Since 1991, there’s an annual festival in Chicago called Taste of Romania, on the vacant plot found at the intersection of California and Addison avenues (proximity of Lincoln Park), organized by a restaurant called “Little Bucharest“, with a Balkan cuisine (more than Romanian). This year’s Taste of Romania takes place on September 13 – 14.
A funny little restaurant with a Serb owner, I would not call it “authentic” at all, but worth one visit. I’ve been there in 1996 when I dated my wife, to experience the Romanian diaspora culture a but again, not impressed. The menu is 6000 miles away from what actually defines Romanian cuisine.
Chicago’s Taste of Romania fest is a different story. If you are hungry for some as-close-as-you-can-get authentic Romanian Cuisine, then you might consider going after all.
Beside the fact that the event features two days of pig, oxen, lamb grilling on a spit, the traditional feet-stomped grape juice (you can’t get more authentic than that!), the stuffed pickled cabbage called sarmale (or sarma as known in Turkish), and of course Mamaliga, the organizers ship in loads of East-European dancers (Romanian, Greek, Serb and Polish), loud singers, that will have you jump up dancing the hora, or at least tapping your feet to contain your excitement.
Overall, if you happen to be in Chicago, I would recommend Taste Of Romania fest even if only for one day. You will get a hint of what is the Romanian cuisine or culture. Even if it is heavily Americanized.