by Bozhidara Georgieva

Summer is a season that awakes the senses, summons us to go out, to meet friends, to enjoy life, to try new things.

Summer is a season when going to a restaurant becomes even more pleasant, because of the open gardens. Let's admit it, an establishment might have wonderful, modern, professional design that inspires the feel of cosiness and comfort, but when the temperatures outside go up, even the most tastefully furnished room looses the comparison with the lush garden.

When you eat in a garden, life has a different rhythm. The pleasure of the food is bigger. One begins to notice the details: flowers, water cascade, special garden furniture. The stress disappears, replaced by the calming power of greenery.
Sitting at a garden restaurant in summer is like giving yourself a short escape from the city, without leaving its boundaries.

That is why, when summer comes, the streets of central Sofia fill with the characteristic buzz of the voices of people sitting at restaurant gardens who enjoy food, drinks, and the simple pleasure to be with their families and friends.

Gardens attract. That is why every establishment that values its clients takes care to offer them the pleasure of outdoor dining. The combination creates that feel of happiness and joie de vivre, which is so characteristic to European cities, although sometimes it has unwanted consequences, like all places to be taken and you to be left table-less if you have missed to book in advance.

Another option to enjoy outdoor eating is to break from the pulling power of Sofia's centre and to head for the fringes of the city. Here establishments don't vie for living space and can allow larger and lusher gardens, and the air is considerably cleaner. This makes them an excellent choice not only for a pleasant, long lunch with your family or for a romantic dinner, but also for marking a key moment in life, like a wedding. Because when you are at a beautiful garden, everything is much better.


Agarta Restaurant:  The kingdom of excellent taste

Agarta Restaurant SofiaAgarta is one of the names of Shambhala, the mythical Buddhist kingdom in the Himalayas. Happily, Agarta Restaurant (Sofia, 36 Han Asparuh St, phone: 0879 629 419, www.agartarestaurant.com) is an absolutely real kingdom of excellent tastes. Its menu is dedicated to Mediterranean classics in their glorious healthily diversity, the products are fresh and carefully selected, and the portions are satisfying. The laid back atmosphere of Agarta will make you feel relaxed, as if at the home of old friends, and the opportunity to enjoy the great food in the colourful garden, while the stream of capital's life passes by you, will make the experience even better.


Vodenitzata Restaurant:  The Vitosha is your garden

Greenery, flowers, clean air and the authentic atmosphere of an old-time mill, located among the dense forest of the Vitosha mountain: Vodenitzata Restaurant (Dragalevtsi, Vitosha Park, first station of Dragalevtsi chair-lift, www.vodenitzata.com) wins the hearts of its guests even before they have sat on the tables in the wonderful garden. Vodenitzata is not only remarkable for its incredible location, which makes you forget that only a few minute's drive stands between you and Sofia's urban buzz. For years, the restaurant has been an established and beloved place to enjoy traditional Bulgarian cuisine in all of its richness and variety. Classical salads, cheeses and appetisers, grilled and traditional dishes, an abundance of desserts and authentic types of alcohol: each bite and sip at Vodenitzata are charged with the spirit of Bulgaria. For an even more wholesome experience, visit the restaurant in the evening for traditional live music and gripping firewalking dances.


Lebed Restaurant: Tranquility and taste on the shore of the Pancharevo Lake

Water calms and makes us experience life to its fullest extent, with all of our senses, and Lebed Restaurant (Pancharevo, 83 Samokovsko Shose St, www.restaurantlebed.com) skilfully uses this quality of water to become a sanctuary for the modern urban person. Lebed combines its incredible location on the picturesque Pancharevo Lake, between the Vitosha and Lozen mountains, and the sense for good food. The result is charming. The spacious garden, inhabited by rare and exotic birds, is like a part of heaven, and when you try the suggestions in the menu the belief that you have stumbled upon a place of perfection and tranquility will become stronger. Lebed bets on known and beloved classics of the European and Mediterranean cuisine, and pays special attention to fresh fish and seafood. Everything here is perfected to the tiniest detail: from the food to the service to the atmosphere. The only thing you need to do is to enjoy all of it.


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