There are some places that Anthony Bourdain just got wrong – and Romania is one by his own admission.
Anthony Bourdain visited Romania once, to celebrate his friend Zamir’s 50th birthday in episode 8 of season 4 of No Reservations. It was his only visit to Romania, which is disappointing as even he acknowledges that the episode doesn’t well represent the destination and what it has to offer. Unfortunately, he never made it back during his television career, so this poorly portrayed version of Romania is all we have.
Don’t let that turn you off though – Romania is a fantastic destination I’ve been fortunate to visit during my own European travels, and I really enjoyed visiting destinations Tony did like Bucharest and Brasov in Transylvania. You can still use this list of the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Romania to research your own trip – and I’m very confident saying you’ll have a better time than he and Zamir did.
Read on for the admittedly underwhelming list of places Anthony Bourdain ate in Romania.
Locanta Jaristea (Bucharest)
Anthony Bourdain starts his Romania trip in the capital city of Bucharest; while the city was still a bit rough during his visit, it is much improved today, especially in more touristed areas in the Old Town and near the Communist-era Palace of the Parliament.
He and Zamir head to Locanta Jaristea for a “cultural” dinner*; there they have an awkward meal of suckling pig roast with corn-stuffed apples, pickled peppers, and cabbage while the performers and dancers move around them.
*This is a pretty common – though still recommended – experience in Bucharest. For another option, check out Caru’ cu bere; I ate here in Bucharest and it also offers traditional dishes with only a little less kitsch
Unknown Street Vendor (Bucharest)
Next, the friends head out in search of Tony’s favorite street food: sausage of unknown provenance. While they never share the name of the street food vendor they visit (or show the name on screen), they seek out Mititei, also known as Mici, which is grilled ground spice meat hand-shaped into a sausage form.
This is something you can easily find at street vendors in the capital city, if you want to try it too.
Acasă la Dracula (Brașov)
Heading out of Bucharest, Tony and Zamir head to Brașov, one of the larger cities in the region of Transylvania.
Brașov is about 25km from the town of Bran, home to “Dracula’s Castle,” formally named Bran Castle. This is a popular tourist spot, which perhaps explains the atrocious decision the pair made to stay at and dine Acasă la Dracula – the “House of Dracula” Hotel – on Halloween. (This even makes me cringe.)
Honestly, this is one of the most painful scenes in Tony’s entire career – and a testament to their friendship that he stayed in the room at all. They don’t even show what they ate or anything about it… Take that as you will if you want to visit this spot.
Cafe Astoria (Maramures)
The final spot that Bourdain eats a restaurant meal in Romania is at Castle Astoria in the the town of Maramures. There, he and Zamir try a local spirit, Tuica, which is grappa-like plum drink, along with a traditional dish chorba choronesca (cabbage and veggie soup and sour cream) and a tripe and pork belly soup that Tony calls “chorba” too.
Food Tours to Try in Bucharest
Bourdain doesn’t give us much to go on, so this is perhaps one of the best times for me to recommend an alternative to the poor set of recommendations we have from this episode. A food tour in Bucharest is a great way to try Romanian food and skip the cheesy dining experiences; here are a few suggestions.
Have any questions or comments to share about the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Romania? Let me know in the comments below.