New Years Eve this year caught me in Romania’s most fascinating town: Cluj- Napoca or Cluj how the locals say (in English you pronounce it like ‘rouge’ but with Kl). There is a lot to say about this town: second largest in the country, unofficial capital of Transylvania – well, Sibiu might argue otherwise, very chic, very trendy and with a handful of things to occupy your time spent there.
There’s plenty to do from the famous and ever-growing summer festivals like Electric Castle and Untold festival to nearby landmarks such as the Turda Salt Mine which is a must see. This not taking into consideration all the wandering and exploring of the town itself. Seriously, if you plan on visiting Romania do book at least three days for Cluj – you wont regret it.
But since my vacation was for the New Years when mostly everything was closed and the weather not very friendly for outside wandering my friends and I spent quite some time exploring all the best cafes and pubs that tripadvisor recommends for a trip to Cluj. So here’s what I found out in terms of when and where to drink and eat:
Bistro Engels.This incredible discovery is definitely my first choice when it comes to eating in Cluj. It looks somewhat like a combination between a European bistro and an American dinner but the mixture came out good with soft green corner tables and funky lamps. Anyway it’s not the decorum that I want to discuss but the menu: huge and full of possibilities. From a tone of breakfast dishes to burgers to meats and salads. And honestly, it has the biggest desert menu I have ever seen! Plus, the vegan of the group declared the menu to be very vegan and vegetarian friendly so: 10 points for Engels! We’ve tried it both for dinner and breakfast/ brunch and loved it.
Camino.Between the special New Years opening hours and everybody wanting to eat out, it was hard to get a table at Camino and we were actually scared that we might not get to eat there. But our last night brought us our long desired spot at Camino and we got to see what is all the fuss about this place. The food is delicious indeed – do try either the tapas or the pastas. Or both if you are hangry. The restaurant is in a historical building in Museum Square and the interior is shabby chic-romantic with a touch of witty comments hanging here in there on the walls. It is from Camino that I learned my latest motto in life: ‘Live each day like there’s no midnight!’ Cinderella
Yolka. Thanks to instagram I knew Yolka was one place I did not want to miss in Cluj. It’s like having coffee in a sort of fairy garden. There are a lot of things that catch your eyes: painted ceiling, angels hanging from trees, colorful chairs and a great view of the main square. Combine all of these with some yummy coffees or winter specials like ginger mulled wine and you have a nice time out on your hands.
Joben Pub. If you like industrial – crazy looking pubs then Joben is surely the place for you. First, they have a cute robot in front of the door greeting you Hello! every time you pass in front of it. How can someone resist to that? They serve food as well but I am not able to state my opinion on that since I haven’t tried the food. But the drinks menu is interesting with a lot of original cocktails and what they call drunky coffees – more drunky than coffee.
Casa Tauffer Jazz Bar I saved the best for last! This place fulfills several criteria on my list of cool places to go out: it’s in a historical building with a lot of things having happened on the premises, the customers are definitely interesting characters or so they look (you know the kind you can imagine stories about), the atmosphere is pleasant, the decorum fits the specific of the bar. This one even had an extra: a music menu for anyone to choose up to 3 songs for the playlist. And since a Jazz Bar wouldn’t be a proper Jazz Bar without the Jazz we caught a live saxophone concert one of the evenings. Yes, we liked it there so much that we spent several evenings there. A place that Lonelyplanet described as: ‘A slice of New Orleans in the heart of Cluj’. Have I told you that New Orleans is no.1 on my bucket list destinations?
This is my mini guide to Cluj in terms of eating and drinking. Have you tried any of them? What other place would you add to the list?
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