With so many restaurants to choose from in Cluj, you might be wondering which are the best in the city. And that’s what I am here to answer today. But first, a warning: don’t read this on an empty stomach! You’ll probably regret it!
Back to today’s topic, Cluj Napoca has a plethora of amazing restaurants to choose from. Sure, you can always go to your favorite international fast-food restaurant chain and grab a menu that you’re used to and already know you’ll like, but then where’s the fun of discovering local tradition, where’s the adventure and experience that you can explore through new flavors?
So, to make sure that you don’t waste your time and money in restaurants that don’t really deserve either, let’s get straight to answering the burning question: Where to eat in Cluj, by sharing the best restaurants in the city.
Top restaurants in Cluj (for Traditional Food)
Let’s start with the best restaurants that serve traditional Romanian food. Because what better way to know the local cuisine and food culture, and what more appropriate way to taste the local flavors, spices and recipes, than serving a portion of the most delicious and famous traditional foods of the place?
If you didn’t know, Cluj-Napoca is actually famous in the entire country for the special way they prepare cabbage, using a unique recipe that originated here, in the heart of Transylvania.
That dish is called “varza a la Cluj”, so if you are in town make sure you don’t miss it! It’s one of the best Romanian foods, a kind of “sarmale” (another traditional food) but instead of rolling minced meat into the cabbage, you mix them all together, bake them and eat them with sour cream.
Might not sound like much, but it’s delicious. So, in order to help you find the best places where you can eat “varza a la Cluj” in Cluj-Napoca and more, here are the best restaurants in the city serving Romanian food:
We should start with Zama because I don’t think there’s any better, tastier or more impressive recipe for “varza a la Cluj” anywhere else in town. If you are trying this dish for the first time, pick Zama. There’s no way you will be disappointed.
Besides, they might have the most unique way of presenting their menu I’ve ever seen in a traditional local. If you are feeling extremely confused by the names they used for the ingredients and dishes they created, no worry!
Romanian people feel the same confusion, because most of the words are regionalisms or archaisms, words that were used in the past or in specific Transylvanian areas.
But, as strange as they sound, they are all extremely delicious explosions of flavors once you give them a chance and taste them.
Given the really modest prices and big portions, to which we can add the quality and great taste of each dish, this is one of the best places to eat traditional food in Cluj-Napoca.
If you’re not really into cabbage, I strongly recommend that you try their beans soup with smoked marrow bone, their traditional recipe for rustic potatoes and the steak accompanied by sweet & sour beet sauce.
I guarantee the impressive taste and generous portion sizes from my own experience, you won’t be disappointed!
After I talked about the best traditional restaurant in Cluj Napoca in my opinion, it’s a sure thing that it’s hard to compare any other local to it.
But Roata Restaurant is certainly a worthy competitor, with the huge variety of traditional dishes that you can find on their menu.
From the most diverse traditional ways of preparing cabbage with local recipes, to delicious steaks and Romanian traditional soups, you will find dishes for all tastes and preferences in Roata Restaurant.
If you want to take my recommendation on a tasty dish to try at Roata, I would say go for the polenta with cheese and greaves and any of the soups. Traditional, authentic Romanian flavors and textures.
Lastly, I have to give them some bonus points for the rustical decors inside the restaurant. It’s extremely minimalist and simple, yet very authentic and connected to the Romanian traditional homes and popular motifs.
From the wooden chairs to the tablecloth, wall decors and pots, the entire ambient is rustic and authentic.
As a bonus, they are just some 10 minutes of walking away from Zama, so you can walk from one place to another, lie to yourself that you’ve burned all the calories from the previous meal and keep eating.
Hanul Dacilor (aka Casa Dacilor)
If, just like me, you want to know the local cuisine and taste as many new traditional dishes as possible at once, a little bit of every flavor and texture, you should try the platters available at Hanul Dacilor Restaurant – also known as Casa Dacilor.
There are over ten different traditional platters including all kinds of authentic Romanian and Transylvanian food, so you can choose whatever you want to try for the best prices.
That’s even better if you’re coming with some friends, because most of the platters are quite big, created to be shared with 2-3 or even 5-6 people.
And, just like the atmosphere in Roata Restaurant, Hanul Dacilor also has a very rustic design, creating an impressively authentic traditional Romanian experience.
The difference is that this place is not as minimalistic as the previous one, as the walls can actually be a life-size museum of popular traditional objects, pots, wooden furniture, motifs and decors. Bonus points for Instagram photos!
Note: There’s also one available in the Iulius Mall, but for the true, authentic Romanian experience, choose the one I marked on Google Maps.
Top restaurants and pubs in Cluj-Napoca: Exotic flavors
Moving on from one extreme to another, if you want something completely different from the traditional foods recommended above, try the most exotic flavors and dishes from the restaurants and pubs that I am recommending below.
All foods are vibrating in this restaurant, and not because of the beautiful colors and arrangements within the local, designed with oriental tastes; but because of the variety and intensity of spices used to make every dish a special experience.
If you want an authentic Indian experience, Indigo is definitely one of your best options in Cluj-Napoca.
I recommend that you try the Biryani Chicken if you have resistance to very spicy flavors, because it’s amazing, or order a full platter containing the most diverse sauces, chutneys and naans in order to try as many new recipes as possible.
It’s definitely one of the most creative, delicious and interesting restaurants, with the potential to offer you an experience as close as possible to the Indian culture.
Samsara FoodHouse – Best Vegan Restaurant in Cluj
Not as exotic as the previous one, but definitely equally or even more unique, Samsara FoodHouse is another place where you can try the most amazing and creative new flavors and recipes.
The specific of the house is raw-vegan. More exactly, most of the dishes are vegan at samsara, some are cooked and others are raw. But I, along with the hundreds of happy clients, can guarantee that they are all delicious.
It’s impressive how many delightful recipes can be cooked without using any ingredient of animal provenience, and Samsara is the living proof.
Besides the cream soups and stunning appetizers, there are also some amazing exotic recipes with Indian inspirations, spiced with curry or tandoori and accompanied by rice, lentils, coconut, lime and plenty of other deliciously cooked vegetables.
According to several affirmations, Samsara FoodHouse is the largest vegan, raw-vegan and vegetarian restaurant at the current moment in Romania, so your experience will certainly be unique.
You will be able to enjoy even more your servings, thanks to the relaxing, bright and natural ambient of the local.
Despite its name, this isn’t a restaurant focusing on British food. What it delivers is a wide variety of food that you will love. Tasty, hearty and good looking. And a relatively new place in Cluj.
All their dishes stand out, no matter if you pick a traditional burger and fries, their chicken Bao or the strangely delicious (and quite unique) Vegan Spinach & Rasberry cake. And yes, they also have vegan options to keep everybody happy.
With food that offers an explosion of color and big attention paid to details, London Brothers is one of the most refreshing and pleasant experiences you’ll have in a long time.
Best part? Prices are decent – not low, but not high either. You pay little money for lots of great food. Perfect deal!
Other great pubs in Cluj-Napoca
Let’s not forget about how important central cafés, and pubs are when traveling. Because sometime you might want to just eat some food that you’re used to eating when going out. Greasy, salty and ready to fill you up fast. Nothing wrong with that!
This one will envelope you in a warm vibe even during a cold winter. Both literally and figuratively.
You will be welcomed by friendly staff, blankets available on every chair to warm you up, and dim lights or personal touches such as colorful candles or flowers. Plus your own personal heated bubble if you want to stay outside. Pretty cool!
An amazing ambient, in a restaurant located right in the Unirii Square. And that’s just the beginning.
Besides the great atmosphere for socialization and relaxation, FORM Café is also a great choice for your pocket.
Most of the dishes are budget-friendly, prices are really low and portions are generous. If you want to try the best, go for the Schnitzel Chalupa or Classical Mac and Cheese. They are both flavorful, nourishing and highly aesthetical.
And, if you’re not hungry, this place is also one of the best pubs you can find in Cluj-Napoca.
They serve creamy, foamy, strong coffee, and even some creative combinations of cold-brew coffee and alcohol which you can try if you feel adventurous.
Overall, a place with great location, awesome food, amazing staff and good vibes that you should definitely check out!
Another place that will warm you up during winter through the most delicious coffees with rich aromas and nice foamed-milk designs, L’Alchimiste is located right next to the Matthias Corvinus Monument, one of the top things to see in Cluj.
It’s a great pub in the center of Cluj Napoca, where you will be welcomed with electric heaters during winters to keep you warm on the outside while the beverages will warm you up inside.
Personal touches such as candles on the table and blankets on the chairs are also contributing to making this terrace even cozier and more intimate.
Of course, things are equally pleasant during the warmer days when you don’t need the blankets!
And the food – because this is what you’re here for, in the end – is absolutely amazing, no matter if you’re getting one of their huge burgers or an omelet for your breakfast.
As for my recommendation with L’Alchimiste, come here in the evening, when the dim light bulbs will brighten the entire square and the view will get extremely romantic and inspiring.
If you were asking yourself where to eat in Cluj-Napoca to enjoy the most delicious, satisfying and flavorful meals, then I’m sure you found your answer or guidance within this list.
There are a lot of great places in Cluj, for sure so if somehow this list isn’t enough, you will still have plenty of other options to choose from.
And if you go there and stumble upon an amazing restaurant, don’t hesitate to share it with us so we can all give it a try!