Sofia’s post-Soviet comeback was no cakewalk. But the Bulgarian capital has finally reclaimed its rightful role as one of Europe’s greatest wine and food cities. Here’s where to revel in its gourmet renaissance.
Intimate Local is the quintessential Sofia neighborhood wine bar. Explore a healthy mix of native, European and New World wines while people-watching through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Don’t miss the small bites menu that changes daily.
For a Bulgarian take on a Seville-style bar, duck into Vino & Tapas and get lost in its massive, international wine list. Be careful, this quaint spot takes on a party vibe when the sun sets, so it’s easy to forget about those dinner reservations. Thankfully, the small plates are far heartier than those you’d find in Spain.
If you think craft brew is strictly an American trend, make your way to Kanaal, one of Europe’s best beer bars, where you can sip small-batch suds from all over the continent, from Norway’s Nøgne Ø to Serbia’s Kabinet India Pale Ale. Tip: While not necessary, book a reservation to avoid the long walk-in wait. Sense Rooftop Bar not only offers 360-degree views of Sofia and Mount Vitosha, it serves up the best cocktails in the city. If you’re looking for a date-night spot, this is it.
Located in the beautiful Grand Hotel Sofia, Shades Of Red by Joro Ivanov, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute in New York, serves up a catchall of Continental and classic Bulgarian cuisines in an opulent, formal setting. And the wine list, one of the city’s best, is an all-star line-up of Bulgarian and European producers.
Perched on a hillside above bustling downtown, Restaurant Vodenitzata is housed in a converted mill. In warm months, sit outside near the stream for a view of the band and folk dancers. The menu consists of traditional Bulgarian fare: salads and expertly grilled pork, beef, veal and chicken paired with notable Bulgarian wines. Try the hearty red wines made from Mavrud, an indigenous grape.
The emphasis is on wine at Rubaiyat, backed by a large producer that owns a handful of wineries, including Vinex Preslav, Khan Krum, Chateau Rossenovo, Tera Antika and Chateau Medovo. Each menu item is designed to pair with one of the wines, including small plates for snacking and large plates for sharing. The menu roams the Mediterranean shores, but there’s a strong foothold in French and Spanish cuisine. Since the restaurant is producer-owned, guests can enjoy a bottle on premise or take one home at the tasting room price.