Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria, is often off the track of the foodies and not included in the tourist guides, but that has to change. The local cuisine is so tasty and the prices at Sofia restaurants are so reasonable, Sofia should be immediately placed on every traveler’s “Which destination to explore for some fine dining” map. Even if my city has never been among your first spots to consider for a gourmet experience, read about my top five bites to eat in Sofia and then… book your trip.
I am incredibly passionate about good food – I love the homemade kitchen meals that my mom prepares and I often compete with my brother making various healthy salads, special dinners and cakes. I am also crazy about various dining venues that Sofia city offers and I often dine out with some good colleagues from work or with friends.
Sofia has everything that a foodie can imagine –small restaurants in hidden courtyards, vegan houses, cocktail bars, gourmet restaurants and many small eateries on almost every corner of the city. Due to the crossroad location of the country, the Bulgarian cuisine is a mixture of central European flavors, Greek and Turkish influences. The portions served are usually quite big, the soups are tasty, the main courses are delicious. It is hard to pick my most favorite bites, but the top 5 on my list that you can try in Sofia are listed below.
This cold Bulgarian soup is made of shaken yogurt, cucumbers, minced garlic clove and fresh dill, stirred with some water. It is mixed well and flavored with vegetable oil, some salt and black pepper. I also love to add chopped walnuts for rich taste. On the hot summer days this refreshing soup is served with ice cubes or left in the fridge for a while before eaten. The winter version of this soup is named Dry tarator or Snow White Salad. It is made out of thick yogurt, pickles and garlic cloves. Walnuts are also great here.
The place that makes the best tarator in Sofia is Vyatarnite Melnitsi restaurant, but on the summer weekends I love to visit their bigger restaurant Melnicite just outside the capital, where besides eating tarator I can relax near the swimming pool too.
Well, that is the starter dish Bulgaria is known for by the foodies. It is named after a region near Sofia and I am never tired of it, as it is incredibly tasty. Shopska Salad is made of cucumbers, diced tomatoes, and onion cut in small cubes. Green peppers are also an asset here. The ingredients need to be mixed well and flavored with salt and olive oil, and then sprinkled with white pickled cheese or feta. This salad always gives me a good reason to have a small glass of rakia – a strong brandy made of grape, plums or other fruits.
The place that offers great Shopska salad in Sofia is Mechana Bolyarka which also serves various traditional meals from the Bulgarian cuisine. When I am in my home city of Vidin, I order this salad at Dunava Restaurant, placed on an actual boat on the Danube River bank.
Great for vegetarians, this is a cheese pie which we call banitsa and that is may be the first word that foreign foodies learn when they set foot in Sofia city. Banitsa is made of thin filo pastry layers between which is placed a mixture of yoghurt, beaten eggs, white pickled cheese, oil and some salt. Banitsa is baked in an oven at moderate temperature and is usually served with boza drink based on wheat or ayrian made of yogurt, water and salt. This is a favorite breakfast for me and for all Bulgarians. There are many bakeries in Sofia that sell banitsa, but my most favorite place is the bakery on 30 “Ivan Asen” Str. near the Eagle’s Bridge. It does not have a website or a FB page, but is there and offers the best banitsa you can eat in Sofia.
Pork steak with puff potato puree:
There are many lovely vegetarian and meat dishes that I love, so picking just one was really challenging. Yet, the pork steak prepared with a glazed crust of honey and mustard and served with potato puree got the top place. May be this is not the healthiest combination of ingredients, thus you can replace the potatoes with vegetables. The truth is that all my guests love this meal every time I prepare it. When I have some tasks to do at a business center near my apartment and I want to pamper myself, I always order it at PURE Grand Bistro Capital Fort.
I have a sweet tooth and I am always tempted by the desserts. This special chocolate cake was created in Sofia back in the beginning of 20th century in a pastry shop located on the central Dondukov Blvd. Garash Cake is made of walnut and butter cake plates, chocolate, cream and decoration of coconut flakes arranged in green. This cake is served in almost all patisseries in Sofia, but I totally adore its luxurious variant made by Markrit pastry shop and served at Café & Patisserie Sweet Home.