Social Media

Where to find delicious traditional Bulgarian food in Sofia—9 restaurants, bars and shops you just have to try

After getting a sweet deal on my flights and booking a super cute apartment on Airbnb, the next thing on my mind was typical Bulgarian food and where I should go to eat and drink while in Sofia. Food often makes up the majority of my time in another country, whether that’s reading about it, checking out local produce at open-air markets, wandering supermarket aisles, or researching the best places to eat and drink. But before landing in the ex-communist country, I’ll be honest, I didn’t know a great deal about Bulgaria and its food, but that was swiftly rectified. 

Similar to the dishes I found in Timisoara, Romania and Budapest, Hungary, the food I discovered in Sofia was mostly wholesome and super satisfying with dishes like soup and stew on many menus, but I also found a brilliant vegetarian restaurant and did a wine tasting experience to learn more about the best Bulgarian wines (which are dreamy!). After six days of eating and drinking my way through the city, here are the restaurants, bars and cafes that made my stay all that more memorable.

Inside Hadjidraganovite Izbi restaurant in Sofia
Inside Hadjidraganovite Izbi restaurant

Traditional Bulgarian food in Sofia—where to head for great bites and potent drinks

1. Made In Home

Meatballs are a real stalwart in the Bulgarian food scene and the ones served at Made in Home didn't disappoint. I chose meatballs in a homemade tomato and chickpea sauce, served with crispy onions for a warming meal after a day spent checking out the street art in Sofia. 

Meatballs at Made In Home in Sofia
Meatballs at Made In Home

There are lots of other meat dishes on the menu as well as some good vegetarian options too but it’s worth noting the restaurant doesn’t take cards, so make sure you have cash to hand. Interiors have a vintage, retro feel, with mismatched furniture and drawings on the walls, but I also loved the painted tile tabletops. 

Address: 30A Angel Kanchev Street

2. Mekitsa shops

At an unnamed yellow-fronted shop with green shutters opposite Wake Up on Stefan Stambolov Street is where I found one of the most delicious treats in all of Sofia. I was drawn to the place due to the queue of old people that never seemed to diminish and the fact that the shop was selling mekitsa made from scratch. 

The best mekitza shop in Sofia
The best mekitza shop in Sofia

Before I ended up in Bulgaria I’d never heard of mekitsa, but I quickly learnt it’s a traditional Bulgarian breakfast made from fried dough, and boy is it delicious. One warm, icing-sugar-topped mekitsa straight from the fryer cost me just $0.34 (30p), the perfect way to start the day.

mekitza in Sofia Bulgaria
My mekitza

I ate mine in seconds and still think about it to this day, if you’re in Sofia don’t miss this delightful shop for the most wonderful mekitsa. 

Address: 37 Stefan Stambolov Street

3. Hadjidraganovite Izbi

This place is where all the tourists hang out, but that’s because it has one of the cosiest interiors in all of Sofia, as well as traditional Bulgarian live music, and an epic selection of rakia (a type of fruit brandy popular in the Balkans). 

Quince rakia in a frosted glass at Hadjidraganovite Izbi
Quince rakia in a frosted glass at Hadjidraganovite Izbi

Inside I was greeted by wooden tables, beautiful hand-stitched curtains and tablecloths—reminding me of the fabrics of Bolivia and Guatemala—as well as Bulgarian handicrafts and trinkets. The menu at Hadjidraganovite Izbi is vast with a whole page dedicated to rakia and lots of hearty meat dishes, I tried the pork knuckle with oven-roasted potatoes and a glass of quince rakia. The food is not the best in Sofia but the experience as a whole is one not to be missed, especially since a trio of men playing live Bulgarian music sweeps through the restaurant regularly, and it’s not expensive with my meal, rakia and wine, plus tip, coming in at $18 (£16).

Address: 18 Hristo Belchev Street

4. Cava

For a good selection of Bulgarian cheese and wine head to Cava. I didn’t eat a full meal here but instead opted for a cheese board featuring a selection of three Bulgarian cheeses with fresh figs and walnuts and a glass of full-bodied red wine. 

Bulgarian cheese board at Cava in Sofia
Bulgarian cheese board at Cava

It’s a sophisticated little place down one of the cobbled side streets off the main pedestrian avenue but a good spot to while away a few hours people watching. 

Address: 52 Peter Parchevich Street

5. Tempus Vini

With an exclusive selection of over 420 labels and bottles from some of the best Bulgarian cellars, Tempus Vini is my favourite boutique wine shop in Sofia. They don’t have tables to drink your wine inside but they do offer wine-tasting groups which I’d highly recommend joining, just pop into the shop to book a place or look for them on Airbnb experiences. The Pamid Tempus Vini 2021 wine is particularly good and uses one of the most ancient Bulgarian grape varieties from 45-year-old vines.

Address: 81 Knyaz Boris I Street

6. Sun Moon

This vegetarian restaurant has cafe vibes and really, really good food with dishes based on traditional Bulgarian cuisine, but with a modern twist. 

Shopska salad at Sun Moon in Sofia, bulgaria
Shopska salad at Sun Moon

I tried their take on a shopska salad, a fresh leafy salad made with sirene (a Bulgarian white cheese) traditionally eaten alongside a shot of rakia, and a couple of other inventive vegetarian dishes, but the standout order at Sun Moon is the Jammu Ayahuasca, an amazingly zingy fruit smoothie made with fresh ginger, turmeric, dates and lemon juice. Their smoothie selection is out of this world good and the baked/raw sweet treats are also delicious, I’d highly recommend heading to Sun Moon at least once during a trip to Sofia. 

Address: 6th September Street

7. Pancake stands

All over the city, I was delighted to find incredible pancake and fresh juice stands where everything was prepared to order. Pancakes don’t spring to mind when you think of traditional Bulgarian food but these stands were super busy every day and provided a tasty, filling, and cheap lunch for when I didn’t have time to sit down in a restaurant. 

Pancake stall in Sofia
Pancake stall in Sofia

They mostly serve large savoury and sweet pancakes and a wide variety of fresh juices. A juice and pancake costs less than $5 (£4.50). My favourite stand is on the corner of Vitosha and General Mihail D.

Address: Skobelev Blvd

8. Hambara

Another place to have a few shots of rakia, or beers if you’re taking it a little lighter is Hambara, Sofia’s not-so-secret ‘secret’ bar. Hidden down an alleyway just a few steps from Sun Moon restaurant, you’ll find a locked wooden door that you have to knock just once on to be let in. The candle-lit bar is cosy and fun even if the bar staff are brilliantly described as “chewing glass and spitting fire” on Tripadvisor. Apparently, the bar is unlicensed and in another lifetime was the secret headquarters of Bulgarian communist sympathisers—I have no idea if this is true or not, but of course, it all adds to the mystery of the place which makes a good story, if nothing else! 

Address: 6th September Street

9. The Espressonist Coffee Company

This modern shop, favoured by students, does the best coffee in Sofia but also serves a pretty delightful filled gevrek (kind of like a bagel). 

Dreamy gevrek and good coffee at The Espressonist Coffee Company Sofia
Dreamy gevrek and good coffee at The Espressonist Coffee Company

While I’m not sure if it’s strictly traditional Bulgarian food—it obviously takes inspiration from Middle Eastern cuisine—but it’s for sure worth seeking out. My gevrek was filled with honey and a sesame seed paste, then topped with more sesame seeds, yum!

Address: 81 Patriarh Evtimiy

 Check Sofia flight and hotel availability at

Post a Comment


Theme by BD