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Food and Drink, Bulgaria

Brunch is unheard of in Bulgaria; instead it’s all about brimming breakfast plates, quick lunches and vast dinners. Shopska salads – comprising cucumber, baked peppers, tomatoes and crumbled feta cheese are a lunch time hit here, as are the homemade bean soups. For a quick dinner, try the king of all kebabs – the ubiquitous. If you’re looking for a fine dining experience, visit Arkan Han Restaurant for tasty meatballs and sticky ribs.

Beachfront bars

There are beachfront bars at all the seaside resorts in Bulgaria. Some are relaxed and laid back, a perfect place for a drink or meal while watching the world go by. Others are much louder and livelier with music playing most of the day and night.

The Mexo Bar at Sunny beach is close to the main entrance (near the pier) is a great bar serving good food at a reasonable price.

The Cubo at Varna is in a fantastic location for chilling and sunbathing during the day and partying at night. They serve great Mojitos.

The Bamboo Beach restaurant at Sozol has a lovely atmosphere. The beach is very good and the view delightful. There is a good choice of meals but the most popular is the oven cooked mussels with lemon sauce and herbs. It’s delicious.

Cheap places to eat

Cheap places to eat in Bulgaria can be found in abundance wherever you are staying. In Sofia the Sun and Moon restaurant is a fantastic vegetarian restaurant with daily specials. They also bake their own bread and sweet and savoury cookies. The prices are extremely reasonable, the atmosphere lovely and the staff very friendly. A gem of a place.

If you are staying in Sunny Beach then “DJANNY” is one of the cheapest, loved by Bulgarians and by tourists for their quick service, incredibly cheap prices and fresh food. This place is well known for its big salads (‘Shopska Salad’ is the most popular Bulgarian salad), grills and local food and is open seven days a week.

In Plovdiv, you will find all manner of cheap snack bars, cafes, pizzerias and take away serving pizza slices, doner kebabs, cardboard cups of hot sweetcorn to name but a few.

Checkpoint Charly

Checkpoint Charly restaurant is in the centre of Sofia and if you are looking to add a little jazz to your dining experience in Sofia, then this is the place to choose. The restaurant offers lovely meals such as duck with pears and coconut and chicken curry as well as great classic Bulgarian dishes like sarma and meat sausage. There are also several salads and cooked meats available as well as a variety of scrumptious desserts

As the restaurant’s name suggests, the decor is subtly themed around the old Berlin Wall. Behind the bar is a large collage of former Eastern bloc leaders – Zhivkov, Brezhnev and Honecker.

Every Friday night you can soak up the atmosphere in the lovely restaurant or its charming garden and enjoy live jazz music.

The restaurant is open seven days a week from 11.30am to 11.30pm

Gourmet eateries

Many of Bulgaria’s restaurants rival those of Paris, London, and New York in terms of quality of ingredients, wine selection, and culinary expertise. Here are just two examples:

Located along the main pedestrian street in Burgas, Rose Restaurant is one of the town’s best restaurants. Diners can enjoy French, Italian and Mediterranean and Italian dishes, accompanied by a delicious wine in a chic, welcoming space. Indoor and outdoor seating is available and there is live music every night.

Philippopolis is perhaps the poshest restaurant in Plovdiv, situated near the entrance to the old town, in a converted, stately, elegant mansion. Serving a variety of dishes including stuffed rabbit wrapped in bacon and octopus risotto, a good selection of wines and absolutely delectable desserts, Philippopolis offers a delightful and romantic dining experience, especially if you choose to sit outside on the gorgeous terrace.

Harbour restaurants

Harbour restaurants are always popular – nice food and a view overlooking the harbour – what could be better?

The Restaurant Marina at Ravda is a family-friendly restaurant offering a huge variety of meals to choose from, all at reasonable prices, which is probably why many locals eat here.

Aquamarin Bistro has elevated views across Nessebar Bay and the terrace at the rear of the restaurant overlooks the south-facing harbour making it a delightful setting for a meal. The restaurant has a wide range of food on offer and the service and food are excellent.

For something a little different, you must visit the Mr. Baba restaurant at South Beach which is shaped and fitted out as a ship with views of the sea and the port. The food is fantastic and the atmosphere is magical, you do really feel like you’re on an actual ship in the open sea.

Seafood restaurants

Seafood Restaurants are extremely popular with visitors to Bulgaria. There are many to choose from including:

The Porto Maltese in Sofia – amazing seafood, really fresh and beautifully served in an elegant and formal venue. A perfect place for a special occasion

For those who love rock and heavy metal music as well as seafood, the Fish Pub Delfincheto in Sofia offers both. Located in “Students’ Town ” it has an extensive seafood menu as well as other dishes. A great place to meet friends, have a lovely meal and listen to your type of music.

The seafront of Varna is where you can find the El Kapan restaurant. Here, you will find excellent seafood dishes served in a colourful and relaxed atmosphere. The restaurant is open until 2 am in the main holiday months season so plenty of time to eat, drink and listen to Latin music.

Spaghetti Kitchen and Bar

The Spaghetti Kitchen and Bar is located in the heart of Sofia. Its prime central location and contemporary décor make it a very popular place to eat. There is seating for up to 400 people, some inside and some outside in the pretty courtyard garden. If you are dining inside, you can enjoy the open view to the kitchen or relax in the prosciutto bar area, where you can order platters of prosciutto (various types) or Italian cheeses to accompany your drinks.

The menu is varied and offers Italian food such as pasta dishes and pizzas, grilled meals with an American twist, simple and rustic Eastern food and many local dishes. The salads are beautifully presented and the dessert display cabinet catches your eye as soon as you walk in. Be sure to leave some room for one.

Sputnik Cocktail Bar

The Sputnik Cocktail Bar has definitely shaken up the Sofia bar scene since it opened just over a year ago – it’s undeniably trendy and offers absolutely unique cocktails. At the long bar decorated with communist area space emblems and neon lights, the team bangs out cocktail classics and twists, underneath the funky, spiky gold lights. The décor harks back to Bulgaria’s past, particularly with one wall adorned with old vintage carpets.

The cocktails are absolutely unique, you can choose one from the menu, which is extensive, but if you want to try something different the bar staff will mix one to your specification. Rakia cocktails are the main specialty here, but everyone has their own favourite.

There is also funky, live music in the evenings and during the summer months, an al fresco seating area is set up.

Via Vino

Bulgaria has five official wine regions, each with their own microclimates and grape varieties. Via Vino offers accompanied tastings and tours of some of the nicest wineries in Bulgaria. Based in Sofia, Via Vino has many tours and excursions to choose from. One particular day tour that is popular with holidaymakers is at the Villa Justina winery, which is approximately a two-hour ride from Sofia. During the journey, your guide will tell you more about Bulgarian wine.

On arrival, you will be taken out to see the vines and then given a tour of the state-of-the-art facilities, followed by the tasting of a number of excellent wines accompanied by a plate of Bulgarian cheeses. The trip also includes a visit to Plovdiv, where you can wander around the old town and then have lunch on an outdoor terrace and talk more about wine before beginning the journey back to Sofia.