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Exploring Transylvanian Cuisine: A Foodie’s Guide

Live like locals and eat like locals! A good motto for a trip! You cannot say you’ve been to a country if you didn’t try its traditional food.

And when we speak about traditional food there is plenty of Transylvanian food to try. All the dishes are very tasty and well cooked! Just try them when you have the opportunity! Mmmm….what goodies!

I am not surprised that Sibiu, an emblematic city of Transylvania was named in 2019 European Gastronomic capital.

This article will tell you everything you need to know about food in Transylvania and it is structured into three main parts:

  • the best traditional food from Transylvania
  • best guesthouses and hotels where to stay to eat traditional Transylvania food
  • the best food guides for tasting all these delicious dishes from Romania

But before moving forward let me tell you some things about the Transylvanian food to have a clear picture of what you will find in Romania.

Transylvanian cuisine is best described through its rich flavor dishes made from local ingredients, and homemade, free-range, and organic products.

The food perfectly reflects the Romanian agrarian roots, the fertile and rich geography as well as its complicated history and influences from neighboring cuisine ( here I am talking mostly about Hungarian and Germanic, but also Slavic and Greek).

food of Romania
food of Romania

The best place to try Transylvanian authentic food is in the countryside, where ingredients are fresh, homemade, and bought from small farmers who practice traditional agriculture.

The food prepared in guesthouses and in the countryside is mostly influenced by the agricultural seasons and by the Christian Orthodox calendar.

For example from May to September most dishes are based on fresh fruits and vegetables and come from seasonal harvests and crops and are generally consumed lightly cooked or raw in salads.

By the end of summer, Romanians start to prepare for winter by preparing jars with compotes and jams or cooking zacusca ( vegetable pasta with eggplants or mushrooms), pasta sauce called bulion, matured cheese, all sorts of pickled vegetables, and cured meats.

6 weeks before Christmas and 6 weeks before Easter Romanians do not eat products of animal origin so they created all kinds of tasty and delicious dishes made only from vegetables and fruits so vegetarian people will be very happy in Romania.

Romanians are very proud of their food and drinks and they don’t have any issue sharing with friends and guests their meal.

So, let’s start with the beginning and see which Transylvania food you really have to try on your trip to Romania.

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Best traditional food in Transylvania

First of all I want you to know that Romanians do eat a lot! For example, at lunch, usually, they have a 3 courses meal consisting of soup, main dish, and dessert!

Sometimes you can get some appetizers. I will name some dishes for each course, dishes representative for that region of Romania which you should try when visit Transylvania.

Appetizers

You can choose to start your lunch with an appetizer or directly with a soup, depending on how hungry you are.

One thing is for sure: there are plenty of tasty appetizers to try in Transylvania.

Best Transylvanian food
Cheese plate from Transylvania

I drop below a list with the most popular appetizers you can try when eating at a Transylvanian restaurant:

  • creamy beans or “fasole batuta/ facaluita”
  • vegetables stew or ” zacusca”
  • a slice of bread with pork fat and garnished with onions
  • pork cracklings or “jumari” nicely balanced with some onions
  • smokey eggplant salad with onions and mayo

And there is something else you need to know: always ask for homemade bread which is crunchy and extremely delicious.

Romania s Best Traditional Food
Romania s Best Traditional Food

Soup, the first dish of Transylvanian food

And now it’s time to move forward and try some very popular soups prepared in Transylvania and inspired from Hungarian and German cuisine.

Best transylvanian food guide for foodies
Tripe soup from Transylvania

For this dish I would recommend you to try one of these three listed below:

  1. Meatball soup (“ciorba de perisoare”)
  2. Chicken soup (“zeama de gaina”)
  3. Tripe Soup (“ciorba de burta”)

Specific for the first course is that all the soups named in Romania “ ciorba” are soured with vinegar or cabbage juice and improved with “rubbed” egg yolks, sour cream, and flour.

So, they taste e little bit sour. Soups called in Romanian “Zeama” or “Supa” are sweet.

For “Zeama” the meat is boiled together with vegetables and after that noodles are put inside.

Both of them are very good and tasty! You should try all of them and decide on your own which one is your favorite!

Some Romanian use to eat just a soup at lunch with bread as the soup is very consistent and has inside a lot of meat and vegetables.

Put aside some cream, sometimes a chili, and a lot of bread and you will get something really tasty, incredibly cheap and for a few hours you forgot about hunger.

Main dish of Transylvanian Food

Still hungry?

No worries as we have just started! After a delicious appetizer and a refreshing soup it’s time to move forward and order the main course.

Best transylvanian food
Pork stew with polenta and cheese

As the main course my suggestion is:

  1. Pork stew with polenta, cheese and fried eggs (“ tochitura cu mamaliga, branza si ochi”)
  2. Goulash
  3. Cabbage rolls with minced meat (“sarmale”)
  4. Beans and pork stew

All these dishes are very nutritious and the size of the dish is quite large so your stomach will have a lot of work after such a lunch!

For this reason I recommend you try a digestive drink to help your digestion.

If you want to try something traditional, then drink a plum brandy (“palinca de prune”) or cherry brandy. Both are local specialties!

Deserts from Transylvania

I like deserts a lot! And no matter where I go, each time I have the opportunity I try a local dessert. I can say that this is my favorite dish.
When I visit Transylvania I also eat dessert. All the traditional sweets are very good but if I have to name my favorite sweet Transylvania food I would say:

  1. Cheese Pancakes (“Papanasi”)
  2. Plum dumplings (“Galuste cu prune”)
  3. Pie (“Placinta”)
Papanasi Desert Romanian Food
Papanasi Desert Romanian Food

I bet it is quite a hard decision about what food to order next time when you visit Romania and Transylvania as all these dishes are extremely tasty and all made from organic and fresh ingredients.

But nothing can compare with a food tour in a foreign country especially if you are a foodie!

This is the best way to experience local cuisine of a country or a region so don’t hesitate and book a food tour once you enter Romania.

I will tell you below which tours to book to taste these Romanian goodies!

Best food tours in Romania

Transylvanian food can be found almost in Bucharest so if you planned only a short city break in Romania, I will tell you which tours to book to experience the traditional food of Transylvania and also Romania.

Bucharest: 4 hour walking food tour in the Old Town

This 4-hour private tour will immerse you in the vibrant atmosphere of the old town of Bucharest and allows you to discover the most important attractions from the Olt Town: Manuc’s Inn, Lipscani Street, Princely Court and Remus and Romulus Roman Monument.

On your way to these monuments, you will stop at a restaurant with traditional pies and have a wine and cheese tasting at a Wine Bar.

The tour ends with a spectacular dinner at Caru cu Bere a traditional restaurant located in a 130 years old building.

You will eat bean soup with smoked bacon in a bread bowl with onion, skinless sausages called “mici” with mustard, and some papanasi (traditional fried or boiled pastry) with jam and sour cream.

Bucharest Evening Tour and Traditional Dinner

This is another interesting food tour that last for about 3 hours: 1.5 hours city tour and the rest of the time you will spend eating delicious traditional food.

You will go to a traditional restaurant where you will be served a 3-course meal including water. You will receive a 70 RON voucher per person but if something more expensive from the menu catches your eye you are free to order and pay the difference.

Bucharest: Street Food Tour with a Local Guide

If street food is your weak point then you definitely have to try this fantastic tour that starts with a pretzel and yogurt also known as “the snack of communism” and continues with a visit to the most representative market from Bucharest, Obor Market.

You can buy from here honey, cheese, and handcrafted wooden bowls, and try the Romanian famous “mici” (skinless sausages) washed down with a cold beer.

The tour ends in a fine dining restaurant where you can try papanasi with jam and cream, the Romanian traditional dessert.

Papanasi Romanian desert
Papanasi Romanian desert

Where to stay for authentic food in Transylvania

Nothing can be more beautiful than going into a foreign country and experiencing local life and traditions.

And for sure Transylvania is not an exception especially if we take into consideration the rich history of this region.

I don’t think you can find something more beautiful and authentic than sleeping into a medieval castle or into a traditional house in the heart of Transylvania.

Wake up in the middle of the countryside, start your day with a healthy and organic breakfast and for sure you won’t forget this vacation soon.

I drop below a list of the most authentic accommodations you can find in Transylvania, but not any accommodations but ones that serve traditional dishes, homemade products, and vegetables from local farmers.

Zabola Estate- Transylvania

Owned by a noble Transylvanian family, and consisting of a castle dating back to the 16th century and 4 annex buildings, Zabola Estate is one of the most beautiful castles from Transylvania.

The restaurant serves a delicious breakfast that consists of products bought from the farmers and villagers from the area and for dinner and lunch try their reinvented Traditional dishes.

Visit Transylvania Romania
Visit Transylvania Romania

Conacul Archia

Conacul Archia Deva is located right near the beautiful town of Deva, in the countryside.  Corvin Castle the main attraction from Hunedoara is located 25 minutes by car.

The rooms are spacious and clean, while the breakfast is varied and full of traditional courses.

Some of the many leisure activities available include horse riding and hiking.

Conclusion

Do you feel hungry now? Because I do! I have tried all these Transylvanian food and I enjoyed each bite!
I must confess, that I cannot eat 3 courses at one meal. What about you?

But when I visit Transylvania I try local food whenever I have the opportunity! I advise you to do so!

You will discover very tasty food made from local and fresh ingredients and nice people!

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Transylvania Traditional Food
Transylvania Traditional Food
Romania Most Delicious Traditional Food for real
Romania Most Delicious Traditional Food for real
Best Food in Transylvania
Best Food in Transylvania
Transylvania Delicious Traditional Food in Romania
Transylvania Delicious Traditional Food in Romania

Logistical tips and tricks for your trip

Book your accommodation

We always use Booking.com as they have the best price-quality ratio and they offer a wide range of hotels, guesthouses, apartments, and villas to choose from.

You will find here all types of accommodations, from the cheapest ones to the most luxurious.

Don't forget travel insurance

We never leave home without HeyMondo Insurance or Safety Wings Insurance as they offer the best services and a good value for money, plus COVID coverage.

Travel insurance will always protect you against unexpected events and cost like illness, COVID, injury, theft, or travel cancellation.

We never go on any trip without travel insurance and there were many cases when we had to use it.

Renting a car
We like to explore a country on our own and a car gives us the mobility and freedom to do that.

We always rent our car from Discovercars as they have free cancellation 48 hours prior to starting date and a wide range of car rental companies and options to choose from all over the world.

Tours and attractions
When we are looking for some adventure or we simply want to break up the monotony and discover new places, we always use GetYourGuide.

We love it because we always find the most amazing experiences, with free cancellation and a large variety of activities and tours to choose from.

Airplane tickets and holiday packages
Expedia is our ally when searching for the best price for airplane tickets as it works as an aggregator for a huge number of airlines and we always find the best price for our flights.

Travel tip: use Expedia when you are searching for holiday packages as they have many last-minute offers and great discounts for hotels, flights, and even the whole holiday packages.