Chisinau is a great city for foodies, with a wide range of low to mid-priced restaurants serving delicious Moldovan cuisine and pizza parlors on every corner for lunch on the run. The markets are the place for fresh local produce as well as imported exotic fruits, although picnic goodies such as sausages and cooked meats are best bought in the grocery store. For a special occasion, fine dining restaurants serve international and fusion cuisine, but at Western prices. Cafés, bars and pubs also have food, with the famous local wines the favorite drink. Most venues, with the exception of clubs, close around midnight.

Bars and Pubbing in Moldova

Most of the nightlife in Moldova is centered around Chisinau, with the city home to pubs, cocktail bars, dance clubs, discos, and nightclubs. Most of the venues serve food as well as drinks, meaning you don’t have get up and leave the party when hunger strikes. The obligatory Celtic hangout is the Dublin Irish Pub (STR Bulgaria, 27, City Center, Chisinau), an Irish/Moldovan mix that serves classic Irish stews and a tasty Scottish cock-a-leekie (leeks stewed in Guinness with chicken, duck, vegetable, and prunes). Expensive, but an alcoholic and culinary delight.

Clubbing is at its best in the Riscani district, with its centerpiece the Star Track (Str Kiev, 7 Riscani, Chisinau), set on the first floor above the Military Pub. The sexy, gloomy interior features cozy couches for two and intimate booths, all with great views of the writhing, leaping, lace-clad crowd on the dance floor. Dressing to the nines is standard practice at Deja Vue (Str Bucuresti 67, City Center, Chisinau), a swanky see-and-be-seen cocktail bar in Moldova with an extensive drink menu and theatrically-inclined bartenders.

The unpretentious, down-to-earth Robin’s Pub ( Str Alexandru cei Bun 83, City Center, Chisinau) is the perfect place for a relaxing evening with expats and locals, and its elaborate menu will keep you here until closing time. For a Sunday night blues and jazz session, E-Café (B-dul Moscovei 1/2, Riscani, Chisinau) is a small, friendly club/bar with a cool vibe, but the hottest disco in town is People (B-dul Negruzzi 2/4, eastern suburbs, Chisinau), famed for its theme nights and visiting DJs.

Dining and Cuisine in Moldova

Moldovan cuisine is basically a mix of traditional European gastronomies, with pork, beef and root and green vegetables all used in a combination with Bulgarian, Turkish, Jewish, Russian, and Greek culinary delights. The capital, Chisinau, has the best selection of eateries at all levels, from fine dining to filling, delicious regional delicacies in local restaurants. The Cactus Café (Str Armeneasca 41, City Center, Chisinau) with "Bohemian meets Wild-West" decor is a good place to start for its breakfasts, vegetarian dishes and innovative meat plates.

The relaxed Beer House (B-dul Negrruzzi 6/2, east of city center, Chisinau) sounds like a pub, but is actually a micro-brewery with four tasty home-brewed beers as well as an excellent, well-priced menu items served with flair and friendliness. Set in an antique cellar, Symposium (Str 31 August 1989, City Center, Chisinau) offers some of the best French cuisine in the city in an elegant, refined ambience. For traditional Moldovian treats, Orasul Vechi (Str Armeneasca 24, City Center, Chisinau) is a stylish folk restaurant offering wood-fire, oven-cooked dishes, with its specialty being seafood like shark and octopus.