Who would guess that Cluj-Napoka has so many best cafes and amazing restaurants with traditional Romanian dishes? You know me already enough to guess that cafes and restaurants are always on my list when visiting a new country. Therefore, it’s no surprise I also wanted to explore cafes in Cluj-Napoka while I was in Romania.
Cluj-Napoka is the second largest city in Romania (in terms of population) and that it’s a jumping base to exploring Dracula’s land – Transylvania. As you can read here, our travel plans had to be thoroughly changed once we got stuck in a highway and lost a lot of time. Therefore, of all the places to visit in Cluj-Napoka, I explored mainly its restaurants, cafes, and pubs. And I’m not complaining about that – social life in Cluj-Napoka is really amazing.
Here is my personal list of the best places to eat, drink, and party in Cluj-Napoka.
The best restaurant with traditional Romanian cuisine – Roata, Strada Alexandru Ciurea 6, Cluj-Napoka
Roata is one of the best restaurants I’ve ever been to. Run by a friendly crew who welcome their guests with shots of flavoured vodka for the ladies and tuica for the gentlemen (tuica is a traditional Romanian drink containing from 28 to 60% alcohol). They serve traditional Romanian dishes of really good quality. Apart from that, they also have a good choice of tasty Romanian wines. The interior looks OK, but it’s nothing spectacular. Walls are coloured in white, wooden tables and chairs are decorated with traditionally coloured cloth. But the garden! Roata has an amazing garden which has quite a spectacular atmosphere. It’s cosy, beautiful, and a bit mysterious – thanks to rich greenery. When you visit Roata, be sure to order Sarmale for the main course and traditional Romanian doughnuts with creamy filling. Doughnuts are made on site so when you get them, they are still hot!
Facebook: Restaurant Roata Cluj
Modern interpretation of European dishes – Marty Restaurant, Strada Victor Bebes 39
Marty Restaurant has a spacious terrace from where you can admire pretty good views over the city. It’s not very high, but still enough to see the rooftops. Besides that, their dishes are very tasty. Not as traditional as those in Roata, but still very good. I would even say they are rather modern variations of European cuisine with a good choice of sweet desserts.
The best steampunk cafe ever – Jobens Bistro, Strada Avram Iancu 29, Cluj-Napoka
What is steampunk? In short, it originated from science fiction literature of H. G. Wells, Mary Shelly, and Julius Verne and the setting is taken from the 19th century of Victorian England during its industrial revolution. Steam machines are basically given a new life. Steampunk is a retrofuturistic genre: it takes the steam machines of the 19th century and places them in a postapocalyptic settings of distant future. This mixture gives an unforgettable, quirky, mysterious atmosphere and I absolutely LOVE IT.
The best steampunk cafe in Cluj-Napoka (and I’ve been to two) is Joben Bistro. It’s interior is absolutely perfect. Each tiny detail has its place and function and fits into the general mood of this cafe. Actually, it’s not only a cafe: you can drink all sorts of alcohol there and also eat something more than just a snack. I would wholeheartedly recommend visiting this absolutely unique place and I am sure you will be delighted. There’s a hovercraft in the ceiling, a wired dog in the window, an aqualung handing over one of the tables, a bar with a skull, and a really funny “mirror” in the bathroom saying “YOU LOOK FINE”. Joben Bistro – you’re doing it well!
Facebook: Joben Bistro
Steam guy on a bike: Enigma, Iuliu Maniu, 12
This cafe is not as cosy as Joben, but it has a few things that add this place a unique atmosphere. The first one is a steam guy riding a bicycle. Then there’s a massive clock with all the tiniest details visible to the naked eye and a bug moving its limbs on the ceiling, a lamp pretending to be an opening tulip. It’s a really cool place. Since my visit to Romania, I seem to be in love with steampunk cafes!
The biggest and tastiest mohitos you’ll ever drink in Cluj-Napoka – CE?, Piața Muzeului
The winner is CE?. And before I tell you what’s so amazing about this place, here’s my dialogue with Katarzyna.
- Me: Do you remember the name of the place we drank mohito in Cluj?
- Katarzyna: Ce? – in Polish, it looks similar to “co?” meaning “what?” I thought she didn’t know what I was asking about so I repeated.
- Me: Ce?
- Katarzyna: Ce? – Here I thought that she is constantly typing “co?” wrong.
- Me: So do you know that place? It was called “ce?”
- Katarzyna: Yes.
- Me: OK, clear! And do you know what it means?
- Katarzyna: What?
- Me: Ce.
- Katarzyna: What.
- Me: CE!
- Katarzyna: WHAT. – And then I understood that CE means WHAT and is similar to polish CO and means the same as CO. Bravo me. :3
Back to the subject! I haven’t eaten anything in CE? but I’ve drunk a lot. 😉 A lot of mohitos to be precise. There are three tastes to choose from: the traditional one, with apples and with strawberries. I went for mohitos with apples and they were the best I’ve ever drunk in my life. And apart from that, they were served in relatively large glasses so the pleasure of topping it up took a bit more than normally. My friends ordered aperol spritz and said it was also very good. The interior is spacious and rather modern, there is also a large beer garden just on the square where all night life is happening. This is where we spent quite a lot of time.
Afternoon coffee and intelligent talks – N8 Coffee & Social Affairs, Universitatii 8, Cluj-Napoka
Located very conveniently in the historic city centre, N8 Coffee & Social Affairs is one of the best modern cafes with good quality coffee. I went there with Aga and Michal before we hit the road for the Tarnita Lake trekking. I can’t remember now, but I am nearly sure we also went there AFTER the trekking to recharge our batteries before the night out.
Facebook: N8 Coffee Social Affairs
Harty Pard in Cluj-Napoka only in Janis – a club with a swimming pool and pirate ship
This is the place you know from my previous post and the adventures with bouncers. It’s a mixture of a club, swimming pool, and a ship just like in the Pirates of the Caribbean. I am recommending this place on the blog because it is simply unique: not often (or never?) can you find a club that has a regular swimming pool! A few years ago, there was a massive pyramid instead of the dance floor so I guess Janis’ owner has an impressive imagination.
Facebook: New Janis Club
These are just some inspirations I could experience myself during my visit to Cluj-Napoka. This city is actually full of atmospheric cafes and restaurants serving tasty food and I would like to revisit Cluj only to do a “cafe-tour” and check them all. If you know of other cool places in Cluj-Napoka, share them in the comments!