Sunday, September 27, 2009

A Quick Guide to Dining out in Sofia

A Restaurant Table featuring a Traditional Bulgarian Tablecloth and Local Pottery
(photo courtesy of Shannon Savage)

After one year in Sofia, we've visited quite a few great restaurants. So in case you're in the area, here are some recommendations...

Olive's: This chain would seem kitchy in the United States - kind of along the lines of T.G.I. Fridays - with fake antiques littering the walls. But for a slightly blue ex-pat missing home, it's great. Try the rosemary sea salt focaccia as an appetizer and then dive into a pizza "ce mozzarella" or one of their famous burgers.

Annette's: Annette's Moroccan food is a fabulous find. Enjoy hummus and pita, couscous and kepap, even traditional hookah pipes. You'll sit on lavish cushions and enjoy the ambiance of dozens of sparkling lanterns.

Taj Majal and Ramayana: While we've eaten their food only as takeout, if the takeout is that good, so is the restaurant. Get yourself some panak paneer or chicken tikka masala (it's hot), drag some naan (garlic, plain, or cheesy) through it, and then call it a (very good) dinner.

Oogo's: This place competes with "The Spaghetti Company" for the modernista award. But while Spaghetti Company leans toward IKEA, Oogo blends restaurant with disco. The colored lights on the walls change with the evening, and the giant photo gracing one end upstairs appears to pulse ever so slightly - or is that just a trick of the imagination? Nevermind, order the pear and avocado salad with candied walnuts and the tiramisu. Maybe a pizza too - choose what suits from the four pages of options.

O'Nice: Well, maybe not a romantic night out, since it is a bagel place, but it's a darn good bagel place. Enjoy a smoothie, a salad, the Thai chicken bagel sandwich, and maybe even one of those square chocolate tarts catered by Caramel, the local French bakery. While you eat, chat with the friendly ex-pat owner or catch up on the latest ex-pat news in one of the available copies of "Programata" or "Vagabond."

Pod Lipite: Probably the best Bulgarian cuisine I've had here, but really the coolest thing about this place is a toss up between the pottery spice buffet in the middle of each table and the incredible sink-fountain in the bathroom. Oh, and the giant marble slab tables in the courtyard are pretty cool too. Whatever you get, and there are a lot of options, be sure to compliment it with a miniature loaf of warm pitka - white or wheat.

No comments: