A guide to food and drink in Bulgaria
In most of the larger resorts, international cuisine has made a firm name for itself. So you’ll find restaurants offering everything from Chinese dishes to great British classics. This means you’ll have plenty of gastronomic delights to choose from on holidays to Bulgaria.
Exploring Bulgaria's delicacies
Freshly picked fruit, vegetables and local dairy products, particularly yoghurt, feature in most Bulgarian menus. They’re all brought together in Bulgarian soups, which can range from thick and hearty to light and cold for eating on hot summer days. Then there are the various breads and pastries, from pitta bread to filo, eaten both to accompany meals and have as snacks.
There are hearty salads such as the shopska salad with grated sirene cheese and parsley on top. You’ll find thick stews with vegetables, lamb, fish, chicken or pork and delicious soups which are traditional favourites. You could also try a traditional Bulgarian breakfast staple like banista pastry which is eggs and cheese wrapped in filo pastry. Using simple ingredients, Bulgarian cuisine is deliciously simple, tasty and seasonal.
Fried food is rare in Bulgaria as they prefer grilled and roasted dishes. The most popular meats of pork, lamb and sometimes veal tend to be grilled and lightly spiced, with fresh fish being treated in much the same way and being particularly popular in the coastal regions around the Black Sea.
Bulgaria is well known for its beers and excellent wines too, which are definitely a must-try when you visit. There’s also rakia which is a traditional liqueur found across the Balkan region made from fermented plums and grapes. Some Bulgarian versions have herbs, honey, cherries and walnuts added to make it extra delicious.
Show off your savvy at Jack Sparrow, Elenite
It’s a familiar name in the most unexpected surroundings, but this restaurant in Elenite is decorated like a charming Caribbean beach shack. That doesn’t mean there’s not a spacious interior, however, and the menu is more jam-packed than Barbossa’s treasure chest.
Whether you choose to sit outside by the coast or indoors under red nautical flair, you’re assured a hearty breakfast as much as a fine dinner. Opt for big stews, traditional treats or cheesy chips – there’s something here for every manner of peckish buccaneer.
Taste tradition at Tania, Obzor Beach
Whether you’re here for the breakfasts, widely known for their massive portions and wholesome flavours, or are instead checking out the steak menu, Tania in Obzor Beach is a venue that keeps on giving. Cheap Bulgaria holidays don’t have to mean cutting back on the dining options – you’ll get plenty for your money here.
The restaurant’s surroundings evoke the Bulgarian traditions of old, while the locally sourced and home-cooked meals give dessert lovers, salad fans and meat aficionados much to rave about. Of course, an extensive drinks menu hardly hurts either.
Romantic dining at Plakamoto, Nessebar
At Plakamoto you can enjoy beautiful sea views on the outdoor terrace adorned with fig trees while you browse the extensive menu, which includes a mixture of authentic cuisine from mixed grills to salads.
Plakamoto also boasts a large and varied seafood menu including everything from mussels to shark, squid and shrimps, which all come beautifully presented, having been prepared using fresh, local ingredients. The fried courgettes are especially good, as is the wine list, presenting some of the best offerings in the region.
A night to remember at Khan's Tent, Sunny Beach
Nestled in the hills high above Sunny Beach, this stunning venue offers a delicious four course meal alongside superb live music and entertainment. Offering amazing panoramic views of the beach and surrounding areas, Khan’s Tent can be reached via a 10-minute taxi ride from the main resort and is one of the most popular venues in the area, suitable for the whole family.
The set menu starts traditionally with a freshly prepared shopska salad before moving on to a potato dish with garlic sauce, chicken in a mushroom sauce served with rice and vegetables, and for dessert an big slice of ice cream cake. Expect trapeze artists, contortionists, jugglers and musicians while you enjoy the beautiful setting.
A down to earth dining experience at Gostilnitza Chuchura, Varna
This typically Bulgarian restaurant is located in the city centre and adorned with charming knick-knacks, brick walls, stone floors and tapestries, with both indoor and outdoor seating. The menu is authentic to Bulgaria, offering all the classics from Lamb Kavarma, a hearty stew served in a pretty clay pot, to musaka, which involves minced pork meat, potatoes and eggs. Fresh meat is delivered daily by the owner’s father, making the mixed grills an extra tasty option, and the homemade bread is divine.
Popular Bulgarian dishes
To give you a flavour of the kinds of options you’ll find on holiday we’ve listed a few of Bulgaria’s most popular dishes.
Banista are filo pastry parcels that are traditionally filled with local sirene cheese, which is similar to Greek feta cheese. You can also get them with other savoury fillings, such as onions, mushrooms or pumpkin.
Sweet banistas are a breakfast favourite and are usually filled with apples and walnuts. On special occasions, such as New Year, a few banistas are filled with paper charms and coins. It’s considered lucky if you find one of these in the banista you’re eating.
You guessed it, kebapche comes from the word kebab and ‘che’ means little, so it’s a little kebab. They look a bit like a flattened hot dog and are made of minced meat lightly spiced with cumin and black pepper and grilled. Bulgaria’s most popular version of ‘fast food’, they’re most often served as a side dish or with French fries plus a large, cold glass of Bulgarian beer.
Although this is officially recognised as a Bulgarian national dish this salad was actually invented in the 1960s as part of a tourist promotion. The colours in the salad – red tomatoes, green cucumbers and white cheese and onions, represent the colours of the Bulgarian flag. The salad is usually dressed in salt, sunflower oil and vinegar.
Just as it sounds, Bulgarian moussaka is a version of Greek moussaka, but in the Bulgarian dish potatoes are used between the layers of minced meat instead of aubergine. When the dish is served it’s covered in a thick layer of yoghurt.
Tarator is a light summer soup that’s served cold, similar to Italian gazpacho, with a base of yoghurt with cucumbers, garlic, dill and sometimes walnuts. It’s traditionally served as a first course, or as refreshment between courses. It’s also sometimes drank from glasses rather than using a bowl and spoon.