These are our recommendations for the best must-try dishes in Cluj Napoca:
VARZĂ Á LA CLUJ. If a dish has the town in the name, it must be somewhat traditional, right? Varză à la Cluj is a Cluj classic, cabbage prepared in a way that the people of CN have been enjoying for years and years. The cabbage is combined with rice and meat to create something unique, something undeniably Cluj.
SARMALE. You’ll find these delightful cabbage rolls all over the region, but few countries do them as magically as Romania. Cabbage, meat and rice combine once again for magnificent results, although we’re going to go ahead and say they are best enjoyed warmed up after the fact. If you can eat them with grandma, even better.
MĂMĂLIGĂ. Referring to Central and Eastern Europe and lamenting the lack of vegetarian options is getting somewhat tiresome, especially when you take into account the fine roster of hearty herbivore joints in Cluj-Napoca. Mămăligă is the authentic Romanian veggie dish of choice, essentially polenta served with all manner of madness.
TOCHITURĂ ARDELENEASCĂ. Stews! We love a stew here at In Your Pocket, the whole ‘Central & Eastern Europe’ is a good indicator, and we’d be more than happy to put our weight behind the Transylvanian stew in a stew-off. This is a carnivore carnival, a mosaic of beef and pork coming together with tomato sauce and what is all sorts to create something that we’re immensely proud to be able to eat. More importantly, where is this stew-off we mentioned?
PAPANAȘI. We’ll finish with a sweet, although don’t be surprised to see folk chomping into Papanași as a main. These are the classic Romanian doughnuts, although don’t expect the outlandish designs you see in the west. Taste is everything here, as the spheres are lathered in sour jam and filled with soft cheese. We’ll take them all, thank you very much.