Bucharest’s Markets: Piata Ramnicul Sarat

When first married to Mrs. Bucharest Life, we lived in an apartment on Strada Liviu Rebreanu, opposite Titan Park. The park was not as nice as it is now of course, but it was always a pleasant place and certainly not the worst part of Bucharest in which to live.

One of the best things about living in the area was the nearby market, Piata Ramnicul Sarat. We went back there, for the first time in years, this past weekend.

Piata Ramnicul Sarat

Piata Ramnicu Sarat

Besides the usual high-quality produce (it’s summer) at some of the lowest prices around (tomatoes 3 lei per kilo), we also found a real treat for sale: fresh mint.

Fresh mint at Bucharest's Piata Ramnicul Sarat

As anyone who has ever tried to make a mojito in this town will know, finding fresh mint in Bucharest is a little like Jason and the lads heading off in search of the fleece: something of an expedition.

Finally, we found it. Whether or not the same woman will be there selling next week is another matter, of course.

Anyway, add in the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of a Bucharest market (there are terrific grilled mici for sale) and we recommend an expedition out to Piata Ramnicul Sarat as part of any Bucharest cultural experience. With the possible exception of the (much pricier) Piata Norilor at Tineretului it is the best within reasonable reach of the city centre.

Piata Ramnicul Sarat

Piata Ramnicul Sarat

Find it here:

[mappress mapid=”25″]


More about Bucharest’s markets here.

28 comments

  1. ioana says:

    If anyone needs fresh basil for pesto or salad – I have to offer.
    I got annoyed that i couldn’t find a reliable source so this spring i planted some in my garden. I got a little bit carried away, i think; yesterday i harvested 7 kilos of basil leaves and my freezer was already full. I also have fresh thyme. Mint I will have plenty next year, what i have now i use it to multiply it. The same for next year – with marjoram, sage and lavander (for icecream).
    Please don’t consider i’m trying to advertise here; i’m not giving away all my vegetables or so; it’s just about herbs; if i harvest more basil and thyme next weekend, i think it’s a shame to get wasted; i worked a lot for it.
    so: please let me know

    • Anon says:

      7 kg! wow, overkill hehe:)
      Nice to see you’re still around, haven’t seen any post from you for a while.

      • ioana says:

        Hello !!! :) hei, I hope you’re fine and you enjoy the summer!!
        yes, i have to slow down with herbs; I’ll try strawberries and other berries for next year :)

  2. fritz says:

    Best market i’ve seen was in France, i must admit – it was organized old-style, around the local church.
    Every thursday and sunday they had a ‘great market’, almost a fair.
    The local producers came from around the city (Lille in this case), the products were great – well, you know, the french know their food…
    Also, an entire section of the market was for the arab traders, you could buy great food and condiments from them – they are quite adept at foodstuffs too…
    It was not expensive even for a peniless student like your truly
    I rate it as better than any market i’ve seen in Romania, but only because it was excellent.
    Our markets are also pretty cool, as markets come.
    How about British markets? I’ve only been to Britain once and didn’t go to a traditional market.
    Ate some of the locally caught fish there though, it was truly amazing. And Angus beef. Spectacular.

    • fritz says:

      the part about France was in 2001-2003, but i don’t think it has changed too much (except for me being older and no longer a student in Lille)

      • Parmalat says:

        In 2001 I was in Paris for a few months myself. And you know, I visited a market somewhere in suburb located in the South of the city.

        I noted that the market itself was very clean and vendors were wearing white slopes and inviting everyone to look and buy. But otherwise I could say it was about the only place in Paris which looked similar to a place in Bucharest, not much difference from Piata Sudului :))

        I believe that in smaller cities people are more concerned with making everything to look familiar and cozy, the market in Lille really must have been a nice experience :)

    • Craig Turp says:

      There are decent produce markets left in London but they are few and far between, and most have lost their edge as ordinary people have turned to supermarkets for their produce (as they have the best prices).

      Indeed, having grown up the son of a costermonger and worked in markets during school holidays it is sad to see how great working class places such as Borough (which always used to be wholesale only) is now little more than an overpriced gourmet delicatessen for poncey Jamie Oliver types who aren’t happy unless their organic potatoes cost three times the price of ordinary potatoes.

  3. Costachel Budurau says:

    The Ramnicul Sarat Market is located on what used to be a nice park some twenty years ago and the open market was operating across the street. Until fairly recently (quite weird actually) both locations were active making the traffic a nightmare for drivers as people were crossing indiscriminately looking for best bargains.

    The old market was hosted in a ugly building on which the owners tried to slap (in a big hurry) another floor right before it was demolished in 2010. I never found out what the story was but I speculate that the owner had “milked” the location failing to make the promised investments and the authorities took action by demolishing that rat haven. It would be natural for the market to return to the old location and that might happen one day but there are so many political interests that is hard to predict what might happen next.

    Today’s market is among the least expensive though I think it will never compete with Piata Progresu (BercenI) or Piata Obor. As in most markets, the bulk of the sellers are not actually growers but they offer good values. When it comes to apples though buy without fear as most sellers are growers from the reputable Voinesti region and have some great tasting fruits. (If you get more than three/four kilos ask them for a little discount, it is common practice and it will prevent this peasants from getting too rich.) Unfortunately, one very visible problem in the market is the rat population which the (inevitably corrupted) administration is not truly committed to solve in spite of imposing on vendors additional charges for this precise purpose.

    One other great place to buy apples, pears, plums and cherries is the new Piata Obor where the owners had worked with the mayors of the villages from the apple producing regions (such as Voinesti) and had grouped growers based on their place of origin – you can identify them by the signs hanging above their heads.

  4. I didn’t know about this market! Thank you! I make my shopping at Piata Obor… and I love this place!

    • Parmalat says:

      They’re saying bullshit. It’s easy to sit in an office and rate stuff from your imagination. Does Sofia even have a metro?!

      Romania should start its own rating agency and rate stuff from the perspective of underdeveloped countries. After all, having to choose between a French and an English investor everyone must know that he needs to choose the English investor if he wants to live decently because Frenchies are pinchpenny people.

      There, I’ve rated them, is it good like that?!

      • Craig Turp says:

        As much as I think that Bucharest would have a decent shot at taking the title of ugliest capital city in Europe, this is hardly a scientific survey we are talking about here. A few malcontents on the user generated content horror of a website that is Trip Advisor and that is about it.

        • Davin says:

          Well, Bucharest does have the fact that Ceausescu destroyed the historic center and put up terrible looking Blocs going for it in the ugly category.

          Parmalat: it’s not about being under developed. Ceausescu destroyed the place.

      • Davin says:

        yes, Sofia has a metro. I actually liked Sofia quite a bit more than Bucharest.

  5. Parmalat says:

    EXCELLENT IDEA!! I mean to start a series on Bucharest markets.

    When you do the episode on Piata Sudului, can I be a guest star??? As an inhabitant of Berceni since 26 years ago :D

    I’ll be more than happy to show you around :)

  6. Ayce says:

    Did anyone there have cătină (Sanddorn in German, I don’t know any native English name) for sale? I’ve been trying to find someplace that sells cătină that’s not made into herbal stuff for ages.

    • Parmalat says:

      I’m gonna check tomorrow at Piata Sudului for you. But since it’s available in Plafar stores, chances to find it anywhere else are quite low. But still we need to check to make sure.

      • Ayce says:

        Ok, thanks, though I’ve past by Sudului a few times, I haven’t seen much of an offer there in general.

        • Parmalat says:

          No catina at Piata Sudului unfortunately :(

          But I do pass through that area quite often and if I ever see catina I’ll let you know :)

  7. dodo says:

    may i use your mentioning of tineretului as an opportunity to spread the following sad news:
    http://www.romanialibera.ro/actualitate/bucuresti/bucuresti-oraseulul-copiilor-inchis-din-cauza-neregulilor-229377.html
    :((

    • Parmalat says:

      This is the best piece of news I received in the last 2 months!

      It was about time someone did something about Oraselul Copiilor! I visited the area about 2 weeks ago and the place was as sad as it can get. Everything that Piedone says in that article is 100% true, the place was a mess.

      At least now we can hope that some investments will occur, the potential of the area is huge and still it was among the last remaining unregulated and undeveloped areas in the city.

      Piedone knows what he’s doing, by next year’s elections we’re gonna have a new Oraselul Copiilor, a more modern place.

      • Craig Turp says:

        I wrote about Oraselul Copiilor a couple of months ago. My kids loved it!

        http://www.bucharestlife.net/2011/04/20/oraselul-copiilor/

        • Parmalat says:

          Read the article, but at that point I hadn’t been through Oraselul Copiilor since immemorial times.

          In the mean time, I got to do a visit. My opinion is that the place was in a bad need of investments, to the point where – as Piedone says – continuing to function like that would threaten the health of its visitors.

          Sure, kids probably love it the way it is, but I’m sure they’re gonna enjoy it even more next year when it will open again.

  8. Paco says:

    1st point, slightly off-topic: while visiting Cuba we fell in love with mojitos, and recently Mr. Paco (myself) learned how to make one, at home! What a refreshing drink and surprisingly appreciated by persons who normally hate rum!

    As for the market experience, I would like to know if bargaining prices is still common practice when buying common seasoning like “patrunjel” or “marar”.

    • Parmalat says:

      The situation is like this:

      – if you’re buying from a producer (most often someone living at the countryside close to Bucharest), he will accept to bargain; that’s why you noticed it works with patrunjel and marar, because these seasonings are usually sold by old people who grow them in their backyard and come to Bucharests’ markets every day with a bag full of them; also bargaining may be accepted for tomatoes, for potatoes, for apples or other locally produced fruit and vegetables in their season (because that’s the time when you’re gonna find them sold by local producers)

      – but if you’re trying to bargain with someone who’s a retailer (buying wholesale from Piata de Gros and retailing at market), there’s a low chance to get a discount; these people rent 3-5 of the front stands in the market, they impose prices to everyone else and sell imported products so they have a cash flow to take care of

      If you want to find a producer to bargain, you’re gonna have to go more to the back of the market, look for products that are in their season here in Romania (watermelons in March are not in their season for example) and look for the seller to be more like a person who works the land with his own hands.

  9. dragos says:

    some other similarly reasonably-close-to-city-center city markets you might give it a try:

    – Obor (the changes are amazing – it’s cheap and has plenty of stuff)
    – Piata Sudului (cheap)
    – Piata Domenii (a tad more expensive)
    – Piata Progresul (very cheap)

    • Craig Turp says:

      Also hearing good things about Crangasi. This summer I intend visiting them all. As the son of a costermonger it’s something I should have done long ago.

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