See cocktail was the winner of the two.
Origo is not alone in its elevation of the cocktail scene in Bucharest. Other notable Bucharest bars include Gardina EDEN, FIX – Botanic Bar, Interbelic and Pure Vida Sky Bar.
Gardina EDEN is located at Calea Victoriei 107, București, Romania.
FIX – Botanical Bar is located at Palatul Universul, Etaj 1, Strada Ion Brezoianu 23, București, Romania.
Interbelic is located at Calea Victoriei 17, București 030023, Romania.
Origo is located at Strada Lipscani 9, București 050971, Romania.
Pure Vida Sky Bar is located at Strada Smârdan 7, București 030077, Romania.
We never knew that lemonade was a ‘thing’ until we visited Bucharest and drank our first glass of limonadă. We then proceeded to drink many more glasses with various fruits and flavors added to the mix. Refreshing in the summer and tasty in the winter, it’s always a good time to drink lemonade in Bucharest.
Lemonade is located everywhere in Bucharest.
Though it’s one of the world’s largest wine producers, Romania remains a hidden gem when it comes to wine. Beyond the cheap wine sold in grocery stores throughout the city, upscale wine bars are serving solid Romanian wines including varietals like Fetească Albă, Crâmpoșie, Fetească Regală, and Feteasca Neagră.
We first experienced quality wine at the restaurant Pâine şi Vin (see above). We then found our Bucharest happy place when we stumbled into Vino Wines + More while walking around the city’s original Old Town (located Northeast of the city center) Part wine store and part enoteca, VINO Wines + More sells hundreds of bottles of wines from Romania and around the world. Owner Laura Copil welcomed us into her wine haven and plied us with quality glasses and a plate loaded with local cheese and meat. Is it any wonder that we fell in love at first sip?
Vino Wines + More is located at Strada Mihai Eminescu 71, București 030167, Romania.
We partook in two food experiences during our first few days in Bucharest as part of our participation in Experience Bucharest. Both experiences provide a fun, educational introduction to Romanian food in general and the Bucharest food scene in particular. We recommend both experience if you’re wondering what to eat in Bucharest.
Delish Experiences offers three different gastronomic tours that focus on Bucharest’s culinary scene as well as the city’s history, culture and traditions. Led by a seasoned Bucharest guide, our three-hour tour took us on a journey that included traditional Romanian peasant food, an upscale dining experience and cups of third wave coffee. We learned, we laughed and we ate a lot of good food. All in all, it was a good way to spend the afternoon.
Click here to book a Delish Experiences Food Tour.
Garlic Themed Meal
Once upon a time in a land called Romania, there was an evil dude named Vlad the Impaler a/k/a Count Dracula…
An exploration of Bucharest would be incomplete without a nod to Romania’s colorful past and the legends that surround the country’s history. And what better way to explore this past than through the country’s food culture? Our My Secret Romania experience included fascinating stories about the role that garlic has played in Romanian history, Romanian food and Romanian culture. Plus, we got to eat garlic in tapas, soup, potatoes and tomato salad. Needless to say, we left the meal with a heightened appreciation for the versatile vegetable.
Hungry for more? Check out our Bucharest Cafe Guide with the best spots to drink coffee in the city.
Book Your Bucharest Hotel
We stayed at Hotel Novotel Bucharest City City Centre for five days during Experience Bucharest, and we highly recommend the centrally located hotel. Click here to research the best rates for hotels in Bucharest.
We also stayed at two Airbnb apartments in different Bucharest neighborhoods. This type of accommodation is a great option if you are staying for an extended time and want to cook some of your meals.
Start Planning Your Trip Now
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