When it comes to dining out, Sofia dwellers visit both small, unpretentious diners and high-end restaurants perfect for special occasions. What residents eat is a peculiar blend of local and international cuisine, sometimes in surprising combinations of tastes. If you stay in Sofia and want to mix with the locals, here are the best restaurants to do so.
Restaurant, Bulgarian, European, Asian, $$$
Byufet is a boutique restaurant in the center of Sofia where the atmosphere feels like you have somehow landed in Wonderland or back in your childhood. A hanging bicycle, eclectic decorations, and an overall coziness will make you want to stay for an extra dessert. The menu is creative and has a variety of meat and veggie options.
Before & After sits in a house that dates back to the beginning of the 20th century, complete with some details that will make you feel like you are back in that time. The food is a mixture of local and international recipes, with a different lunch menu every day. On certain days, the tables and chairs are cleared out, and tango nights take place in the restaurant.
This restaurant is a more sophisticated yet affordable option, and as its name suggests, it offers a spectacular view of Sofia from the 24th floor. You can start your day at 7:30 am at The View with the breakfast menu. You can also visit for lunch or enjoy your dinner while marveling at the city lights in the distance. The menu has a few starters and salads, pasta and pizza, seafood, meat options, and burgers.
Bar, Restaurant, Bulgarian, Asian, Sushi, Mediterranean, Italian, $$$
Raffy Bar & Gelato is one of the busiest restaurants on Vitosha Boulevard, the main pedestrianized street in Sofia, (with several more branches in the city, including a pool bar). Locals love it for both the food and the party atmosphere. The meals offered on the menu range from pizza and pasta to tacos, beef specialties, sushi, and, of course, a selection of ice cream. You can make a reservation online or order food to go. The restaurant on Vitosha Boulevard is open 24/7.
Corso is a restaurant where you can spend your whole day. The ground floor, or The Street, is where you can enjoy breakfast and coffee. It is casual and designed like a street, with a dessert window that will enchant you. The bar with a winter garden is on the first floor, while the elegant restaurant is on the second floor. The French window has a spectacular view to the beautifully ornamented Russian Church on the other side of the street. The menu is seasonal, based on fresh products, and the wine list is impressive.
Shtastliveca (literally translated as the Lucky Man or the Happy Man, a pseudonym of one of the prominent Bulgarian satire authors Aleko Konstantinov) is a chain of restaurants with two branches in Sofia that are all about a homey feeling and delicious food. Their motto is “a collection of tastes and aromas,” and it is what best describes the rich menu of both Bulgarian and European dishes. It’s a good idea to make a reservation if you plan to go for dinner.
Even though Pri Krasi lies on the outskirts of the city, people happily spend the time, almost an hour, traveling there to have dinner. The atmosphere at this restaurant is typical for a traditional Bulgarian tavern, but the real star here is the food. It comes in huge portions, perfect for sharing, and in general, it tastes like what Bulgarian mothers or grannies would cook—delicious and comforting. You will need a reservation because it is always fully booked for dinner.