The 2010 Census revealed that the Chicagoland area is home to over 100,000 Romanian-Americans. With Chicago topping the list of the most immigrant-friendly cities in America, this is no surprise. The city, and the surrounding areas, boast over a dozen Romanian churches and cultural centers, including one recently in the news for all the wrong reasons.
Romanian cuisine, similar in many ways to Polish cuisine, is best known for sarmale (stuffed cabbage rolls), mititei (skinless sausages) and ciorba de burta (tripe soup) as well as a variety of tasty desserts that include papanasi (fried donuts), savarine (citrus-flavoured yeasted cake) or amandine (chocolate layered cake).
Ten years ago, the city had more than a dozen Romanian restaurants and bakeries from which to choose. Alas, in 2020 the options are significantly more limited.
For example, 3 of the most famous Romanian restaurants have closed (Little Bucharest, Nelly Saloon and Doina). Another new restaurant, Transilvanya Grille opened in early 2020 on Lincoln Avenue, but shut down in April. It was a different kind of COVID-19.
So what do you do if you’re craving Romanian food in the Chicago area? Don’t worry, there are still awesome options. Here’s what to order.