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Restaurants in Sofia

Although its dining scene is still rooted in traditional Bulgarian fare, most culinary trends are represented in Sofia. A typical meal will kick off with some rakia (fruit brandy), which is often served free by the restaurant, and then a Shopska salad. The Shopska is made of cucumber, tomato, onion and white cheese, and is such an institution you can expect to get it for breakfast, lunch or dinner (often whether you like it not).

Mains are then generally a mix of grilled meats or rich stews such as the delicious chicken kavarma, and huge portions are mandatory. One thing to bear in mind is a lot of places will just serve food as it is made. Don't be surprised to be getting your main while others are still enjoying their starter; in many places it's just the way things are, so go with the flow, take a drink and be prepared to share.

The Sofia restaurants below have been hand-picked by our guide author and are grouped into three pricing categories:
Expensive (over 100 Lev)
Moderate (40 Lev to 100 Lev)
Cheap (up to 40 Lev)

These Sofia restaurant prices are for a three-course meal with a half-bottle of house wine or the cheapest equivalent. They do not include tax or tip. A 10% tip for good service is expected.

Expensive

Bodega

Cuisine: Spanish

Bodega is one of only two tapas restaurants in Sofia where you can expect to find top quality food that is (almost) as good as anything you’d find in Andalusia. The menu takes in Spanish staples such as paella and antipasti plates stacked high with salty piggy goods, along with a frequently rotating list of specials. As per its influence, the wine list leans towards Spanish plonk like Rioja, but try a local merlot if you can.

Address: , Ulitsa Tsar Asen 6, Sofia,
Telephone: +359 700 10 127
Website: http://www.bodega.bg

La Capannina

Cuisine: Italian

With striking views of the Parliament and Aleksandar Nevski Memorial Church, La Capannina's authentic Italian cuisine is some of the best in Bulgaria. With hot and cold antipasti, veal, fresh pasta and a top-notch wine list, this Sofia restaurant is a real treat. Try for the terrace in warmer months. Reservations are essential.

Address: , Ploshtad Narodno Sabranie 9, Sofia,
Telephone: +359 2 980 4438.

Sage Bistro

Cuisine: Italian

Although located some 15km (9 miles) outside of the city centre, Sage has quietly gained a first-rate reputation that has made it the restaurant on everyone’s lips back in Sofia. Although two Bulgarian gourmand brothers are at the helm, the menu is primarily Italian and leans heavily on the fish and meat. Inside it looks like a trattoria with stone floors, exposed brickwork and mosaic counters. It does excellent vegetarian options too. Try the scrumptious sea bass baked in sea salt if you really need filling up.

Address: Bistritsa Central Square, Ulitsa Stefan Strambolov 63, Sofia, 1444
Telephone: +359 2992 7140.
Website: http://www.sage.bg

Moderate

Ascua

Cuisine: Bulgarian

This centrally located, family-run restaurant offers beautifully prepared fresh fish and meats. Most of the dishes on the menu are cooked using embers (‘Ascua’ in Spanish), which give your food a special flavour, while aged meats and ingredients sourced from across Europe are chosen for their traditional ways of production.

Address: , Ulitsa Racho Dimchev 1, Sofia, 1000
Telephone: +359 8 8288 0901.
Website: http://www.ascua.bg

Hadjidraganov’s Houses Restaurant

Cuisine: Bulgarian

If you want to be led by the hand into the belly of all that Bulgarian cuisine has to offer, then Hadjidraganov's is a must-visit. As with many traditional restaurants, the menu is never ending. Thankfully the standard is consistent throughout and the service is nigh on perfect. Try anything the staff recommend. The décor is made up of faux oak-barrelled walls, brightly patterned chairs, carved benches and lights dangling in ice buckets. If the weather is good, get a seat out the back. Don't worry about making reservations, the place is vast.

Address: , Ulitsa Kozloduy 75, Sofia,
Telephone: +359 2 931 3148.
Website: http://www.kashtite.com

Pod Lipite

Cuisine: Bulgarian

Going back to 1926, Pod Lipite (Under the Linden Trees) is one of the oldest restaurants in Sofia and remains popular with visitors and locals alike. With ingredients sourced almost exclusively from the restaurant's own farm, there is a touch of the homemade about it all. The Gergeovski roast lamb is a must, as are the pan-fried wild mushrooms with fresh herbs.

Address: , Ulitsa Elin Pelin 1, Sofia,
Telephone: +359 2 866 5053.
Website: http://www.podlipitebg.com

Cheap

Halbite

Cuisine: Bulgarian

Halbite (meaning 'The Beer Mug' in Bulgarian) is a lovely earthy bar with Bulgarian food at very reasonable prices. With a little leafy garden, plus wooden tables in a series of small rooms inside, this friendly place has dishes like baked peppers with dill, or chicken casserole with mushrooms and peppers, and the usual long list of great starters. As its name suggests, there are also good local beers on tap.

Address: , Ulitsa Neofit Rilski 72, Sofia,
Telephone: +359 2 980 4147.
Website: http://www.halbite.com

Motto Club

Cuisine: Bulgarian, Asian, International

A student favourite because of its central location, reasonable prices, and laid-back atmosphere, Motto Club has tasty rotating lunch menus that span Bulgarian, Mexican, Italian, and Asian. Also open in the evenings, Motto is a great value for your money and has a spacious garden in which to while away the hours.

Address: , Ulitsa Aksakov 18, Sofia,
Telephone: +359 2 987 2723.
Website: http://www.motto-bg.com

Supa Star

Cuisine: Soups, Salads

For a country as fond of their soups as Bulgaria, it’s a surprise it took the capital so long to have a successful soup-focused restaurant. Opened in 2009, Supa Star always has at least half a dozen stews and broths on the menu, which they balance out with salads and sandwiches. Something of a culinary trailblazer in Sofia, and the subject of much imitation, but Supa Star is still the top dog.

Address: , Ulitsa Tsar Shishman 8, Sofia, 1000
Telephone:

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City Highlight: Sofia

A city as beautiful as its name, Sofia boasts onion-domed churches and Soviet-era monuments interspaced with manicured gardens and wide cobblestone avenues plied by rattling trolley buses.

Featured Hotels

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Hotel Maria Luisa

In a graceful, early 20th-century apartment building on Sofia's main road, the Hotel Maria Luisa offers simple and quiet rooms, with flatscreen TV and tea and coffee-making facilities. Apartments occupy the corner rooms, with good views over the busy shopping street - with double-glazing throughout ensuring a peaceful stay. With standard rooms on the small side, the suites are worth the extra.

Holiday Inn Sofia

This spectacular contemporary 5-star hotel nestles under Mount Vitosha and is adjacent to Business Park Sofia, Bulgaria's largest business park. With excellent meeting rooms and conference facilities it attracts business visitors, but its proximity to the mountain region and a luxury spa, treatment and fitness centre means plenty of leisure visitors also. The hotel's shuttle bus takes around 20 minutes to the city centre, 11km to the north.

Sheraton Sofia Hotel Balkan

In a prime location, the imposing Sheraton Sofia Hotel Balkan is a landmark in itself, and the city's leading 5-star hotel with Italian marble and ornate chandeliers. The 184 elegant rooms, including 18 suites, were recently refurbished, with classic furniture and tasteful colours plus a vast new ballroom. All rooms have free Wi-Fi internet access, and there is a small fitness centre and sauna.

Scotty's Boutique Hotel

In a central location, opposite the synagogue, Scotty's Boutique Hotel is built in a graceful four-storey renovated house (no elevator). Its rooms are spacious and modern, each one different in décor but all enjoying a quirky and contemporary look. Rooms are uncluttered and bright, with wooden floorboards, most with a private balcony.

Central Hotel Sofia

This modern hotel with a good central location has 70 well-furnished rooms, each with free Wi-Fi Internet access and most with a balcony. Facilities include spa, sauna, meeting rooms and conference halls, and a large restaurant with a terrace. The 'apartment' (more like a suite) has room for up to four people.

Hotel Cheap

An unfortunate name for a hotel that, while great value for money, doesn’t feel stingy or like a place that prioritises savings over services and good quality. Located near the train station, a ten-minute walk from central Sofia, Hotel Cheap’s 18 rooms offer everything you need for a short or long stay. Free Wi-Fi throughout, breakfast is extra.