Wed, 11/01/2006 - 18:10

Bulgaria is at its very best with no websites, no reservations, you just show up

When I was asked to write about my 10 favourite restaurants I felt a little uneasy. The main reason was that I would much rather have written a column about how the media in Bulgaria gets bullied by politicians on all levels, as we have just experienced with the sacking of one of Bulgaria's most respected and capable journalists, Ivo Indzhev, by Rupert Murdoch's bTV. Bulgaria's current president, the reformed former communist Georgi Parvanov put pressure on the management of the private TV channel to fire Ivo Indzhev, for having the nerve to ask questions about his financial affairs.

Besides this, I also had some reservations since lately I seem to be eating too much junk food and could easily put McDonalds, Pizza Ugo and KFC in my top 10. Anyway, here we go.

At the very top of my list is brunch at the Hilton on Sunday, price 42 leva (including unlimited orange juice and champagne). This buffet is second to none in this town or, for that matter, in most European cities. Since smokers are a minority in the Seasons Restaurant you will find that the main floor is reserved for sweet smelling people and the stinkies get put in a segregated area. Executive Chef Andre Tokev is never short of culinary surprises and offers many gourmet temptations (; phone: 933 5000).

The much smaller Hotel Niky, located at 16 Neofi t Rilski Street, has a great beer-garden-style grill restaurant in its back garden. The garden is covered and well heated. My favourite dish is the Mixed Sach for two people which costs 18 leva. The menu is enormous and so is the beer and wine list. (; phone: 851 1915).

Since I am a worshipper of the Indian god of Curry, I have to mention the Taj Mahal located at 11, August 11 Street. The food and service are always interesting, but never boring or disappointing - you never know what to expect. My friend Joost came up with a great idea when eating at the Taj; he orders twice as much as he really wants and takes a doggy bag for the fridge at home. Okay, I'll admit that I do the same (; phone: 987 3632).

Next is Annette, the relatively new Moroccan restaurant at 27 Angel Kanchev St. I cannot describe this place any better than they do on their website: "Here you can relax on the soft pillows, and savour masterfully prepared authentic Moroccan cuisine. The music awakens in you the passion for new experiences, and the soft and warm light of hundreds of candles, which like stars teasingly twinkle all around you takes you to a miraculous world. Try the specialties of a mysterious land in the company of select wines from around the world. Don't forget our deserts and the Moroccan tea, which will awaken your senses. Make the experience whole by smoking a waterpipe, either by yourself, or together with friends (; phone: 980 4098).

On behalf of my lovely wife Lilly I will also mention the Sushi Bar at 18 Denkoglu Street. I like this modern style Japanese restaurant because all the important women in my life go crazy over the food. I like sushi once in a while, but actually prefer the cooked meals which are also very good. I should also mention that their service is excellent. (phone: 981 8442).

Then there is the Tseluvkata (The Kiss) at 15 Hristo Botev Boulevard. In the summer it is my local late breakfast/lunch hangout. The service is excellent, the food is more than ok and the crowd is interesting.

The place I frequent most is JJ Murphy's, the Irish Pub at 6 Karnigradska Street. The Murphy's slogan is "Where Good Friends Meet". The food and the staff are excellent, the crowd is the best in town and sometimes there is great music on Friday nights. Murphy's celebrates all possible occasions from Christmas to Halloween. A large screen plus three support TVs show all football, rugby, NFL, F1 and golf events. When the garden is closed non-smokers should bring a gasmask as the law on smoking in public places is totally ignored. As a non-smoker I have got used to this peculiarity while still hoping that the future will be brighter (; phone: 980 2870)

It would be bad of me not to mention the other Irish place, Flanagan's Pub at the Radisson Hotel. I love the terrace in summer, but the interior lacks the cosiness required for a real Irish pub. The food is usually excellent and the service efficient (; phone: 933 4334).

A few months ago we went to Bansko for a romantic building-site weekend. As soon as we left the car we put on our hard hats and bright yellow emergency jackets. While Bansko's famous old town has been invaded by renovators, all other areas as far as the eye could see were truly conquered by builders. Diggers and bulldozers ruled the roads. Luckily, we had booked ourselves into the Kempinski Hotel Grand Arena, where we had a wonderful stay. What made the stay even more special was their excellent Italian restaurant. Come Prima is as good as any you can find on any via in Bella Italia! The head chef Holger Lang has created a world class menu suitable for the most demanding palates (; phone: 0749 88888).

Last but by no means least, there is a tiny harbour-front restaurant we discovered a few years ago in the northeast of Bulgaria on the Black Sea coast north of Kavarna. The Dalboka restaurant offers seafood and mussels from the nearby mussel farm, which you can see from the shore. The restaurant is located on the sea shore between Kavarna and the small village of Balgarevo. We have been there many times to feast on the delicious mussels and other fi sh dishes they serve there. Bulgarian blue mussels are extremely tasty, especially when cultivated in the crystal clear waters of Dalboka. Dalboka means deep in Bulgarian and within a few hundred metres of the shore the water reaches a depth of more than a hundred metres. Just like the food, the sunsets are amazing. Please note that there are two restaurants to choose from after you have descended the steep road to the harbour. Dalboka is the one on the right. People drive from as far as Albena, Golden Sands and even Varna to enjoy a meal at this special place.

Bulgaria at its very best; no website, no reservations, just show up.

Issue 2 My own choice Eating out in Bulgaria Bulgarian food

Commenting on

Vagabond Media Ltd requires you to submit a valid email to comment on to secure that you are not a bot or a spammer. Learn more on how the company manages your personal information on our Privacy Policy. By filling the comment form you declare that you will not use for the purpose of violating the laws of the Republic of Bulgaria. When commenting on please observe some simple rules. You must avoid sexually explicit language and racist, vulgar, religiously intolerant or obscene comments aiming to insult Vagabond Media Ltd, other companies, countries, nationalities, confessions or authors of postings and/or other comments. Do not post spam. Write in English. Unsolicited commercial messages, obscene postings and personal attacks will be removed without notice. The comments will be moderated and may take some time to appear on


Add new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Restricted HTML

  • Allowed HTML tags: <a href hreflang> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote cite> <code> <ul type> <ol start type> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <h2 id> <h3 id> <h4 id> <h5 id> <h6 id>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.

Discover More

king boris meets people
On 3 October 1918, Bulgarians felt anxious. The country had just emerged from three wars it had fought for "national unification" – meaning, in plain language, incorporating Macedonia and Aegean Thrace into the Bulgarian kingdom.

Bay Ganyo in translation
In Vagabond we sometimes write about people whose activities or inactivity have shaped Bulgaria's past and present. Most of these are politicians or revolutionaries.

vanga monument
The future does not look bright according to Vanga, the notorious blind clairvoyant who died in 1996 but is still being a darling of tabloids internationally, especially in Russia.

The 23rd infantry battalion of Shipka positioned north of Bitola, Macedonia, during the Great War
In early 2021 veteran Kazanlak-based photographer Alexander Ivanov went to the Shipka community culture house called Svetlina, founded in 1861, to inspect "some negatives" that had been gathering the dust in cardboard boxes.

soviet army monument sofia ukraine
One of the attractions of the Bulgarian capital, the 1950s monument to the Red Army, may fascinate visitors wanting to take in a remnant of the Cold War, but many locals consider it contentious.

panelki neighbourhood bulgaria
With the mountains for a backdrop and amid large green spaces, uniform apartment blocks line up like Legos. Along the dual carriageway, 7km from the centre of Sofia, the underground comes above ground: Mladost Station.

boyan the magus
What do you do when the events of the day overwhelm you? When you feel that you have lost control of your own life? You might overeat, rant on social media or buy stuff you do not need. You might call your shrink.