Bucharest’s restaurants and bars have multiplied in the last two decades. Traditional Romanian food has mingled with world cuisine, giving rise to creative menus at affordable prices. Here are our 10 best spots.
Lente & Cafea
Restaurant, Fusion, European, $$$
This restaurant is a rare gem in Romania because it has a strict non-smoking policy, providing a welcome escape from Bucharest’s smoke-filled venues. The menu shows an experimental edge in its bold fusion of chicken and fish. In addition to a welcoming, comfortable atmosphere, it opens its own urban garden on sunny days, making it the perfect place to take in the sun and relax in the center of Bucharest. In the evenings, Lente & Cafea organizes jazz events and gigs.
Caru’ cu Bere is a classic among local restaurants and is one of the most photographed venues in town. Dating back to 1879, it offers a feast for the eyes with its stunning interior décor. The combination of dark wood, vaulted ceilings and gilt elements conjures up memories of the city’s golden age. The restaurant is a genuine celebration of the beer culture and one of the oldest breweries in Bucharest. The menu features many traditional dishes such as bean soup, mix grill and a Romanian cheese platter.
An oasis of urban chic right by the Cismigiu Gardens, Energiea has a lively, hip vibe and a surprising story. The bar is located in an old printing house, which, throughout its tumultuous history, printed academic books, magazines, and communist pamphlets. The loft-style architecture still evokes the smell of ink and paper, but these days, the specialty of the house is a light international fare, simple and healthy, and impeccably served. Freshly made soups and mouth-watering colorful salads meet exotic smoothies prepared with seasonal fruit. Regular gigs invariably attract smiling crowds, making this venue a great spot to socialize with young Romanians.
Built in 1808 as a hotel by the Armenian entrepreneur Manuc Bei, Hanul Lui Manuc is suffused with history. In 2006, the building was acquired by current owner Constantin Şerban Cantacuzino. Hanul Lui Manuc is divided into two parts, one Lebanese, one Romanian. Both the Romanian and Lebanese menus showcase diverse examples from the respective cuisines. Interesting fact: Hanul Lui Manuc is the oldest hotel and restaurant in Bucharest.
Watch out vegetarians, this is Bucharest’s foremost meat eatery and most famous steakhouse. It would be hard to find another place that serves a wider variety of steaks. The mouth-watering selection of aged beef specials or steak sandwiches makes this the right spot for the hungry carnivore. In addition to the restaurant section, Vacamuuu is also home to a marketplace, where high quality products such as salami and cheese are sold.
Arcade is a cozy Romanian restaurant in the center of Bucharest with excellent food at low prices. Although the interior seems tiny, there is a beer garden at the back of the restaurant. And, at the bottom of the staircase, the curious visitor will find an entire underground area. Atmospheric and laid-back, Arcade offers an authentic Bucharest experience. But don’t come here if you don’t like singing: Arcade’s infamous karaoke nights attract hordes of aspiring singers.
Torna Fratre is the place to go for authentic Romanian fare. In addition to some of the more typical Romanian dishes such mamaliga (corn knitting), sarmale (rice and meat rolled in cabbage leaves) and vinete salata (eggplant salad), the restaurant is also known for its great, fresh seafood. Folklore and music performances are organized from Wednesday ’til Sunday, providing a welcome addition to the restaurant’s traditional character.
Located in the historic center of Lipscani, Hanul cu Tei (Linden Tree Inn) breathes history and eclecticism. One of the oldest bars in Bucharest, it still retains its original structure. Built by merchants in 1833, it represents typically Romanian architecture and décor. Hanul cu Tei’s motto, ‘Beer is proof God loves us’, is a good description of the inn’s general philosophy. Dishes are accompanied by one of the many Romanian beers on the menu. Interestingly, the venue also hosts an art gallery, where valuable pieces of art and decorative works are preserved across several exhibition salons.
As Simbio’s motto suggests, guests should come here for coffee or more. All-day breakfast, tasty sandwiches and delicious smoothies are prepared with the freshest ingredients. Burgers and fries also feature on the menu for those in need of something a bit heavier. Simbio is the kind of cafe that most people fall in love with at first sight: tiny and convivial, it combines eclectic décor with a sense of intimacy.