EDITOR’S NOTE: Traveleater Ana Raicic – a Slovenian food expert from Izola, Slovenia – shares with us 12 dishes you need to try on your next visit to Ljubljana.
If you’re planning a visit to Slovenia, then you’re going to be pleasantly surprised by the vast diversity of the country. In spite of covering an area of only about 20,000 square kilometers, Slovenia boasts a wonderful variety of climates and landscapes that resonates in Slovenian cuisine.
You’re most likely to find traditional Slovenian food in Slovenian restaurants called gostilna. These restaurants focus on traditional, fuss-free Slovenian dishes and are scattered all over the country.
SLOVENIAN FOOD QUICK LINKS
If you’re visiting Slovenia and want to learn more about Slovenian food, then you may be interested in joining a food tour.
Slovenian Food/Drinking Tours: Food and Drinking Tours in Slovenia
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WHAT IS TRADITIONAL SLOVENIAN CUISINE?
Slovenia’s history is closely intertwined with that of the Austrian Empire and the same goes for Slovenian food. The influences of the Balkans, Italy, Austria, and Hungary are felt everywhere, but most distinctly in the regional cooking differences.
Sometimes, these regional differences are manifested simply as different names for the same dish. Other times, it could be different fillings or a difference in preparation for the same dish.
Slovenian food is heavily focused on staples like meat, humble vegetables like turnips, cabbage, potatoes, and beans, as well as grains, like buckwheat. It’s also heavily seasonal, with produce like mushrooms, chestnuts, asparagus, and dandelion featuring prominently when they’re in season.
Dandelion, in particular, is a prized seasonal ingredient in Slovenian cuisine. It’s been gathered for centuries in spring and is commonly used as a salad ingredient, one of the most popular being dandelion and potato salad.
In desserts, Slovenian cuisine boasts a number of traditional pastries made out of enriched dough. At one time, they were strictly festive dishes but they’ve since become more available in everyday life.
For dessert fillings, the most commonly used ingredients are walnuts, hazelnuts, raisins, quark cheese, apples, and wild berries.
MUST-TRY SLOVENIAN DISHES
1. Idrijski Žlikrofi
Idrijski žlikrofi are regional dumplings made with a potato filling. They’re an EU-protected Slovenian dish that originates from the mining town of Idrija and its surroundings. The dumplings can be an appetizer or a main dish (or part of).
The size of an authentic žlikrof is fixed at 3 cm in length and 2 cm (1.2″ x 0.8″) in height. Žlikrofi are made of simple pasta dough that’s rolled out and filled with a cooked and seasoned potato filling mixed with sauteed onions. The dumplings are then molded into the traditional hat shape and cooked in boiling water.
Extremely tasty by themselves, you can normally get them in a meat or vegetarian version with lamb and/or vegetable sauce in most restaurants in the Idrija area.
Photo by mathes
2. Ajdovi Žganci
Ajdovi žganci (buckwheat spoon bread) is widely considered to be a national dish in Slovenian cuisine. Aside from buckwheat flour, this Slovenian spoon bread can be made with potato or wheat flour as well.
This quick dish is made by dry-frying buckwheat flour for a couple of minutes. The fried flour is then added to boiling salted water and left to cook for a couple more minutes. The cooked sticky dough is then brought out of the pot and shredded into smaller pieces with a fork, giving the dish its traditional žganci appearance.
There are some regional differences among žganci in Slovenia. For example, in the northern Gorenjska region, they are drier and almost breadcrumb-like, while in the Štajerska region, they more closely resemble dumplings or spoon bread.
You’ll most likely find žganci in traditional Slovenian restaurants around the Gorenjska and Štajerska regions and in mountain huts as a topping for hearty mushroom soup or as a standalone dish with sour milk. Humble in origin, žganci are a wonderful vegetarian staple.
Photo by photodesign
Obara is a hearty meat and vegetable soup originating in the Štajerska region of Slovenia. It differs from other Slovenian stews like barley stew, goulash, and yota stew because it includes a variety of vegetables and different meats.
The stew usually takes the name of whatever meat was used to prepare it, the most common types being chicken obara and beef obara. The most common vegetables include carrots, turnips, green beans, peas, and onions.
Traditionally, obara was served as a festive meal on Sundays and on Slovenian holidays but today, it’s increasingly prepared as an everyday dish. In a traditional Slovenian gostilna, you’ll typically find it served with buckwheat or potato žganci to make the dish heartier.
Obara is another traditional Slovenian dish that’s best enjoyed on a cold winter’s day. Check out our Obara recipe if you’d like to make this hearty one-pot stew yourself.
4. Pohorski Pisker
Pohorski pisker is a meaty stew from the region of Pohorje in Styria in the northeastern part of Slovenia. Born in the hills of Rogla, the stew is a combination of at least three types of meat, mushrooms, barley, and potatoes.
It wouldn’t be a Slovenian dish if varieties didn’t exist. With pohorski pisker, it’s mostly in the types of meat and vegetables used in its preparation.
It’s said that authentic pohorski pisker needs to be cooked over an open flame and with continuous stirring, so it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. If you’re looking to try the most authentic version, then try heading to the festival dedicated to this traditional dish that’s held in Pohorje every summer.
Photo by photodesign
Golaž or goulash is a Slovenian meat stew with Hungarian and Austrian origins. It’s made with equal parts diced onions and beef flank chunks, with tomato paste and paprika added for color and taste.
The onions get sauteed over a low flame until they’re nice and soft before the goulash spices are added. Most commonly, these spices include marjoram, caraway seed, sweet and sharp paprika, and a couple of bay leaves. The bay leaf is the most important as it wouldn’t be goulash without it.
After frying the spices, the beef chunks are then added and braised in tomato sauce and red wine. The longer you braise the stew, the tastier and thicker it becomes. It’s said that goulash is always better the day after.
Traditionally, goulash is served with a bread roll or with a side of polenta, bread dumplings, pasta, potato salad (or puree), or spoon bread.
One of the most popular meat dishes in Slovenia and other European countries like Czechia, Slovakia, Romania, and Serbia, this hearty dish can be found on the menu of most traditional Slovenian restaurants and in many mountain huts. It’s best enjoyed after a long day of work or a long hike.
Photo by photodesign
6. Kranjska Klobasa
Kranjska klobasa is a traditional Slovenian sausage that boasts EU protection. This protected Slovenian food carries the name of the largest historical Slovenian region of Kranjska or Carniola. It’s a lightly smoked, semi-cured sausage that needs to be cooked before eating.
Historically, kranjska klobasa was made at the time of pig slaughter in late October or November. It’s specifically made with 75-80% pork meat and 25-20% cured bacon. The sausages are then lightly smoked with beech wood.
Traditionally, the sausage is eaten warm with a side of sauerkraut or sour turnips, or cooked and then cooled down with grated horseradish, mustard, and a bread roll. Today, they’re often added to barley stews or hearty soups.
You’re most likely to come across kranjska klobasa on the menus of traditional Slovenian restaurants scattered around the Gorenjska and Štajerska regions. Like goulash, kranjska klobasa is a hearty dish that’s best enjoyed on a cold winter day or in a mountain hut after a long day of hiking.
Photo by fotovincek
Ocvirki is the Slovenian name for pork cracklings. The making of pork crackling is a part of a wider tradition called Koline.
Koline refers to the time when farmers would slaughter pigs before winter. In an effort to use all parts of the pig, pork rinds and fat would be used to make pork cracklings.
Pork cracklings are a byproduct of rendering the lard. The process involves boiling the rind and fatty parts to render down the fat and preserve it for cooking. Meanwhile, the skin and bits of meat would fry in the boiling fat and become deliciously crunchy.
Today, cracklings are often served as a topping for žganci. They can be enjoyed warm with meat or eaten cold as a snack. Most often, you’ll be able to taste them in mountain huts and in traditional Slovenian restaurants in autumn.
Photo by Boris15
No list of popular Slovenian food can ever be complete without potica. Perhaps the most well-known of Slovenian dishes and desserts, it’s made out of enriched leavened dough that’s flattened and filled before being rolled into a log and baked, either in a round mold or in logs.
Potica comes with a variety of fillings, the most traditional being ground walnuts. Aside from walnuts, other traditional fillings include sweet tarragon, poppy seeds, and hazelnuts. These days, Nutella and coconut are also commonly used.
Like most Slovenian dishes, potica also has regional variations. You can enjoy a traditional luštrkajca from Idrija made with lovage filling or a savory variety filled with chives or pork cracklings. In the Goriška Brda region, you can try a regional version made with a filling of walnuts, pine nuts, and raisins.
Even today, potica brings an air of festivity to a Slovenian table and is a staple at any kind of celebration.
Photo by vision.si
9. Prekmurska Gibanica
Prekmurska gibanica is a traditional Slovenian layer cake that’s protected by the EU. Because of that, there’s a very strict set of rules on the fillings and how they should be arranged, even coming down to the height of the cake.
The cake is made up of a base layer of shortcrust dough, followed by a layer of filo pastry. Then it’s time for the fillings which are layered in this exact order – poppy seeds, cottage cheese, walnuts, and then apples.
For it to be a true Prekmurska gibanica, it needs to have eight layers of filling, with two layers of every filling.
Photo by fiorellamacor
10. Kremna Rezina
Kremna rezina is a typical Slovenian dessert that was popularized in Bled in 1953, in a hotel at one of the most well-known Slovenian landmarks – Lake Bled. It was first made at the Park Hotel, where you can taste the original to this day while taking in the view of the wonderful lake.
The name translates to “cream slice”, to describe a layer of pastry cream and a layer of whipped cream sandwiched between two layers of crisp puff pastry. The slice is topped off with a generous sprinkling of icing sugar.
Kremna rezina is extremely common and you can taste it at almost any pastry cafe in Slovenia, so be sure to grab yourself a slice. If you visit Lake Bled, then stop at the Park Hotel to try the original. You can decide for yourself if it’s better than the imitations you get around the country.
Aside from Slovenia, kremna rezina is popular in many other European countries as well, where it goes by different names like kremowka papieska (Poland), cremeschnitte (Germany), krémes (Hungary), and kremšnite (Croatia).
Photo by NedoB
Štruklji can be loosely described as a dish made out of dough and filling.
They are one of the few Slovenian traditional dishes that appear in all Slovenian regions. It used to be mainly a festive dish, one that was on the table only during holidays or important celebrations. It’s difficult to define because a štrukelj takes as many shapes as there are Slovenian regions.
Štruklji is made with a special filo dough that’s thicker than baklava dough, leavened dough, or even pasta dough. The fillings can be sweet or savory so štruklji can be enjoyed as a main meal, a side dish, or for dessert.
The most common fillings include all the most common Slovenian fillings like apples, cottage cheese, walnuts, and tarragon. The štruklji dough is most commonly made out of wheat or buckwheat flour, with the third most common variety being potato. A traditional savory combination is buckwheat dough with a cottage cheese filling – a classic side to the Sunday roast.
Any variety of dough and filling can be cooked, baked, or even fried. Most commonly, the dough for štruklji will be rolled out, then a filling will be spread over it. Then, it will be rolled into a log and cooked or baked like that. After cooking and resting, the log will be cut into slices and topped with ingredients like sour cream and cottage cheese.
Some interesting regional varieties you should try are dumplings like kobariški štruklji – a ravioli-like dumpling filled with a rich mix of ground walnuts. It’s seasoned with spices and lemon zest before being cooked in boiling water.
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Krofi are a sweet fried dough treat and a type of filled doughnut. It’s basically the Slovenian version of the Austrian krapfen, German berliner, Portuguese bola de berlim, or Bosnian krofne. They are made out of enriched leavened dough that’s rolled out into a slab, cut into rounds, and then fried and filled.
The most traditional krofi are filled with apricot jam but today, you can find them stuffed with many fillings like pastry cream, chocolate, and a variety of jams. Most Slovenians enjoy them as a sweet treat with a cup of coffee or tea.
Krofi are especially popular at the time of the Carnival in February or March and are the unofficial holiday treat. At that time, the streets of larger cities will be filled with stalls selling freshly made krofi from local bakeries. More often than not, the housewives will also be frying their own at home to give to family and friends when they visit.
Slovenians consider krofi from Trojane to be the best of all and you’d be hard-pressed to find a Slovenian that doesn’t stop there when driving past. Their krofi are larger than usual and the addition of lemon peel in the dough gives them a special flavor.
Photo by tanyki88
FINAL THOUGHTS ON TRADITIONAL SLOVENIAN FOOD
Slovenian cuisine is a melting pot of diversity with influences of Croatian, Hungarian, Austrian, and Italian cooking. Mostly humble in origin, the dishes attest to Slovenia’s rich cultural diversity and strong regional affiliations.
At one time, many Slovenian dishes were enjoyed only during holidays and big celebrations, but you can taste most of them every day now. So whenever you visit Slovenia, take the opportunity to try the wide array of delicious Slovenian food you can get your hands on.
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Cover photo by vision.si. Stock images via Depositphotos.
It’s the restaurant with no name. At least, as far as I can tell, no formal English name.
We had already tried Hokkaido’s famous grilled mutton dish called jingisukan (pronounced jing-giss kahn) or “Genghis Khan” at the Sapporo Beer Museum. We enjoyed it so much that we wanted to have it again, but this time, we wanted it over coals and a wire grill instead of the customary convex metal skillet. The thing is, we didn’t know where to get it.
Googling “wire grill charcoal jingisukan sapporo” didn’t give us many leads so we decided to walk around Susukino and try our luck. Thankfully, we found this place just a couple minutes away from Susukino station.
It doesn’t seem to have an English name, but it does have one in Japanese – ホルモン食堂 4条店 – which when plugged into an online translator, roughly translates to “Hormone canteen 4 st stores”. Not the catchiest of names is it? 😆
Hormone Canteen 4 St Stores
The restaurant is about a couple minute’s walk from Susukino subway station. It’s across the street obliquely from this building with all the Japanese lanterns.
Jackpot! That picture of the wire grill over charcoals told us we were at the right place. As described, the restaurant’s Japanese name loosely translates to “Hormone canteen 4 st stores”. By “hormone”, it’s referring to the Japanese word horumon which means “offal”. We didn’t know it at the time but this restaurant specializes in grilled offal as well. I wish we knew! 😥
It’s a long and narrow restaurant with booths, counter seating, and sunken Japanese tables. See that poster on the right? You can get three draft beers for just JPY 980 if you order over JPY 3,000 worth of food. That’s basically giving you one free beer since draft beers usually cost JPY 500 in Japan. Awesome!
We went with one of these sunken tables. There are four at the far end of the restaurant with pull-down partitions between tables for privacy.
We were here for the lamb so that’s what we got. Aside from the tongue, I think we also got an order of the belly and shoulder. All prices listed below are before tax.
What we wanted – a wire grill over charcoals. Because jingisukan is traditionally served over a convex metal skillet, our server was going to give us that when we ordered the lamb. We asked if we could have it over a wire grill instead and she agreed. If you want to try jingisukan over this type of grill, then be sure to ask for it.
I think this was the lamb shoulder.
Lamb belly in the front, tongue at the back, and a bowl of kimchi to the side. I highly recommend you order some kimchi as well. It went so well with the meat and rice.
Grillin’ like a villain! Jingisukan or Genghis Khan is rumored to have gotten its name in prewar Japan, when lamb was thought to be the meat of choice among soldiers in Mongolia. This isn’t it but the dome-shaped skillet commonly used today is meant to represent the soldiers’ helmets which they allegedly used to cook their food. Interesting! You can see it in my Sapporo Beer Museum post.
I took some mouthwatering footage of the meat cooking as well which I’ll include in a “Things to Eat in Japan” video. If you think this looks good, wait until you see (and hear) the meat sizzlin’ like a villain. 😉
Once cooked, you dip the meat in the sauce…
…then eat it with your rice. This was SO. DAMN. GOOD. Cooking over coals is way better than using a gas stove. It imparts that unbelievable charcoal flavor which you can’t get cooking any other way. The wire grill seems to help with the caramelization of the meat as well. More charred bits = more flavor and texture. Yum!
Three orders of meat weren’t enough for the three of us so we ordered two more and a bunch of veggies and shrooms. ♥
It wasn’t until after our trip and I started doing research for this restaurant did I learn that not only do they specialize in offal yakiniku, but they also offer an all-you-can-eat deal after 10PM. It’s true! After 10PM every night, you can have as much of the 33 yakiniku items and drinks on their menu for just JPY 2,380 (plus tax). If you have a big appetite and like to eat late, then this is definitely the way to go.
If you’re a carnivore, then there’s no doubt in my mind that you’ll enjoy Hokkaido’s famed jingisukan. You’ll probably want to have it more than once so be sure to try it both ways – on a convex metal grill and over a wire grill like this – just to see which method you prefer. Me? I enjoyed both. What’s more important than the grill I think is to find a place that cooks it over coals. The charcoal really does wonders for the taste. ♥
ホルモン食堂 4条店, Susukino, Sapporo, Japan
Japan, 〒064-0804 Hokkaidō, Sapporo-shi, Chūō-ku, Minami 4 Jōnishi, 4 Chome, 中央区南4条西4丁目 Tel: + 81 11-512-4533 Facebook: ホルモン食堂-4条店 Operating Hours: Mon-Sun, 6PM-6AM What we paid: Around JPY 2,500 each with drinks
HOW TO GET THERE: Take the subway to Susukino station. Exit the station and walk south. Make a right on the first street and the restaurant will be on your right. CLICK HERE to see its exact location on a map and get walking directions from where you are.
For more travel tips to Sapporo in winter, check out our Sapporo Winter Travel Guide.
We’re originally from Asia so when it comes to starchy food, rice is king. We’ve eaten it with almost every meal since childhood.
However, we do have a passion for other high-carb staples as well, especially bread. Renée loves baking bread and making pizzas from scratch. Like sausages, sandwiches, and exotic ice cream flavors, new and unfamiliar types of bread are something we look for on every trip.
From Vietnamese banh mi to Ethiopian injera, here are fifty types of bread from around the world that every dough lover needs to try.
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WHAT IS BREAD?
Bread refers to a vital staple food made with dough (or batter). It’s usually baked and can be made using just two ingredients – flour and water. Bread has existed throughout the world since Neolithic times and is recognized as one of the earliest human-made foods.
Flour is the heart and soul of bread. It’s a powder that can be made from a variety of finely ground grains, tubers, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Bread can be made with different types of flour though grain-based flours – especially wheat flour – are most commonly used.
Flour and water are the most important ingredients in bread though it’s commonly made with yeast, salt, baking powder, and baking soda as well. It can be leavened or unleavened and enriched with other ingredients like eggs, milk, butter, sugar, spices, nuts, and seeds.
Photo by Gabbiere
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BREAD AND PASTRY?
As with many foods that are quite similar to each other (like soups and stews), there’s a fine line between breads and pastries. They’re made with similar ingredients but the main difference is in the amount of fat and gluten in the dough.
Pastry has a higher fat content than bread. Adding fat or oil to pastry dough and manipulating it as little as possible slows down the production of gluten. This leads to a product that’s flakier and crumblier in texture.
Pastries are also made with pastry flour which typically has a lower level of gluten than all-purpose flour or bread flour.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BREAD AND CAKE?
The line between bread and cake is even hazier.
Both products are made from similar ingredients but bread is made predominantly with flour and water while cakes are enriched with additional ingredients like sugar, milk, butter, and eggs. Bread also uses yeast as its primary leavening agent while cakes are made with chemical leaveners like baking powder and baking soda.
By that definition, it seems clear that “quick breads” – breads leavened with a non-biological agent like baking soda or baking powder – are actually cakes instead of bread. Labels make everything so confusing.
WHAT ARE THE MAIN TYPES OF BREAD?
There are hundreds of known bread recipes from around the world. There are many ways you can categorize bread but one of the simplest is to put them into one of two main categories – leavened or unleavened.
Leavened bread refers to any type of raised bread made with yeast or another leavening agent like baking powder or baking soda. When added to dough (or batter), the yeast or chemical leaveners release carbon dioxide that makes the dough rise.
Leavened bread is best made with flour that contains high levels of gluten, like whole wheat flour or rye flour. These types of flour contain two proteins that give raised bread its structure – glutenin and gliaden. Glutenin creates elasticity and chewiness while gliaden enables the bread to achieve a higher rise.
When mixed with water, these proteins connect and form gluten, the supporting structure of raised bread. Carbon dioxide bubbles produced by the leaveners are held together by these gluten strands which allow the dough to rise and retain its shape before baking.
Some common examples of leavened bread include white bread, whole wheat bread, rye bread, potato bread (made with potato flour or mashed potatoes), multigrain bread (made with several types of grain), and quick bread (leavened with a non-biological agent like baking soda or baking powder).
Photo by manyakotic
Unleavened bread refers to any type of bread made without a rising agent, so they’re flat in shape. Tortilla, chapati, roti canai, and matzah are popular examples of unleavened bread.
It’s a common misconception that all types of flatbread are unleavened, but that isn’t the case. Some well-known flatbreads like naan bread and pita bread are made with yeast.
Photo by bhofack2
DELICIOUS TYPES OF BREAD FROM AROUND THE WORLD
This is a big list of bread types. To make it easier to go through, I’ve organized it by continent. Click on a link to jump to any section of the guide.
1. English Muffin (England)
Fans of eggs benedict and Egg McMuffins are no strangers to the English muffin. Known simply as a “muffin” in England, it refers to a small and round yeast-leavened type of flatbread that’s commonly eaten for breakfast.
Muffins are typically sliced horizontally and toasted before being spread with butter and/or jam. They can also be filled with various breakfast ingredients like eggs, sausage, bacon, and cheese to create a portable sandwich version of the classic English breakfast.
I absolutely adore Sausage McMuffins from McDonald’s. It’s one of my favorite breakfast sandwiches and a lot of that has to do with the texture of the bread. It’s soft, spongy, a little crusty, and just perfect with the breakfast ingredients.
Photo by chasbrutlag
2. Bannock (Scotland)
Bannock refers to a family of quick breads that originated in Scotland. Traditionally made from grain-based flours like barley, oatmeal, or wheat, they’re round and flat and usually cut into pie-like wedges before serving.
Bannock can be prepared in a number of ways. They can be leavened or unleavened, baked or fried. Depending on the recipe and where they’re from, they can contain special ingredients and be made to celebrate holidays and special occasions.
In Scotland, bannock from the town of Selkirk is especially popular. It’s made from wheat flour and raisins and has a buttery, sponge-like texture that’s reminiscent of fruitcake.
Photo by melastmohican
3. Crumpet (Wales)
The crumpet is a type of griddle cake that originated in Wales. Small, round, and bespeckled with holes, they’re very similar to English muffins except they’re made from milk batter instead of a stiffer dough. They’re also leavened with baking soda while English muffins are made with yeast or sourdough.
Unlike muffins that are sliced horizontally and toasted, crumpets are cooked only on one side.
Photo by eelnosiva
4. Barmbrack (Ireland)
Barmbrack refers to a type of Irish yeast bread made with raisins. Often referred to as “brack”, it’s usually toasted with butter and served with tea.
Interestingly, making and serving barmbrack has long been a Halloween tradition in Ireland. Traditionally, it was made with various items inside like a pea, a stick, a coin, and a ring. Each item carried a symbolic meaning which bestowed a fortune (or misfortune) upon the person who received it in their slice.
Photo by ganzevayna
5. Soda Bread (Ireland)
Soda bread is a type of quick bread made from baking soda, white flour, salt, and buttermilk. Originally from Ireland, it’s a slightly sweet bread that’s often made with additional ingredients like eggs, butter, raisins, and nuts.
Photo by starstock
6. Brown Bread (Ireland)
Irish brown bread is basically a type of soda bread made with whole wheat flour instead of white flour. Thanks to the wheat flour and wheat bran in its recipe, it’s typically nuttier and more savory in flavor compared to traditional soda bread.
Photo by bhofack2
7. Rugbrød (Denmark)
Rugbrød refers to a type of rye bread from Denmark. Dense, dark, and a bit sour in flavor, it’s an everyday type of bread in Danish cuisine and is used as the base for smørrebrød open-faced sandwiches.
Rugbrød is typically made with dark rye flour, wheat flour, cracked rye, and a sourdough starter. Depending on the baker, it can be made with additional ingredients as well like pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, and beer.
Photo by fanfon
8. Lefse (Norway)
If you like tortillas, then you’re going to enjoy lefse, a type of Norwegian flatbread made with wheat flour, butter, milk, water, salt, and sometimes potato. It’s a staple food that can be eaten plain or filled with a variety of sweet and savory ingredients.
Different types of lefse are consumed throughout Norway and in the Norwegian diaspora in America. Some of the most popular varieties include potetlefse (made with potatoes), møsbrømlefse (made with brunost brown cheese), and kjøttlefse (made with meat).
In America, lefse is always made with potatoes. It’s considered a holiday dish that’s traditionally eaten around Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Photo by bhofack2
9. Baguette (France)
No list of the world’s most delicious bread can ever be complete without mentioning the baguette. Meaning “wand” or “stick” in French, this iconic French bread known for its elongated shape and crisp chewy crust is an icon of French cuisine and an important symbol of French culture.
A baguette is made from a basic lean dough and measures around 65 cm (26 in) in length and 5-6 cm (2-2.5 in) in diameter. Its exact origins are unclear though one colorful account claims that it was the brainchild of Napoleon Bonaparte. The former Emperor wanted bread that soldiers could more easily carry so he asked that bread be made in a long and narrow shape so it could easily be slid into a soldier’s uniform.
Whatever its true origins, bread lovers are grateful for its invention because it truly is one of the most delicious types of bread in the world. Crusty on the inside but soft and pillowy on the inside, bread doesn’t get any better than this.
Photo by VitalikRadko
10. Brioche (France)
Brioche is a great example of a dough-based product that straddles the line between pastry and bread.
Because of its high butter and egg content, brioche belongs to a family of baked goods known as Viennoiseries. These are yeast-leavened French pastries that are made in a manner similar to bread, but enriched with additional ingredients like eggs, milk, butter, and sugar.
Photo by studioM
11. Fougasse (France)
Fougasse is a type of French bread that’s traditionally associated with the southeastern region of Provence. It’s the French descendant of an ancient Roman flatbread that evolved to become focaccia in Italy, pogača in the Balkans, and hogaza in Spain.
Fougasse is sometimes made to look like an ear of wheat and is often prepared with additional ingredients like olives, garlic, cheese, and anchovies.
Photo by Anna_Shepulova
12. Pumpernickel (Germany)
Pumpernickel refers to a type of rye bread from Germany. Heavy and slightly sweet, it’s made with coarsely ground rye flour, rye berries, and a sourdough starter.
According to one folktale, pumpernickel gets its name from Napoleon Bonaparte. Legend has it that the former French Emperor asked for bread while invading Germany and was given this dark rye bread.
He declared it unfit for consumption and demanded that it be given to his horse Nickel (or Nicole) instead: “C’est du pain pour Nickel/Nicole!“
Photo by Komar.
13. Pretzel (Germany)
Like bratwurst and schnitzel, the brezel or pretzel is one of the most popular German foods. Traditionally made from wheat flour or rye flour, they can be made into various shapes though the symmetrical knot form is the most iconic and recognizable.
Pretzels have a characteristic color, texture, and flavor that’s derived from being immersed in a lye solution (or washing soda) before baking. They’re traditionally seasoned with coarse salt though they can be flavored with other ingredients as well like mustard, cheese, sugar, seeds, and nuts.
Photo by bhofack2
14. Kipferl (Austria)
If you’re a fan of croissants, then you may want to try these similarly-shaped bread rolls from Austria. Known as kipferl or kifli, these crescent-shaped bread rolls are believed to be the inspiration for French croissants.
Unlike croissants which are made from laminated pastry dough, kipferl are made from a soft yeasted dough. The dough is flattened into a thin sheet and then cut into triangular wedges before being rolled into crescent shapes and baked.
Photo by myviewpoint
15. Tiger Bread (Netherlands)
Known for its cracked crust, this appetizing-looking bread from the Netherlands is known as tijgerbrood or tiger bread.
Tiger bread is made by painting rice paste onto the surface of the dough before baking. The paste dries and cracks while baking, giving the bread its characteristic mottled appearance.
Photo by artistrobd
16. Lángos (Hungary)
Lángos was one of our favorite street foods in Budapest. It refers to a deep-fried Hungarian flatbread that can be eaten plain or topped with a variety of ingredients like garlic butter, sour cream, grated cheese, ham, sausage, and mushroom.
Lángos is most often eaten plain with garlic, but we went to one innovative street food stall in Budapest that used them as hamburger buns. It was delicious!
Photo by [email protected]
17. Bagel (Poland)
If you’re from New York or Montreal, then the bagel is probably one of your favorite types of bread. This iconic ring-shaped bread has become ultra-famous in North America but it originated from the Jewish communities of Poland.
A bagel consists of yeasted dough that’s shaped into a ring by hand and then briefly boiled before baking. The preparation process results in a browned bread with a dense, doughy, and chewy interior. It’s usually topped with poppy or sesame seeds and sliced horizontally before eating.
Bagels in North America are often served with spreads and toppings like cream cheese, butter, jam, lox, and capers. They can also be used to make sandwiches with a variety of fillings.
Photo by bhofack2
18. Borodinsky (Russia)
Borodinsky refers to a dark sourdough rye bread from Russia. It’s traditionally made from a mixture of whole grain rye flour, wheat flour, and rye malt enriched with molasses, caraway, and coriander seeds.
Photo by gulya_shaina
19. Kalach (Eastern Europe)
Kalach refers to a type of bread popular in many Eastern European countries like Russia, Ukraine, Hungary, Poland, Romania, and Serbia. Meaning “circle” or “wheel”, it’s a ring-shaped bread that’s traditionally prepared and consumed to celebrate Slavic rituals.
In Hungary and Romania for example, kalach is usually prepared for holidays like Easter. In Belarus and Poland, it’s traditionally baked for weddings and welcoming ceremonies.
Photo by fotoflow
20. Focaccia (Italy)
The Italians have many contributions to the world of bread, but when I think of Italian bread, the first thing that comes to mind is focaccia.
Focaccia refers to a popular leavened Italian flatbread that’s similar to pizza bread. But unlike pizza dough that’s baked immediately after flattening, focaccia is left to rise until it fills out the pan. It can be served as a side dish or used as sandwich bread.
Focaccia can be made in many different ways but one of the most popular is Genoese focaccia. It’s topped with olive oil and coarse salt and has finger-sized indentations on its surface.
Photo by monkeybusiness
21. Ciabatta (Italy)
Ciabatta is another well-known type of bread from Italy. Meaning “slipper” in Italian, ciabatta refers to a type of Italian white bread made from wheat flour, yeast, salt, water, and olive oil.
I was surprised to learn that ciabatta was invented as recently as 1982. Not to be outdone by the French, it’s said to have been created as a response to the popularity of the baguette.
A large volume of French bread was being imported into Italy to make sandwiches, so a local baker from Polesine created the recipe for ciabatta as a local alternative.
As you can probably guess, ciabatta gets its name from its flat and elongated, slipper-like shape.
Photo by AntonioGravante
22. Bread Sticks (Italy)
Known as grissini in Italy, bread sticks are pencil-sized sticks of crispy baked bread. They were invented sometime in mid-17th century Italy, but they’ve become equally popular in the US where they’re often served as crispy or soft appetizers at Italian-American restaurants.
Photo by fudio
23. Piadina (Italy)
Piadina refers to a type of flatbread traditionally associated with the Romagna region of Italy. Made with white flour, olive oil, salt, and water, it can be eaten with savory or sweet fillings like cheese, cold cuts, vegetables, and jam.
Photo by lenyvavsha
24. Michetta (Italy)
This Italian white bread with an interesting bulged shape is known as the michetta. It’s a descendant of the Austrian kaiser roll that was brought to Milan sometime in the 19th century.
Michetta are highly leavened bread rolls with a hard crust and an extremely airy, almost hollow interior.
Photo by marmo81
25. Pita (Greece)
When I think of flatbreads, pita is the first thing that comes to mind. It refers to a family of yeast-leavened flatbreads that’s been a staple of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines for thousands of years.
Pita is a versatile type of wheat flour bread that’s often made with an interior pocket. Baked at high temperatures, the water in the dough turns into steam which causes the pita to puff up and form a pocket.
After baking, pita bread is often used as a vessel to make wrap or pocket sandwiches. It can also be used as a scoop for dips or cut into smaller pieces and then baked into crispy pita chips.
Photo by chudo2307
26. Tsoureki (Greece)
If sweet bread is your jam, then you’ll probably enjoy tsoureki. Popular in Greece and Armenia, it’s a type of sweet holiday bread that’s traditionally prepared to celebrate Easter.
Tsoureki is made from a sweet yeasted dough consisting of flour, butter, eggs, milk, and sugar. The dough is brushed with egg wash before baking and often enriched with additional ingredients like orange zest, almond extract, mastic, and cinnamon.
Because tsoureki is traditionally baked for Easter, it’s often made with dyed red eggs pressed into the dough.
Photo by gioiak2
27. Naan (India)
Indian food is one of my absolute favorite cuisines in the world. I love dipping shreds of freshly baked naan bread into bowls of curry. For me, it’s one of life’s great simple pleasures.
The curries in an Indian meal will always be the star but naan bread makes them even more enjoyable. Naan refers to a type of leavened flatbread that’s popular in South Asian cuisine. It’s made with white or whole wheat flour and is usually leavened with yeast before being baked in a tandoor (clay oven).
At Indian restaurants, you can usually get them plain or brushed with butter and/or garlic.
Photo by odua
28. Paratha (India)
The Indian subcontinent is famous for its flatbreads. Outside of India, naan is perhaps the most well-known but you should definitely try paratha as well. It’s one of the most popular types of unleavened flatbread in Indian cuisine.
Paratha translates to something like “layers of cooked dough”. Using a laminated dough technique, it’s made by repeatedly folding and brushing layers of whole wheat dough with ghee or oil to create its characteristically flaky layers. The discs are then cooked on a tava before being finished off with shallow frying.
Paratha can be made plain or filled with a variety of ingredients like dal (lentils), spiced potatoes, vegetables, and paneer (Indian cottage cheese).
Photo by lenyvavsha
29. Khobz Al Khameer (UAE)
In Standard Arabic, the word “khubz” refers to any type of bread. There are many different types of khubz in the Middle East, but if you visit Dubai, then you need to try khobz al khameer. It’s a popular yeasted Emirati flatbread that’s typically eaten for breakfast in the UAE.
Khobz al khameer is usually enjoyed with various accompaniments like date paste, jam, honey, and cheese. Like pita bread, it has a hollow center that can be stuffed with date paste and other fillings.
Photo by Wirestock
30. Barbari Bread (Iran)
Barbari bread refers to a thick, yeast-leavened Iranian flatbread topped with sesame seeds or black caraway seeds. Like pretzels, it’s known for its distinctive skin that gets its color and texture from being brushed with a mixture of baking soda, flour, and water before baking.
Photo by VictorJiang
31. Challah (Israel)
Challah is a type of braided bread with Ashkenazi Jewish roots. It’s an important ritual bread that’s typically prepared for ceremonial occasions like Shabbat and other major Jewish holidays.
Challah can be made in many ways. Traditional Ashkenazi challah is a brioche-like bread that’s made with a large number of eggs, white flour, yeast, water, sugar, salt, and oil. After rising, the dough is rolled into rope-like shapes and braided before being sprinkled with sesame or poppy seeds. The dough is then brushed with egg wash before baking to give it its characteristic golden brown color.
Interestingly, a portion of dough must be separated as an offering to make the bread ritually acceptable. The term challah can refer to both the bread and this portion of dough.
Photo by OlgaBombologna
32. Bazlama (Turkey)
We absolutely love Turkish cuisine. From its colorful meze platters to its doner kebabs and breads-based dishes like lahmacun and pide, we couldn’t get enough of Turkish food.
There are many delicious types of bread in Turkey but bazlama is one of our favorites. It refers to a soft, leavened Turkish flatbread that’s similar to naan, but thicker and heavier. Also known as “village bread”, it’s traditionally cooked over an open wood fire and is usually eaten fresh for breakfast or stuffed with various ingredients like a sandwich.
Photo by sriba3
33. Shotis Puri (Georgia)
Shotis puri, or simply shoti, refers to an interesting, canoe-shaped type of Georgian bread. Like naan, it’s cooked in a tandoor-like clay oven called a tone.
Shoti can be made at any time of the year though it’s especially popular during holidays and special celebrations like weddings and birthdays.
Photo by [email protected]
34. Lavash (Armenia)
Lavash is another type of bread that’s cooked in a clay oven. Popular in many South Caucasian and Western Asian countries like Armenia, Iran, Turkey, and Kazakhstan, it’s a versatile flatbread that can be used as a wrap for meats or eaten for breakfast with eggs, cheese, jam, or butter.
Lavash can be leavened or unleavened. Traditionally, it’s baked by slapping the dough on the side of a tonir clay oven but it can also be cooked on a saj or pan.
Photo by maxsol7
35. Obi Non (Uzbekistan)
Obi non is perhaps one of the most beautiful types of Asian flatbread. It’s an important Uzbek staple food that’s similar to naan, except it’s adorned with a decorative pattern on its surface.
Like many of the flatbreads from this part of the world, obi non is baked in a traditional clay oven called a tandyr.
Photo by Fascinadora
36. Mantou (China)
Mantou is a type of bread bun from northern China. It’s different from most other types of bread in that it’s steamed and not baked.
Mantou is a staple food in parts of China where wheat, instead of rice, is the primary crop. It’s made with milled wheat flour, water, and leavening agents and can range in size from 4-15 cm (1.6-5.9 in).
Steamed mantou buns are delicious but in Singapore, you can try a fried version that may be even better. They’re typically served as a side dish with chili crabs.
Aumrino970, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom
37. Shokupan (Japan)
Japan is our favorite country in the world to visit, and a lot of that has to do with Japanese food. Sushi and ramen are amazing but the Japanese make awesome baked goods as well, one of our favorites being shokupan or Japanese milk bread.
Shokupan is just white bread but it’s probably the softest and most delicious white bread you’ll ever taste in your life. As its name suggests, it’s a slightly sweet and milky type of bread made with white flour, milk powder, butter, yeast, salt, and sugar. Soft, buttery, and fluffy, it’s basically the Japanese version of a Pullman loaf.
From focaccia bread to banh mi and hoagies, Renée bakes amazing breads but her shokupan may be my favorite. It’s amazing on its own but even better when used for sandwiches.
In Japan, you’ll find two types of shokupan – one with a rounded top (pictured below) and another with a flat top.
ChrisHamby, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom
38. Banh Mi (Vietnam)
I’m starting to sound like a broken record but banh mi is another of my favorite types of bread in the world. It’s a French-influenced Vietnamese baguette that’s basically a miniature version of the iconic French bread.
Banh mi is made with a dough consisting of both wheat flour and rice flour. Like the baguette, it’s known for having a crispy crust and a soft airy crumb that sort of crumbles in on itself when you take a bite. It’s so incredibly delicious.
The term banh mi can refer to both the Vietnamese sandwich and the bread used to make it.
39. Pan de Sal (Philippines)
The Philippines isn’t really known for its bread but since we’re originally from Manila, I had to include pan de sal. It’s a soft bread roll that’s typically eaten for breakfast in the Philippines.
Pan de sal is a small bread roll that’s made with wheat flour and/or bread flour, yeast, sugar, salt, and oil. The dough is shaped into logs and then rolled in bread crumbs before being portioned and baked.
Filipinos love sweet food and pan de sal is an example of that. I wouldn’t call it a sweet bread, but it’s definitely on the sweeter side. It can be eaten as is, dipped into coffee, or eaten with fillings like a small sandwich.
Photo by junpinzon
40. Roti Canai (Malaysia)
Roti canai (or roti prata in Singapore) is a Southeast Asian variation of Indian paratha. Like paratha, it’s made with a dough that’s repeatedly kneaded, oiled, and folded to create a soft and flaky layered flatbread.
Roti canai can be made in many variations but I like plain roti the best. It’s usually served with a curry dipping sauce and makes for a great appetizer at Malaysian restaurants.
Photo by tehcheesiong
41. Biscuit (USA)
The word “biscuit” may mean something else in other parts of the world but in the US, it refers to a type of quick bread that’s like a denser and crumblier version of a dinner roll.
About the size of a hockey puck, American biscuits have a firm exterior and a soft, crumbly interior. They’re typically eaten for breakfast or as a side dish with butter, jam, or honey. Like English muffins, they can also be sliced horizontally and eaten with breakfast ingredients like a sandwich.
Photo by HHLtDave5
42. Cornbread (USA)
Cornbread is another type of quick bread that’s popular in the US. Made with cornmeal, it’s especially popular in southern cooking though its roots are in Native American cuisine.
Cornbread is usually baked or fried. It can be eaten for breakfast or served on the side with southern staples like barbecue, pinto beans, and chili con carne. It can be slightly sweet or neutral in flavor and has a distinctively grainy texture that’s different from other types of bread.
Photo by bhofack2
43. Tortilla (Mexico)
We currently live in Mexico so we’ve had our fair share of corn tortillas. Wheat tortillas are available in Mexico as well though the corn tortilla is definitely king.
A tortilla is a Mesoamerican type of unleavened flatbread. Traditionally, it’s made with nixtamalized corn but it’s now commonly made from wheat flour as well. Because corn masa is gluten-free, corn tortillas are noticeably crumblier in texture than their wheat counterparts.
In Mexico, tortillas are often served on the side or as a vessel to make tacos and quesadillas.
Photo by bhofack2
44. Cemita (Mexico)
We spent a lot of time in Puebla where cemita sandwiches reign supreme. Like banh mi, the term cemita can refer to both the sandwich and the bread used to make it.
The cemita is a type of Mexican bread roll that’s traditionally associated with Puebla. It’s an eggy, brioche-type bread that’s made with wheat flour, eggs, butter, yeast, salt, and sugar. They’re topped with sesame seeds and have a distinctively crunchy exterior and a soft rich interior.
Like banh mi, cemitas poblanas are among my favorite sandwiches in the world, and a lot of that has to do with the bread.
45. Arepa (Venezuela, Colombia)
The arepa is an important staple food in Venezuelan and Colombian cuisine. You can think of it as the South Amercian equivalent of naan or pita bread, but instead of wheat flour, it’s made with ground maize dough.
Whether in Colombia or Venezuela, arepas are eaten throughout the day. They can be enjoyed plain or filled with various ingredients like cheese, eggs, and meat.
Photo by anamejia18
46. Marraqueta (Chile)
It was interesting to learn that Chile is one of the biggest consumers of bread in the world. The average Chilean is estimated to eat over 90 kg (200 pounds) of bread per year, and there’s no doubt that marraqueta accounts for a significant part of that total.
Marraqueta is the most popular type of bread in Chilean cuisine. Easily recognizable for its distinctive shape that can be broken up into four segments, it’s also referred to as pan francés thanks to its crusty and crunchy baguette-like texture. It’s typically eaten for breakfast, enjoyed with pebre salsa or mashed avocado, or used as sandwich bread.
Marraqueta is such an important part of Chilen culture that a local saying goes: “Nació con la marraqueta bajo el brazo”, which literally means “to be born with a marraqueta under his/her arm”.
This saying describes a child that has their future secured, much like the English phrase “to be born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth”.
Photo by Blinovita
47. Hallulla (Chile)
After marraqueta, hallulla is perhaps the second most consumed bread in Chile. It refers to a round flatbread made with wheat flour, vegetable shortening (or lard), milk, water, yeast, sugar, and salt.
Popular in South American countries like Chile, Bolivia, and Ecuador, hallulla is commonly eaten as a sandwich or served as a side dish with larger meals.
Photo by PantherMediaSeller
48. Aish Baladi (Egypt)
Staple foods like bread, corn, and rice are defining elements in many cultures and aish baladi is an example of that. It refers to the Egyptian version of pita bread made with whole wheat flour baked at extremely high temperatures.
Aish baladi is a cornerstone of Egyptian cuisine and a vital part of their culture. In fact, you can tell just how important it is to Egyptian culture by its name – aish means “life” while baladi means “traditional” or “authentic”.
Consumed across all social classes, aish baladi is baked several times a day in Egypt and eaten with every meal.
Photo by Iggib00
49. Injera (Ethiopia)
Injera isn’t one of my favorite types of bread but it’s definitely one of the most interesting and memorable. A staple in Ethiopian cuisine, it’s a spongy sour fermented flatbread that functions not just as food, but as a plate and eating utensil. If you’ve had Ethiopian food, then you’ll know what I mean.
Injera is made with tef, the world’s smallest grain. Tef dough is mixed with ersho (starter) and left to ferment to give it a mild sour taste. After a few days, the dough is flattened and baked into round pieces on a large circular griddle called a mitad.
Injera has a spongy and absorbent texture that makes it an ideal accompaniment to Ethiopian food. Various stews and curries are served on a “tablecloth” of injera along with several rolls. To eat, you tear pieces of injera and use them as scoops to pick up the food.
It’s an interesting experience that’s sure to stay with you long after the last piece of injera is gone.
Photo by artush
50. Damper (Australia)
Last on this long list of bread is damper, an Australian version of soda bread. It’s made from a wheat-based dough that’s lightly kneaded and then baked in the coals of a fire.
Damper is an iconic Australian bread that was consumed by stockmen who traveled to remote parts of Australia for long periods of time. They often carried just basic rations so they needed food that was easy to make. Damper can be made with just flour, water, salt, and a leavening agent like baking soda or beer.
Photo by SherS
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF BREAD FROM AROUND THE WORLD
When I started this list, it was considerably longer than it is now. It included many batter-based breads like waffle, baghrir (Moroccan pancake), crepe, dosa (Indian pancake), and palachinka (Bulgarian pancake). Personally, I consider all those dishes to be types of bread but other people may not, so I left them out (for now).
After doing research for this article, I found that the line separating bread, cake, and pastry is thin and often debatable. There really is no definitive definition that distinguishes one from the other so “tweener” products like pancakes, banana bread, and croissants can fit in more than one category.
In any case, I hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as I enjoyed writing it. Being Asian, rice and noodles will always be king for me but I can never say no to a loaf of good bread.
Cover photo by AntonMatyukha. Stock images via Depositphotos.
The fact that it was our favorite city on a recent 5-week trip to Europe was surprising to both of us.
Before our trip, we knew very little about Budapest. Other than Szechenyi thermal baths being popular and goulash soup having beef, we really didn’t know what to expect.
I knew it was a treasure trove of Gothic architecture*. I knew the Danube River divided Buda from Pest but what I didn’t expect, was to find a cool and trendy city with an edginess that belied its classical feel and recent socialist past.
We loved Budapest so much that we’re already planning a return trip back. And when that happens, we’ll stay for no less than a month. Budapest resonated with us to such a degree that we want to experience what it’s like to actually live there, even for just a month.
Not everyone has a month so if you have limited time, then I’d say 3 days in Budapest is enough. It’ll give you a good taste of the city and hopefully make you fall in love with it as much as we did.
This 3 day Budapest itinerary lists many of the city’s top attractions and restaurants to help first-time visitors plan the perfect 3 days in Budapest.
*I know very little about architecture. I don’t feel comfortable talking about it but it’s such a key part of the Budapest experience that it’s important to describe it in some capacity. I apologize in advance for any incorrect descriptions.
BUDAPEST ITINERARY QUICK LINKS
This Budapest itinerary is long. For your convenience, I’ve compiled links to recommended hotels, tours, and other travel-related services here.
Top-rated hotels in District I, one of the best areas to stay for first-time visitors to Budapest.
Luxury: Hilton Budapest
Midrange: Ékszerdoboz A Budai Vár Alatt
Budget: BudaHome Apartments
Walking Tour: 3-Hour Grand City Tour and Castle Walk
Széchenyi Baths: Széchenyi Spa Full Day Entrance
Food Tour: Hungarian Cuisine Tasting Experience
Travel Insurance (with COVID cover)
BUDAPEST TRAVEL GUIDE
If you’re visiting Budapest for the first time, then be sure to check out our detailed Budapest travel guide. It’ll have all the information you need – like when to go, where to stay, which restaurants to visit, etc. – to help you plan your trip.
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WHAT TO DO IN BUDAPEST IN 3 DAYS
Listed below are the city’s top attractions and a few recommended restaurants you can visit with 3 days in Budapest. You can jump to the location map at the bottom of this post to see exactly where they are in the city.
Budapest has a great public transportation system so getting around shouldn’t be a problem. We explored Budapest on our own but if you’d rather go on a guided tour, then you can choose one from the many offered on Get Your Guide or Klook.
BUDAPEST ITINERARY QUICK GLANCE
DAY ONE • Andrassy Avenue • 9BAR (breakfast) • St. Stephen’s Basilica • Erzsebetvaros • Great Synagogue • Bors GasztroBar (lunch) • Heroes’ Square • Szechenyi Thermal Bath • Karavan Street Food (dinner) • Szimpla Kert (drinks)
DAY TWO • Szechenyi Chain Bridge • Matthias Church • Fisherman’s Bastion • Baltazar Budapest Grill and Boutique Hotel (lunch) • Ruszwurm Confectionery (dessert) • Buda Castle • House of Terror or Flippermuzeum • Mazel Tov (dinner and drinks)
DAY THREE • Molnar’s Kurtoskalacs (breakfast) • Great Market Hall (takeaway) • Danube River Cruise • Margaret Island • Hungarian Parliament Building • Shoes on the Danube Bank • Stand25 Bisztro (dinner)
BUDAPEST ITINERARY DAY 1: THE PEST SIDE
On your first of 3 days in Budapest, take a stroll down Andrassy Avenue which is the city’s main boulevard. It’s about a 2.3 km stretch that starts in central Pest and goes all the way to Heroes’ Square.
On either side are beautiful Neo-Renaissance buildings with cafes, restaurants, luxury boutiques, and embassies. The Hungarian State Opera House, considered by many to be one of the world’s most beautiful opera houses, is located along Andrassy Avenue.
Inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002, Andrassy Avenue is a chic shopping street and a great place to get a feel for the city.
From our AirBnB in Liszt Ferenc Square, we walked down Andrassy Avenue to have breakfast at 9BAR, a terrific little cafe near St. Stephen’s Basilica. They make great croissants and serve a good selection of sandwiches and cakes.
9BAR is a local favorite with a perfect 5-star rating on TripAdvisor. It was the ideal place to have breakfast before proceeding to St. Stephen’s Basilica and exploring the Jewish Quarter.
Address: Budapest, Lázár u. 5, 1065 Hungary Operating Hours: 8AM-6PM, Mon-Fri / 8AM-4PM, Sat (closed Sun) What to Order: Coffee, croissants, sandwiches Expect to Spend: About HUF 1,000-1,200 for coffee and a croissant
St. Stephen’s Basilica
After breakfast at 9BAR, you can proceed to St. Stephen’s Basilica which is less than a 5-minute walk away. It’s one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks and a must-do on any Budapest itinerary.
Completed in 1905, St. Stephen’s Basilica is the biggest church in Budapest and considered the most sacred Catholic church in all of Hungary. It’s named after Stephen I, the first King of Hungary, and houses his mummified right hand.
St. Stephen’s Basilica was designed by Miklos Ybl, one of Hungary’s most influential architects and the same person responsible for building the Hungarian State Opera House.
Entrance to the church is a nominal HUF 200 per person. We didn’t do it but you can climb up to the basilica’s dome for an additional HUF 600.
If you’re Catholic or have an interest in Catholic churches, then Get Your Guide offers a guided church tour that takes you to St. Stephen’s Basilica and two other churches of note in Budapest’s Old Town.
Operating Hours: 9AM-5PM, Mon-Fri / 9AM-1PM, Sat / 1-5PM, Sun Admission: HUF 200 (church), HUF 600 (dome) Estimated Time to Spend: About 30 mins – 1 hr
Erzsebetvaros (District VII) and the Jewish Quarter
This was my favorite neighborhood and where we spent most of our 3 days in Budapest. Erzsebetvaros or Elizabeth Town refers to an area south of Andrassy Avenue. It’s home to the Jewish Quarter and the Great Synagogue, not to mention the city’s ruin pubs.
The Jewish Quarter is where we spent most of our evenings. It’s a youthful and vibrant area with plenty of interesting dining options. In fact, we enjoyed some of our most memorable Budapest food experiences here in the Jewish Quarter.
I suggest walking around the area for a bit before lunch, and then coming back later in the evening to experience what it’s like at night.
The Great Synagogue or the Dohany Street Synagogue is the largest synagogue in Europe and another essential addition to your Budapest itinerary. It was built in 1859 and designed in the Moorish Revival style with a mixture of Byzantine, Gothic, and Romantic elements.
I didn’t go inside but there’s a HUF 5,000 admission fee which gives you access to the Heroes’ Temple, the Jewish Museum, a graveyard, a memorial site, and the synagogue itself.
You can pay for admission at the gate or book a guided tour that stops at the Great Synagogue.
Photo by Boris Stroujko via Shutterstock
Operating Hours: 10AM-8PM, Sun-Thurs / 10AM-4PM, Fri Admission: HUF 5,000 Estimated Time to Spend: About 2 hrs
About a 5-minute walk from Dohany Street Synagogue is Bors Gasztrobar, a tiny street food joint where we enjoyed one of our best meals during our 3 days in Budapest. They make gourmet interpretations of Hungarian street food like baguette sandwiches, soups, and stews.
We had this terrific baguette sandwich made with chicken breast, raspberry onion jam, and edamer cheese. It was so unbelievably delicious. The soup we had was fantastic as well.
Bors GasztroBar is located along trendy Kazinczy Street in the Jewish Quarter. It’s a popular place with a perfect 5-star rating on TripAdvisor, even after accumulating 3,200 reviews. Don’t miss it!
Address: Budapest, Kazinczy u. 10, 1075 Hungary Operating Hours: 11:30AM-9PM, daily What to Order: Grilled baguette sandwiches, soups, stews Expect to Spend: About HUF 750 (half) / HUF 1,200 (full) for grilled baguette sandwiches
After lunch, it’s time for a bath. If you need to go back to your hotel for a change of clothing, then go ahead and do that before taking the bus or metro to Heroes’ Square.
Located at the eastern end of Andrassy Avenue, Hosok Tere or Heroes’ Square is one Budapest’s major squares. It’s known for its statue complex featuring the Seven Chieftains of the Magyars and the Memorial Stone of Heroes.
The statues are impressive but most tourists seem to be more interested in taking selfies with this large Budapest sign. After snapping a few pictures, take your swimsuit and walk to Szechenyi Thermal Bath.
Operating Hours: 24 hrs Admission: FREE Estimated Time to Spend: About 30 mins
Szechenyi Thermal Bath
Szechenyi Thermal Bath is one of the most popular attractions in Budapest. It’s the largest medicinal bath facility in Europe, featuring fifteen indoor thermal pools and three outdoor pools, including one with a whirlpool.
The water in these thermal pools reach temperatures of up to 40°C (104°F). They’re rich in calcium, magnesium, and hydrogen carbonate and are said to be good for joint pain, arthritis, blood circulation, and disorders of the nervous system.
We visited Szechenyi Thermal Bath but we didn’t bathe in the pools, which was a decision I would later regret. Everyone we know who’s done it says it’s one of the best things they did in Budapest. In one friend’s words: “I wish I did it everyday.” With 3 days in Budapest, you have plenty of time to experience this.
Follow the link for a list of bath services and prices. You can buy a spa package at the gate or book one in advance through Get Your Guide or Klook.
Photo by Anna Dunlop via Shutterstock
Operating Hours: 6AM-10PM, daily Admission: Starts at HUF 5,600 per person Estimated Time to Spend: At least 2 hrs
Karavan Street Food
After your spa experience, head back to the Jewish Quarter for dinner. As described, there are plenty of interesting restaurants in the area, but if you want more street food, then check out Karavan.
Karavan is a food park on the same street as Bors GasztroBar. There are about 10-15 food stalls to choose from but we were here specifically for one place – Langos Burger.
As their name suggests, they make burger versions of langos which is a classic Hungarian food made with deep-fried dough. Langos Burger was voted one of the ten best street food stalls in Europe in 2018.
Karavan is a fun place with a youthful, energetic vibe. It’s a great place to have dinner and a few drinks before continuing to Szimpla Kert, Budapest’s most famous ruin bar.
Address: Budapest, Kazinczy u. 18, 1075 Hungary Operating Hours: 11:30AM-11PM, Sun-Wed / 11:30AM-1AM, Thurs-Sat What to Order: Langos Burger, Langos Expect to Spend: About HUF 1,100 (classic) / 1,690 (burger) for langos
Located two doors down from Karavan, Szimpla Kert is the original romkocsma. Romkocsma means “ruin pub” in Hungarian.
A ruin pub is basically a drinking establishment set up in an old abandoned building. Szimpla Kert was the first and most iconic, but many others have sprouted in and around the Jewish Quarter.
Ruin pubs have become so popular over the years that they’ve become synonymous with the Budapest experience. You definitely need to add this to your Budapest itinerary. They cater mostly to the young and creative so many ruin pubs can be loud and club-like in feel, though some like Mazel Tov have evolved to become more elegant dining spaces.
Szimpla Kert was the only romkocsma we went to but you can refer to this article for more of the best ruin pubs in Budapest. Get Your Guide offers a few ruin pub crawls as well.
Address: Budapest, Kazinczy u. 14, 1075 Hungary Operating Hours: 10AM-4AM, Mon-Sat / 9AM-4AM, Sun
BUDAPEST ITINERARY DAY 2: THE BUDA SIDE
Szechenyi Chain Bridge
After exploring the Pest side on your first of 3 days in Budapest, it’s time to walk along Szechenyi Chain Bridge and cross over to the Buda side. The bridge is only 375 meters long (1,230 ft) so it takes less than 10 minutes to get to the other side.
The Buda side’s top attractions are at the top of a hill so walking will be difficult. You can either ride the funicular to Buda Castle Hill, pay for a hop-on hop-off castle shuttle, or go on a guided tour.
The line to the funicular was too long so we chose the hop-on hop-off castle shuttle. If you’d like to explore Buda’s historical attractions with a guide, then a fun way to do that would be to go on these segway or bike tours.
St. Stephen’s Basilica may be larger and more physically impressive but I found Matthias Church to be more beautiful. It’s one of the city’s most striking landmarks and a highlight on this 3 day Budapest itinerary.
Originally built in the 11th century, Matthias Church is a strikingly beautiful church with a colorful roof covered in diamond-patterned tiles. It was used for centuries as a coronation church by Hungarian kings and a mosque by Ottoman Turks before becoming the Roman Catholic church that it is today.
You can visit Matthias Church on your own or go on a guided tour.
Operating Hours: 9AM-5PM, Mon-Fri / 9AM-1PM, Sat / 1-5PM, Sun Admission: HUF 1,800 Estimated Time to Spend: About 30 mins – 1 hr
Just a few steps away from Matthias Church is Fisherman’s Bastion, one of the city’s most popular monuments and another must-add to any Budapest itinerary. It was built in the early 20th century by Frigyes Schulek, the same architect responsible for the restoration of Matthias Church.
Though Fisherman’s Bastion looks like a fortification, it was designed primarily as a viewing platform where people could appreciate some of the best views of the city and the Danube River. It gets its name from the medieval guild of fishermen responsible for defending this section of castle wall.
Some people claim that Fisherman’s Bastion served as the inspiration for the Walt Disney logo. I think this is a stretch. What do you think?
Fisherman’s Bastion is easy enough to visit on your own but you can also go within the context of a guided tour.
Operating Hours: 9AM-11PM, daily Admission: FREE (lower terraces), HUF 1,000 (upper towers) Estimated Time to Spend: About 30 mins
Baltazar Budapest Grill and Boutique Hotel
About 500 meters from Matthias Church and Fisherman’s Bastion is Baltazar Grill, an Hungarian restaurant and boutique hotel which some say serves some of the best beef goulash in Budapest.
If you’d like to try beef goulash and other traditional Hungarian dishes, then you may want to have lunch at Baltazar Grill before proceeding to Buda Castle. We had the goulash and chicken paprikash but they do offer less traditional fare like burgers and ribs as well.
Address: Budapest, Országház u. 31, 1014 Hungary Operating Hours: 7:30AM-11PM, daily What to Order: Beef goulash soup, chicken paprikash, burgers Expect to Spend: About HUF 5,000-6,000 per person with drinks
Ruszwurm Confectionery is a great place to have coffee and cake. Located less than a hundred meters from Matthias Church, it’s one of the city’s oldest pastry shops with a reputation for serving some of the best dobos torte in Budapest.
Dobos torte or drum torte is Hungary’s signature cake. It’s a type of sponge cake layered with chocolate buttercream and topped with a hard caramel coating.
We had a slice each of dobos torte and kremes or Hungarian cream cake. Both were delicious.
Address: Budapest, Szentháromság u. 7, 1014 Hungary Operating Hours: 10AM-6PM, daily What to Order: Cakes Expect to Spend: About HUF 600-800 for a slice of cake
After polishing off your cake, you can jump into the hop-on hop-off shuttle or walk to Buda Castle. It’s a little over a kilometer away.
The term “Buda Castle” was confusing to me at first. If I understand correctly, it can be used to refer to both the actual structure and the castle district or quarter.
Buda Castle, the physical castle, is located within a fortified complex called the Castle Quarter (Varnegyed), which is located on top of a hill known as Castle Hill (Varhegy). Buda Castle, Matthias Church, and Fisherman’s Bastion are all located within the Castle Quarter.
Much of the Castle Quarter is now residential so you’re free to explore the area. Buda Castle is home to the Hungarian National Gallery and the Budapest History Museum. You can explore the area around Buda Castle for free but you’ll need tickets to enter the national gallery or museum.
We were perfectly happy exploring the castle district on our own, but if you’d like to go on a guided tour, then you can book one through Get Your Guide.
If you still have time after exploring the Buda side, then you can head back to the Pest side and visit either the House of Terror or Flippermuzeum.
Operating Hours: 24 hrs (Castle Quarter) Admission: HUF 3,200 (Hungarian National Gallery), HUF 2,400 (Budapest History Museum) Estimated Time to Spend: Between 2-5 hrs, depending on how many sites you want to visit
House of Terror
The House of Terror is a museum along Andrassy Avenue, located inside a beautiful building that once served as the headquarters to both the Hungarian Arrow Cross Party (Hungary’s Nazi Party) and AVO/AVH Communist Terrorist Organizations.
It traces the history and horrors that transpired during the Hungarian Nazi regime, much of it occurring within the bowels of this very building. It’s an important but harrowing exhibit that may not be for everyone.
Photo by Bartlomiej K. Kwieciszewski via Shutterstock
Operating Hours: 10AM-6PM, Tue-Sun (closed Mondays) Admission: HUF 3,000 Estimated Time to Spend: About 2 hrs
I wanted to be entertained, not depressed, so I skipped the House of Terror and went to Flippermuzeum instead. Flippermuzeum is both a museum and an arcade featuring fully functioning pinball machines from every era.
For HUF 3,500, you can stay for as long as you like and play any machine for free. Aside from pinball machines, they have other vintage games as well like early foosball and rod hockey tables from the 1930s and 40s. It’s definitely one of the more interesting stops I made in our 3 days in Budapest.
Operating Hours: 4PM-12MN, Wed-Fri / 2PM-12MN, Sat / 10AM-10PM, Sun (closed Mon-Tue) Admission: HUF 3,500 Estimated Time to Spend: About 2 hrs
I wanted to have dinner at Mazel Tov but I read about the long waits so we decided against it. It’s one of the more popular ruin bars in the Jewish Quarter that’s evolved into a more upscale but unpretentious dining space.
Middle Eastern cuisine and Israeli fusion dishes are the specialty here. As described, it’s a popular place so reservations are highly recommended.
Address: Budapest, Akácfa u. 47, 1072 Hungary Operating Hours: 11AM-1AM, Sun-Wed / 11AM-2AM, Thurs-Sat
BUDAPEST ITINERARY DAY 3: THE DANUBE RIVER
Now that you’ve explored the Buda and Pest sides of the city, it’s time to take a cruise on the river that divides them. But before then, you need to have a breakfast of kurtoskalacs, a delicious spit cake that was one of our favorite things to eat in Budapest.
Kurtoskalacs or chimney cakes are spit cakes that are specific to Hungarians from Transylvania. Popular in Hungary and Romania, they’re made by wrapping yeast dough around baking spits and roasting them over charcoal.
While roasting, they’re basted with butter until they turn a deep golden brown. They’re then dusted with toppings like ground walnut, powdered cinnamon, sliced almond, or grated coconut.
Crisp and caramelized on the outside but soft and buttery on the inside, they’re absolutely delicious and go great with coffee. Trying kurtoskalacs is something you definitely need to add to your Budapest itinerary.
Molnar’s Kurtoskalacs is often cited for serving some of the best chimney cakes in Budapest. Situated close to the river on the Pest side, you can easily get there by metro, tram, or bus.
Address: Budapest, Váci u. 31, 1052 Hungary Operating Hours: 9AM-10PM, daily What to Order: Kurtoskalacs Expect to Spend: About HUF 990 (kurtoskalacs) / HUF 2,190 (kurtoskalacs with ice cream)
Great Market Hall
Before proceeding to the dock, I suggest making a stop at Great Market Hall (Central Market Hall), the biggest and oldest indoor market in Budapest. It’s less than a kilometer south of Molnar’s Kurtoskalacs so you can either walk there or take the riverside tram.
The market is in a beautiful 19th-century building with lots of food and souvenir stalls spread out over two floors. You’re probably still full from breakfast but you may want to pick up a few items to go if you plan on following this Budapest itinerary and proceeding to Margaret Island.
Like the Chao Phraya River in Bangkok, locals commute to work on the Danube River everyday. If a quick ferry ride is all you’re interested in, then keep reading. Otherwise, you can book a proper Danube River cruise on Get Your Guide.
If you’re happy to experience the Danube River on a ferry, then take the tram from Great Market Hall to the Boraros ter H tram stop. You’re looking for the Boraros ter H (Petofi hid) ferry terminal which is about a 2-minute walk north of the tram stop.
You’re going to take the D12 ferry to Margaret Island. The one-way fare is HUF 750 and you can get off at Margitsziget, Centenariumi emlekmu ferry terminal which is seven stops away. You can refer to this ferry map for more details.
NOTE: The D12 ferry line doesn’t seem to be operational in winter. If that’s the case, then you can take the D11 ferry instead from Boraros ter H (Petofi hid) to Nepfurdo utca (Arpad hid) ferry terminal. It’s a 1-minute walk to the island from there.
One-way Boat Fare: HUF 750
Margaret Island is a small island sitting in the middle of the Danube River. It’s connected to the Buda and Pest sides by two bridges on the northern and southern ends of the island.
Margaret Island is a pleasant green space and city park that offers good views of some of the city’s grandest attractions like the Hungarian Parliament Building, Buda Castle, and Matthias Church. Attractions on the island include a Japanese garden, an Art Nouveau water tower (pictured below), and the Palatinus Strand Thermal Bath.
If you’d like to explore the 2.5 km long island, then you can do so in fun vehicles like golf carts, egg-shaped cars, electric scooters, and Segways. A few guided tours will take you to Margaret Island as well.
There are a few restaurants on Margaret Island but perhaps a better option would be to have a picnic lunch with food bought from the Great Market Hall.
Photo by VAGABOND via Shutterstock
Admission: FREE Estimated Time to Spend: About 2-3 hrs
Hungarian Parliament Building
From Margaret Island, you can take the ferry or bus to the Hungarian Parliament Building, one of the grandest structures in Budapest. It’s an impressive sight and a highlight on this 3 day Budapest itinerary.
Completed in 1902, the Hungarian Parliament Building is an architectural marvel built in the Gothic Revival style. It’s the third-largest parliament building in the world and contains 691 interior rooms, 10 courtyards, and 12.5 miles of staircase.
There are many impressive buildings in Budapest but this was by far the most spectacular. To fully appreciate it, you need to view it from a distance. From a boat on the Danube River or directly opposite on the Buda side is perfect.
We didn’t do the tour but I read that it’s a good idea to purchase tickets in advance. You can do so directly from the Hungarian National Assembly website. You can also visit the Parliament Building as part of a guided city tour.
Photo by Matteo Gabrieli via Shutterstock
Operating Hours: 8AM-6PM, daily (summer) / 8AM-4PM, daily (winter) Admission: HUF 3,500 (EU citizens), HUF 6,700 (non-EU citizens) Length of Tour: About 45 mins
Shoes on the Danube Bank
A short walk from the Parliament Building is this haunting tribute to the thousands of Jews murdered by Hungary’s Nazi Party.
Approximately 20,000 Jews were shot along the banks of the Danube River by the Arrow Cross Party in 1944-1945. Shoes were a valuable commodity during WWII so the victims were made to remove them before being shot into the river.
The memorial consists of sixty pairs of 1940s-style shoes cast in iron. They’re in different styles and sizes, from men’s work boots to women’s heels to the tiny shoes of a child.
Set by the beautiful Danube River, it was one of the most sobering attractions we visited in our 3 days in Budapest.
Operating Hours: 24 hrs Admission: FREE Length of Tour: About 15 mins
For a special meal in Budapest, you can take a taxi or bus to Stand25 Bisztro, a Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant that offers 2- or 3-course menus featuring modern interpretations of traditional Hungarian food. We had lunch at their former Hold Street Market location but it looks like they’ve since moved to the Buda side.
We had many fantastic dishes at Stand25, some of the most memorable being their meatloaf with yellow pea puree and a delicious layered potato dish with sausages and beetroot salad.
Pictured below is an interesting grilled eggplant tartare with Vaszoly cheese and pumpkin seeds. You can refer to my article on Stand25 Bisztro for more pictures and information.
Address: Budapest, Attila út 10, 1013 Hungary Operating Hours: 12NN-2PM, 6-10PM, Mon-Sat (closed Sundays) What to Order: 3-course menu Expect to Spend: About HUF 14,900++ (dinner)
BUDAPEST LOCATION MAP
I made a map to help you better understand this 3 day Budapest itinerary. Click on the link to open the interactive map in a new window.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THIS BUDAPEST ITINERARY
As described at the top of this article, we fell in love with Budapest and would have loved to stay longer. But if it’s your first time in the city, then 3 days in Budapest is a good amount of time to get a decent feel for the city. It was certainly enough time to make us fall in love with the place and want to experience more.
Whether you’re into architecture, design, history, food, or nightlife, Budapest has something for you. It’s a surprisingly cool city that turned out to be one of our favorite stops in Europe. We reminisce about it often and can’t wait to go back.
Anyway, thanks for reading and I hope this itinerary gives you plenty of ideas on how to maximize your time when you visit Budapest. If you have any questions, then let us know in the comments below. Enjoy your trip!
This Budapest itinerary contains affiliate links, through which we’ll earn a small commission if you make a purchase or booking at no extra cost to you. As always, we only recommend products and services that we use ourselves and can personally vouch for. We appreciate your support as it helps us make more of these free travel guides. Thank you very much!
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was verified by Lazar Ioana Alis, a writer and Romanian food expert based in Tecuci, Romania.
When doing research for this article on Romanian food, I often came across this Romanian cookbook and food blog – From Dill to Dracula (Amazon affiliate link). The book’s title was telling because for many non-Romanians, the story of Count Dracula is still the first thing that comes to mind when they think of Romania.
The legend of Vlad Dracula is the most famous but there are so many compelling reasons to visit this lesser known gem in southeastern Europe. Romania’s medieval castles and painted monasteries are must-visits while its Carpathian Mountains and pastoral countryside offer much to adventure seekers and nature lovers.
If you thrive in big cities, then you’ll want to spend a good chunk of your time in Bucharest. Once nicknamed “Little Paris” and now touted as the “new Berlin”, Romania’s capital buzzes with excitement and is perhaps one of the most underrated cities in Europe.
And then there’s the food.
If you travel to eat like we do, then mouthwatering dishes like mititei, ciorbă, pasca, and sarmale will give you even more reasons to visit Bucharest and Romania. In fact, this Romanian food guide will give you forty! Poftă bună!
ROMANIAN FOOD QUICK LINKS
If you’re planning a trip to Romania and want to really dive into the cuisine, then you may be interested in joining a food tour or taking a cooking class.
Romanian Food Tours: Food and Wine/Drinking Tours in Romania
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WHAT IS TRADITIONAL ROMANIAN FOOD?
Romanian food is a mix of local Dacian traditions and foreign influences, mostly from ancient Roman, Turkish, Hungarian, and Balkan cuisines.
Ancient Dacians existed on a diet consisting mostly of roasted meats, fruits, honey, and aromatic wines. They excelled at breeding cattle and growing crops but they weren’t as skilled at preparing dairy products. They drank raw sheep’s and cow’s milk and ate their vegetables boiled.
Because of the country’s prime geographic location, ancient Romanians were always under the threat of invasion so they learned to eat on the move. They became accustomed to eating raw herbs and salad vegetables and dry curing raw meat.
The Roman occupation brought with it dishes and culinary techniques like pastries (plăcintă, pască), soups, breads, and cold-pressed olive oil. This was followed centuries later by the Ottoman influence and the introduction of now common dishes like meatballs, kebabs, sour soups (borș or ciorbă), stuffed peppers (ardei umpluţi), cabbage rolls (sarmale), and Turkish delight.
From the 1700s onwards, Romanian food started to become more westernized and modernized with Austro-Hungarian, Russian, French, Greek, and Italian influences making their way into different parts of the country.
Sadly, with the arrival of communism in 1947, Romanian gastronomy took a step back with the censorship and elimination of western influences. Even after it ended, this difficult period left a lasting imprint on the culinary sensibilities of Romanians. Many craved the novelty and slick branding of international fast food at the expense of classic Romanian cuisine.
THE BEST TRADITIONAL ROMANIAN DISHES
This article on traditional Romanian food has been organized by category to make it easier to digest. Click on a link to jump to any section of the guide.
Starters / Salads / Sides / Snacks
Soups / Stews
Meat / Poultry
Ignat Day Foods
Desserts / Drinks
Romanian Food Tours
STARTERS / SALADS / SIDES / SNACKS
1. Ardei Umpluţi
If you enjoy Balkan food, then this first Romanian dish will be familiar to you. Ardei umpluţi means “stuffed pepper” in Romanian and refers to the local version of dolma, a popular dish consisting of hollowed-out peppers stuffed with ground meat and rice.
Stuffed peppers are popular in many countries throughout the Balkans and beyond like Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Croatia, Albania, Georgia, and Armenia. They can be made with any type of vegetable but in Romania, ardei umpluţi refers specifically to bell peppers – mostly yellow, but also red and kapia peppers – stuffed with a filling of ground pork, white rice, herbs, onion, garlic, and spices.
Depending on the cook and the region in Romania, it can be stuffed with different spices and herbs and other ingredients like mushrooms, cheese, carrots, and tomatoes. After stuffing, the peppers are traditionally boiled in a tomato sauce with bay leaves and seasonings before being served with a dollop of sour cream or yogurt.
Photo by fanfon
2. Salată de Boeuf
Salată de boeuf literally means “beef salad” and refers to the Romanian equivalent of olivye salad, more commonly known as Russian salad. It’s a type of potato salad that was invented and popularized by Chef Lucien Olivier, a Russian chef of Belgian and French descent who offered the salad at his Hermitage restaurant in Moscow in the 1860s.
As its name suggests, salată de boeuf was traditionally made with beef but these days, it can be made with other proteins like chicken, turkey, and occasionally pork. They’re mixed with finely diced potatoes, root vegetables, and murături (Romanian pickled vegetables) before being smothered in mayonnaise and garnished with bits of vegetables and hard-boiled eggs. In some parts of Romania, sweet mustard may be mixed in as well.
Like sarmale (stuffed cabbage rolls), salată de boeuf is typically a holiday dish in Romania. It’s often prepared to celebrate the Christmas, New Year, and Easter seasons.
Photo by fanfon
3. Salată de Vinete
Salată de vinete is a popular Romanian eggplant salad or dip made with roasted and puréed aubergine mixed with sunflower oil, lemon juice, and salt. It’s very similar to Lebanese baba ghanoush except it isn’t made with any tahini (toasted sesame seed paste).
Salată de vinete typically contains just four ingredients – eggplant, lemon juice, sunflower oil, and salt – but it can be made with additional ingredients as well like garlic, onions, and homemade mayonnaise. It’s typically enjoyed in the summer with crusty bread and slices of fresh tomatoes.
Photo by fanfon
4. Ardei Copți
Ardei copți refers to a type of Romanian roasted pepper salad. It’s a simple side dish or spread made with roasted bell peppers seasoned with salt and doused in a mixture of vinegar and olive oil. Optionally, it can be topped with slices of garlic before serving.
Ardei copți pairs well with salată de vinete. It’s often eaten with Romanian meat dishes and as a spread on crusty bread.
Photo by SingerGM
5. Varză Călită
Varză călită literally means “stewed cabbage” and refers to a type of braised sauerkraut served at many Romanian restaurants. It’s a simple side dish consists of fresh cabbage slowly simmered with tomato paste, onions, sweet peppers, carrots, bay leaves, salt, pepper, and fresh dill.
Varză călită can be served cold or hot, often with smoked pork and paired with mămăligă.
Photo by fanfon
If salată de vinete and ardei copți sound appealing to you, then you’ll definitely want to try this next Romanian dish. Zacuscă is a traditional Romanian vegetable spread made with roasted eggplant and red peppers as its main ingredients. You can think of it as the Romanian version of ajvar.
Romanian recipes for this popular condiment vary but it’s typically made with roasted eggplant, tomato paste, sautéed onions, and gogoșari, a type of Romanian sweet red pepper. It’s usually seasoned with bay leaves, salt, pepper, and olive oil and can be made with additional ingredients like carrots, celery, zucchini, parsley, and mushrooms.
Like ajvar, zacuscă is typically made in large batches in autumn – when eggplant and gogoșari are in season – and then stored in jars for consumption through the winter. It’s usually enjoyed as a spread with bread, often on a platter with different types of Romanian cheese, cold cuts, and slices of red onion.
Photo by kitzzeh
Like sarmale, mămăligă is one of the most important dishes in traditional Romanian cuisine and considered by many to be a national dish. Similar to polenta, it refers to a type of traditional Romanian porridge made from boiled cornmeal, water, salt, and butter (or sunflower oil).
Mămăligă is traditionally cooked in a round-bottomed cast iron pot known as a ceaun or tuci. After it cools down and hardens, the porridge is sliced with a piece of string and served with sour cream, herbs, and fresh Romanian cheese. It can also be crushed and served in a bowl of milk, grilled, or pan-fried in oil or lard.
Mămăligă is a humble Romanian dish that was cooked mostly by peasants as a substitute for bread. Today, it’s consumed throughout the country, even at upscale restaurants, and is considered a staple food in Romania.
Photo by [email protected]
Mămăligă is a versatile ingredient that can be used to make other Romanian dishes. Pictured below is bulz, a traditional Romanian food consisting of mămăligă shaped into balls or patties and stuffed with a creamy filling. The balls can be grilled, baked, or pan-fried until a crunchy crust forms on the outside.
Bulz can be made in different ways but the most popular stuffing is a mixture of butter and brânză de burduf – a soft Romanian sheep’s cheese – along with bacon or ham. After grilling, it’s usually served with sour cream and butter and topped with a fried egg.
Depending on its size, bulz can be enjoyed for breakfast, as a snack, or as a side dish to larger meals.
Photo by johny007pandp
Covrig refers to a type of Romanian pretzel. It’s made with leavened dough that’s twisted and baked before being sprinkled with large salt granules and some type of seed, commonly poppy, sesame, pumpkin, or sunflower seeds.
Covrigi are among the most popular street foods in Romania. They’re available at Romanian pretzel shops called covrigarie or simigerie and can be enjoyed plain or with a variety of fillings like sausage, cheese, fruit, and chocolate.
Photo by CristiCroitoru
Plăcintă is a classic Romanian pastry that’s also popular in Moldovan and Ukrainian cuisine. It consists of a thin and round piece of dough that can be filled with various ingredients. Depending on its filling, it can be enjoyed as an appetizer or for dessert.
Plăcintă is traditionally made with a yeasted dough though it can be made with puff pastry, filo, or shortcrust pastry as well. They can be baked or fried and filled with savory or sweet ingredients like brânză de burduf (Romanian sheep’s cheese), urdă (soft whey cheese), telemea (brined cheese), mashed potatoes, apples, sour cherries, pumpkin, and different types of ground meat mixed with herbs, nuts, and spinach.
Photo by romeovip
Brânzoaice (or poale-n brâu moldovenești) is a type of baked patry popular in Moldovan-Romanian cuisine. Like plăcintă, it can be enjoyed as a savory snack or sweet dessert depending on how it’s made.
When made into a savory pastry, brânzoaice is typically filled with a salty Romanian cheese like telemea. If eaten for dessert, sweet fillings are added to the recipe like farmer’s cheese, sugar, raisins, and honey.
Photo by [email protected]
SOUPS / STEWS
Ciorbă refers to a family of traditional Romanian soups. They can be made with a variety of meat and vegetables and are known for their distinct acidic flavor derived from souring agents like borș, lemon, vinegar, lovage, or sauerkraut juice.
Pictured below is ciorbă de burta or Romanian beef tripe soup. It’s a popular type of ciorbă made with beef tripe, sour cream, garlic, pureed carrots and onions, eggs, and vinegar. Often served with hot chili peppers, sour cream, and/or vinegar, tripe soup is something you’d typically find at any Romanian restaurant in the country.
Photo by grafvision
Ciorbă de fasole refers to a Romanian bean soup that can be made with or without meat. Meatless versions are popular during times of fasting and typically consist of beans cooked with a variety of vegetables and herbs like carrots, celery, raw onions, tomatoes, parsley, thyme, lovage, and lobodă.
When made with beans and smoked meat, the soup becomes known as ciorbă de fasole cu afumătură. Originally from the western regions of Romania, this thick and hearty bean and smoked meat soup is especially popular in winter where it’s often served with hot chili peppers.
Photo by angeluisma
Ciorbă radauteana is a type of ciorbă made with chicken as its main ingredient. Often touted as a hangover cure or remedy for the common cold, it’s made with chicken and other ingredients like sweet red peppers, onions, garlic, carrots, celery, parsley, sour cream, and lemon juice.
Photo by SingerGM
Ciorbă de perisoare refers to a type of Romanian meatball soup made with herbed pork, beef, chicken, or turkey meatballs cooked in a sour broth with tomato paste, vegetables, lovage, vegeta (all-purpose seasoning), and eggs.
Photo by [email protected]
Supă refers to another family of traditional Romanian soups, different from ciorbă. Supă is typically lighter, sweeter, and made with a clearer broth while ciorbă is generally thicker and flavored with a souring agent. Supă is usually served with carrots and onions (and sometimes noodles or dumplings) while a bowl of ciorbă contains meat and different vegetables.
Pictured below is a bowl of supă de pui cu tăiței, or Romanian chicken soup with noodles. When made with dumplings instead of noodles, the dish is known as supă de pui cu găluște.
Photo by [email protected]
Gulaș refers to the Romanian equivalent of goulash, a popular Hungarian beef stew seasoned with paprika and other spices. It initially took root in the Ardeal region of Romania before spreading to other parts of the country.
There are probably as many recipes for gulaș as there are Romanian cooks, but at its most basic, it’s made with meat (usually beef or pork), onions, and paprika. Other common ingredients include tomatoes, garlic, carrots, red peppers, parsley, bay leaves, and cumin.
A hearty and filling meal often served with mămăligă and garlic, Romanian gulaș is typically made with dumplings but it can be made with potatoes as well.
Photo by angeluisma
14. Fasole cu Ciolan Afumat
Fasole cu ciolan afumat refers to a classic Romanian pork and bean stew. It’s a hearty and comforting dish made with dried beans and smoked pork hocks stewed with onions, carrots, tomato paste, cumin, paprika, bay leaves, and seasonings.
Photo by conceptw
15. Ostropel de Pui
Ostropel de pui literally means “chicken stew” and refers to a traditional dish in Romanian cuisine consisting of chicken cooked in a thick tomato sauce flavored with garlic, spring onions, pepper, and different spices. It’s commonly made with chicken thighs or drumsticks but other proteins like pork, rabbit, or lamb can be used as well. Even the meat can be removed altogether and substituted with potatoes or similarly substantial vegetables.
To make ostropel de pui, chicken is fried and then added to a boiling mixture of water, oil, tomato purée, garlic, onions, and flour. The stew is cooked until the sauce thickens before being garnished with parsley and served with a side of mămăligă or boiled/mashed potatoes.
Photo by lenyvavsha
MEAT / POULTRY
No Romanian food guide worth its weight in mămăligă can ever be complete without mititei (or mici), a type of Romanian grilled meat roll or skinless sausage made with a mixture of beef, lamb, pork, garlic, and spices. It’s the local version of ćevapi and widely considered to be a Romanian national dish.
Mititei in Romanian means “little ones”. These popular grilled minced meat rolls are made with ground meat (beef, lamb, pork) seasoned with a host of herbs and spices like garlic, black pepper, anise, coriander, thyme, savory, and paprika. They’re typically grilled outdoors at Romanian barbecues and enjoyed with french fries, mustard, and pickled vegetables called murături. As you can imagine, they also go very well with beer.
Mititei are consumed throughout Romania but they’re believed to have been invented at a restaurant in Bucharest sometime in the late 19th century. According to legend, the cook ran out of sausage casings one day so he was forced to improvise and cook the skinless sausages directly on the grill.
The dish caught on and has since become one of the most popular Romanian dishes and a staple at every barbecue. They can be found everywhere – at Romanian restaurants, pubs, street food stalls, and picnics. They’ve become the go-to dish to celebrate International Workers’ Day where an estimated 30 million mititei are grilled and consumed on May 1st every year.
Photo by icefront
Slănină is the Romanian term for salo, a traditional dish consisting of cured slabs of pork fatback. It’s commonly eaten as a snack in many European countries like Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Hungary, Lithuania, and Czechia.
Salo can be prepared in different ways depending on where it’s from. It can be dry salted or brine cured and made with or without the skin. Unlike bacon, it contains little to no lean meat and can be smoked or flavored with paprika, garlic, salt, black pepper, and other seasonings.
In Romania, slănină is prepared by curing pork fat in brine for 2-3 weeks and then smoking it for several days. It can be eaten raw or cooked and used as an ingredient in Romanian cooking. When eaten as a snack, it can be grilled, fried, or enjoyed as is with bread, Romanian cheese, and red onions.
Photo by florin1961
Rasol refers to a traditional Romanian dish made with meat, potatoes, and various vegetables like carrots, tomatoes, and onions boiled together. Chicken and pork are the most common proteins though it can be made with different types of fresh meat and poultry like beef, duck, turkey, and goose.
Rasol is usually served on a plate with some stock and a side of horseradish, mujdei (mixture of minced garlic, sunflower oil, water, and spices), sour cream, and mămăligă.
Photo by fanfon
Ciulama refers to a traditional Romanian and Moldovan dish made with meat and/or mushrooms served in a white roux sauce. It’s commonly made with chicken (ciulama de pui), turkey (ciulama de curcan), or veal (ciulama de vițel) and served with a side of mămăligă or mujdei.
Photo by lenyvavsha
20. Drob de Miel
If you’re fortunate enough to be in Romania over Easter, then you may get a chance to try drob de miel, a traditional dish made with lamb offal. It’s also known as “lamb haggis” and is the star of every Easter table in Romania.
What’s great about drob de miel is that it’s made with the less glamorous but often more delicious parts of the lamb (at least in my opinion). The lamb’s liver, spleen, heart, lungs, and kidneys are boiled, minced, and then mixed with green onions, garlic, milk-soaked bread, parsley, dill, and raw eggs to form the dish’s filling. Traditionally, it’s made with lamb offal but it can be made with chicken liver as well.
Hard-boiled eggs are added to the mixture before the loaf is wrapped in the lamb’s caul (fatty membrane) and baked in an oven. When cooked, the dish is sliced and enjoyed like meatloaf.
Drob de miel is traditionally made with caul though more modern versions are frequently made with pasta sheets or puff pastry instead.
Photo by roxanabalint
21. Sarmale (Romanian Cabbage Rolls)
Similar to ardei umpluţi, sarmale is the Romanian version of a stuffed vegetable dish popular in many Balkan countries and beyond like Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Greece, Turkey, Ukraine, and Lithuania. It refers to a sub-type of dolma consisting of cabbage or vine leaves stuffed with a minced pork and rice filling.
Like dolma, sarma can be made in different ways in different countries. In Romania, it typically consists of pickled cabbage leaves wrapped around a dolma-like filling of minced pork, rice, onions, and seasonings. The stuffed cabbage rolls are then simmered with smoked bacon, tomato juice, and thyme before being served with bread, mămăligă (Romanian polenta), and lots of sour cream.
Depending on the time of year, sarma in Romania can be made with just mushrooms and vegetables as well. Known as sarmale de post, they’re made without any type of meat filling.
Sarmale is so popular in Romania that it’s considered by many to be a national dish. It’s comforting and absolutely delicious. It can be enjoyed at any time of the year though it becomes especially popular around Christmas and Easter.
Photo by Lovelymama
22. Varză a la Cluj
If you like Romanian cabbage rolls, then you’ll probably enjoy varză a la cluj. It refers to a Transylvanian casserole made with cooked sour cabbage layered with seasoned minced meat, onions, rice, tomato sauce, and sour cream.
Varză a la Cluj is a specialty of Cluj-Napoca in northwestern Romania. It’s served at many restaurants throughout the city, often with a side of sour cream, hot peppers, and mămăligă.
Photo by NoirChocolate
IGNAT DAY FOODS
Ignat or St. Ignatius Day happens on December 20 and officially marks the start of the Christmas season in Romania. It’s become less popular among younger Romanians but it’s a tradition that’s still observed in many parts of the countryside.
Following this Romanian tradition, a pig is traditionally sacrificed on December 20 by rural families each year. The pork meat is then used to make a variety of Christmas dishes, many of which I’ll describe in this section.
Cârnați refers to garlicky Romanian pork sausages. They can be smoked or dry-cured and made with a variety of herbs and spices like garlic, paprika, thyme, chili flakes, black pepper, and salt.
Photo by florin1961
Jumări refers to the dried pork that’s left over after rendering the fat and flavoring it with various seasonings like garlic, onions, and salt. Typically enjoyed in winter as a snack, you can think of it as a type of Romanian pork rind or pork crackling.
Jumări is often added to other Romanian dishes to give them more flavor – varză cu jumări, fasole cu jumări, etc.
Photo by [email protected]
Piftie (or răcitură) is a traditional Romanian meat aspic made with boiled pig parts, chopped vegetables, garlic, bay leaves, and parsley. The cooked ingredients are placed in a bowl and filled with a meat broth before being refrigerated and allowed to congeal.
Piftie is typically made with the lesser parts of the pig like the ears, tail, and feet. It’s traditionally served as an appetizer over Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and Easter.
Photo by fotosen
Tochitură is a delicious Romanian dish made with pork, smoked bacon, and smoked sausages. Similar to a stew but with very little sauce, it can be made in different ways depending on where it’s from. Pork is common though it can also be made with other types of meat like beef, lamb, chicken, and offal.
Recipes vary but there are generally two types of tochitură in Romania – ones made with tomato sauce and ones made without. The latter is more traditional but the former is more common and what you’d typically find at a Romanian restaurant. When using tomato sauce, the meats are left to cook in their own fat and juices first before a minimal amount of sauce (with minced garlic) is added at the end.
Like many dishes in this Romanian food guide, tochitură is often paired with mămăligă. It’s also common to serve it with a fried egg and a salty sheep cheese like telemea or brânză de burduf.
Photo by mirceadobre78
27. Pomana Porcului
Pomana porcului literally means “pig’s alms” and refers to the Romanian meal traditionally prepared for the men who took part in the pig’s slaughter. It’s a simple dish made with various cuts of pork, offal, and sausages fried in lard and served with mămăligă, mijdei, or onions.
Photo by lenyvavsha
Caș refers to a type of fresh Romanian cheese. It’s made by curdling sheep’s or cow’s milk with rennet, and then draining the whey. This produces a semi-soft white cheese that’s smooth in texture and fresh and slightly acidic in flavor.
Caș is typically unsalted (or just lightly salted) and often eaten for breakfast with eggs and different vegetables like tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers. It can also be incorporated into Romanian salads and pies and used as the base to make other Romanian cheeses like cașcaval, brânză de burduf, and telemea.
Photo by gerasimov
The term cașcaval refers to any number of hard and semi-hard yellow cheeses in Romania. It’s used to describe local cheeses like dobrogea (sheep’s milk), rucăr (cow’s milk), and penteleu (sheep’s and cow’s milk), but it can also be used to refer to non-Romanian cheeses like Swiss Emmental and Dutch gouda. Basically any semi-hard yellow cheese can be referred to as cașcaval in Romania.
Cașcaval is generally mild, salty, and slightly sharp in flavor. It’s often served raw as an appetizer and used as an ingredient in many Romanian dishes like cașcaval pane (fried cheese) and mămăligă. In the mountainous region of Vrancea, it’s often smoked (cașcaval afumat) to give it a more refined and complex taste.
Photo by gerasimov
30. Brânză de Burduf
Brânză de burduf is a saltier type of Romanian cheese made with sheep’s (and sometimes buffalo’s) milk. A bit soft in texture but intense in flavor, brânză de burduf is also referred to as brânză frământată which means “kneaded cheese”. This is in reference to how the cheese is made.
Brânză de burduf is produced by slicing, salting, and then hand-mixing caș in a bowl. The mixture is then stuffed in a sheep’s stomach or skin, or in a tube of pine bark (pictured below) to give it a distinct pine resin aroma. The cheese is typically aged for a few weeks to a few months to ripen and intensify its flavor.
Photo by [email protected]
Pictured below is brânză de burduf aged in tubes of pine bark and casings made from sheep stomach or skin.
Photo by [email protected]
Năsal refers to a unique and hyper-regional type of Romanian cheese produced in Țaga, Transylvania. It’s a smear-ripened cheese that’s aged in a natural cave in Țaga, imparting it with a deep and earthy flavor that’s impossible to replicate anywhere else.
According to legend, Țaga commune was once controlled by a cruel count who starved his people. To survive, they were forced to steal the count’s cheese which they hid in a cave. When they retrieved the cheese, it changed from white to reddish yellow and developed an odd odor. To their surprise, the cheese was also delicious.
When the count discovered what they had done, he seized the cave and used it to age his cheese. From that point, cheeses aged in that cave became known as Năsal, after the small village where the cave was located in Transylvania.
This origin story is merely a legend but the cave in Năsal is very real. It contains naturally-occurring Brevibacterium linens, the same type of odor-inducing bacteria found on human skin (think foot odor). Combined with a stable temperature and humidity, the bacteria or fungus growing on the rind is what gives năsal its robust flavor.
Thanks to the cave’s unique microbiological conditions, it’s virtually impossible to produce năsal anywhere else. It’s extremely limited in production and best paired with fruits, nuts, onions, and Romanian red wine.
Photo by gerasimov
Telemea is a type of Romanian cheese produced by storing caș in brine for several weeks or months. It’s traditionally made from sheep’s milk though it can be made from cow’s, goat’s, or buffalo’s milk as well.
Telemea is a soft or semi-soft white cheese with a creamy texture and a tangy aftertaste. Known for its salty flavor and high-fat content, it’s the most widely consumed cheese in Romania. It’s often enjoyed as a table cheese with snacks, as an ingredient in salads and other Romanian dishes, or as a simple meal with onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, and crusty bread.
Several varieties of telemea exist but the most well-known is telemea de ibăneşti. Produced in Romania’s Gurghiu Valley, it has the distinction of being just the second Romanian food product to be awarded PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) status.
Photo by czamfir
Urdă refers to a type of Romanian sweet cheese produced from the whey of sheep’s, cow’s, or goat’s milk. It’s made by heating whey until a silky, grainy, and sweet-tasting paste is produced. Known for its smooth, crumbly texture and sweet milky flavor, it’s used as an ingredient or filling in several Romanian pastries and desserts.
Photo by [email protected]
DESSERTS / DRINKS
Cozonac is a traditional Romanian sweet bread associated with Easter and Christmas. It’s popular in Romania and in other parts of southeastern Europe like Bulgaria (kozunak), Serbia, Macedonia, and Greece.
Visually, cozonac looks like a loaf of bread but because of its sweetness, it’s considered to be more of a cake in Romania. Recipes vary but it’s typically made with a basic dough consisting of flour, milk, butter, eggs, sugar, and salt. Depending on the region, the dough can be enriched with additional ingredients like raisins, lokum (Turkish delight), lemon or orange zest, walnuts, hazelnuts, vanilla, and rum.
Cozonac can be rectangular or round, simple of braided, and is usually made with a sweet walnut paste filling mixed with poppy seeds, cocoa powder, rum, or raisins. The filling takes the form of swirls which add to the characteristic look of the cake.
Cozonac is typically enjoyed with a hot cup of coffee or tea or a glass of milk. It’s such an important Romanian tradition that no Easter or Christmas celebration can ever be complete without it.
Photo by [email protected]
Like cozonac, pasca is a traditional Romanian dessert bread that’s always baked for Easter. It starts with a dough similar to cozonac except it’s made with a sweet cheese filling studded with raisins. Bready on the outside but rich and creamy in the middle, you can think of it as a cross between a soft panettone and a cheesecake.
Together with drob de miel and cozonac, pasca forms an important part of the Romanian Easter tradition. It was traditionally brought to church the night before Easter to be blessed before consumption.
As with most Easter breads, pasca carries certain religious meanings. The white cheese filling added to the cozonac dough (usually Romanian cow’s cheese, farmer’s cheese, or cottage cheese) is said to symbolize the risen Christ as well as the Holy Spirit.
Photo by ncristian
Gogoși (or pancove, pampuște) are Romanian fried pastries similar to doughnuts. Unlike American-style doughnuts, they’re made without a hole and often filled with a variety of ingredients like jam, chocolate, sweet cream cheese, or feta cheese.
Photo by pfongabe33
Mucenici is a traditional dessert that’s made just once a year in Romania. It refers to a honey and walnut pastry that’s traditionally prepared on March 9th to celebrate a Christian feast of the same name – Mucenici or Forty Martyrs of Sebaste. The feast coincides with the start of the agricultural year so Romanians would bake these pastries to honor the event.
Mucenici are known for their distinctive shape that resembles the figure “8”. They exist in two versions. In the Moldova region, the dough is baked and then soaked in syrup before being glazed with honey and dusted with walnuts and sugar.
Photo by [email protected]
In the Mutenia region, the figure 8s are much smaller. Instead of being baked, they’re boiled in water with sugar and then served with cinnamon and crushed nuts, like a sweet soup.
The feast of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste is celebrated in honor of Roman soldiers who were sentenced to die for not wanting to give up their Christian faith. There are several variations to the story but according to one account, the martyrs were drowned in a lake. After they drowned, flowers rose to the surface which is why this traditional dessert is shaped like an 8, to resemble garlands.
Photo by tcostachioiu
Cornulețe refers to Romanian and Moldovan crescent cookies traditionally baked for holidays and other special occasions. It’s made with a dough enriched with vanilla, rum, and citrus zest and filled with various dessert ingredients like chocolate, jam, walnuts, farmer’s cheese, raisins, and Turkish delight.
Photo by pfongabe33
39. Găluște cu Prune
Găluște cu prune literally means “plum dumplings” and refers to a Romanian dessert made with plums wrapped in potato dough. It’s a popular dessert in many Central and Eastern European countries like Poland, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czechia, and Slovakia.
To make these delicious dumplings, a potato dough similar to gnocchi is wrapped around sweet plums. The plum-filled dumplings are then boiled in water before being rolled in a sweet and buttery bread crumb mixture. After cooling, they’re traditionally served with a dollop of sour cream.
Photo by pfongabe33
If găluște cu prune looks appealing to you, then you may enjoy ţuică, a signature Romanian liquor made from plums. Romania produces over 300,000 plums each year so if it doesn’t wind up in a dumpling, then it’ll probably end up in a glass of this traditional plum brandy.
Served cold in summer and hot in winter, ţuică is a source of national pride in Romania. It’s used for toasting at social gatherings like weddings and baptisms, and is often taken as an aperitif before a meal. When guests arrive in a new home, they’re often offered a glass of ţuică.
Țuică is traditionally prepared from early October until early December. The plums are fermented for about 6-8 weeks before being distilled and left to age in oak barrels for up to ten years.
Depending on how it’s made, a bottle of ţuică will typically contain about 20-60% alcohol. When it’s double-distilled, it can be referred to as pălincă, fățată, horincă, or întoarsă, depending on the region.
Photo by photonxt
ROMANIAN FOOD TOURS
There’s much to learn about Romanian food and one of the best ways to do that is to go on a food tour. Simply put, no one knows Romanian cuisine better than a local. Not only will a knowledgeable guide lead you to the city’s best restaurants and markets, but they’ll be able to explain all the dishes to you in more detail. Check out Get Your Guide for a list of Romanian food tours in Bucharest and in other destinations throughout the country.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON TRADITIONAL ROMANIAN FOOD
Thanks to popular culture, Dracula is foremost on many people’s minds when it comes to Romania. But as this article on Romanian cuisine illustrates, it’s hardly the only thing of interest in this lesser known southeastern European country.
If you don’t have a taste for blood (or exaggerated legend stories), then I hope this Romanian food guide gives you something more delicious to look forward to on your next trip to Romania.
Some of the links in this article on Romanian food are affiliate links. If you make a booking, then we’ll earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. As always, we only recommend products and services that we use ourselves and firmly believe in. We really appreciate your support as it helps us make more of these free travel and food guides. Thank you!
Cover photo by ciaobucarest. Stock images via Depositphotos.
Turkish food is amazing. It’s one of my favorite cuisines in the world and there’s no better place to enjoy it than in Istanbul (which unsurprisingly is one of my favorite cities in the world).
From kebabs to dürüm to lahmacun and pide, there’s so much delicious food to be had in Istanbul. But being a uniquely located city with shores along the Black Sea, the Sea of Marmara, and the Bosphorus Strait, one dish that will probably grace your plate often is fresh fish. The waters around Istanbul are home to over twenty different kinds of fish so you’ll always find several types of fresh fish in season no matter which time of the year you go.
As you can imagine, there’s no shortage of fish restaurants in Istanbul. However, being a hugely popular tourist destination, there’s no shortage of tourist traps either.
If you’d like to steer clear of the touristy restaurants and not pay an arm and a leg for Turkish sea bass, then here are ten excellent fish and seafood restaurants that you can visit in Istanbul.
ISTANBUL FISH RESTAURANTS QUICK LINKS
To help you plan your trip to Istanbul, we’ve put together links to recommended hotels, tours, and other travel-related services here.
Recommended hotels in Beyoglu, one of the best areas to stay for first-time travelers to Istanbul.
Luxury: Point Hotel Taksim
Midrange: Bonne Sante Hotel
Budget: Bella Vista Hostel
Sightseeing Tour: Blue Mosque & Hagia Sophia Small-Group Tour
Food Tour: Guided Food Tour of Street Food and Markets
Cooking Class: Istanbul Cooking Classes
Travel Insurance (with COVID cover)
Istanbul Airport Transfer
Pocket Wifi Device
ISTANBUL TRAVEL GUIDE
If you’re planning your first trip to Istanbul, then you may want to check out our comprehensive Istanbul travel guide. It’ll tell you everything you need to know – like where to stay, which attractions to visit, how to get around, etc. – to help you make the most of your time in Istanbul.
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HOW TO SPOT A TOURISTY RESTAURANT IN ISTANBUL
In my experience, one of the best ways to spot a touristy restaurant is its location. If it’s located within a few blocks of a popular tourist attraction like Hagia Sophia, then more often than not, it’s a tourist trap. A quick glance at their menu will usually confirm this.
On our last trip in August 2023 for example, we paid around TRY 200 for levrek or Turkish sea bass. At touristy restaurants near Basilica Cistern, prices for sea bass often exceeded TRY 500. This is grilled sea bass we’re talking about. Aside from freshness and weight (which was usually consistent), how different can it be?
Another telltale sign is a restaurant’s menu offerings. If a restaurant in Istanbul offers everything under the sun – from fried calamari to dürüm to pottery kebab – then chances are, it’s a tourist trap.
This is why we often seek out restaurants that specialize in just a few dishes. There’s a better chance they know what they’re doing and you’ll get to try a better version of that dish.
I find that these methods work well not just in Istanbul, but in any city that sees large hordes of tourists.
This article zeroes in on the best fish and seafood restaurants but be sure to check out our full Istanbul restaurant guide as well. For healthy eaters, we also have a guide to restaurants that serve vegan and vegetarian food in Istanbul.
MUST-VISIT FISH & SEAFOOD RESTAURANTS IN ISTANBUL
A quick note on prices – any price listed here is accurate as of August 2023. If you’ve been visiting Turkiye often in the last few years, then you’ll know how quickly prices have been increasing in this country. My wife and I joke that prices in Istanbul go up so often that it almost feels like a running taxi meter.
A few months can mean a difference of a few dozen Turkish lira so you may want to confirm prices before going to any of these restaurants.
1. Ulaş Balıkçılık (Best Seafood Restaurant in Cihangir)
We found this little gem of a seafood restaurant when we stayed in the Cihangir neighborhood of Beyoglu. They offer many different types of freshly caught fish like seabass, sea bream, salmon, anchovies, mackerel, blue fish, and more.
To start, we had this mevsim salata or seasonal salad. They offer a couple of other salads and fish soup as well.
You’ll find a wealth of delicious seafood dishes in Istanbul but one of our favorites is midye dolma. A popular street food in Turkiye, it refers to mussels stuffed with herbed rice, spices, and other ingredients like pine nuts and currants. Definitely a must-try in Istanbul!
I enjoy working my way through a whole grilled fish but sometimes, I prefer fish skewers. They’re easier to eat and when cooked properly, they can be even more satisfying.
What you’re looking at below is a pair of perfectly grilled sea bass skewers. Moist, flakey, and melt-in-your-mouth tender, these were insanely delicious and set us back just TRY 180.
Ulas Balikcilik serves delicious food in a more residential part of Beygolu. In my opinion, it’s definitely one of the best fish restaurants in Istanbul.
You can jump to the location map at the bottom of this article for the restaurant’s exact location.
Address: Firuzağa, Türkgücü Cd. No:27/A, 34420 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Türkiye Operating Hours: 11AM-12MN, daily What They Offer: Fried/grilled fish dishes
2. Şen Balıkçılık
Like Istanbul Old City, the area around Istiklal Cadessi is one of the city’s most popular tourist areas, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find hidden gems amongst its many tourist traps. Sen Balikcilik, a fish restaurant just off the main strip, is one of those gems.
Sen Balickilik offers different types of seasonal fish and seafood dishes but they also have a good number of meat dishes, hot and cold starters, fish soup, and salads on their menu. Pictured below is the coban salata or shepherd’s salad. You can think of it as the Turkish version of Moroccan salad.
Istanbul is home to an ocean of fresh fish but one of my favorites is grilled sea bass. Known locally as levrek, I enjoy it for a few reasons. One, it’s delicious. Two, it’s good for your health. Three, it typically isn’t priced per kilo (fixed price). And four, it’s one of the cheaper fishes you can find in Istanbul, with a whole grilled fish going for around TRY 200 at a non-touristy restaurant.
This beautiful specimen at Sen Balikcilik set me back just TRY 180.
You’ll find lots of delicious street food in Istanbul but my personal favorite is balik dürüm or fish wrapped in lavash bread with vegetables and spices. Like balik ekmek (fish sandwich), it’s made with one whole fillet of grilled mackerel so it’s one of the healthier street foods you can find as well.
I’m not a fan of balik ekmek because I find it too bready but I absolutely love balik dürüm. It’s a fun and easy dish to eat so I got this one to go.
I forgot to take a picture of the restaurant’s exterior (sorry about that!) but you can jump to our location map to see where it is. It’s literally a minute away from Istiklal Caddesi so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding it.
Address: Hüseyinağa, Sahne Sk. No:5, 34435 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Türkiye Operating Hours: 8AM-2AM, daily What They Offer: Seasonal fish dishes, meat dishes, hot and cold starters
3. Askoroz Balıkçı
Like Sen Balikcilik, Askoroz Balikci is a hidden gem not too far from Istiklal Caddesi. They don’t have as many offerings as Sen Balikcilik but the usual favorites like levrek, blue fish, sea bream, and mackerel are on their menu.
Pictured below is a small plate of salad which you can get in regular or small sizes.
What you’re looking at below is a plate of grilled sea bream which I devoured with mucho gusto.
Like levrek, sea bream is one of the cheaper fishes you can find in Istanbul. At the time, this whole fish cost me just TRY 195.
Askoroz Balikci is located less than a 5-minute walk from Istiklal Caddesi.
Address: Şehit Muhtar, Süslü Saksı Sk. No:15, 34435 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Türkiye Operating Hours: 11AM-12MN, daily What They Offer: Fish dishes, Turkish desserts
4. Sokak Lezzeti Tarihi Balık Dürümcü Mehmet Usta
This mouthful of a restaurant is one of the more famous fish restaurants in Karakoy. Unlike the previous restaurants on this list, they offer just one thing on their menu – balik dürüm made with one or two fillets of mackerel.
I went with two fillets and this was arguably the best fish wrap I had in Istanbul.
In August 2023, the regular fish wrap went for TRY 100 while the double wrap cost TRY 190. This was seriously delicious and substantial enough for a full meal.
Sokak Lezzeti Tarihi Balık Dürümcü Mehmet Usta is a popular restaurant but balik dürüm is easy to eat so you can get one to go if the place is full.
Sokak Lezzeti Tarihi Balık Durumcu Mehmet Usta
Address: 75 Derb Rahba Lakdima, Marrakech 40000, Morocco What They Offer: Fish wrap
5. Kiyi Balik
Kiyi Balik is another balik dürüm shop in Karakoy, this time just a short walk from the ferry port. They make fish wraps that are slightly different from the others I’ve tried thus far in Istanbul. Can you tell what that difference is from looking at this picture?
Unlike other fish wraps I’ve had in Istanbul, Kiyi Balik encrusts their lavash with a Turkish spice blend. It does add a good amount of flavor to the wrap though some people may find it a tad on the salty side.
Kiyi Balik is a humble stall located about a 5-minute walk from Karakoy port.
Address: Azapkapı, 34421 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Türkiye Operating Hours: 10AM-5AM, daily What They Offer: Fish wraps
6. Balıkçı Lokantası (Best Fresh Fish in Kadikoy)
On our last trip to Istanbul, we split a month between Beyoglu and Kadikoy. Ulas Balikcilik (#1) was one of the best seafood restaurants we went to in Beyoglu but in Kadikoy, it was definitely Balikci Lokantasi. This local restaurant on the Asian side of Istanbul serves some of the freshest fish at the best prices in Kadikoy.
To start, they served me a basket of bread and this plate of cold appetizers with ezme (Turkish pepper salad) and baba ghanoush (roasted mashed eggplant).
Can you tell what type of fish this is by now? It’s my favorite Turkish levrek, or grilled marinated sea bass. I rarely met levrek I didn’t like in Istanbul and this was one of the best.
It’s important to point out that Balikci Lokantasi doesn’t have a printed menu. Instead, they’ll direct you to the vitrine to show you what fresh food is available on that day.
At first, I was nervous without having a menu with fixed prices to look at, but I took the plunge anyway. I’m happy I did because that beautiful grilled sea bass with a small side salad and a big bottle of water came out to just TRY 200. Definitely one of the best fish meals I had in Istanbul!
When it comes to restaurants, I prefer the Asian side because you’ll find fewer touristy restaurants here. Frequented mostly by locals, Balikci Lokantasi is the perfect example of that.
Address: Rasimpaşa, Teyyareci Sami Sk. No:20 D:B, 34716 Kadıköy/İstanbul, Türkiye Operating Hours: 12NN-9PM, daily What They Offer: Fish and seafood dishes
7. Balat Balik Evi (Best Fish Restaurant in Balat)
The Balat neighborhood in Fatih is a charming area that’s become one of the most visited in Istanbul. It’s known for its cobblestone streets, colorful houses, and many vintage shops and cafes.
Receiving so many visitors daily, many of the restaurants in Balat look like they cater mostly to tourists but Balat Balik Evi is an exception. This excellent fish restaurant serves seafood favorites like fried calamari, grilled seabass, fried mussels, and lightly fried anchovies at reasonable prices.
For starters, we shared this big bowl of coban salatasi or shepherd’s salad.
When in Istanbul, it’s never a bad idea to go for grilled seabass. This beautiful specimen was priced at TRY 250 at Balat Balik Evi.
If fish sandwiches are your thing, then you may want to go for balik ekmek or balik dürüm instead. This fish wrap from Balat Balik Evi rivals Sokak Lezzeti (#4) as my favorite balik dürüm shop in Istanbul.
A day in Balat is a must for any first-time visitor to Istanbul. If you’re in the mood for fish, then Balat Balik Evi is the place to go in this neighborhood.
Balat Balik Evi
Address: Balat, Vodina Cd. No: 156, 34087 Fatih/İstanbul, Türkiye Operating Hours: 10AM-1AM, daily What They Offer: Fish and seafood dishes
8. Nevizade Kokoreç
These last three entries aren’t fish restaurants but they’re among our favorite places to have midye dolmas in Istanbul. As described, midye dolmas refer to mussels stuffed with herbed rice, pine nuts, currants, and spices.
You’ll find many of these “kokorec” restaurants in Istanbul. Kokorec refers to an interesting dish of grilled lamb or goat intestines wrapped around seasoned offal. Any restaurant that serves kokorec will almost always serve midye dolmas as well.
You can get midye dolmas per piece. At the time of our visit, stuffed mussels cost TRY 5 each at Nevizade Kokorec, which is a fair price.
Nevizade Kokorec is one of many stalls offering midye dolmas in an area just off Istiklal Cadessi. We chose it based on its positive Google reviews. We weren’t disappointed.
Address: Hüseyinağa, Mah Balık Pazarı, Sahne Sk. No:12/B, 34435 Beyoğlu/İstanbul, Türkiye Operating Hours: 12NN-2AM, daily What They Offer: Midye dolmas, kokorec
9. Kadikoy Midyecisi
Kadikoy Midyecisi is another poular kokorec/midye dolmas restaurant in Istanbul, this time on the Asian side. They’re pricier than Nevizade Kokorec – offering midye dolmas at TRY 7.50 per piece – but still worth it in our opinion.
You can get midye dolmas per piece at Kadikoy Midyecisi but they also offer them in boxes of 30, 60, or 100 as well.
Address: Caferağa, Sarraf Ali Sk. 22/b, 34710 Kadıköy/İstanbul, Türkiye Operating Hours: 11AM-4AM, daily What They Offer: Midye dolmas, kokorec
10. Midyecisi Ahmet
I have mixed feelings about this place. Google “best midye dolmas in istanbul” and Midyeci Ahmet will frequently come up.
While their stuffed mussels are delicious, I’m not sure they’re worth their exorbitant price tag – TRY 10.50 per mussel. I know. Pricey right? That’s over double what most midye restaurants and stalls charge in Istanbul.
But all those locals singing them praises know something we don’t so I suggest trying them for yourself and making your own judgements. It’s a good thing you can buy them per piece.
The self-proclaimed “Lord of Mussels” is a local favorite with many branches throughout Istanbul. This particular branch is located near the Karakoy port.
Address: Multiple branches Operating Hours: Varies per branch What They Offer: Midye dolmas, kokorec
To help you navigate to these fish restaurants in Istanbul, I’ve pinned them all on the map below. Click on the link for a live version of the map.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST FISH & SEAFOOD RESTAURANTS IN ISTANBUL
As described at the top of this article, there are many delicious dishes to be had in Istanbul but seafood, especially fish, is something you need to enjoy at least once. The best restaurants always serve them fresh which is what we tried to find and compile in this list.
Being such a popular tourist destination, this city can be a landmine of tourist traps so I hope this guide to some of the best fish restaurants in Istanbul leads you to many memorable seafood meals.
Thanks for reading and have an amazing time eating fish and seafood in Istanbul!
This article on the best fish restaurants in Istanbul includes affiliate links, meaning we’ll earn a small commission if you make a booking or reservation at no added cost to you. We really appreciate your support as it helps us make more of these free travel and food guides. Thank you!
It didn’t take long for Budapest to win us over. Within a day of exploring the Hungarian capital, we were smitten with its classical architecture and edgy vibe. The city is home to an exciting restaurant scene that offers a good mix of traditional Hungarian cuisine and modern takes on global comfort food.
Like any fast-food-starved consumer, Budapest’s myriad pizza and burger restaurants are what excited us the most but traditional Hungarian dishes like goulash, chicken paprikash, and stuffed cabbage are what truly warmed our hearts (and our bellies).
If you’re visiting Budapest or any other city in Hungary, then be sure to look for these 25 traditional Hungarian dishes. Like us, they made just warm your heart, and win you over.
HUNGARIAN FOOD QUICK LINKS
If you’re visiting Hungary and want to learn more about Hungarian cuisine, then you may be interested in joining a food tour.
Food Tours: Hungarian Food/Drinking Tours
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Photo by Ildi Papp
WHAT IS TRADITIONAL HUNGARIAN CUISINE?
Traditional Hungarian food has been described as a blend of Ottoman, Central Asian, and European (eastern, central, and southern) cuisines. It’s considered one of the spiciest cuisines in Europe, due largely to the heavy use of paprika in many Hungarian dishes.
Hungarian cuisine is traditionally a meat-heavy cuisine that incorporates a variety of seasonal vegetables, fruits, dairy products, and bread. Chicken, beef, and pork are the most commonly consumed proteins while lamb, turkey, duck, fish, and game meats are more often reserved for special occasions.
Aside from Hungarian paprika – which is known to be spicier than other types of paprika – other commonly used herbs and spices in Hungarian cuisine include garlic, caraway seeds, marjoram, dill seeds, and celery seeds.
Many Hungarian dishes are typically served with a side dish like dumplings, while bread is a vital staple food that’s eaten at all meals.
MUST-TRY HUNGARIAN DISHES
This article on traditional Hungarian food has been organized by category to make it easier to digest. Click on a link to jump to any section of the guide.
Starters / Sides / Snacks
Fozelek is a type of thick vegetable stew or soup. It’s a simple dish that can be made with a variety of different ingredients like peas, spinach, cabbage, potatoes, carrots, lentils, squash, or sorrel. The version of fozelek pictured below is called zordborsofozelek, or green pea stew.
Fozelek is commonly eaten as a main course for lunch, either on its own or topped with additional ingredients like fried eggs, sausage, or meatballs.
Photo by Fanfo
Here’s a version called spenotfozelek, or spinach stew.
Photo by Marian Weyo
Halaszle refers to a traditional Hungarian fisherman’s soup. It’s typically made from freshwater fish like carp, pike, or bass cooked in a rich and spicy broth flavored with onions, tomatoes, paprika, sweet paprika, and other ingredients. Hungarian paprika, an often-used ingredient in Hungarian food, is what gives the soup its distinctive red color.
Originally from the Szeged region of Hungary, halaszle was traditionally prepared over open fires along the riverbanks. It’s a hearty and warming soup that becomes even more popular in winter, especially at festivals and family gatherings.
Photo by Morana Photo
If you like rich meaty soups, then you may want to try orjaleves. It refers to a slow-cooked Hungarian pork soup made with baby back ribs. Cooked with vegetables and pasta, the ribs are cooked for about two hours until they become fall-off-the-bone tender.
Claus, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE, via Wikimedia Commons / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom
4. Jókai Bableves
Jokai bableves is a hearty Hungarian soup made with dried beans – like kidney, pinto, or navy beans – cooked with smoked pork, vegetables, egg noodles, Hungarian paprika, and other spices. It’s often topped with sour cream and commonly eaten during the winter months because of its warming properties.
Interestingly, jókai bean soup gets its name from a famous Hungarian writer named Mór Jókai. He was said to be a regular at a Balatonfüred restaurant where he almost always ordered this soup.
Photo by Fanfo
If you’re accustomed to eating hot savory soups, then your first spoonful of meggyleves may come as a surprise to you. It refers to a Hungarian sour cherry soup made with whole fresh sour cherries, sour cream, sugar, and other ingredients like cloves and cinnamon.
A popular summer delicacy, Hungarian sour cherry soup is traditionally served over dinner, either as an appetizer or for dessert.
Photo by Mike Laptev
STARTERS / SIDES / SNACKS
Some people like sampling local beers when they travel. Others go for sausages. If you like trying different types of unfamiliar cheese, then you may want to try korozott. It refers to a spicy cheese spread popular in Hungary and in other countries where it goes by different names like smirkas (Slovakia), liptauer (Austria), liptaver (Slovenia), and liptao (Albania).
Korozott is made with a spreadable white cheese like cottage cheese or quark, along with paprika, onions, butter, caraway seeds, and other spices. It’s typically chilled and served as a spreadable appetizer with bread, crackers, or fresh vegetables.
Photo by pingpongcat
Lecso is basically a type of Hungarian vegetable stew or ratatouille. It’s made from Hungarian wax peppers (or bell peppers, banana peppers) and tomatoes sauteed in lard or bacon fat with onions, paprika, and other seasonings.
Lecso is especially popular in the summertime or in early autumn, when the best peppers and tomatoes are in season. It can be enjoyed on its own or served as a side dish, usually with bread.
Photo by zi3000
8. Rántott Sajt
Cheese is irresistible on its own, but even more so when it’s breaded and fried. You’ll find some form of fried cheese dish in many countries but in Hungary, the dish to look for is rantott sajt.
Meaning “fried cheese” in Hungarian, rantott sajt is made with a semi-hard or hard cheese – most commonly Trappista cheese – that’s coated in a breading mixture before being deep-fried to a golden brown. It usually comes in rectangular or triangular shapes and served with tartare sauce and a side of french fries or rice.
Photo by Jim_Filim
When thinking of the world’s most decadent food products, many people will probably say the same things – caviar, lobster, Kobe beef, foie gras, etc.
A popular but controversial ingredient, foie gras in Hungary is known as libamaj. I didn’t realize this until our visit but Hungary is known to be the third-largest producer of foie gras in the world, behind France and Bulgaria.
In Hungary, libamaj is traditionally fried in goose fat. It can also be roasted or smoked or made into a paté or mousse. Pictured below are some less expensive tins of libamaj commonly sold at Budapest’s markets.
If you were to have just one street food dish in Budapest, then it should probably be langos (or maybe chimney cake). It refers to a type of Hungarian deep-fried flat bread that’s commonly sold at markets, street food stalls, and festivals.
Langos can be eaten on its own, brushed simply with garlic, or it can be topped with a variety of ingredients like grated cheese, korozott, sour cream, sausage, ham, or mushroom. It can even be topped with sweet ingredients like Nutella, jam, or powdered sugar.
Photo by [email protected]
Here’s a pair of less conventional langos dishes we tried at restaurants in Budapest. The one in the foreground was topped with arugula and sheep cheese while the one behind it is a langos burger.
You probably won’t order this next dish directly but you’ll have it often anyway in Hungary. A staple in Hungarian cuisine, nokedli refers to a type of soft dumpling or egg noodle dish similar to German spaetzle.
To prepare, a sticky batter made with flour, eggs, and water is spooned or pressed through a noodle grater into boiling water. The dumplings are boiled briefly before floating to the surface when cooked.
Nokedli can be enjoyed on their own with butter or served as a side dish, similar to rice or pasta. They’re commonly served with chicken paprikash or added to soups and stews like Hungarian goulash.
Photo by Ildi Papp
12. Túrós Csusza
Turos csusza refers to a rustic cottage cheese pasta dish made with fried szalonna as its key ingredient. Similar to Italian lardo or Slavic salo, szalonna is a type of Hungarian smoked bacon or pork fatback commonly used in Hungarian cuisine.
Turos csusza is made with flat and wide egg noodles (csusza) mixed with cottage cheese (turo), szalonna, and sour cream. It’s a beloved comfort food in Hungary that’s often enjoyed as a main course at family gatherings.
Photo by Angelika Heine
13. Töltött Kaposzta (Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls)
Stuffed cabbage rolls are a common dish in many European countries like Croatia, Poland, Romania, Armenia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In Hungary, it’s called toltott kaposzta. A variety of ingredients like ground beef, smoked pork, rice, onions, and spices are rolled in fresh cabbage leaves before being cooked in a tomato-based sauce.
If you like stuffed peppers (dolma), then you’re probably going to enjoy toltott kaposzta. It’s a comforting dish that’s commonly served on a bed of sauerkraut with a generous dollop of sour cream.
Photo by Morana Photo
14. Paprikás Csirke (Chicken Paprikash)
Like gulyas, paprikas csirke or chicken paprikash is one of the most well-known dishes in Hungary. It refers to a rustic chicken stew made with pieces of bone-in chicken – like thigh or drumsticks – cooked in a rich paprika-flavored sauce.
Chicken paprikas was one of the dishes I was most excited to try in Hungary. It’s a soulful comforting dish that’s commonly served with nokedli (or rice) and dollop of sour cream.
15. Pacal Pörkölt
If you’re a fan of tripe like I am, then you’ll definitely want to try this Hungarian tripe stew called pacal porkolt. It’s a traditional Hungarian dish made with strips of tripe stewed in a rich sauce flavored with onions, garlic, paprika, and other spices.
Be sure to eat this hearty dish with some freshly baked crusty bread for the most satisfying experience. Just looking at this picture is making me hungary! (sorry)
Photo by Pozhar_S
16. Hortobagyi Palacsinta
Hortobagyi palascinta refers to savory Hungarian crepes filled with a stew-like preparation of ground meat, usually veal or beef.
To prepare, the meat is stewed with onions, tomatoes, peppers, paprika, and garlic before being drained of sauce and stuffed into thin crepes (palascinta). The sauce is then generously poured over the filled crepes and finished off with a dollop of sour cream.
I, Themightyquill, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom
17. Gulyás (Goulash)
There are many tasty meat dishes in Hungary but none are more well-known than gulyas or goulash, a hearty meat stew cooked with vegetables and seasoned with paprika. It’s widely considered to be a Hungarian national dish, something many people think of when they think of Hungary.
The origins of this emblematic Hungarian dish can be traced all the way back to the 10th century. It was consumed by shepherds who’d dry the cooked meat under the sun and store it in bags made from sheep’s stomachs. Interestingly, these early versions of gulyas weren’t made with paprika since the spice wasn’t introduced to Europe until the 16th century.
Gulyas stems from the Hungarian word gulya, meaning “herd of cattle”. Gulyas literally means “herdsman” or “cowboy” in Hungarian, but it’s also used to refer to this hearty meat stew.
18. Somlói Galuska
Somloi galuska is a type of Hungarian trifle made with layers of sponge cake interspersed with pastry cream, ground walnuts, and raisins. It’s traditionally served by “scooping” three balls of the trifle cake onto a plate or bowl, and then topping it with a generous amount of whipped cream and dark chocolate sauce.
Curiously, the word galuska literally means “dumpling”, perhaps in reference to the way this popular Hungarian cake is traditionally served.
Photo by Krisztian Tefner
I usually prefer savory dishes over sweets but Hungarian food may be an exception, and it’s all because of this incredibly delicious spit cake known as kurtoskalacs.
Kurtoskalacs literally means “chimney cake” and refers to these chimney-shaped cakes made with yeasted dough. The dough is coated in sugar before being roasted over charcoal around a cylindrical rod and basted with melted butter.
Thanks to its sugary coating, Hungarian chimney cake is known for having a crisp, caramelized exterior and a soft, buttery interior. When it’s done baking, it can be topped with additional ingredients like ground walnuts or cinnamon powder.
Kurtoskalacs is delicious on its own but it’s even better when stuffed with a serving of vanilla ice cream. My god was this good!
20. Dobos Torte
Dobos torte is another Hungarian dessert that you need to try in Budapest. It refers to a sponge cake layered with chocolate buttercream and topped with a crackingly crisp layer of caramel glaze.
Dobos torte is named after its inventor – Hungarian confectioner Jozesf Dobos. He devised the recipe sometime in the late 1800s (in an era before refrigeration) when he wanted to create a cake that would keep longer than other pastries.
Dobos coated the sides of his cake with ground hazelnuts, walnuts, almonds, or chestnuts – which together with the caramel glaze on top – succeeded in keeping it from drying out, thereby preserving its shelf life.
As a kid, I used to look up at the sky and think: “Hmmm, I wonder what that cloud tastes like?” These fluffy egg white clouds floating on a creamy vanilla custard remind me of those innocent times.
Called madartej in Hungary, this dreamy dessert of French origin (oeufs a la neige) consists of meringue floating in a smooth and silky pool of creme anglaise. Light and easy to prepare, it can be made with just five ingredients – eggs, milk, cornstarch, vanilla, and sugar.
Photo by Ildi Papp
22. Mákos Guba
If you like bread pudding and visit Hungary over the Christmas season, then you should keep your eye out for makos guba. It refers to a festive Hungarian dessert made with layers of sweetened stale bread and ground poppy seeds soaked in vanilla-flavored milk.
A favorite holiday dessert, makos guba is commonly served for dessert after Christmas Eve lunch in Hungary.
Photo by acceptphoto
I’m drawn to spherical desserts like profiteroles, cake balls, boba, and Chinese jiandui. The Asian-ness in me finds their auspiciously round and bite-sized shapes to be especially appealing.
In Hungary, one ball-shaped dessert you can try is turogomboc. These Hungarian cottage cheese dumplings are made from a dough of turo (cottage cheese), eggs, and semolina. The dough is shaped into bite-sized balls before being boiled and then rolled in sweetened toasted breadcrumbs.
Crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside, these tasty cottage cheese dumplings are sprinkled with powdered sugar before serving. They can also be enjoyed with a side of fruit jam or sour cream.
Photo by Krisztian Tefner
We ate many delicious things in Budapest but this creamy pastry may have taken the cake (pun intended).
Meaning “cream cake” in Hungarian, kremes torta refers to this heavenly dessert made with a generous amount of pastry cream sandwiched between two layers of puff pastry. It’s dusted with powdered sugar before serving and best enjoyed with a cup of freshly brewed coffee. Delicious!
Kremes is a popular dessert that goes by different names throughout Europe like cremeschnitte (Germany), kremna rezina (Slovenia), napoleonka (Poland), and kremsnita (Croatia).
25. Szilvas Gomboc
Last on this list of must-try Hungarian food is szilvas gomboc. Like turogomboc, it’s another delicious dumpling dessert, but this time, it’s stuffed with sweet plums.
To prepare, a potato and flour dough is stuffed with plums and shaped into rounds before being boiled in water. When cooked, the dumplings float to the surface. They’re then rolled in toasted or fried breadcrumbs before being served with a dusting of powdered sugar.
These tasty Hungarian plum dumplings are especially popular in the summer when plums are in season.
Photo by pfongabe33
FINAL THOUGHTS ON HUNGARIAN FOOD
There are many fun things to do in Budapest but trying as much Hungarian food as you can should be on your list of priorities. Typical Hungarian dishes like goulash, chicken paprikash, and langos are no-brainers but you should definitely seek out more unconventional dishes like meggyleves sweet soup and pacal porklot as well.
In any case, I hope this list of Hungarian food favorites gets you even more excited to visit Budapest or any other city in Hungary. Thanks for reading and happy traveleating!
This Hungarian food guide contains affiliate links, meaning we’ll earn a small commission if you make a booking at no additional cost to you. As always, we only recommend products and services that we use ourselves and firmly believe in. We really appreciate your support as this helps us make more of these free food and travel guides. Thank you!
Cover photo by Morana Photo. Stock images via Shutterstock.
We certainly do, which is why sampling a new destination’s local snacks is one of our low-key favorite things to do when we travel. Visiting the neighborhood convenience store or supermarket, to check out what goodies they have for us to try (along with the local beer), never fails to excite us.
In my opinion, Turkish food is one of the greatest cuisines in the world so it’s only reasonable to assume that Turkish snacks would be among our favorites as well. Just a quarter into our snack box from Turkish Munchies and it’s already shaping up to be that way!
Turkiye is famous for its kebabs and mezes but if you have a curiosity for Turkish snacks, then a snack box from Turkish Munchies may be for you.
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TURKISH MUNCHIES REVIEW TABLE OF CONTENTS
This Turkish Munchies review will cover the following points. Click on a link to jump to any section of the review.
What is Turkish Munchies?
How to get Turkish Munchies boxes?
What’s inside a Turkish Munchies box?
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Final Thoughts on the Turkish Munchies box
WHAT IS TURKISH MUNCHIES?
Turkish Munchies is a snack box company that sends Turkish snacks once a month to its subscribers. No matter where you are in the world, you’ll get a carefully curated box filled with classic, new, and limited-edition Turkish treats.
Turkish Munchies is similar to Japanese subscription box companies like Tokyo Treat and Sakuraco, but what sets them apart is that they’ve devised their own snacking card game – called Yummy Battle Game – which you can get every month together with your box of treats.
More on Turkish Munchies’ subscription box options and their Yummy Battle Game in the next section.
HOW TO GET TURKISH MUNCHIES BOXES?
There are basically three ways you can get your hands (and mouths) on a Turkish Munchies snack box. Please note that listed pricing plans are accurate as of August 2023.
1. Yummy Battle Game Subscription Boxes
If you’d like to have even more fun while raiding your Turkish snack box, then this subscription plan with the Yummy Battle Game is for you. Your first box will come with an initial deck of cards while each subsequent box will come with new additional cards to supplement the deck.
1-game plan – USD 42.95 per box
3-game plan – USD 38.95 per box
6-game plan – USD 36.95 per box
12-game plan – USD 34.95 per box
CLICK HERE to learn more about the Yummy Battle Game and to subscribe.
2. Snacks-Only Subscription Boxes
If you’re interested only in snacks, then this subscription plan is for you. Boxes come in regular sizes with 10 snacks, or x-large sizes with 20 snacks.
If you’re unsure about getting a monthly subscription but would like to get one snack box, just to try it out, then you can order one ala carte. At the time of this writing, Turkish Munchies offers 12 different snack boxes curated around varying themes.
CLICK HERE to view the boxes and to order.
Ready to order? Get your Turkish Munchies snack box today!
WHAT’S INSIDE A TURKISH MUNCHIES BOX?
Depending on which subscription plan or ala carte box you order, expect to receive a fun illustrated box filled to the brim with Turkish snacks. We got the Celebration Edition which included 20 twenty different tea biscuits, chocolates, chips, caramel treats, and Turkish candy.
Isn’t the box cute? Each ala carte box features a unique design that’s every bit as irresistible as the tasty goodies instead.
To be honest, I thought the box was a little small at first but looks can be deceiving. This box was neatly organized and very well-packed. I was surprised by how many snacks they were able to fit in here!
Kat Kat Tat
If you like croissants, then this Kat Kat Tat may be the first thing you reach for in this snack box. That’s what we did!
Kat Kat Tat is a croissant-like Turkish pastry flavored with different ingredients like chocolate, strawberry, hazelnuts, and sesame seeds. In Turkish, kat kat tat translates to something like “layers of flavor” – an appropriate name for a tasty snack that’s been enjoyed in Turkiye for decades!
If cakes are your thing, then you’ll definitely want to try these Poti Cakes. It’s a puffy cakey snack made in delicious carrot, coconut, fruit, and chocolate flavors.
People who grew up in 1990s Turkey are no strangers to these iconic crackers. A nostalgic treat, snacking on these tasty almond-shaped biscuits (badem means “almond” in Turkish) will surely bring back your fondest memories of childhood.
If you enjoy a lot of crunch in your snacks, then these Krispi stick-shaped treats are just for you. Crispy-liciously fun and addictive, they come in chili, cheese, and herb (coated in ten different herbs) flavors.
Krispi Tirtikli is an equally delicious variation of our favorite Krispi sticks. They’re made in round flat shapes with a slightly ridged texture for even more texture with every bite.
I love wafer biscuits so this tantalizing pack of Hosbes was one of the first treats that caught my eye. Made by Eti, one of the biggest and most respected snack makers in Turkiye, these delicious Eti biscuits are made in a variety of flavors like chocolate cream, hazelnut cream, banana cream, and my personal favorite – strawberry cream.
Fittingly, hosbes in Turkish means “to have a warm and friendly talk with loved ones”. An ideal name for this tasty treat that’s best enjoyed with a cup of coffee or milk with your favorite people.
These yummy pizza-flavored Eti biscuits are another fan favorite. After all, who doesn’t like pizza?
As it turns out, Turkish people didn’t when pizza was first introduced to the market in the early 1990s. The general public didn’t like Italian pizza – perhaps because of similar Turkish delicacies like lahmacun and pide? – so almost all pizzerias in Turkey closed within a few years.
It wasn’t until the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles became a hit did pizza see a revival in Turkey. Kids started pestering their mothers for pizza, and the rest is history! Cowabunga dude!
Bidolu is another tasty wafer treat brought to you by the Eti company. Meaning “filled to the fullest” in Turkish, it’s a crispy and creamy parcel of deliciousness flavored with mouthwatering ingredients like cacao cream, hazelnut cream, peanuts, and pistachios.
Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it too?
This popular brownie cake with the delectably moist texture and intensely chocolate-y flavor is a certified hit in Turkiye, so much so that Turkish people like to use it as a birthday cake! You can try it plain or infused with a scrumptious sour cherry sauce. Now if they only topped it with chocolate sprinkles…
Chocolate is delicious, but liquid chocolate is even better. Squeeze Ozmo cream onto some bread or biscuits for an instant chocolate rush – anytime, anywhere.
Think of Biscolota Mood as Turkish fortune cookies, but filled with chocolate. Each of these fun little cookies has a small picture on it with a corresponding description/fortune on the back of the box. They’re in Turkish but you can send us a picture on Instagram to ask what they mean!
If you love olives like we do, then you’re going to enjoy these Greta crackers. They’re olive-flavored crackers enhanced with the unique flavors of Aegean seeds and herbs.
Like Badem Crackers, Harby is one of the most beloved and iconic Turkish snacks. It’s a light chocolate treat that’s equally as delicious on its own or dipped in a cup of Turkish tea.
If I tell you what this candy’s name means in Turkish, then it’ll spoil the surprise. Just pop it in your mouth and get ready to pucker up!
Turkish pop rocks. Need I say more?
Bebeto Jelly Gum
If you’re a gummy fiend like I am, then you’re definitely going to enjoy this pack of Bebeto Jelly Gum shaped like pizza and cola.
One of the best souvenir snack foods you can buy in Turkiye is lokum or Turkish delight. It’s an irresistible selection of gelatinous confections made with a wide variety of ingredients like rosewater, mastic, nuts, orange jelly, dried apricots, and powdered sugar.
A Turkish favorite since the late 1700s, it’s something people need to try when they visit Istanbul, especially with Turkish coffee. Luckily for you, Turkish Munchies will deliver some straight to your home!
I love snacking on seeds and nuts when watching big sporting matches on tv. Pumpkin and sunflower seeds are my personal favorites but boiled peanuts are a close second. If you enjoy binging on nuts like I do, then this packet of Nutzz Party is definitely for you.
It’s a crunchilicious bag of peanuts, unpopped corn kernels, and other crispy treats flavored with cheddar and onion, honey and mustard, or hot pepper. Now if they can only add sunflower seeds to the mix…
Chewy candies make me happy so this pack of Tofita chews had me smiling from ear to ear. They come in delectable fruit flavors like cherry, strawberry, orange, and blackberry.
Stroop or caramel waffles are to die for. They’re a beloved Dutch treat but thanks to Turkish Munchies, you can have your own Turkish version delivered right to your doorstep! Be sure to enjoy it with a cup of hot coffee or tea for maximum yumminess.
If the snack gods are smiling down upon you, then your box of Turkish Munchies may include a mystery treat. I guess it was our lucky day!
We opened up our box and found one more biscuit to tantalize our taste buds with. This Probis cookie sandwich will go great with milk, coffee, or a warm cup of tea. Teşekkür ederim!
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs)
Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about the Turkish Munchies snack box. Check out their website’s FAQs page for more information.
How much is shipping?
Free shipping applies to US/Canada orders exceeding USD 50 and for Yummy Battle Game subscriptions. Otherwise, shipping rates will be calculated based on your shipping address upon checkout.
Can I cancel my subscription at any time?
Yes, you can cancel your subscription at any time and get a refund for any unclaimed boxes (minus discounts). You can refer to their refund policy for more information.
Can I skip a box?
Yes, you can. If for any reason you’d prefer not to receive a box on any particular month, then you can skip it via your Turkish Munchies admin panel. You can do this as often as you like.
Is it worth getting the Yummy Battle Game?
I haven’t played it so I can’t answer that question. But I am a fan of games and collectibles and the Yummy Battle Game is definitely something I’d get. It’s all up to you.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE TURKISH MUNCHIES BOX
If you’re a fan of those Japanese or Korean snack boxes, then you may want to give Turkish Munchies a try as well. As previously described, we haven’t gone through the entire box yet but we’ve enjoyed everything we’ve eaten so far.
Food takes you places and this box of Turkish Munchies will give you a small but tasty glimpse into Turkish snacking culture. Thanks for reading and happy snacking!
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By the end of our first day, one thing was clear – Essaouira was our favorite city in Morocco. This tiny port town along Morocco’s Atlantic coast charmed us with its well-preserved medina, windy ocean views, and easygoing small-town vibe. It reminded us in many ways of Marrakesh and Tangier, but smaller and more intimate.
Being so close to Marrakech, Essaouira is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Morocco. For such a small town, it’s home to a surprisingly large concentration of restaurants serving a wide variety of food. You’ll find restaurants serving traditional Moroccan food, fresh seafood, and international fare like Italian and Asian food. We even found a place that serves Japanese takoyaki!
Personally, we gravitate towards traditional food and healthier eating options so that’s exactly what you’ll find in this food guide – fifteen of the best restaurants in Essaouira serving wholesome fare and the tastiest Moroccan food.
ESSAOUIRA RESTAURANTS QUICK LINKS
To help with your Essaouira trip planning, we’ve put together links to top-rated hotels, tours, and other travel-related services here.
Recommended hotels in the medina, the best area to stay for first-time travelers to Essaouira.
Luxury: Riad Chbanate
Midrange: Riad Dar Awil
Budget: Riad Dar Latifa
Sightseeing Tour: Half-Day Old Town Guided Tour
Watersports: 2-Hour Surf Lesson
Cooking Class: Traditional Family Style Moroccan Cooking Class
Travel Insurance (with COVID cover)
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MUST-VISIT RESTAURANTS IN ESSAOUIRA
There are so many restaurants to choose from in Essaouira. I’ve divided this guide into two sections – traditional Moroccan restaurants and healthier plant-focused eateries that serve salads and vegetarian/vegan food.
You can click on the links to jump to either section of this Essaouira food guide.
TRADITIONAL MOROCCAN RESTAURANTS
1. Blue Mogador
Blue Mogador is one of about a dozen restaurants in a square just off one of the main avenues (Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah) in Essaouira’s medina. It’s a lovely restaurant that serves many traditional Moroccan dishes like couscous, tagine, pastilla, and grilled fish and seafood.
Before they serve your appetizers and entrees, they’ll start you off with some brined olives and fresh bread (like most restaurants in Morocco).
If you enjoy fresh vegetables with your meal, then there’s no better dish to start with than Moroccan salad. It’s a simple but delicious salad made with chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and herbs in a light vinaigrette dressing.
If you like eggplant, then you’ll definitely want to try the zaalouk as well. It’s a delicious Moroccan side dish or salad made with cooked eggplant, tomatoes, garlic, herbs, spices, and olive oil. It’s great with fresh bread and something we enjoyed making ourselves in this Marrakech cooking class.
Being a coastal city, there’s no shortage of fresh seafood in Essaouira. Virtually every traditional restaurant serves sardines, fish, and other types of seafood.
Pictured below is our tasty octopus tagine served in a delicious tomato-based sauce with herbs amd green olives.
Here’s a better look at the octopus. Instead of serving the tentacles whole, they cut them up into these bite-sized pieces.
Fresh fish is abundant in Essaouira but sardines are clearly the most popular. In fact, sardines make up around 62% of Morocco’s fish catch. Morocco processes around 600,000 tonnes of sardines each year, making it the largest exporter of canned sardines in the world.
Fresh sardines are sold at the fish market daily so you’ll find many restaurants in Essaouira serving plates of grilled sardines. Personally, if I could eat just one dish in Essaouira, then it would definitely be grilled sardines. They’re cheap, healthy, plentiful, and just delicious.
We ate at many of the restaurants in this square and Blue Mogador was one of the prettiest. Aside from serving consistently good food, every restaurant offers al fresco dining like this which is one of the reasons why we enjoyed this square so much.
It was hard to get a good picture of the square but this is basically what it looks like. There are a little over a dozen restaurants here, many of which are featured in this Essaouira food guide. We enjoyed this square so much that we wound up visiting half of its restaurants in two weeks.
You can refer to the location map at the bottom of this article to navigate to the square.
Address: 75 Derb Rahba Lakdima, Marrakech 40000, Morocco Operating Hours: 10AM-11PM, daily What They Offer: Traditional Moroccan dishes, seafood
2. Restaurant Zaytouna
Zaytouna is another traditional Moroccan restaurant located in the same square as Blue Mogador. They have similar offerings like tagine and couscous but what drew us to this place were their set menus. They offer around six 3-course set menus at different price points, some with exclusively vegetarian options.
I went with the first vegetarian option which came with either tomato or vegetable soup as its first course.
For my second course, I had a choice between vegetarian couscous or vegetable tagine. I went with the latter.
I didn’t have a choice for my third course, which is just fine because these orange slices dusted with cinnamon were the perfect end to my simple but delicious vegetarian Moroccan meal.
At the time of our visit in July 2023, this vegetarian set meal cost just MAD 65.
For my wife’s MAD 80 set meal, she had a choice between Moroccan salad or zaalouk for her first dish. Tough decision but she ultimately went with the former.
This sardine ball tagine was the reason she chose this set menu. Rolled into two-bite balls and served in a bubbling tomato-based sauce, it’s delicious and another great way to enjoy sardines in Morocco.
If sardine tagine isn’t your thing, then you can choose couscous with chicken and vegetables or chicken tagine with olives and preserved lemon as well.
For her third course, she was given the choice between the same orange slices I had or Moroccan mint tea. There’s no better way to end a Moroccan meal than with a warming pot of mint tea!
Zaytouna is located across the courtyard from Blue Mogador.
Address: Place Chrib Atay, 16, Essaouira 44000, Morocco Operating Hours: 11AM-10:30PM, daily What They Offer: Traditional Moroccan food, set menus
3. La Rose du Sud
La Rose du Sud is the restaurant located right next to Zaytouna. After lunch at Zaytouna, we took a look at their menu and told the owner that we’d be back the next day. Like its neighbor, they offer traditional Moroccan food, seafood, and a few set menus as well.
La Rose du Sud offers around five permanent set menus. On the day of our visit, they were also offering a special set menu that featured whole grilled sea bream. I chose Moroccan salad for my starter.
Here’s a look at my beautifully charred sea bream. As described, locally caught seafood is abundant in Essaouira so you’ll often find whole grilled fish like this one on many restaurant menus.
I was served this bowl of fresh fruit salad for dessert. This set meal was a little more expensive at MAD 85, but absolutely worth it.
My better half went with one of their permanent set menus featuring this beautiful plate of couscous with meat and vegetables. She had Moroccan salad and fruit salad for her first and final courses as well.
La Rose du Sud is a very similar restaurant to Zaytouna so you can choose one or the other if you like. We enjoyed both equally.
La Rose du Sud
Address: G67H+JMC, Essaouira, Morocco Operating Hours: 9AM-10PM, daily What They Offer: Moroccan dishes, set menus
4. Chaabi Chic
Chaabi Chic was one of our favorite restaurants in Essaouira. It’s a hidden gem with a great rooftop terrace, not too far from Essaouira’s ramparts and that famous Game of Thrones filming location. We went here a couple of times to enjoy their food and drink Moroccan tea.
We started lunch here one day with (you guessed it) our favorite salad in Morocco – Moroccan salad! Looking back at these pictures, we must have ordered this at least once every other day.
Can you tell by now what this next dish is? It’s another favorite of ours – zaalouk. We enjoyed zaalouk almost as often as Moroccan salad and this version at Chaabi Chic was one of the most delicious we’ve had so far.
For her entree, my better half had this lovely salad nicoise. It was tasty but for some reason, it wasn’t made with any tuna. Boo!
Grilled chicken brochettes are a common dish in Morocco. On some occasions, you’ll find restaurants serving grilled turkey skewers as well. You don’t see them that often so I always order a plate whenever I spot it on a restaurant’s menu.
Served with some herbed rice and grilled vegetables, these turkey brochettes from Chaabi Chic were tender and super delicious.
You can’t see the ocean from here but the views you get from Chaabi Chic’s rooftop are among the most enjoyable we found in Essaouira. You can see the tops of people’s houses and the seagulls hovering above them. It’s a great place to unwind and enjoy a pot of Moroccan tea.
Chaabi Chic is tucked away in a corner in a not-so-busy part of the medina so it can be easy to miss. They serve great food at affordable prices so it’s definitely worth seeking out.
Here’s another look at Chaabi Chic’s terrace. Aside from indoor seating on the second floor, you can choose to sit at one of these clusters of tables on the rooftop. Just be sure to dress warmly because it can get pretty cold and windy up here.
Address: Rue Boutouil, Essaouira, Morocco Operating Hours: 9AM-10PM, daily What They Offer: Turkey brochettes, tagine, couscous
5. Restaurant Sayef
Sayef is another hidden gem and in my opinion, one of the best restaurants in Essaouira. It’s located in a small alley just off the main street so hundreds of people probably walk by without even realizing that it’s there.
Unlike the usual brined olives most restaurants in Essaouira serve you, Sayef starts you off with a tasty olive tapenade that you can enjoy with toasted bread.
Because it gets so windy in Essaouira, I warmed myself with this hearty bowl of harira. It’s a zesty lentil and chickpea soup made with tomatoes, onions, eggs, rice, herbs, and spices. Compared to their other dishes, this was average and probably not something I’d order here again.
Like my wife, I should have stuck with the Moroccan salad! It’s an ever-reliable dish that’s good no matter where you have it.
The harira may have been average but these monkfish brochettes certainly weren’t. Served with grilled potatoes and vegetables, these were tender, flakey, and oh-so delicious.
Fish kebabs are common in Morocco but I haven’t seen them made with monkfish all that often. If you like fish skewers, then you should definitely try this.
Another dish that we didn’t see as often in Essaouira is squid tagine. Perfectly cooked and served with a medley of vegetables and olives, you may want to try this as well if you’re as big a fan of cephalopods as we are.
Essaouira’s main street is always busy but Restaurant Sayef is located through this small alley which is why it’s easy to miss. With all the sights and sounds competing for your attention in Essaouira, many people probably wouldn’t think of walking through here.
Go through the rabbit hole and you’ll find one of the best restaurants in Essaouira waiting for you on the other side.
Here’s a shot of the restaurant’s interior. It’s simple but cozy.
Address: 12 Rue d’Agadir, Essaouira 44000, Morocco Operating Hours: 12NN-10PM, Sat-Thurs / 1:30-10PM, Friday What They Offer: Monkfish kebabs, tagine, couscous
6. Chez Zak
If you get a hankering for lobster in Essaouira, then Chez Zak is a great place to visit. It’s a small restaurant that specializes in spiny lobster and other seafood dishes like squid, prawn, and fish.
Here’s our delicious grilled lobster served with sauteed vegetables and a lemon butter sauce. At the time of our visit (July 2023), lobsters were priced at MAD 150 per 300 g. Not one of the cheaper meals you’ll have in Essaouira but hey, it’s lobster. Treat yourself!
Chez Zak offers a few fresh fruit juices as well like this refreshing glass of beetroot and orange juice.
There’s Zak himself waiting for us to take our pictures so he could grill up our lobster!
Like many restaurants in Essaouira, Chez Zak offers multiple levels of seating. We always go up to the rooftop if seating is available. At Chez Zak, there’s only one table on the rooftop so arrive early if you can.
This is the view you’ll get if you’re lucky enough to snag the rooftop terrace. It looks like a painting!
Address: 56 rue elkhabbazine, Essaouira 44000, Morocco Operating Hours: 9AM-10PM, Sat-Wed / 12NN-10:30PM What They Offer: Lobster, seafood
7. Restaurant Baghdad
A lobster meal doesn’t come cheap but eating at Restaurant Baghdad is a great way to balance your restaurant budget in Essaouira. They serve good food at some of the best prices we’ve seen thus far in Essaouira. The entire meal pictured below, with bottled water, set us back just MAD 91!
Isn’t this salad gorgeous? They call it salade riche (rich salad) and make it with fresh green figs. Baghdad was the only restaurant we found that offered a salad made with figs.
You can’t visit Essaouira without enjoying a grilled sardine feast at least once during your stay. Such a simple but satisfying Mediterranean meal!
Our tasty vegetable tagine to round out a healthy and delicious lunch in Essaouira. Aside from tagines and grilled seafood, Restaurant Baghdad offers Moroccan tacos, brochettes, couscous dishes, and pastillas as well.
Restaurant Baghdad is another gem located just off the main street. It’s situated closer to Bab Doukkala, a more local part of the medina that not as many tourists visit.
This is what Restaurant Baghdad’s interior looks like. We arrived early but the place filled up pretty quickly for lunch. Not surprising considering their excellent food and unbeatable prices.
Address: Rue Baghdad n7, 44000, Morocco Operating Hours: 11AM-11PM, daily What They Offer: Grilled seafood, salad, tagine, couscous
8. Restaurant Safran Citron
We prefer traditional restaurants and comfort food to five-star dining but Safran Citron was probably the closest we came to a fine dining experience in Essaouira. It isn’t a fine dining restaurant per se, but they do serve excellent, more well-put-together food in a lovely restaurant setting.
We started our meal at Safran Citron with this bubbling lentil and vegetable tagine. Served in a rich tomato-based sauce, we had lentil dishes often in Morocco but never quite like this. It was delicious and very comforting.
Here’s a look at my beautifully charred sea bream. As described, locally caught seafood is abundant in Essaouira so you’ll often find whole grilled fish like this one on restaurant menus.
This plate of grilled octopus has to be one of the tastiest dishes we’ve enjoyed in Essaouira and Morocco thus far. Perfectly cooked and redolent with the flavors of paprika and garlic, it was sensational and one of the best octopus dishes I’ve had anywhere.
Like every restaurant we visited in Essaouira, all the fish and seafood served at Safran Citron are as fresh as can be.
There was a mix-up with our order so the owner was kind enough to serve us a complimentary pot of tea and these tasty Moroccan pastries. Unless I’m mistaken, the biscotti-like cookie is called fekkas while the ring-shaped pastry is known as kaak d’Essaouira. Merci!
Safran Citron is located just outside the square of restaurants featured many times in this guide.
Isn’t the restaurant’s interior lovely? Safran Citron was hands down the prettiest and most atmospheric traditional restaurant we visited in Essaouira. When I think of Moroccan restaurants, this is exactly what I see!
Restaurant Safran Citron
Address: 12 Rue Laalouj, Essaouira 44000, Morocco Operating Hours: 11:30AM-10:30PM, daily What They Offer: Grilled seafood, tagine, couscous, brochette
As much as we love meat tagines and Moroccan tacos, we’re middle-aged travelers so eating healthy has become more of a priority for us. Thankfully, people looking for healthier options and plant-based restaurants have lots to look forward to in Essaouira.
9. Mandala Society
There’s no better way to start the healthy eating section of this Essaouira restaurant guide than with Mandala Society, arguably the most popular health-focused restaurant in the city. It’s a modern restaurant that serves an appetizing menu of brunch dishes, salads, and veggie burger options.
How delicious does this vegan buddha bowl look? It’s made with a medley of oven-roasted vegetables served with steamed quinoa, homemade hummus, pumpkin seeds, and argan oil.
Equally delicious was this aubergine mosaic – a tasty dish of oven-baked eggplant slices served with baby onions, garlic confit, homemade cheese, local root vegetables, herbs, and sweet paprika aioli.
Mandala Society offers a few homemade cakes and pastries as well. If you enjoy the sweeter things in life, then you may want to try this guilt-free vegan brownie cake.
Aside from their healthier food options, another thing we loved about Mandala Society was their collection of herbal teas. They have about nine or ten different blends to choose from, like this “Immune System” infusion made with ginger, chamomile, turmeric, and green cardamom.
Mandala Society is located in a prime spot along the main street in Essaouira’s medina. It’s almost always packed at peak meal times so may you may want to go at slightly off-peak hours.
Mandala Society has a restaurant in Marrakech as well, which we’ll be visiting very soon!
Address: Av. de l’Istiqlal, Essaouira, Morocco Operating Hours: 9:30AM-10:30PM, daily What They Offer: Vegan/vegetarian dishes, healthy food
10. Retro Corner
Retro Corner is one of our favourite restaurants in Essaouira. Like Mandala Society, it’s a cute and modern restaurant that serves a variety of healthy and modern Moroccan classics in a prime spot in Essaouira’s medina.
Pictured below is our favorite Moroccan salad plated in a more elegant and striking way.
This is Retro Corner’s version of our favourite Moroccan eggplant dip – zaalouk.
Yes, this quinoa avocado salad was every bit as healthy and delicious as it was beautiful.
Sardine chermoula is one of my wife’s favorite Moroccan street food dishes. We’ve had it many times throughout Morocco but this version at Retro Corner was the best we’ve had thus far. Wow was this good!
Not to be outdone by the sardines, I had the grilled sea bream which was the most delicious preparation of this fish I’ve had anywhere in Morocco. Served with two whole fillets seasoned with a homemade spicy sauce, I’m salivating just looking at this picture right now!
Retro Corner is located just off Av. Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah. It’s a colorful and modern restaurant that’s sure to catch your eye when you pass by. They offer an extensive menu of breakfast platter sets, Moroccan dishes, and comfort food options like burgers, pizza, pasta dishes, and crepes.
Before we were served our food, I found their prices to be a bit on the expensive side. However, they do serve you big portions so you do get what you pay for. Highly recommended!
An inside look at Retro Corner’s cute and colorful interior.
If they’re available, then you may want to sit on one of these counter seats facing the street. Retro Corner is on a busy street so it’s fun to do a little people-watching while enjoying one of your best meals in Essaouira.
Address: N, 05 rue abdelaziz Al fachtali, Essaouira 44000, Morocco Operating Hours: 10AM-10PM, Mon-Wed / 9:30AM-10PM, Thurs-Sat (closed Sundays) What They Offer: Breakfast sets, Morrocan dishes, healthy food, comfort food
11. Azouka Eatery
Azouka Eatery is another restaurant located in that same square previously mentioned in this Essaouira food guide. It’s owned and operated by a lovely young couple who offer brunch dishes and small, healthy tapas-like bites of food.
Pictured below is Azouka’s version of herb tabbouleh, but instead of bulgur, it’s made with broccoli instead. It’s topped with dukkah (nut and spice mixture) and a few slices of nectarine.
You’re probably well-acquianted with this next dish by now. It’s their take on eggplant zaalouk enhanced with garlic oil and black lime. Delicious!
No respectable zaalouk should ever be eaten on its own, so we paired it with a couple of thick slices of their homebaked sourdough rye focaccia.
Azouka Eatery is located on the second floor of the square. If you’re looking for light snacks that are actually good for you, then Azouka Eatery is a great restaurant to visit in Essaouira.
The restaurant has a small shop as well that plays great music and sells a few knick-knacks like ceramics, clothing, and organic food products.
Address: 75 Derb Rahba Lakdima, Marrakech 40000, Morocco Operating Hours: 10AM-4PM, Tue-Sat (closed Sun-Mon) What They Offer: Healthy brunch and lunch dishes
12. Le Corail at Latifa
If you’re a vegan, then you have two great restaurants to choose from in that same square as Azouka Eatery and some of the other restaurants on this list. The first is Le Corail Vegan Food, a small restaurant that offers a wealth of fresh juices and Moroccan vegan dishes like veggie burgers, spring rolls, and vegetable tagines.
Unlike the usual brined olives served at almost every Moroccan restaurant, we were given a small plate of sliced bananas dusted with cinnamon.
We shared a plate of our favorite Moroccan salad to kickstart today’s healthy meal.
For my main course, I had this bountiful chickpea and vegetable tagine. Moroccan tagines can sometimes be oily but this one was made with just the right amount of oilve oil. Very healthy indeed!
My better half was craving for food that reminded her of home so she went with this plate of spring rolls stuffed with chickpeas, spinach, and mushroom. It was served with a side of delicious pasta, which was a bonus.
Here’s a sneak peak inside the spring rolls.
We didn’t expect to find vegan food in a small city like Essaouira so Le Corail was a pleasant discovery. They have so many vegetable tagine dishes on their menu! Do pay them a visit if you’re in the mood for something simple and healthy but delicious.
Le Corail at Latifa
Address: BP423 Place Al Khaima, Heb, 44000, Morocco Operating Hours: 9AM-10PM, daily What They Offer: Vegetable tagines, spring rolls, veggie burgers
13. Shyadma’s Vegan Food
Shyadma’s is located just a stone’s throw from Le Corail and offers similar vegan dishes like salads, soups, vegan tagines, and vegetable couscous. It’s run by a lovely Moroccan family where the mother (presumably Syadma) does all the cooking while her young children help with serving the customers.
Similar to Le Corail, they started us off with an appetizer of bananas, apples, and olives.
It was especially windy in Essaouira that day so I wanted to warm up with a bowl of lentil soup. Made from scratch, this was one of the tastiest and most lovingly made bowls of lentil soup I’ve had in Morocco thus far.
Shyadma calls this a warm vegetable salad. It’s basically boiled potatoes served with green bean salad and a zaalouk-like eggplant puree. Simple but hearty and delicious.
Shyadma doesn’t offer nearly as many vegetable tagines as Le Corail but what she does make tastes 100% homemade. What you’re looking at below is her tagine of French green beans with olives and preserved lemons.
When you enjoy a meal at Shyadma’s, it really does feel like you’re sitting down to a homecooked meal in someone’s home. So comforting and delicious, and cheap too. Today’s meal set us back just MAD 80!
Do you see why we enjoyed this square so much? So many tasty restaurants somewhat tucked away and hidden from the most touristy parts of Essaouira.
Shyadma’s Vegan Food
Address: Place El Khayma, Rue Laalouj, Essaouira, Morocco Operating Hours: 11AM-10:30PM, daily What They Offer: Vegan tagines
14. Picknick Cafe
Picknick Cafe was also one of our favorite restaurants in Essaouira. Similar to Mandala Society or Retro Corner, it’s a cute, well-designed cafe that offers a focused menu of brunch dishes, healthier food options, specialty coffee, juices, and smoothies.
What you’re looking at below is their salmon bowl. It’s a beautiful salad made with a generous amount of grilled salmon, avocado, cucumber, and tomato.
Equally delicious (and Instagram-worthy) was this gorgeous grilled chicken bowl made with marinated chicken breast, grilled vegetables, and tortilla chips.
Picknick Cafe offers water flavored with lemon, mint, and other ingredients as well. This one was infused with the throat-soothing qualities of ginger.
Picknick Cafe is hidden in plain sight, just a few minutes walk from Bab El Mechouar. Soon as you enter the gate, start looking for it on your right side.
Picknick Cafe has a small but lovely and well-put-together interior. If I remember correctly, the description on their menu mentioned that the cafe actually started in Germany before opening this branch in Essaouira.
Here’s my equally lovely and well-put-together wife showing me what she thinks of me on this fine Sunday.
Address: 22 Rue Youssef El Fassi, Essaouira 44000, Morocco Operating Hours: 9:30AM-9PM, Tue-Sun (closed Mondays) What They Offer: Brunch dishes, salad bowls
I’ve recommended a few hidden gems in this restaurant guide, but Koozina is probably the best-kept secret in Essaouira.
Koozina isn’t tucked away in some obscure corner in the medina. On the contrary, it’s located in plain sight. It’s situated just outside the medina’s walls, not too far from Bab Marrakech Tower, in an area where many tourists probably wouldn’t go to look for food. You’ll see what I mean later.
Aside from its location, what makes Koozina interesting is that the restaurant doesn’t have a permanent menu. Instead, the lovely owner and chef writes the menu on a chalkboard based on what fresh ingredients are available at the market on that day.
On the day of our visit, we were treated to this earthy and delicious squash and tahini puree.
For our second starter, we went with this bright and sunny cold octopus salad.
I love Moroccan chicken brochettes but this version at Koozina was different from any other I had enjoyed before. They were slathered with a dark, deeply flavorful sauce and served with a side of maaqouda (Maghrebi fritters) and the chef’s very own creation – tomato crumble. Everything on this plate was fantastic.
Note the heart shapes on the chicken skewers. Aren’t they cute?
For our second entree, we went with the stuffed aubergine. They were filled with a tasty mixture of eggplant, ground meat, and spices before being topped with microgreens and served with a side salad and that delicious tomato crumble.
You can refer to our location map to navigate to Koozina, but if you walk outside the medina’s perimeter, then you’ll inevitably reach this structure. Koozina is located through here.
Here’s Koozina’s lovely outdoor seating area. Beautiful right? This is easily one of the most pleasant places to enjoy a meal in Essaouira.
This is the chalk menuboard I was telling you about earlier. We arrived early so we got to see the chef write out the day’s offerings.
Address: 44000, Essaouira 44000, Morocco Operating Hours: 10AM-8PM, Tue-Sun (closed Mondays) What They Offer: Farm-to-table daily specials
BONUS: Cafe l’Esprit
As far as I could tell, outside of their specialty coffees, teas, and pastries, this place only offers avocado toast on their menu. They aren’t really a restaurant but Cafe l’Esprit is such a cute cafe that I had to add it to this list.
Located within earshot of the ramparts and ocean, Cafe l’Esprit offers one of the loveliest cafe settings we experienced in Essaouira. We sat outside for some French apple pie and pots of tea while enjoying Essaouira’s famous ocean breeze.
Cafe l’Esprit is a tiny cafe with one or two tables indoors, but the best place to sit is outside against that wall. Some tourists pass here to get to the ramparts so it’s a nice place to sit and people-watch while sipping on hot cups of herbal tea.
Here’s my lovely wife blending in with the patterns and enjoying our last day in Essaouira.
Address: In front of Zaouia Sidna Blal, 32 Rue Touahen, Essaouira 44000, Morocco Operating Hours: 10AM-7PM, Tue-Sun (closed Mondays) What They Offer: Avocado toast, pastries, specialty coffee and tea
To help you navigate to these Essaouira restaurants, I’ve pinned them all on the map below. Click on the link for a live version of the map.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST RESTAURANTS IN ESSAOUIRA
We focused on traditional Moroccan restaurants and healthy food options in this guide, but if you’re in the mood for delicious pasta and pizza, then you’ll have plenty of restaurants to choose from in Essaouira.
One highly recommended Italian restaurant is Gusto Italia. They’re located near the beach, around a 20-minute walk south of the medina. Its TripAdvisor and Google reviews are gushing so it may be worth the trek just to get a change of scenery from the ancient medina.
As you can see from this list, Essaouira may be small but you won’t have any trouble finding delicious food – both local and international – in this exceedingly charming city.
Thanks for reading and have a wonderful time in Morocco’s “windy city” – Essaouira!
This article on the best restaurants in Essaouira includes affiliate links. What that means is that we’ll earn a small commission if you make a booking or reservation at no additional cost to you. We really appreciate your support as it helps us make more of these free travel and food guides. Merci!
I’ll be honest – Casablanca isn’t our favorite city in Morocco. Unlike Marrakech, Fes, or Essaouira, it’s a big modern metropolis that doesn’t have much in the way of tourist attractions. Aside from the Hassan II Mosque, there isn’t as much to see and do there.
But Casablanca’s size does promise one thing – delicious food. We stayed for two weeks on our last trip and found Casablanca to be a sprawling city with pockets of interesting neighborhoods and restaurants offering traditional Moroccan food, international fare, and healthy eating options.
If you’ll be spending a few days in this Moroccan city made famous by its movie namesake, then here are eight restaurants in Casablanca that you may want to check out.
MOROCCAN FOOD QUICK LINKS
To help with your Casablanca trip-planning, we’ve put together links to recommended hotels, tours, and other travel services here.
Top-rated accommodations in and around Gauthier, one of our favorite neighborhoods in Casablanca.
Idou Anfa Hôtel & Spa
Yto boutique Hotel
StayHere Casablanca Ghautier Apartments
Sightseeing Tour: Casablanca City Tour
Food Tour: Central Market Food Tour with Tastings and Lunch
Day Trip: Chefchaouen Day Trip with Lunch
Cooking Classes: Casablanca Cooking Classes
Travel Insurance (with COVID cover)
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MUST-VISIT RESTAURANTS IN CASABLANCA
We love authentic Moroccan food but being middle-aged travelers, healthy eating has become increasingly important to us as well. This Casablanca restaurant guide will give you a good mix of both.
TRADITIONAL MOROCCAN RESTAURANTS
If finding places that serve authentic Moroccan food is important to you, then you may want to check out any of these first four restaurants.
1. Saveurs du Palais
This was one of our favorite restaurants in Casablanca. It’s a traditional Moroccan restaurant that serves authentic and tasty food. From their many Moroccan salads to their wide variety of tagines and traditional Moroccan pastries, everything we had at this restaurant was delicious.
Pictured below is one of our favorite starters – Moroccan salad. It’s a simple and refreshing salad made with chopped fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and herbs.
We had fish or seafood tagine many times in Marrakech and Tangier but we never got to try sardine ball tagine. Thank goodness we got to try it in Casablanca because it’s seriously delicious!
Tagine made with any type of meat, poultry, seafood, or vegetable is one of the tastiest and most traditional Moroccan dishes you can find in this country. We’ve enjoyed every type of tagine thus far but fish ball tagine – especially the ones made with sardine – may be our favorite.
Equally delicious was this tagine chevreau messlala or goat tagine. If you prefer meat to seafood, then you may want to order this.
We’ve eaten at many traditional restaurants in Morocco but Saveurs du Palais offers one of the widest and most interesting selections of tagines we’ve seen so far. They also offer tagines made with beef, beef liver, tripe, beef tongue, pigeon, rabbit, and more.
Tagine is something you definitely need to try at least once in Morocco. In Casablanca, Saveurs du Palais is one of the best places to have it.
We sat at a regular table but if you’d like to have a more Moroccan experience, then perhaps you’d like to sit at one of these couch tables instead.
Saveurs du Palais
Address: 28 Rue Jalal Eddine Sayouti, Casablanca 20250, Morocco Operating Hours: 10AM-10:30PM, daily What to Order: Tagine
2. Chez Michel et Hafida (Tasty Fresh Seafood!)
If you’re in the mood for inexpensive but fresh seafood, then this humble restaurant is one of the best places you can go to. It’s located at the central market (marche central) – a cluster of two dozen or so produce shops and restaurants serving fresh fish and other types of seafood.
Sardines are a staple fish in the Moroccan diet and fried or grilled stuffed sardines are among our favorite iterations. They’re typically stuffed with chermoula – a type of North African marinade made with garlic, fresh herbs, spices, olive oil, and lemon juice. It’s delicious and equally popular in the cuisines of neighboring countries like Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya.
Many seafood dishes at Chez Michel et Hafida are served with grilled vegetables, potatoes, and a sharp and spicy harissa-based sauce.
If you like mussels, then you definitely need to try this mkela de moules. It’s basically a type of mussel tomato stew served in a shallow pan or pot also known as a mkela (or mkila, mqila). Paired with khobz, it’s absolutely delicious.
No, these aren’t undercooked french fries. What you’re looking at is the most ridiculously tender platter of grilled squid served with roasted vegetables.
Chef Michel et Hafida is one of many seafood restaurants at the central market. Many places here are known for serving delicious food but we chose this place based on the strength of its reviews.
Chez Michel et Hafida
Address: Stall 192, Marche Central, Bd Mohammed V, Casablanca 20000, Morocco Operating Hours: 10AM-9:30PM, Tue-Sun (closed Mondays) What to Order: Seafood dishes
As described, Hassan II Mosque is the top tourist attraction in Casablanca. You’ll probably find yourself there at some point so it’s good to know which restaurant to visit. Most restaurants in the area weren’t to our liking but thankfully, we found Solamo’s.
Solamo’s is one of those restaurants that serves everything. From breakfast sets to comfort food like Moroccan tacos and traditional dishes like tagine and couscous, they’ll probably have it here.
Brochette is something you’ll find on the menu of many traditional Moroccan restaurants. They make them with different types of meat, poultry, and seafood but if you’re unsure what to get, then you may want to try this brochette mixte. It comes with minced meat, merguez sausage, chicken, and steak along with a side of grilled vegetables and pasta.
I wanted to eat a little healthier today so I went with this tasty plate of grilled salmon with roasted vegetables and herbed rice.
With their diverse menu, Solamo’s isn’t the most traditional restaurant on this list but they do serve good food at affordable prices. Do check them out after visiting Hassan II Mosque.
Address: Bd d’El Hank, Casablanca 20250, Morocco Operating Hours: 6AM-12MN, daily What to Order: Breakfast, Moroccan dishes, comfort food
4. Dalia Ricks
Like Solamo’s, Dalia Ricks is another Moroccan restaurant that serves a little bit of everything. You can get breakfast sets and traditional Moroccan dishes like brochette and pastilla but you can also go for comfort food like Moroccan tacos, pizza, and sandwiches.
Many dishes looked appealing to us but because of our gregarious and very persuasive server, we went for the menu of the day which started with these hefty bowls of Moroccan salad.
And the daily special? Fish ball tagine!
Unlike the sardine balls at Saveurs du Palais, I believe these were made with merlan or whiting. They were made with rice and had a softer, fluffier texture than the sardine balls.
Dalia Ricks is located near Beth-El Temple, a Jewish synagogue just off Bd d’Anfa.
Address: Ibnou Hayane, 61 Rue jaber, Bd d’Anfa, Casablanca 20000, Morocco Operating Hours: 7AM-11PM, daily What to Order: Traditional Moroccan food, comfort food
As described, eating healthier has become a priority for us. Thankfully, we found a few delicious health-oriented and plant-based restaurants in Casablanca.
5. Organic Kitchen
Organic Kitchen is one of the best and most popular healthy restaurants you can visit in Casablanca. They offer an extensive and creative menu of healthy dishes in a refined space in the swanky Anfa neighborhood.
Organic Kitchen offers a good selection of vegetarian dishes but they do offer sandwiches, tartines, and salads made with healthier proteins like salmon, white fish, and chicken breast as well.
Pictured below is my incredibly delicious chicken shawarma. It’s made with marinated chicken breast, fresh vegetables, and pumpkin seeds served in an herbed pita wrap. Isn’t it gorgeous?
The chicken shawarma is served with yogurt sauce and a side of vegetables and fries.
I didn’t want the fries so they were kind enough to replace them with more fresh veggies. Merci!
My better half went with the buddha bowl which was made with the tastiest Asian-inspired marinated chicken served with quinoa, beetroot hummus, guacamole, leafy greens, and vegetables. An Organic Kitchen bestseller, the chicken in this salad was amazingly delicious and reminded us of Filipino adobo.
Without question, Organic Kitchen is one of the best restaurants in Casablanca for healthier eating. It’s pricier than some of the other restaurants on this list – around MAD 100-200 per dish – but it’s worth it. We’ll definitely come back on every return trip to Casablanca.
Like their dishes, the restaurant itself is lovely. It just feels good to be here.
Address: 6-8 Rue Ahmed El Mokri, Casablanca 20000, Morocco Operating Hours: 10AM-10:30PM, Mon-Fri (closed Sat-Sun) What to Order: Healthy dishes
If you’re a vegan, then you need to make your way to Niya, a terrific plant-based restaurant in the trendy Gauthier neighborhood of Casablanca. They offer a seasonal menu of creative and delicious vegan dishes in what could well be one of the cutest restaurant spaces in Casablanca.
What you’re looking at below is the salade de kale d’été or summer kale salad. It’s made with kale, marinated chickpeas, nectarine and avocado slices, green beans, red onions, and almonds served with an earthy argan ginger miso sauce.
This fantastic dish is Niya’s version of paella, everyone’s favorite Spanish dish. They call it low-carb paella because it’s made with iodized saffron cauliflower rice instead of Bomba or Calasparra rice. This was my first time trying cauliflower rice and I can proudly call myself a believer! My god was this good.
Aside from cauliflower, this low-carb paella also had peas, broccoli, green beans, roasted red peppers, crispy “chorizo”, and herbed aioli. Delicious!
If you’re in the mood for healthier pasta dishes, then you may want to try this equally delicious pasta alla norma. It’s made with a hefty portion of whole-grain organic penne topped with homemade basil tomato sauce, fried eggplant, and almond ricotta.
Who needs meat when you have healthier alternatives that taste as good as this?
Niya is set in an intimate space that was designed to look like someone’s living room or private library. If I understand correctly, they change their dishes every season so you may want to check out their menu for the latest offerings.
Isn’t the restaurant cute? It felt so cozy in here.
Address: 34 Rue Sebou, Casablanca 20100, Morocco Operating Hours: 10AM-9:30PM, Tue-Sat / 10AM-5PM, Sun (closed Mondays) What to Order: Vegan food
If you’re in the mood for great salads and fresh juices, then head on over to Khos – a salad and juice bar that offers healthier sandwiches and desserts as well.
Like any salad bar, you can build your own salad by ingredient but we decided to go with their salad suggestions, starting with this vitaminé e. Hefty and delicious, it’s made with turkey, quinoa, hummus, avocado, broccoli, and cabbage dressed in a pesto parmesan sauce.
They call this one Scandinave. It’s made with smoked salmon, quinoa, arugula, avocado, cucumber, and carrot topped with a creamy yogurt-based dressing.
The glass of juice behind the salad is called antioxydant. It’s a delicious and refreshing blend of beetroot, banana, and orange.
Khos is located in a quiet neighborhood about a 10-15 minute walk east of Arab League Park. It seems to be popular with office workers in the area so you may want to go at slightly off-peak lunch hours to avoid the crowd.
The restaurant’s interior is as clean and appealing as the food they serve.
The Khos maestros adeptly putting our salads together. On our next visit, we’ll try building our salads from scratch.
Address: 44 Rue Annoussour, Casablanca 20140, Morocco Operating Hours: 9AM-5PM, Sun-Fri (closed Saturdays) What to Order: Salads, sandwiches, fresh juices
8. Holy Brunch
As their name suggests, this popular restaurant in Gauthier is known for their brunches. It isn’t exactly a health restaurant like the previous three but they do offer a few dishes for people looking to enjoy a healthier meal in Casablanca.
This bright and sunny bowl is called sunny chicken. It’s made with grilled chicken served with brown rice, red cabbage, raisins, pistachios, peanuts, herbs, and fresh vegetables tossed in a Thai citrus sauce.
My better half wanted to go with something a little more indulgent so she went with this trio de tacos. It consists of three pancake tacos stuffed with different fillings like whipped cream, mangoes, apples, bananas, ricotta, walnuts, and speculoos.
We visited Holy Brunch on a Sunday and it was easily the most popular restaurant we went to in Casablanca. Located in trendy Gauthier, it’s a fun restaurant with many sweet and savory options so it wasn’t hard to understand why!
If you’d rather not wait for a table, then you may want to try going on a weekday or at off-peak hours.
Address: Angle rue Theophile Gauthier et, Rue Al Bouhtouri, Casablanca 20012, Morocco Operating Hours: 8AM-7PM, Mon-Fri / 9:30AM-7PM, Sat-Sun What to Order: Brunch-style dishes
To help guide you to these restaurants in Casablanca, I’ve pinned them all on the map below. Click on the link for a live version of the map.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THE BEST CASABLANCA RESTAURANTS
I haven’t seen it but many people from around the world have heard of Casablanca from the Academy-award-winning movie. It’s about an American expat who owns a nightclub and restaurant in Casablanca called “Rick’s Cafe”.
From what I understand, no parts of the movie were actually filmed in Casablanca but there’s a well-known restaurant in the city that’s said to mimic the restaurant from the film. Also called Rick’s Cafe, it isn’t the type of restaurant we look for on trips but fans of the movie may want to check it out.
One restaurant we did want to go to but unfortunately couldn’t – because it was closed for Eid al-Adha –was Asie’tte. It’s primarily a Japanese restaurant but they do serve food from other Asian cuisines like Thai and Chinese. The restaurant has stellar reviews so you may want to check them out if you come down with a craving for Japanese and Asian food.
In any case, that’s about it for our list of some of the best restaurants in Casablanca. If you have anything to add, then please do let us know in the comment section below.
Thanks for reading and have a delicious time in Casablanca! “Here’s looking at you, kid!”
This article on the best restaurants in Casablanca contains affiliate links, meaning we’ll earn a small commission if you make a booking or purchase at no additional cost to you. We really appreciate your support as it helps us make more of these free travel and food guides. Merci!