Sofia’s position as the capital and cultural center of Bulgaria has enabled a host of Balkan-infused restaurants to spring up, catering for all tastes and preferences. Here are some of the restaurants serving the best Bulgarian cuisine waiting to be discovered in the capital of Bulgaria.
Restaurant, Restaurant with Rooms, Bulgarian, European, BBQ, $$$
Moma is a restaurant that blends traditional recipes with contemporary interior design conveying messages about the beauty and purity of Bulgarian maidens (Moma, the name of the restaurant, is an old-style Bulgarian word for ‘maiden’). Moma spans over three storeys and nine dining halls, each with a distinctive imagery. Dishes like a traditional salad served in crunchy bread bowl or regional specialties like patatnik from the Rhodopes (baked potato, cheese and herbs dish) will walk you through the bases of Bulgarian cuisine.
Pod Lipite (or, as it’s translated, Under the Linden Trees) is a restaurant that has been serving traditional Bulgarian food for almost a century. Almost all vegetables, meat (including cured meat) and dairy products, as well as all the grains that are of organic, come to the kitchen straight from the restaurant’s farm. The dishes, from the fresh salads to the rich-taste dips, meat and vegetarian options, will be a memorable experience from your Sofia trip.
Located in the city center, Hadriganov’s Houses is an architectural delight. Built in 1866 and spread across four restored houses, its parts are connected via a courtyard. For those seeking to gain an overall picture of the culinary delights that Bulgaria has to offer, the menu here will not disappoint with its selection of traditional dishes from the country’s diverse regions. There are numerous options for meat lovers, with skewers, steaks and more, cooked over a traditional wood-burning oven and plate – a process which further intensifies the flavor of the succulent ingredients.
Tucked away on a side street in the very center of Sofia, this restaurant feels and tastes like homemade food from your granny. Manastirska Magernitsa takes up a two-storey house, a summer and a winter garden with six dining halls. If you come in winter, search for a table near the fireplace for extra coziness. The food, including salads, meat grilled on living embers, and slowly cooked vegetable dishes, is cooked according to traditional recipes from all corners of the country.
Site Balgari Zaedno Restaurant is part of a larger project meant to preserve and develop Bulgarian traditions, dances, music and songs. The atmosphere is unpretentious, and the interior is built mainly in wood and stone, like the old Bulgarian houses. What makes the venue special, aside from the delicious and affordable food, are the the long chains of people dancing the horo folk dance. The restaurant is a place where foreigners can become a part of a Bulgarian traditional entertainment.
If you are looking to add a little jazz to your dining experience in Sofia, then Checkpoint Charly is the place to visit. Situated in the city center, near many theatres and cultural venues, this restaurant offers a selection of modern Bulgarian meals and wines. Every Friday night you can enjoy your meal accompanied by live jazz music. Diners can enjoy the garden on site that pays homage to the Bulgarian poet, novelist and playwright, Ivan Vazov. The menu includes several salad dishes, cooked meats and a collection of scrumptious desserts.
Last but not least is one of Sofia’s best-kept secrets. This unique restaurant receives consistently high reviews and is regarded by many as the best dining spot in Bulgaria. Located within a blue-walled villa, it is easy to miss if you are not alert. Once inside, relax and get comfortable, waiting for your food to cook while you sit and read a book. Adi’s Cook & Book, famed for its fine wine collection and international menu, has welcomed the likes of Bill Clinton among its many visitors.