Romanian food – 10 traditional dishes you should try
Romanian food: what, where and how much does it cost to eat traditional food in Romania. 10 traditional dishes you should try.
Romanian food may have similar variations, sometimes in the Balcans, Turkey, Russia, or in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, however, the question is not “who did it first”. In fact, Romanian history is characterized by multiculturalism and although it is similar, Romanian food shares different characteristics and until today nobody has yet discovered whether the chicken or the egg was born first.
Here are our tips and recommendations for 10 Romanian foods that you should try:
1. Ciorba de fasole cu afumatura (Beans soup with somoked pork)
As for Italian cuisine, there is always pasta, which is eaten almost every day and can be cooked in a thousand ways, while for Romanian cuisine, there is ciorba. It is the most cooked Romanian food, not only in Romanian homes but also in restaurants. Moreover, it is a type of soup (much richer) that can be prepared in many ways and with many different ingredients, depending on the region of Romania in which you are traveling.
We recommend you try the one with beans and smoked pork if possible served in the bread and with a piece of red on the side. Like most Romanian foods, it is a peasant dish, very consistent and tasty that everyone likes.
Like I said before, among Romanian foods there are many kinds of ciorba, the most popular of which are: pork soup, veal soup, meatball soup, mushroom soup, and, for the bravest, tripe or nettle soup.
* For vegetarians or vegans, there are excellent vegetable, beet, porcini or mushroom soups.
Where can you find it? Easy to find in restaurants all over Romania.
How much is it? 3.5 – 5.5 $
2. Traditional Romanian cheeses and cured meats
One of the most loved and popular Romanian food among the locals is the blend of cheeses and cold cuts. Romania, with a rather large territory and at the same time a low population density (for a European country), with many mountains and hills with virgin pastures, has always been a paradise for shepherds. Most of our cheeses are fresh sheep’s milk cheeses. The ones you should definitely try are: “branza de burduf in coaja de brad” (cheese inside spruce bark), “cas” (fresh or slightly aged cheese) or the popular “telemea” (fresh salty cheese). They go extremely well with sweet and savory tomatoes.
The best cured meats and cold cuts can be found in the Romanian countryside, where it is still a tradition to prepare your own cold cuts, sausages, coppa, lard or smoked fillet. In order to preserve products, it is customary to smoke them.
* Be careful to find the right place to taste them, better rely on your guide or a local to advise you. Even though the products are excellent, being homemade does not allow you to reach supermarkets, meaning that there are few restaurants that offer authentic products.
Starter /appetizer – Beware, the portions can be very generous, so you can share them or serve them as a single dish.
Where can you find it? Mainly in rural mountain areas, such as Maramures, Bucovina, or Transylvania, in small farmhouses but also in some traditional restaurants.
How muchis it? About 6-12 $ for a generous mixed platter of cheeses and cold cuts.
3. Salata de vinete/ zacusca / fasole batuta
Indeed, there is a lot of meat among Romanian food, but there is no need to worry because we also have plenty of delicacies without:
– Salata de vinete, means eggplant salad, is a delicious eggplant cream, perfect for spreading on bread or croutons. Probably of Eastern influence, similar recipes can be found in Israel, Turkey, and the Balkans, but not as good as in Romania.
– Zacusca, is prepared in autumn, when vegetables, greens, mushrooms, and much more are in abundance. Long ago, it was one of the few ways of enjoying all the goodness of summer and autumn, even during the coldest months. It contains a mixture of vegetables and greens, most often based on eggplants, beans, or forest mushrooms, but in some parts of Romania, it can also be based on fish.
– Fasole batuta, closes the trio of recommendations for spreads to try absolutely. This time it’s bean-based and flavored with garlic and can be covered with onion gravy. It looks a bit like hummus.
* Excellent choice for vegans or vegetarians
Where can it be found? In traditional restaurants and small local farms (local gastronomic points) in all areas of Romania
How much is it? 3.5-6 $
4. Sarmale (Stuffed cabbage rolls)
Star among the typical Romanian foods, this will be the first recommendation when you ask a Romanian about local food. Well-loved by Romanians and it was once served at weddings, Christmas or Easter lunches, and, in general, at all important events.
As a paradox, the most popular Romanian dish has similar versions in some Balkan countries, but obviously, the Romanian one wins.
A delicious dish! Cabbage rolls, stuffed with rice, minced meat, vegetables, and spices. Always an excellent choice!
* They cook very slowly, so it is not always possible to find them in restaurants.
* There is also the vegan dish with mushrooms instead of meat, which is usually served in the long fasting periods of the Orthodox calendar.
Where can you find it? In some traditional restaurants or agritourism with pre-order.
How much is it? 5-9 $
5. Tochitura (roasted pork stew)
The heavyweight among the traditional Romanian food.
A unique dish, very abundant and delicious, you have to forget about diets or calories. A roasted pork stew, bacon, and sausage, cooked slowly in lard. It is accompanied by polenta, fried eggs, cheese, and pickles.
Pork is the most popular meat in Romania and the story tells that Romanians have preferred it since Ottoman sovereignty. This was because cattle and sheep were constantly in Istanbul, pork could stay at home since Muslims did not eat it.
* Do not order anything else to eat if you have already ordered a Tochitura.
Where can you find it? The best one is Tochitura Bucovineana”, obviously in Bucovinaregion.
How much is it? 6-10 $
6. Hribi cu mamaliga (Porcini mushrooms with polenta)
Porcini mushrooms with polenta, one of the poor dishes of Romanian cuisine, are found on all tables in the countryside.
In Italy and France it is an expensive product, while in Romania it is found in abundance in the dense forests of the Carpathians. In fact, during our visits to Romania, we see in some regions people selling huge quantities of porcini mushrooms along the busiest roads (this being one of their main activities in the mountain areas).
Being a peasant dish, it is cooked in a simple and delicious way, almost always accompanied by polenta. For mushroom lovers, this is an opportunity not to be missed. They are delicious and much cheaper than in western countries.
Where can you find it? Most restaurants in mountain areas.
How much is it? 5-9 $
7. Miel (Lamb)
Romania has the third largest sheep population in the European Union, with more than 10 million sheep raised in the Carpathians and a long tradition of pastoralism.
Inexplicably, lamb meat takes its place of honor on the Romanian table at Easter and then disappears for the rest of the year.
Don’t worry, if you love lamb, our guides will know where to go in the best places, depending on your preference:
– at our favorite restaurants for grilled ribs
– in the best farmhouses for the traditional recipe of roast lamb
– directly on the Carpathians mountains for old recipes prepared on the spot by shepherds. In this case, it is not just lunch, but an authentic gastronomic and cultural experience.
Where can you find it? In a few traditional restaurants and especially in small farmhouses
How much is it? 8-12 $
8. Mici/Mititei (Small ones)
Mici, the mouth-watering Romanian street food.
It’s not a kebab or a hamburger, but a whole new taste. A mixture of grilled minced meat, mostly pork, in various combinations with sheep or veal. Very rich in spices and condiments, everyone has their own secret recipe. Don’t order them in elegant restaurants, because even if you find them, it will be a disappointing experience.
To find the best mici, follow the clouds of smoke and smells near the crowded markets and fairs. They should also be accompanied by mustard and go very well with a cold beer.
* Because street food is inexpensive, we recommend that you always rely on the recommendations of your guide or a local friend.
Where can you find it?Usually in markets, fairs and crowded places.
How much is it? It is ordered by the piece and an abundant dish (4 – 6 pax) costs 3 – 4 $
9. Papanasi (Fried or boiled cheese doughnuts)
Probably the most popular Romanian dessert, it’s fantastic!
At first glance, it looks like a volcano doughnut, but the dough is different from the rest because it contains ricotta cheese. On top, it is covered with sour cream (don’t be fooled, the Romanian sour cream is delicious), and a delicious wild blueberries jam, which are found in abundance in the Romania forests.
Before ordering them, ask what kind of jam they have, because if it’s not with blueberries, I recommend letting them go and try them elsewhere.
* The word “papanasi” is in the plural and the portion almost always contains two huge pieces. So I recommend that you share a portion, especially if it is ordered after lunch or dinner.
Where can you find it? In almost all the restaurants, but it is in Bucovina that one eats best.
How much it is? 4 – 6 $
10. Kürtőskalács or Cozonac secuiesc
A typical Transylvanian dessert, very simple, that everyone loves.
The complexity of the name stems from the Hungarian origin, always considered the specialty of the Szeklers, an ethnic group that has lived in Eastern Transylvania for about 1000 years.
I recommend not only to try it, but also to enjoy this very special preparation. Wrap the dough on a wooden cylinder, cover it with sugar and turn it over the embers for 5 minutes. Once the kurtos is almost ready, add the broken walnut, which sticks to the sugar and has caramelized in the meantime. The taste is simple and delicious, to be enjoyed while it is still hot.
In recent years, it has also become popular at Christmas markets in Eastern Europe. The best are the originals, made in Transylvania.
Where can you find it? Eastern or Southern Transylvania
How much is it? 3 – 4 $
Only the best known and easiest to find dishes, also for a DIY trip, are suggested. Romanian gastronomy is much richer and more interesting than the 10 typical dishes we have presented.
However, if you are looking for a total immersion in the Romanian culture and gastronomy, contact the travel consultants from Boutique Romania. You will have at your disposal a personalized travel package that will satisfy 100% of your desires.
You will also like these
What our guests say
Trip of a Lifetime
I just returned home from a vacation to Romania and Ukraine. I was with my 2 sisters and 2 nieces from the US. We spent several days touring Bucovina and surrounding areas in Romania with Ovidiu, our tour guide. I had been a bit reluctant to visit Romania, as I was unsure if the climate or culture of this Eastern European country would be friendly or hostile. I was in for an extraordinary surprise. Not only is Romania a very welcoming country to visit, but it has a history that will give you an appreciation for the strong spirit of the Romanian people. The diverse landscape of Romania will take your breath away. Be prepared to fall in love with this fascinating country, as demonstrated by your excellent tour guide.
Ovidiu led group of friends around Romania on a very special and enjoyable custom tour in summer 2018. Our itinerary was crafted by two of the tour members – one Romanian, one French, who had long dreamt of sharing the wonderful Romanian landscape, people and cultures with friends from Europe and the USA. Ovidiu met us off the night train from Bucarest to Sighet, then led us as guide and driver through stops in Maramures, Bucovina, and Transylvania. We stayed in private accommodations full of character in villages and castles as we wound our way to churches, monasteries and other attractions including stops in Breb, Viseu de Sus, Viscri, Suceavita, Sighisoara, Crit, Brasov and Peles. Ovidiu is a charming, patient and highly knowledgeable guide with a deep love and understanding of Romanian culture and history. Highly recommended.
I recommend Ovidiu with the highest enthusiasm possible.
We recently had the good fortune to have him lead my family on a personalized tour of several regions in Romania. I was travelling alone with my three children (aged 6-17). Ovidiu managed to keep all of us engaged and entertained while sharing his abundant and impeccable knowledge of history and the area. He is kind, professional, witty well-informed, accommodating and an overall extraordinary host. In addition to a wonderful tour, I sincerely feel that we have gained a friend from the experience. We miss Ovidiu and cannot wait to come back for another visit. If you are travelling in beautiful Romania, you would be very fortunate to have Ovidiu show you the sights!!!
We spent part of two days with Ovidiu Botoni, of Explore Bucovina, when we visited Transylvania. He proved to be an extremely intelligent guide who had done his research and was enthusiastic about his subjects. He welcomed our questions and showed great patience with our fascination with the Dracula story. The first day we arrived in Brasov in the afternoon, and Ovidiu was our guide for The Pelles Castle. He knew everything about the Castle, the woodwork, the history, the artwork. He even got us tickets to go to the upstairs where few tourists see. On the way to and from the Castle, he gave us valuable information about the region and the people. On the second day, he gave us a tour of Bran Castle. He knew how to time our arrival to miss most of the crowds, and he also found out that it was the first day of an added attraction: an elevator and hallway full of Dracula lore. He brushed away the Gypsies selling things we didn’t want and guided us to the souvenirs we were looking for. Later, he took us through Brasov and made the city interesting enough that we spent the next few nights exploring it. There were no mailboxes to mail postcards back to the U.S., so Ovidiu took the time to drive around and around the post office so I could run in and mail the postcards. After we were home, he sent us some additional information he had found about some of the things we discussed. My husband said, ” I could spend 2 more weeks learning about Romania from Ovid.”
We visited the four famous painted monasteries and, moreover, we did a 2-day excursion to the wooden churches of Maramures. Mr. Sorin was an excellent guide with a broad knowledge of all the paintings – and he was a very good driver. He also selected the local dishes and gave us a real overall Service. i highly recommend him as driver/guide for the Region mentioned.
I booked their tour last minute. Fairly streamlined and transparent communication. A guide, Adrian, was more just a guide but someone who you’d hang out with. He was very knowledgeable and made my otherwise very difficult to maneuver monastery exploring a breeze. Sights were very cold but it made the experience more interesting.
100% recommended! We had great time with Ovidiu in bucovina and maramures. The best was his knowledge about frescos in the differents monasteries and we are very greatful because he made our wishes true. We visited everything we wanted and more in record time. Thanks a lot for the efforts!
Our tour with Florin was great. We went to four painted monasteries and the pottery workshop. He knows a great deal about the monasteries, their history, and their art. He is a very pleasant and friendly person, and we enjoyed spending the day with him.
As we longed to visit Maramureș, just west to Bukovina, we contacted Mr. Ovidiu who planned a wonderful two-days tour to this region. A comfortable car, many kms run, but we were rewarded by the amazing wooden churches, monasteries, historical sites, the merry cemetery in Săpânța and two different though welcoming guesthouses on their suggestion to dine (local products and lavish meals) and spend the night. A professional, patient (very patient with us, indeed) and kind guidance going out of his way to surprise us. We’ll never forget Maramureș thanks to him. Until next time!
A Fascinating Ride through the Unique Nature, History and Traditions of Romania’s Jewels
Romania has treasures well hidden in the countryside – from its imposing Carpathian mountains to the superb traditions and heritage that were declared UNESCO sites – and this boutique tour take you through an informative and fun alike exploration where you will have the opportunity to meet the people in their true unspoiled environment, observe how they have preserved their customs and learn about their history. Ovidiu is an amazing guide, extremely knowledgeable and very very passionate of sharing his love for these places with his tourists! Very friendly, professional, patient and approachable – with a degree in political history and international life experience, Ovidiu was for us the ideal guide! We feel so grateful to have been with him on this fascinating journey!!!!
Ovidiu was very knowledgeable and enthusiastic while showing us around Brasov. He had all the maps of how the town used to be, made it easier to visualize while he gave us a history of the town, the people, and the culture. He is a proud Romanian and it showed how much he wanted to show us his country. It was infectious because it made us wanted to absorbed all the knowledge that he possessed. Highly recommend him.
I took a day trip to the Bucovina Monasteries with Explore Bucovina and it was excellent. Gabriel, my guide, was an extremely nice person and very knowledgeable about the history of the region. Definitely recommended!
To see and share beautiful Romania with Ovidiu is a lifetime experience I am not going into great detail but do yourself a favor and do it with Explore Bucovina I guarantee you will have memories to last forever
On a recent trip to Romania and Ukraine with my family, we spent two wonderful days with Ovidiu as our tour guide. He was so open and funny and showed us a wide variety of attractions. From mountain tops to castles to recommending local dishes, he was smart with a broad understanding of the area. I would very highly recommend his services.
Exactly and more than what we wanted from our visit to Romania
Out tour was aimed at finding the roots of my family in a very small village. Time was very limited. Our fantastic guide researched and took us straight to the village where with his help we were able to find exactly what we wanted to know. Our guide was knowledgeable about the history, a very safe driver, flexible with the timetable, booked great accommodation, and restaurants and entertaining. We felt very confident in his guidance and suggestion. Saw some great scenery and historic buildings and learned so much about România The trip was much more than we had hope for such a short trip. We highly recommend our guide and look to a future longer visit with him .
We spent a wonderful three days with Sorin Fodor as our guide. He figured out quickly how to adjust the planned itinerary to best meet our interests and had the contacts and detailed knowledge of the area to show us much that we would never have discovered on our own. We were particularly interested in Jewish life in the area, and saw the interior of four synagogues instead of one, plus three cemeteries, and the exteriors of at least six other synagogues. We didn’t neglect the other sites or learning about other aspects of Romania — Sorin just put in long and very full days with us.
Excellent way to discover the Bucovina Monasteries
We had great communication with Explore Bucovina and felt confident our tour would be suitable. Our guide, Mr Florin arrived on time and he took us on a relaxed and informative tour around the major sights. It was a professional service and we had a fabulous day. Wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this tour operator.
Mr Sorin Fodor from was an excellent guide for my day trip to the Painted Monasteries with Boutique Romania. He was the driver and knew the region well. This meant, for example, that he was able to guide us to a family-run restaurant in a village for lunch. But above all, he was knowledgeable about the monasteries, both their history and the motifs represented. He knew the details, but also the bigger picture He was not only well-rehearsed, but also ready to answer follow-up questions in depth.
I am used to travelling independently, but I could not have understood the monasteries in the same way if I had hired a car and visited the monasteries by myself. Mr Sorin’s knowledge certainly meant that I enjoyed my visit to the region much more.
I traveled with two friends and we concluded that this trip was a wonderful experience. We had a very personalized trip trough Prahova Vally, Bucovina, Maramures and Transylvania.
Ovidiu was an excellent guide: professional, knowledgeable ,passionate and fun to travel with.His history knowledge is impressive.The accommodation for the 9 days trip were chosen with care .
Not only that it left us with the taste of an “ encore”, but I will highly recommend this agency and guide to all my friends that want to discover the marvellous Romania.
Ovidiu is the best guide we’ve met! He is very knowledgable, articulate, and personable with a sense of humour. He has historical facts and figures and wonderful legends fables and quips. I cannot day enough about his wonderful services., Tom Taylor, Boston Mass.
We had a really good day this week with Sorin at the Classic tour. It was around 0 degrees this week, so if you come in “winter” time, make sure you wear warm clothes as you will spend some time outdoors. Car was heated to warm up though :-). Sorin gave us an in-depth explanation of the monasteries, the meaning of all the stories painted on the walls and we used the time in the car to talk about the Romanian society in general. It was a fantastic way to get to know this area of Romania and we can highly recommend the tour and Sorin as a tourguide, thanks a lot!
Our story goes back to 2009, with the founder of the agency: Ovidiu Boțoni, a very enthusiastic, passionate traveler that spent a lot of his young years in Western Europe. As a Romanian, Ovidiu was surprised to see that a lot of people who lived outside his country, didn’t really know many valuable things about Romania. They often associated his native country with different stereotypes such as:“the Communism / Ceaușescu”, “Dracula” or even “Gypsys”.
All of these reasons, made Ovidiu really determined to change how everyone perceived Romania. His started his journey as a travel guide working for different agencies but soon, he felt like he could offer much more on his own, so he decided to take everything to the “next level” and start a high quality travel agency with integrity and a focus on the client’s needs.
Today we are proud to say that we changed the perception of Romania for travelers coming from 5 different continents and over 100 countries.