I hope you are not one of those people who look for McDonalds in every country they visit. I hope prefer to experience more of the local tastes because that's part of traveling. The food in Bulgaria is interesting and might be a quite different that what you usually eat at home. It's definitely worth trying. However it's not too exotic for a westerner and in most cases you won't need to wonder what's the strange thing in the soup and why it looks so much like tuna eyeball (think twice before clicking on the link).
Our food includes parts of other European kicthes, some Turkish and Romanian dishes, a lot of meat, and some recipes closer to the cusiines in the Orient.
Modern Bulgarian cuisine includes a lot of salads typically served before the main course. Locals often consume the salads with alcohol drinks like wine, vodka or rakia. Some salads might be very rich and can even replace the main course.
Some of the most popular salads are shopska with tomatos, cucumbers, onions and white cheese (recipe); potato salad, snejanka with yogurt, and cabbage with carrots. When combined with drinks, Bulgarians can spend hours eating salads.
Various kinds of pastry with cheese, yellow cheese, or sometimes meat are very popular for breakfast. The types of banitsa that people make at home is usually very different than the pastry sold on the street. It's recommended to try homemade banitsa if you have the chance.
Some of our soups are often referred as distinctive for our cuisine and are a good choice if you are hungry. The famous bob chorba (beans soup) is good and very affordable. Similarly there are many places where you can eat lentil soup. Maybe the most popular soup however is the shkembe chorba made of pork or veal tripe, garlic and milk (recipe).
There are a lot of good cooked dishes like moussaka, gyuvetch - vegetarian or not, kebap, mince stuffed peppers and more.
Almost everywhere, even on the street, in small huts, and in open marketplaces you can eat skara - various meatballs, baken sausages and french fries. Usually they are offered with bread and/or beer and are acheap and tasty food for those who eat pork and beef.
Street Food and Fast Food
In addition to the skara and pastry, there are many types of street food available in most cities. Like everywhere, donner kebab are quite popular and often side-by-side in direct competition with the skara sellers. Almost every corner food shop offers some kind of sandwiches but these are typically less tasty than the food prepared in front of you. In the central areas of Sofia and other big cities there are many places offering fast pizza on pieces for €0.5 - €1 This pizza isn't at all as good as one you can eat in pizzeria though.
Popular types of street food are the pretzels, sold directly from big bag, and boiled corn during the summer and autumn.
From the big fast food chains, most popular here are McDonalds and KFC. There are local chains too.
There are restaurants of any kind but most popular are pizzerias or pizzeria-like restaurants which offer salads, alaminuts and skara. The number of restaurants where you can eat good soups and cooked food is lower. You have the best chance to find such ones in the neighborhoods rather than in the city centers (although Sofia has some). It will be cheaper to eat in the neighborhoods too.
The costs for eating in a restaurant start from about €3 to €20 per person for decent lunch, depending on the restaurant type. Nothing is included by default so you have to request bread and water if you wish them.
Fruits and Vegetables
Bulgaria is one of the countries where you can still eat fruits and vegetables which taste like real ones, not like plastic. This is especially true if you buy from the local producers, which usually sell their products at the open marketplaces or from boxes right at the street. Of course there is no guarantee that something sold this way is locally produced. Many of these folks are just resellers. Still your chances to buy something tasty here are far better than in other western countries.
Sometimes the experience to buy from an outdoor stand won't be that nice because many sellers disagree to let you choose the fruits you want to buy. It's up to you whether you'll tolerate such behavior or will move to the next stand.
Mostly in the cold season there are many pickles sold at outdoor markets and from small food stores. They are tasty and good, don't hesitate to buy some and eat in your hotel room for example. They make excellent combination with strong drinks like rakia.
In Bulgaria pigs are everywhere - in form of meatballs, chops, sausages, soup, or even mince in pastry. Being vegetarian and eating outside isn't very easy, but isn't mission impossible. Salads are always here to save you, and being rich, they will often be your main meal. If you are really hungry, combine salad with bread and you are all set. Of course have in mind that many salads have some kind of meat - usually chicken, some sausage, sometimes fish. Eggs are also almost everywhere, so poor you if you don't eat even eggs.
Pastry are between most affordable options for vegetarians but even there you may get surprised by mince so just ask to make sure there is none.
Some other popular vegetarian dishes are beans soup (bob chorba), lentil soup, gyuvetch, spinach rice and potatoes cooked in various ways. If you eat eggs your options will be more with lots of omeletes, fried eggs, eggs with cheese and so on. Bulgarian white cheese is very good and is always great option for vegetarians that eat diary products. We have good bread here so bread, cheese and some vegetables make good lunch.
If you are vegan, I'm sorry, but you'll have to cook yourself. If you have no cooking facilites you can choose between french fries, and fruits and vegetables with bread. Some donner kebab shops offer vegan balls known as falafels, but those are not always available.
Did we miss something about food? Did you eat something great here that's not mentioned? Let us know!.
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