Travelers can’t be picky eaters. When you’re being exposed to a new culture, food is almost always the top way that locals share their customs and traditions. It’s a good thing we’re not picky eaters! We’ll eat basically anything that a local recommends to us, especially when it’s something we’ve never tried before.
Since Bulgarian food is completely new to us, we were very excited to break into the Plovdiv food scene! We had heard that there was a great mix of traditional Bulgarian restaurants, as well as trendier fusion spots.
That’s our excuse to why during our week in Plovdiv, we ate…a lot. And the food scene definitely didn’t disappoint. We tried everything from traditional Bulgarian skillets to Thai food from a food truck. We also ate at fancier restaurants and more casual fast food spots. To cast a wider net, we decided to include a variety of restaurants on this list.
Here are 11 awesome restaurants in Plovdiv, Bulgaria:
1. Rahat Tepe
We first discovered Rahat Tepe during our free walking tour in Plovdiv. The tour group walked past it on our way to the top of Nebet Tepe, one of the tallest hills in Plovdiv. Since the restaurant looked authentic and had beautiful views, we made a mental note to come back.
A few days later, we returned to Rahat Tepe for a Saturday date night. It’s a good thing we came back–the food was delicious! We ordered a caesar salad and stuffed cabbage leaves for an appetizer. I’ll spare you the details of the caesar salad since I’m sure you’ve had one before. The stuffed cabbage leaves, however, were super delicious and unusual. We recommend giving them a try when you’re there!
For the main course, we split a potato pie. It comes out in a massive skillet (like many traditional Bulgarian dishes). Shredded cheese and mint are sprinkled on top. The entire dish is warm, flavorful, and very filling. It was far too much food for us to finish.
Overall, highly recommend Rahat Tepe for a date night or even just a casual lunch. The views of the city are absolutely beautiful–totally worth the steep uphill walk to get to this gem. Also, we would recommend making a reservation if you want the best views. Many of the tables were reserved when we were there.
2. SOFRA Turkish Restaurant
SOFRA Turkish Restaurant is perfect for a delicious meal of Turkish food in a relaxed atmosphere. The Turkish food from this restaurant is some of the best that you can get in all of Plovdiv. The amazing reviews speak for themselves!
3. XIX Century
We went to XIX Century for lunch during our Bulgarian wine tour. Our hosts highly recommended this place for anyone who wants to try authentic Bulgarian food. Since this was our first full day in Plovdiv, we were definitely ready to wet our feet in the Bulgarian food scene!
Arriving at the restaurant, we could tell it was more of a local spot. Locals sat throughout the patio, eating a leisurely lunch then sipping an espresso before slowly heading back to work. Everyone seemed to know one another–including our host, who greeted a friend at another table.
We ordered a ton of food. To start, a traditional shopska salad. This is supposed to be one of the most popular salads in Bulgaria. Next up, a delicious dish of fresh cheese served with dill and crushed peanuts on the side.
For the main course, a massive iron skillet filled with delicious food. Chicken, pork, potatoes, cauliflower, peas and corn…all marinated, spiced and served piping hot. This type of sharing dish is popular in Bulgaria. We have to say, we’re big fans! We thought family style dishes were only popular in Italy. It’s nice to see them alive and well in Bulgaria!
4. Alex Foods
This greasy local fast food hot spot is the perfect place for a quick, cheap bite to eat. It’s less than a block from our apartment, and it seems there is almost always a line of people outside. It seems the people have spoken!
They have everything from pizza and salad to more traditional Bulgarian foods like pita and kebabs. The prices are very reasonable, so you’re getting a deal for this food. However, there isn’t really anywhere to sit. You would have to take your food to go or eat it on a park bench.
5. Cat & Mouse
Okay, so it’s not a restaurant in the literal sense. But Cat & Mouse is such a cool spot, we had to include it on this list. This craft beer haven was one of the first bars in all of Plovdiv to serve craft beer. Located in the Kapana district, it has a very relaxed and hipster vibe.
We grabbed a couple craft beers and sat out on their patio. We were surrounded by locals and tourists alike, so it’s definitely an experience worth trying. They have such a wide selection of beers, there’s truly something for everyone.
6. Wok and Load
This next restaurant is a bit…untraditional. It’s actually a food truck that serves up fresh Thai food from an empty lot in Plovdiv’s Kapana District. We didn’t want this list to be entirely Bulgarian food, since there is more to Plovdiv’s food scene. So we’re including this hidden gem in the hope that you give it a try, too.
We discovered Wok and Load one day when wandering through Kapana. Delicious scents were wafting from the truck. Since we were hungry, we decided to give it a try! We ordered a noodle dish and fried shrimp bags. Both were really warm, fresh and tasty.
Is it weird that we decided to try Thai food from a food truck in Bulgaria? Maybe! But the food was absolutely delicious so we’re glad we did it.
7. Atlas Restaurant
We love the modern look and feel at Atlas Restaurant. Brick walls, leather booths and modern chandeliers all add to the chic atmosphere. Outside, a beautiful patio is lit up with romantic string lights at night. It’s definitely a great spot for a romantic date night.
There are also a bunch of great healthy options at Atlas. The ingredients that they use are very fresh, and the portions are reasonable so you don’t overeat. Overall, you’ll leave Atlas feeling happy, relaxed and full.
8. White Bar & Restaurant
We first noticed White Bar & Restaurant when we had just arrived in town. It’s hard to miss–it’s decked out in white curtains, flowers, umbrellas, pillows…you get the point. Everything is white! It’s really a beautiful restaurant.
While they do serve food, this is also the perfect place to have a cup of coffee or a beer and people watch. It’s located along the main pedestrian street in Plovdiv, so it’s right in the middle of everything.
Central comes at the recommendation of a Bulgarian who was born and raised in Plovdiv. It offers a modern twist on traditional Bulgarian food. We had a little trouble finding this place at first. Just follow the steps behind the colorful “Together” statue and the restaurant is on the right hand side.
The food presentation at Central is beautiful. The plates come out of the kitchen looking like art! Plus, everything is fairly reasonably priced for a restaurant of this caliber. We especially love their patio dining area, because it is open to the outside while still being covered.
10. Hemingway Restaurant
If you want to try Bulgarian food in a fine dining establishment, look no further than Hemingway Restaurant. The swanky, stylish interiors are perfect for a romantic date night. If the weather is nice, you can enjoy their beautiful patio that also has great people watching.
Presentation is everything at Hemingway. The food looks almost as beautiful as it tastes. Even a simple salad is art. For those reasons, the prices are a bit more expensive than the average Plovdiv restaurant. But it’s well worth it to eat at beautiful restaurant like this!
11. Djumaia Turkish Coffee, Tea & Sweet House
Djumaia Turkish Coffee, Tea & Sweet House is located right in front of the Dzhumaya Mosque, one of the oldest mosques in Plovdiv. Its wooden carved exterior is reason enough to visit this place–the building is spectacular!
Djumaia is fairly widely accepted as the best place to get a Turkish dessert in all of Plovdiv. Their baklava are the thing to get and come in multiple decadent flavors.
There’s a lot to love about Plovdiv’s food scene. Bulgarian food is definitely the top thing to try. But since there are lots of ethnic minorities in Bulgaria, there is also delicious Turkish food, Armenian food, and more! Arrive with an open mind, and you’ll be surprised at how much you love the food in Plovdiv.
If you’re planning a trip to Bulgaria, here are a few other posts to help you plan your trip:
- 17 Things To Do in the Sofia, Bulgaria City Centre
- 21 Amazing Things To Do in Plovdiv, Bulgaria
- Sofia Nightlife Guide: Pub Crawl to Best Bars & Clubs
- How To Take The Train From Sofia to Plovdiv: Train Schedule, Cost & Everything You Need To Know
- Bulgaria Wine Tours: We Went Wine Tasting in Plovdiv, Bulgaria