Romanian food might not be very well known outside the country… but it is delicious! It is well worth trying the local specialties.
If you like soups, you should try all varieties of ciorbă, the traditional Romanian sour soup.
Meat lovers will be spoilt for choice: from the traditional mici / mititei (grilled minced meat rolls), to sarmale (cabbage rolls usually with pork or pork combined with beef) to cighiri (meatballs made of ground pork, onions and garlic) to tocană (meat stew), there is something for everybody!
Vegetarians and vegans will also find several dishes to try: zacuscă (a delicious vegetable spread), fasole batută (similar to refried beans), mămăligă (Romanian-style polenta… but vegans should be aware that it is often served with cheese and sour cream), snițel de ciuperci (mushroom fritter only suitable for vegetarians, as they contain eggs), salată de vinete, an aubergine dip or spread, which might or might not contain mayonnaise.
For more information about vegan food in Romania, I recommend reading this article: https://www.vegantravel.com/vegan-food-romania/
Those with a sweet tooth should not miss alivenci and papanasi with sour cream and jam.
Romanians’ favourite alcoholic beverages are beer and wine (Romania is the 5th largest wine producer in Europe).
We tried two typical Romanian beers, Timisoreana and Ursus, and we preferred the first one. Tuborg (Carlsberg) seemed to be the most commonly consumed beer at restaurants (which we found quite surprising, as it is a Danish beer).
A meal is normally ended with Țuică, a traditional spirit made with plums.
To get an idea of restaurant prices, here are two examples:
Lunch at a touristy restaurant in Sibiu (2 pizzas, one beer, one fruit juice) was 80 RON (17 €).
Dinner at Poiani Camping in Săpânța (steak with potatoes and cabbage salad, polenta with cheese, aubergine salad, one beer, one fruit juice, 2 shots of local spirit, Țuică, and one portion of pancakes with jam) was 100 RON (21 €).
As we spent a good amount of time driving during our trip to Romania, we did a fair amount of snacking. Apart for fruit and nuts (which can be found in all supermarkets), we tried some local snacks. Rom bars are very popular with locals and they are one of those things that you either love or hate (I loved them).
Did we like Romanian food? Yes, we did!!!
An interesting aspect of Romanian cuisine is that it somehow tastes familiar, even if we had never eaten Romanian food before! The reason is simple: traditional Romanian food brings together a mix of ingredients and is strongly influenced by, amongst others, Hungarian, German, Turkish and Serbian cuisines. So, for instance, salată de vinete reminded me of the baba ghanoush I have eaten so many times in Turkey and in the Middle East and the mămăligă I ate was not dissimilar to Italian polenta.