So you have followed my advice and booked Bucharest for your city break weekend. Woohoot! Do tell me how you get on. I liked how it is such a walkable city. You can take any number of great, free walking tours like the one I took from Bucharest Free Walkabout Tours. So now that you’re there you’ll want to know where to eat and drink and keep within your budget, amirite?! Here are my must-visit eateries and bars to help stave off the walkabout wobbles. History and culture can be hungry work!
If you are like me then getting under the culinary skin of a city is just as important as exploring its history and culture. Check out my post here for info on my food tour with Delish Experiences where you can sample traditional dishes and modern twists on old favourites as well as Romanian wines and cheeses. I am telling you, this tour is money well spent! The guides are more than happy to answer all your questions and will give you diction lessons on how to pronounce the names of the dishes!
Eat Traditional Romanian Meals:
Check out Vatra for a flavour of the local dishes from the countryside in a charming, cosy setting. Romanian cuisine relies heavily on pork and polenta but if you are a veggie they serve zacusca; the most delicious red pepper and aubergine dip and feta-style cheeses and salads. I tried sarmale (cabbage rolls) for the first time in my life – and they were…. not that bad! Cabbage rolls do not inspire lip smacking reactions when you mention them but they were tasty to eat.
Address: Str. Ion Brezoianu 23 – 25. Open: 12pm-12am
La Mama is another restaurant with a traditional Romanian menu. The prices are reasonable and the portions are decent. As the name suggests it offers meals your Mom/ Gran would make if she were Romanian! They also serve cheese platters and many local wines. Make sure to try the papanasi for dessert. It’s a large ricotta doughnut with fresh, sour cream and soured cherries. Delish!
Address: (note there are 4 La Mama locations around the city.) I tried the one on Strada Episcopiei 9 Open: 10am-2am Sun-Thu, 10am-4am Fri-Sat
Caru’ cu Bere is a popular traditional spot and as such reservations are recommended if you want to dine here. Without a booking, the wait can be long. Visitors come as much for the food and beer as the décor and interiors. This Gothic revival restaurant opened in 1899 and is located down the street from the gorgeous Stavropoleos monastery. Lots of pork to eat on this menu as well as soups, fish dishes and stews.
Address: Strada Stavropoleos 5 Open: 8am – 12:00
Modern, familiar spots:
During your visit, you may have had your fill of traditional Romanian fare and crave a little familiarity. Let me introduce the guys at Burger Van Bistro. These entrepreneurs opened, what I believe is considered to be, the first food truck in Bucharest and it’s a very popular joint with the younger locals. There is an actual truck too but I went to the bistro and as the name suggests they serve a limited but nonetheless delicious selection of burgers, from 18-28 Lei/ €4-7. We were given taster sliders and steak sandwiches as well as chips, which were served with herbs and salt. No need to overcomplicate the menu, just good quality street food and a touch of hipster wooden serving boards. Not much to ask, right?!
Address: Strada George Vraca 4 Open: 12pm to 10pm every day
If a brasserie-style dining experience is what you are after then Caju by Joseph Hadad is where you’ll want to go. The fairy lights strung around the front of the restaurant, make for an atmospheric dining terrace if the weather is good. This brasserie has a familiar style and good food vibe that makes you feel at home. Indoor and outdoor seating with dishes ranging from falafel and haloumi to grilled octopus, coconut samui shrimp, and home made pasta dishes. Surely one item on this extensive menu will cater to your taste. Prices are higher here than in more traditional establishments but still reasonable by Irish standards. Mains cost from 31 Lei (about €8) to 68 Lei (about €14) for sirloin steak.
Address: Strada Nicolae Golescu 16 Open: 10am – 12am everyday
I had lunch at Simbio during my visit to Bucharest and it felt very like somewhere you would find in any big city in Ireland. Fresh, healthy sounding juices, big serving salads as well as mile high burgers and comfort dishes that won’t break the bank. I chose the pulled duck sandwich, a new pulled meat for me! My favourite part of this restaurant was the open dining area with a view into the kitchen. You really feel like you are in a neighbour’s home. There are outdoor tables under trees in the back garden and upstairs the main dining area has a long table and a view out to the terrace. The casual and laid back vibe is matched with soothing tones and hip décor. This place is young without being obnoxious and comfortable without being sloppy.
Address: Str. Negustori, 26 Open: 10am – midnight
Where to drink- Bars and Nightlife:
One stroll around the old town at night will reveal an abundance of bars and late-night locales bustling with life, beckoning you in with musical beats, exciting looking interiors and beer trestle tables in rows out front. You are sure to spot at least one that takes your fancy.my favourite by far was the inconspicuous looking lift door beside a large sign saying Nomad Bar. Into the lift you go and press the button for the sky bar. The lift opens out to the bar floor and the hostess stand who will direct you to the main bar area. There is a narrow outdoor terrace smoking area
By far my favourite was the inconspicuous looking lift door beside a large sign saying Nomad Bar. Into the lift you go and press the button for the sky bar. The lift opens out to the bar floor and the hostess stand who will direct you to the main bar area. There is a narrow outdoor terrace smoking area along side the bar and this overlooks the thoroughfare below but you can also ascend the steps outside to another roof terrace. above with more views and seating. In warm weather this spot is ideal!
Address: Etaj 1, Strada Smârdan 30 Open: 4pm to 2am
So I kind of feel that this next bar I’m going to tell you about should be kept a secret between us, because it was so super chilled and I love the minimalist look. So shhh. It has a limited menu and serves one variety of red, one white and one rosé wine, a few craft beers and about 6 cocktails. That’s it. BUT it is tucked away in a repurposed building and the industrial look syncs perfectly. The botanical bar at Fix Me A Drink is a must visit if you like to actually chat and hear the other person speak! Ya, I’m old now and like to go to bars to talk!
Address: 1st floor, Ion Brezoianu 23 – 25 (Universul, building B) Open: Tues–Thurs: 7—12 / Fri: 7—2 / Sat: 7—2 / Sun: 7—12
The next bar I visited during the day and I’ll admit, seeing a bar vacant of customers before it is open is rather eerie. Gradina Eden Bar has a sea of wooden tables with rickety seats dotted under the shade of trees and out in the sun. There are long, picnic table benches for big groups and cosy corners for intimate pairs. This hidden garden also serves smoothies and while I have heard mixed reviews about the service and the drinks prices I feel the location alone merits a quick pit stop. Plus, I am a sucker for fairy lights and could see this place was strewn, so that was my hook!
Address: Calea Victoriei 107- Palatul Stirbei Open: Mon-Sat 10am-5am Sun 10-00
For quick on the go treats let me suggest the traditional Romanian ‘pretzel’ , the covrig. Check out Simigeria Luca for your fill of seeded, salty street food on the go.
Address: B-Dul Unirii Nr. 27 Open: 7am – late
AND my fav sweet treat is an eclair from French Revolution (there are two locations in the city centre). Might I recommend the pistachio creme eclair or the salted caramel flavour. Thank me later. These sugar fixes are baked fresh daily and while they are €3 per eclair, which some may think is steep, you are on your holibibs so just do it!
Address: There are two and I ate at the Atenul Roman, Strada Constantin Esarcu 1 Open: 10am- 8pm daily
I went to Bucharest as part of the Experience Bucharest blogger press trip. I did not pay for the activities or tours nor was I paid for the trip. These opinions, as always are my own.