From papanași to sarmale, here’s where to try modern and traditional dishes.
Cluj-Napoca, often referred to as Cluj, is a vibrant city nestled in the heart of Transylvania, Romania. Renowned for its historical charm and academic atmosphere, it boasts a blend of medieval architecture and modern innovation. The city exudes youthful energy, hosting numerous festivals, art exhibitions, and several interesting restaurants in Cluj
If you’re an adventurous eater, we present you with Romanian food. With influences from the Balkans, Hungary and Turkey, the cuisine is famous for its soup, meat and vegetable dishes. While the restaurant scene offers comfort food, there are homegrown concepts and fine dining experiences. Here are the best restaurants in Cluj Napoca, Romania.
Barraca is a sophisticated spot. The architectural gem prides itself on its fine dining experience. Chef Roland Sucio is behind the menu and aims to offer innovative international cuisine. If you want the full experience, order the nine-course tasting menu, which comes with a wine pairing. The dishes include a six-year-old sourdough bread and pigeon from Gorby Farm. Plus, the dishes are plated to perfection.
GO: Visit www.baracca.ro for more information.
Da Pino is one of a handful of fine dining restaurants in Cluj, which was born out of a love for gastronomy and is famous for its seafood. Whether it’s beef from Argentina or fish from Venice, the ingredients are freshly sourced from around the world. The extensive menu – it comes in a binder – spans salads, appetisers, soups, gnocchi, pastas, risotto and seafood. The knowledgeable staff are on hand to help with recommendations and create a relaxed yet refined experience. Come hungry and make the most of the generous portions, from the Burrata Anchovies Peppers with a sharable size of cheese to the Tiramasu with a slab of gooey goodness. The Sea Bass Grilled in Salt Crust is a highlight – it is served tableside and includes asparagus and potatoes. The restaurant has different spaces to suit different moods. Start in one of the intimate dining rooms and end in the chic alfresco courtyard.
GO: Visit https://dapino.ro for more information.
Grab a pint or three at Euphoria – the site formerly known as Fabirca de Bere. The venue was previously the oldest beer factory in town and has recently been renovated. The bar serves a long list of beers, from your classic to creative tipples – Elderflower Beer, anyone? The menu includes grilled dishes, which span chicken, beef and fish. Superb for sharing, the dishes range from a Fish platter to a Mixed Grill.
GO: Visit https://euphoria.ro for more information.
Olivio Coffee Culture
Romania has a buzzing coffee scene, with many cafés situated on Piața Unirii. If you want to avoid the tourists, make a detour to Olivo Coffee Culture. Packed with people on our visit, it includes countertop seats and long tables, and an industrial chic vibe. Brilliant for breakfast and brunch, the dishes include Avocado Toast, Croque Monsieur and French Toast. The extensive drinks list includes Espresso, Hand Brew Flower, Matcha Latte, Nitro Cold Brew Tonic and Panna Chai. Plus, unlike most cafés, it serves gin and tonic, spirits and wine.
GO: Visit https://olivocoffeeculture.com for more information.
Panoramic Cetatuie is one of the most romantic restaurants in Cluj Napoca. As you drive through one of the city’s most affluent areas, you pass sprawling homes, rolling hills and are presented with an Insta-worthy view. Situated on the top of Strada Șerpuitoare, it overlooks the whole city. The venue boasts indoor and outdoor seating – make like we did and sit inside by the open doors. The experience includes floor-to-ceiling windows, white tablecloths and fine dining service. The menu covers hot and cold starters, soups, salads, pasta, fish, meat, and Romanian classics. The Country Style Beef Soup is a traditional, hearty dish, and the Romanian Mixed Meats comes with polenta and wild mushrooms. Don’t leave without ordering the Papanași, which is a fried cottage cheese dessert. The fried doughnut with cream and blueberry jam is a local favourite.
GO: Visit https://panoramic-cluj.ro for more information.
If you want to dine like a local, then visit the Romanian restaurant Roata. The décor feels like an old-school tavern with dark woods, benches, barrels and blankets for when it gets cold. On arrival, diners are given a complimentary shot. Be warned: the bartenders mean business, as it is strong. The menu includes starters, soups, mains and salads. Great for sharing, we’d recommend ordering meat dishes, which are served with fries. The Sarmale, a stuffed cabbage roll, is popular. The dishes are served on pretty plates with traditional designs. Plus, the drinks list includes local wine and palinka plum brandy.
GO: Visit www.roatafaget.ro for reservations and more information.
Samsara has been leading the environmentally friendly way in Cluj Napoca. The plant-based dishes have an international appeal. Chef Bogdan Paius prides himself on using locally sourced and seasonal produce. The menu spans soups, starters, specialities, stir-fries, pasta and dessert. The highlights include the Eggplant Salad with cherry tomatoes, the Pumpkin Boulette with horseradish sauce, and the Coconut and Jackfruit Curry, which makes a strong meat substitute. The décor is clean and contemporary with exposed bricks, wooden tables and grey sofas. Grab a seat outside and embrace the boho chic vibes – sit in the gorgeous garden surrounded by twinkling lights, fancy flowers and a bar. Plus, we visited during the UNTOLD Festival and were told this was where the performers dined.
GO: Visit https://samsara.ro/en/ for more information.