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Food & Dining in Bulgaria


Sofia's dining scene is wonderful. You can choose between the fine-dining atmosphere of evocative-sounding places like Beyond the Alley, Behind the Cupboard (Sofia's best restaurant) and House with the Clock (located in the pretty 19th century villa at 15 Moskovska Street, right next to the British Embassy). Or, if you're in a more laid-back mood, hang out in trendy bar-restaurants like Motto and watch the city's media and model types schmooze, or go rustic and eat your fill for around €5 at any number of unpretentious places that fill up in the evenings with students and office workers.

Restaurants that serve Bulgarian food are generally speaking superior to "foreign" cuisine types (with the exception of Turkish, Greek, or Armenian restaurants, like the excellent Egur Egur, where cuisine is very similar to Bulgarian). If you feel like Italian, La Capaninna, on Narodno Subranie square (next door to Radisson SAS, with same lovely parliament views), is a very good alfresco option, as is the more cafe-style Club Lavazza on Vitosha Boulevard – the latter is also the best place in town for a coffee (Lavazza of course), with plenty of cigar-chomping bad boys to make it feel like a truly authentic Italian joint. If you're in the mood for Indian, Taj Mahal at 11 11th August, is rated the best, though newcomer Awadh is making real inroads ( Cozy Le'Etranger at Tsar Simeon Street, the city's best French bistro, in one of Sofia's most cosmopolitan areas, but still a wonderfully intimate affair with only seven tables personally tended by owners Oliver and Mitana. Tambuktu, 10 Aksakov Street, a chain specialising in fish dishes, is also highly rated by locals, though the garish signage did not encourage exploration on our part.

With the exception of Pod Lipite and Awadh, most restaurants around Sofia are within walking distance of the main hotels, though you might want to take a cab at night rather than risk getting lost (perfectly safe however). And remember to carry cash if credit cards aren't listed – given how inexpensive dining is at these places.

The food at Happy Bar & Grill (so it's being called!) is good, comes fast, and given that you'll spend no more than 6lev to 8lev, Bulgaria's homegrown chain (owned by fast-food entrepreneur Orlin Popov, also responsible for Tambaktu) is understandably a place that makes a population living on an average US$100 a month very happy. You'll find one in every major city; if you're keen to try one out in Sofia, head for the huge neon-lit sign located on central Sveta Nedelya Square. Alternatively, if you've wanted a fast-food snack, and not yet enamored with the array of Bulgarian options, head for the recently restored Halite at 25 Maria Louisa Boulevard, an indoor food market that offers a choice of Chinese, Asian, Italian, Portuguese and Austrian takeout, all on the mezzanine-level food court.





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