We were pleasantly surprised by the culinary offerings in Plovdiv. Like the city itself, nothing came across as pretentious, which is just the way we like it. A lot of the best restaurants are concentrated in the recently revitalized Kapana neighborhood. This area, now home to many hip restaurants and shops, was majorly renovated in advance of Plovdiv being named the 2019 European Capital of Culture. Read on to discover our picks for best places to eat in Plovdiv.
One thing that we simply have to rave about is Bulgaria’s standard practice of including the weight of each item (in grams) on a restaurant’s menu. This is so incredibly helpful when ordering because you can clearly determine if what you’re considering will be filling enough. We found that about 350-500 grams per meal was sufficient for us to feel full.
While we are a bit ashamed to admit it, we didn’t eat much traditional Bulgarian food while living there. One of the most traditional dishes is tripe soup – and, while we chickened out, our friend claimed that the tripe soup from Restaurant Central was excellent.
It was disappointing not to find a solid kebab/gyro option for those late-night cravings. We had grown accustomed to amazing gyros after arriving directly from Albania, but Plovdiv seemed to be lacking in this department.
Anyway, we are pleased to share with you our favorite restaurants in Plovdiv below. And don’t forget to check out our handy visual map showing you a lot of the restaurants and other places mentioned in this series:
This article is part of our Plovdiv, Bulgaria series. For more information, check out our other related articles:
- Plovdiv, Bulgaria: What to Know Before You Go
- Daily Life in Plovdiv, Bulgaria as an Expat or Nomad
- Things to Do in Plovdiv, Bulgaria
Raia was our number one go-to place to eat in Plovdiv. Clearly we weren’t alone, as hungry locals very often packed the place as well. Tucked away in little neighborhood south of the main walking street, it’s incredibly easy to miss unless you are really looking for it. Raia has a jack-of-all-trades approach to menu offerings. Usually we are skeptical of this approach, but all of the diverse dishes we tried here were fantastic.
We would classify Raia as sort-of a mix between Italian and Bulgarian cuisine. They offer a wide range of salads, soups, pastas, meat dishes, seafood meals, and grilled meat platters. Our personal favorites were the Pork Ribs with Jack Daniels sauce and the Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict. The waiters were also very friendly, sometimes even offering freebies like ice cream at the end of a meal.
We spent an average of about 25 leva ($14 USD) per meal there as a couple. This was an excellent value considering the quality and generous portion sizes.
While we were trying to avoid gluten for the most part while living in Plovdiv, pizza is just too good to resist sometimes. Pizza Originale was a difficult reminder of this, as it was just sitting there literally across the street from our apartment!
Perhaps living right across from it biased us, but Pizza Originale was our favorite pizza in town. Their pizzas are simple and delicious, with a great balance between crispiness and softness (we stubbornly insist that pizza ought to be edible by hand!).
In addition to a wide variety of interesting pizza topping options, Originale also offers calzones (a personal favorite), salads, pasta, and more. They also conveniently offer four different sizes for each pizza – 200, 300, 400, and 600 grams – so you can really customize to taste/appetite. We spent an average of about 25 leva ($14 USD) per meal there as a couple. For that price, we were able to each enjoy our own 400 gram pizza of choice.
My Place Burger Bar
There is a lot of competition for the top burger joint in the trendy Kapana district of Plovdiv. Believe us – we tried them all. But one stands head and shoulders above the rest: My Place Burger Bar. These guys really put their heart and soul into their burgers. And it pays off, as they are both unique and delicious.
Their signature burger is called “Liter Jack” (for the Jack Daniels sauce), and it’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen before or since. The bun is oddly black (due to squid ink we think?). They casually jam deep-fried mozzarella sticks in with the patty, which kind-of works if you’re eating it by hand, but you can also pop them out and eat them separately. Somehow they also fit the Jack Daniels sauce, bacon, and beef patty in there as well. It sounds weird, but it works! The beef is tasty and cooked to perfection, and their potato wedges are some of the best we’ve ever had anywhere.
Don’t forget to check out their top floor dining area which seems like a cross between a teenager’s hang-out room and a haunted house. It’s hard to describe – you just have to see it for yourself! Burgers and fries for two cost us about 30 leva ($17 USD), definitely a good value for the money. Without a doubt, My Place is one of the best places to eat in Plovdiv.
If you’re willing to venture outside the main tourist area, Porky’s BBQ makes an excellent reason to do so. A true barbecue grill in every sense of the word, Porky’s is a meat lover’s dream. We only went a single time because it was so far away from our apartment, but we enjoyed our meal so much that it left a distinct impression.
Porky’s has a truly amazing meat stew/goulash, but we really don’t think you can go wrong with anything on their menu. A full meal will end up costing a bit more at Porky’s compared to some of the other places on this list. We spent 33 leva ($19 USD) for meal for two the one time we went. Porky’s is a good choice for a bit of a “splurge” place to eat in Plovdiv.
Sombrero Mexican Restaurant
We’ll forgive you for being skeptical about finding good Mexican food to eat in Plovdiv; we were ourselves before trying out Sombrero. To be fair, Sombrero should be classified as “Tex-Mex” more than true Mexican, but that’s true pretty much anywhere outside of Mexico itself (and Tex-Mex is delicious in its own right).
Like Porky’s, it takes some dedicated effort to get out to Sombrero, since both of their locations are pretty far out from the city center. But if you want some additional culinary variety while you’re in town, it’s worth it to make the trek at least once. Clean, modern, and comfortable, Sombrero is a very popular lunch spot among business people in the nearby office park.
The portion sizes are huge and delicious, justifying the price tag. A lunch for two there set us back 33 leva ($19 USD). Our only regret was that we couldn’t order everything on the menu.