There used to be many of these places in Bucharest and generally in the South. Unfortunately there are fewer and fewer. Called "berarie" or "terasa", they used to provide a great, warm atmosphere where regular people used to meet, eat some mici and pickles, drink draft beer in the smoke created by the grill where they cooked the mici. Then they used to debate forever over the eternal topics: politics, women and soccer. There were just a few options and there used to be no menu (or the menu was just a piece of paper in the window). Nowadays there are not so many places like that in the old quarter and I think these too will disappear soon.
The two places of this kind I know in the old quarter include a Berarie on Lipscani Street (50 m. to the East from the National Bank, on your right side) and Columbia, on the crossing of Selari and Franceza streets, just before the Old Court. Mind you they are neither fancy, nor quiet. They shouldn't be so anyway.
For the mici lovers, one can also find them in a few traditional restaurants; the mici at Vatra Restaurant (see my special tip for it) are especially recommended. Otherwise, all Bucharesters know La Cocosatu', a place that started with a berarie just to end with a big restaurant. They have their own butcher shop, preparing the mici meat themselves, and they lie on Str. Neagoe Voda nr. 52A, near Bucharest Baneasa Airport.
Favorite Dish: The mici (minced pork and mutton, mixed with garlic and spices, then grilled and served with mustard), the pickles coming from a large jar, and the draft beer. For there usually is not much more than that anyway.
If you're searching for a place where good taste meets refinement, come to The Harbour. That's what it's written on the site's intro page.
A lively popular restaurant among ex pats, situated in the heart of Bucharest, The Harbour offers a delightful atmosphere. The waiters are very friendly and can always advise you on what's THE THING to eat.
When we went there last night, I was wondering how come there's a trip playing music from the Mediterranean region, in a place with an English name. But after all...who cares? It's the mood that they created what matters after all.
You can surf on their site. It's in Romanian but click on the menu and then on the names there: everything's translated into English with prices too.
Favorite Dish: Pork tenderloin knitted with beef tenderloin covered with bacon - all 4 of us agreed to go there again just for this dish.
A visit to Ronald's place is where you go when you want decent coffee to drink! What I found quite interesting was that the restaurant prices for their lovely soups with bread was actualy cheaper than eating at McDonalds.
Favorite Dish: Coffee
If you are really hungry and with a limited budget, definitely go there. for less than 8 euros you can eat enough for 2 and drink for one whole day.
Favorite Dish: various chicken dishes, special salade, french fries with lods of cheese
I would reccomend this only in summer time, when you eat directly in the street. Otherwise, the interior is small and smoggy.
Dishes are good and large for the money you pay (about 30 lei for soup, main dish, desert and a beer or coffee). Because of the quantity, I could never finish dishes there, no matter how hungry i was when starting.
Favorite Dish: gulas and papricas. immense salads
5 min from Tineretului underground station, on the lake shore in the middle of the park.
Opened recently, good food and most lively atmosphere in the evenings and all along the week-end. Going there is one of the best ways to get under the skin of the young average-income class in Bucharest.
The first time I was introduced to this establishment was by a friend meeting friends of hers. It's literally the place where people go to relax and meet people. It's a small, smoky, often busy place to relax. Named after the popular beachside location "Vama Veche," it attempts to recreate it by its wooden paneling and seaside decor. Reminiscent of a Red Lobster restaurant in terms of ambiance. Aside from its somewhat tacky decor, it hosts a much younger, hip, friendly university-aged group.
A good place to meet up with friends before or after hitting the discos and club scene.
Locals go to this popular restaurant as well but mainly you'll find businessmen and tourists here. The former caravanserai in the heart of the old city has lovely outdoor seating. Food is okay, service sorta just there. Nice selection of beers and wines, and a very pleasant place to hang out if you just enjoy it and don't think too much about the food or the service. One of those places you've got to say you've been to!
Trattoria Il Calcio is a football-themed restaurant serving Italian food. They have two locations, one close to Piata Romana and Piata Amzei and the other close to Herastrau Park. The one close to Piata Romana is very popular, crowded day and night and a bit of waiting is involved (we once went there at 11.00 at night and still had to wait ten minutes for a table). The food is good, and the same goes for the prices (maybe a little above the average by Romanian standards, but very convenient by Western standards). The service is attentive or at least it was in our case; I've heard some complaints from friends so I guess it depends on the waiter. They serve the usual Italian fare, pastas and pizzas and a number of salads and stakes. The dessert was also good. Expect the noise level to be high.
The restaurants are located at:
Str. Mendeleev 14. Phone no. 0722 134 299
Sos. Nordului 7-9. Phone no. 0724 706 665
Hanul Manuc is also a hotel. To eat, you can either sit below in the square where some barbecues produce nice grilled meats, or you can sit on the balconies surrounding the inner courtyard.
Favorite Dish: Food I described in the previous tip. In general a softdrink (0,33 or 0,5 litre) is about 30.000 lei (80 eurocent approx.).
Caru Cu Bere (pictured here on the right) is a very attractive restaurant just near the Stavropelos Church off Calea victoriei.
Good selection of beers, interesting 1920's interior.
Favorite Dish: The beer hall serves good renditions of the various national dishes at only slighly over average prices.
CARUL CU BERE What better place to settle in and make yourself at home in Romania than in the famous Carul cu Bere.
Don't be overawed by the lavish Gothic Decor. Bucharest's oldest and most ornate beer hall dates back to 1875 where all of Romania's important business decisions have been made for centuries. The beer is fantastic, treat yourself to the bread, cheese and meatball delights and don't forget to try the Chorba.
Roma bands are occasionally known to play from noon onwards.
Favorite Dish: Traditional romanian
Caru cu bere is also nice restaurant with his decor of 1900.
You can enjoy traditional romanian food with very good and rich selection of beers
Favorite Dish: Ciorba de burta ( tripe soup)