There was a poll on Facebook targetting travellers who have been to many Balkan countries. It is to vote for the best cuisine in that region. Many have agreed that Bulgarian cuisine is the best. I understand that this might be subjective but it does say something about Bulgarian cuisine, especially when it surpasses the vote for Greek cuisine. With thousands of restaurant in Sofia, this guide serves to tell you where you can savour the best of the best!
Restaurant in Sofia recommended by locals
Lyubimoto – This is my favourite restaurant in Sofia. I am drooling now as I look back at my photos of food from this restaurant. Singing praise to this restaurant is easy – food is fabulous, price is cheap(er), staff are really nice and warm, the ambiance is fantastic… Authentic Bulgarian food can be on the oilier side but it’s really tasty! As my motto goes: You are on a vacation, not a diet.
Get the Kavarma (a typical Bulgarian dish), a Tchouchki Burek and a beer – you are set for one of the loveliest Bulgarian experiences! English menu is available.
Pod Lipite – This place is so busy so please make a reservation before coming! The first time coming here, I walked away with disappointment because I assumed that one doesn’t need a reservation on a snowy Wednesday night. But alas was I so wrong – the restaurant is famous among locals and travellers alike – that it’s fully booked for a few days! It’s not hard to know why – Pod Lipite has been crowned as the best restaurant in Sofia for many occasions.
The second time around, I got the Gergyovski style lamb roast and it was fantastic. You can call me bias as I love lamb. If not, you can also get any of the Sach (Sizzling hot plate dishes) – they are so flavourful you won’t be able to stop. Bulgarian cuisine is pretty heavy on meat but Pod Lipite defies it by offering a vegetarian menu as well (called meatless dishes). English menu is available.
Mimas – Get a shish tauk in Mimas. This will be the takehome message of this post. Although this is not a restaurant in Sofia, Mimas is probably the best kebab place in the whole of Sofia (according to my local friends). A chicken doner starts at 1.80 euros. Good for your wallet too! Just so you know, this is not Bulgarian.
Mehana Mamin Kolyo – This restaurant has a really typical, traditional Bulgarian ambiance. If you want a true Bulgarian experience, come here. It offers all the traditional dishes under the Bulgarian sky. Strategically located, it’s not a long walk from the city centre.
Manastirska Magernitsa Restaurant – This is the most high-end restaurant in Sofia that I included in this post. Sofia is not a very expensive city to splurge. You can spend 50 euros and adequately pamper yourself with a 3-course dinner for 2 with wine at one of the most prestigious restaurant in Sofia. This is absolutely true in this restaurant. They have the an extensive menu so bring your reading glasses!
Where to stay?
Sofia is not huge so you can stay anywhere in the downtown area and walk around the city. However, if you do want to have a little cheaper, I recommend staying at the Grand Mosque area as you will have it cheaper while staying at a prime location. These are the three recommended accommodation options located around that area.
Budget – Budget travelling is pretty easy in Sofia. H2O hostel is a fabulous choice for thrifty travellers – it is one of the most comprehensive boutique hotels that I have stayed in! I met many friends while staying here and hence I decided to come back even after my trip to Rila. The volunteers and the receptionist cook a lot and I was always invited to eat with them. There were only 2 beds in the room that I was put in and the other bed was empty for most nights! It was great to have some privacy at such a cheap price.
Comfortable – My friends from Spain came to Sofia for a weekend while I was staying in Sofia and they rented The North Tower Apartment. THIS IS THE BEST APARTMENT I HAVE STAYED SO FAR. For 70 euros it could accommodate 5 people. If you can spend a bit more, or if you have more people, I HIGHLY recommend staying here as it’s hard to find apartment of such quality at this price in other capitals in Europe. Just click into the link and look at the pictures – they are accurate portrayals of the actual apartment.
Splurge – Compared to other cities in Europe, splurging in Sofia is relatively cheaper. Stay with Arena Di Serdica Hotel as they incorporate the historical foundation of the city in their interior décor. As of 2019, the rate is just 170 euros. For this 5 star hotel with raving reviews (and relatively new), it’s worth it.
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Born and raised in Malaysia, Aaron is a medical student who desperately preaches about “Travelling doesn’t have to be expensive” – well, he has a full-on blog about it. When he is free, he checks for the cheapest airfare that would get him out of Australia. Aaron indulges in local cuisine so much that he has to lose some weight before and after he goes travelling. Read more about him here!
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