Romanian food is distinct yet familiar to most people, being a mixture of Oriental, Austrian and French flavours, but it has some unique elements. The local dishes are the delicious sarmale, mamaliga polenta, bulz traditional roasted polenta, filled with at least two kinds of cheeses, bacon and sour cream, friptura steak, salata boef finely chopped cooked veggies and meat salad, usually topped with mayo and decorated with tomatoes and parsley, zacusca a yummy, rich salsa-like dip produced in the fall as well as tocana a kind of stew, tochitura an assortment of fried meats, and traditional sausages, in a special sauce, served with polenta and fried eggs, mici a kind of spicy sausage, but only the meat, without the casings, always cooked on a barbecue. Other dishes include a burger bun with a slice of ham, a slice of cheese and a layer of French fries, ciorba de burta white sour tripe soup, ciorba taraneasca a red sour soup, akin to bors without the beet root and using instead fermented wheat bran, with lots of vegetables, Dobrogean or Bulgarian salads a mix of onions, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, white sauce and ham, onion salad - diced onion served in a dish, tomato salad - diced tomato with cheese, pig skin - boiled and sometimes in stew, and drob haggies - a casserole made from lamb or pork liver and kidneys. Local eclectic dishes include cow tongue, sheep brain Easter, caviar, chicken and pork liver, pickled green tomatoes and pickled watermelon.
Traditional desserts include pasca a chocolate or cheese pie produced only after Easter, saratele salty sticks, pandispan literally means spanish bread; a cake filled with sour cherries, and cozonac a special cake bread baked for Christmas or Easter. Bread without butter comes with almost every meal and dill is quite common as a flavoring. Garlic is omnipresent, both raw, and in special sauces mujdei is the traditional sauce, made of garlic, olive oil and spices, as are onions.
Generally, there is good street food, including covrigi hot pretzels, langoşi hot dough filled with cheese, gogoşi donut-like dough, coated with fine sugar, mici spicy meat patties in the shape of sausages, and excellent pastries many with names such as merdenele, dobrogene, poale-n brau, ardelenesti, thin pancakes filled with anything from chocolate and jam to bananas and ice cream. Very popular are kebab and shawarma şaorma, served in many small shops.
Most restaurants in Romania, especially in more regional areas, only serve Romanian food, even though it is similar to Western European food. Especially in Bucharest, there is a wide variety of international food, especially mediterranean, Chinese or French. There are also fairly plentiful international fast food chains. The interesting truth about these is that they are just nominally cheaper than restaurants, with the quality of the food being of an international standard but quite much lower than that served in restaurants. Therefore, go for the restaurants when you can - they provide a much more authentic and quality experience at prices that aren't too much higher.
Vegetarian and vegan travelers can easily find a tasty dish suitable for them if they ask for mancare de post food suitable for religious fasting. Because Romanians are in their large majority Eastern Orthodox Christians, fasting involves removing of all the animal products from their meals meat, dairy products or eggs. Even though Lent seasons only cover a small part of the year, you can find fasting food throughout the year. However, note that most of the Romanians are unaccustomed with vegetarianism or veganism; still, you can find fasting food "mancare de post" all year round since most of the Romanians fast also outside Lent, on Wednesdays and Fridays, as part of their orthodox faith.