This February, my boyfriend treated me to a long weekend in Bucharest, the capital city of Romania, as a Christmas/one-year anniversary present. As we both love to explore new places, this was the perfect present for both of us to share. Apart from my initial research into Bucharest, I didn’t know a thing about the city before we arrived – but I now class it as one of my favourite European cities. There are a million reasons why, and a million reasons why I’d recommend it as a holiday destination to many of my friends and family, many of whom are now keen to visit.
When I first looked into Bucharest, however, one of my initial concerns was that I’d struggle to find vegan food. As a general rule, I’m more than happy to live on chips and bread, and I’d never refrain from visiting a city simply because it wasn’t geared up for vegans. Still, I didn’t really want to be rationing a bowl of fries while my boyfriend tucked into a three-course meal. It turns out that I needn’t have worried, as there are many places to eat vegan – as long as you’re willing to:
- Do your research. Bucharest isn’t like Bristol (my hometown), where vegan food is plentiful and well advertised. Check Happy Cow and read plenty of travel blogs before you go.
- Eat in places that aren’t strictly vegan. I know some people have a problem with this, but it’ll really limit you if you aren’t willing to eat in places with mixed menus. Some of the best vegan meals I had were in places with a predominantly meaty menu.
- Ask for your food ‘de post’. In Romania, members of the Eastern Orthodox Church fast multiple times at year. And, when they fast, their diets are vegan. So, if you ask for an item on the menu to be prepared ‘de post’ (i.e. for fasting), you may be in luck. I tried this while ordering a vegetarian pizza and it worked – the pizza came cheese-free and delicious.
Unfortunately, as we were only there for four nights, we didn’t manage to visit even half of the restaurants I wanted to, but I just see this as another excuse to go back. These are just a few that we did manage to visit:
I really struggled to find vegan breakfast options when researching where to eat in Bucharest, so I was beyond happy when I saw Simbio recommended online. Luckily, it was only a short walk from our accommodation and not too far away from the Old Town. When we arrived, we were turned away from the upstairs seating area (n.b: you have to reserve a table everywhere in Bucharest) but fortunately there were stools free at the bar downstairs. If you’d prefer a livelier atmosphere and a great smell of coffee, the downstairs seating is probably your best bet anyway.
There was only one vegan brunch option on the menu – a sandwich with side salad – so I ordered it alongside an apple and ginger smoothie. I have to say, although a little more choice would have been nice, the sandwich was delicious. It was very substantial too, with roasted courgette, red pepper and hummus inside toasted white bread. If you’re in the area, I’d highly recommend stopping by for a bite.
While the menu said there were no vegan options available (at least, none which were advertised) I was desperate to stop by after taking a peek at the interior. Walls of Van Gogh’s most famous paintings and a ceiling of hanging umbrellas made this a must-see, even though I wasn’t sure if there would be anything vegan for me to eat. As it turns out, there wasn’t.
However, the incredibly friendly waiting staff were more than happy to accommodate for me, and prepared the “Green Quesadilla” de post. It arrived filled with spring onions, sweetcorn, other mixed vegetables, and the gouda advertised on the menu had been taken out. Perfect. The only thing I’d say is that it wasn’t all too filling, so I’d get a side of fries or salad if you’re into big portions like I am.
Cafe Verona is a very sweet little cafe next to Cărturești Verona, the smaller sister to the Instagram-famous bookshop, Cărturești Carusel. It’s also a great place to stop by for lunch if you’re heading towards the Romanian Athenaeum or the Rebirth Memorial. We actually stopped by for breakfast, but as there were no vegan options available on the brunch menu, we stayed until 12 when they started taking orders for lunch. As this was one of the only places I saw serving soya milk, I was more than happy to wait with my first coffee in a few days!
Again, one of the only vegan options available was a sandwich. It was fairly similar to the one I had at Simbio, although this one was also filled with avocado and came with a side of chips. The food was pretty good and the waiting staff were super friendly, making this a great lunchtime find.
One of the only fully vegan places we came across, Sublimmme was a real treat after a few days of asking for dishes to be altered. Unfortunately we found this charming little cafe on our last day so we didn’t have time to try out the menu in full, but we did stop for coffee and two slices of raw cake – both of which were delicious. I had the raw “Snickers” bar and my boyfriend opted for chocolate and peppermint, but there were so many options to choose from. Sublimmme is just a short walk away from the Old Town so I’d highly recommend stopping by if you have the time. They also sell burgers and wraps on their savoury menu.
If you’re a book lover like me, then a trip to Cărturești Carusel is essential. It’s a huge multi-level book shop with everything from children’s books to poetry, many of which are available in English. Couple this with the fact that it’s a truly beautiful building with winding staircases and cosy reading nooks, and it puts itself firmly on my list of favourite things to do in Bucharest.
That aside, it’s also a great place to stop by for some raw vegan cake. We ordered a slice to share and a bottle of wine from the top floor cafe, and spent over an hour watching people browse the levels and levels of books. The cake was delicious – a chocolate and plum tart – and it was a great place to stop for a snack in the Old Town.
For our final night in Bucharest, I wanted to book somewhere where we could dress up and enjoy a few cocktails with a view over the city. When scrolling through Happy Cow (every vegan’s best friend), I came across the perfect place – 18 Lounge. Although it was listed as one of the more expensive places in the area, we were willing to pay for an evening of fine dining. We couldn’t have been more impressed!
Not only is the view from the restaurant simply beautiful (as the name suggests, the restaurant is seated on the 18th floor of an otherwise inconspicuous building), but the food was to die for. In fact, I’d go as far as saying it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. While my boyfriend was spoilt for choice with meat dishes, there were only three or four vegan options on the menu, but enough to enjoy a starter, side, main and dessert if you wanted to.
I opted for the tomato soup to start, which was honestly so delicious I could eat it every day. Exceptionally light and flavoursome, the soup also came with chunks of fried tofu to make it a little more filling. For my main, I opted for the vegan noodles, which also came with golden pieces of tofu. Both were amazing, although so filling that I couldn’t bring myself to order pudding. With that in mind, 18 Lounge got 10/10 from both of us! It’s quite far out of the Old Town so you’ll probably need to get a taxi, but the experience is certainly worth it.