This is another typically Bulgarian fast-food takeaway place specialising in batch-cooked baked goods. It's cheap, cheerful and whilst not as busy as the "Specialities from Plevden" place in the main square it does pretty much the same sort of stuff.
Favorite Dish: Being breakfast time Marina recommended the banitza and delish it was too. I wasn't too keen on the "Anet" drink though - a sort of cold, overly sweet, "Horlicks". Next time I'll stick to coffee from the machine!
Varna is a very cosmopolitan city for eating out but I was surprised to find that it has at least eight Chinese restaurants within the city limits. Doing a little research I find that Chinese immigration to Bulgaria is a relatively recent phenomenon, only taking off following the improvement in Bulgarian-Chinese trade and diplomatic relations after the collapse of Communism.
Recent estimates put the number of Chinese living in Bulgaria at about 10,000 (and growing), a significant majority of which are employed in the restaurant trade.
Here at Tshou we were introduced to one of the most recent immigrants - our excellent, although painfully shy, waitress.
This is a good restaurant. Service throughout was friendly and attentive. The decor is bright and Oriental without being too gaudy and the place had a pleasant local buzz even on a quietish Sunday evening.
Favorite Dish: We started with a fruity rakia, accompanied by what Marina rates as the best cabbage salad in town - the subtle Chinese seasoning raising it to its deserved ranking. For mains Marina opted for the Crispy Duck whilst I ordered Shanghai King Prawns.
The duck turned out to be a WHOLE duck, carved expertly off its bones. Its skin was aromatically-crisped to perfection, the flesh succulent and the rich mushroom and vegetable sauce an ideal match. My prawns too came as a huge plateful, big and juicy in a light soy sauce with a pleasant hint of spice. It was only once everything had arrived that I noticed that most of our fellow diners were in fact sharing single dishes - there was enough food in front of us to have fed four.
Whilst the 35 Leva bill was a little more expensive than most Varna restaurants it was still good value for money considering the generosity of the portions - it was a good job we'd had an energetic afternoon hiking through the Zlatni Piasatsi Nature Park up to the Aladzha Monastery!
Having been studiously ignored for twenty-odd minutes in the restaurant next door the welcoming and prompt service here was an appetizer in its own right. Our bubbly and attentive waitress was quite happy to take our order piecemeal as Marina had already decided what she was after whilst I wanted to take a bit of time deciphering the menu.
The menu wasn't quite as extensive as that of next door, veering more towards being a snack menu but still with plenty of tasty-sounding options. The terrace, as the late afternoon November sun was setting, wasn't particularly busy but still had a pleasant local buzz AND the tables were clean.
Favorite Dish: Marina had already decided that she fancied having Safrid (Scadfish) and so that was ordered first, along with cheesy chips and (of course) beer. I finally decided on the mussels, which the waitress informed me would come deep-fried in batter. Everything was fresh and tasty, the scad meatily-fleshed. We added a green salad as the healthy bit amongst all the ffried stuff and with a couple of slices of bread the whole repast came to just over 25 Leva - hence the 5 Leva tip!
Yep - give the fancy place next door a miss and head straight for Coral!
This is an attractive-looking restaurant on the seafront at Fisherman's Beach. The menu certainly reads well with all its fishy and shellfishy options including some tasty-sounding seafood platters.
It's a good job the menu read well as we spent twenty minutes with it trying to catch the waiter's attention. After perfunctorily wiping down our table he had resolutely ignored us, despite passing at least four times. It wasn't even as if he was particularly busy as the terrace section he was serving was almost empty.
Eventually we gave up and went next door to Coral where we got excellent service and a tasty early-evening dinner (and the server there got a 5 Leva tip!).
...the menu is full of sand!
This is a typical beach cafe/bar with its outdoor wooden benches sitting on a deck jutting out towards the waterfront. The menu is simple, featuring a range of salads and fast-foody stuff, and service, certainly on a quietish, though sunny, November afternoon, friendly and swift.
Favorite Dish: I'd been taking advantage of an unseasonably glorious November afternoon to have a stroll along the seafront and this place seemed an ideal pit-stop for a refreshing beer. The beer hit the spot and despite having already eaten lunch the aroma of the frying whitebait was too tempting to pass up. So "Edna Tsa-tsa Molya" it was. This arrived as a huge plateful, more than enough for two - fortunately there were a couple of stray cats hanging around to assist!
If you're looking for a cheap, healthy and wholesome bite to eat in the city centre then visit one of these places. Trops Kushta is a bit like a factory canteen with all the dishes presented in either heated or refrigerated displays. There's quite a dazzling array of Bulgarian fare on offer, all of which is appetizingly laid out, with soups, salads, main courses and desserts plus all the other bits and bobs you could think of.
Prices depend on what you order - a simple soup lunch will cost about 3-4 Leva.
Dishes are freshly prepared in batches and topped up throughout the day as required. For the really budget conscious they start discounting by 30% sometime in the evening as they start to wind down for the day.
Favorite Dish: A simple sausage and pea soup with a bread roll was exactly what I was after, with plenty of meat in a natural broth. Delish it was too. I also tried a little nibble of Marina's pumpkin pie which was tooth-rottingly sweet but also tasty.
We had intended to eat at Chuchura this particular evening but had both discovered, independently of each other, (Marina from a work colleague, myself from passing) that it was closed for refurbishment.
Serendipity then took over. I'd had a wander round the city looking for an alternative whilst Marina, once again independently, consulted one of her workmates. Strange, but true, we both came up with this place!! Me, I'd just liked the look of it from the outside, whilst Marina's co-worker had given it a definite recommendation.
YEP! Serendipity is indeed a powerful force. As soon as we stepped over the threshold we felt welcome and although classy the restaurant has a relaxed, informal, ambience. The traditionally-dressed servers add character, not kitsch. The dining room is spartan yet elegant. White and ochre tablecloths continue the theme set by the natural wood and plaster of the decor. Soft downlighting accentuates the polish of the furniture and the table settings.
With the stage set it was now time to consult the programme. The seasonally-changing menu is an appetizer in its own right, the freshly-baked bread with celery salt dip a perfect accompaniement. All the classics of Bulgarian cuisine are here, simply described and with little touches of the restaurant's individuality. There's grills and fish, pot dishes and salads, healthy stuff and hedonistic - about 8 pages in all. We only got as far as page 2!
Favorite Dish: Having already decided that we were going to commence with Rakia it was a matter of matching our starters to that. A meaty starter (Zimno Meze) and a salad of preserved vegetables (Salata Kiselo Zele) sounded ideal. The match turned out to be perfect - as Marina commented: "The vegetables are just like my mother makes. The winter meze (sausage, chunky salami and back fat) exactly what my Grandfather used to do with the trimmings when he killed a pig."
On page 2 of the menu the "Ivanchovski Guyvech" (literally "John's Pot Dish") immediately negated any further perusal. This is a one-pot meal for two - stuffed cabbage leaf, braised chicken and casseroled pork, cooked with potatoes, carrots and peas. The 40 minute cooking time perfectly suited to our mood as we liesurely nibbled our savouries along with a freebie top-up of bread.
This was just simply "Delish". Everything cooked to melt-in-the-mouth perfection in a flavoursome liquor and so much of it that we just had to get the leftovers put in a "doggy-bag".
With a brace of 100ml "Soungoullarska Grozdova" Rakias, an excellent bottle of Todorov "Boutique" Merlot and a couple of other drinks the 65 Leva bill was more "mehana"-pricing than restaurant and with a freebie Monday supper thrown in!
As a little update - I see that the "In Your Pocket" guide to Varna rates this as the best in town, and "maybe the best in Bulgaria". I'll agree with that!
UPDATE NOV 2009. The Preslav restaurant is no more but there is one not far away on ul Tsar Simeone I (??)
I'm not quite sure whether I've got the name correct for this restaurant, which seems to be part of a small chain here in Varna. But anyway this is where my hotel sent me for breakfast in the mornings (the hotel itself didn't have a breakfast room but instead gives a 2 leva voucher for the restaurant across the road).
This isn't a formal-type restaurant but more of a self-service cafeteria (and I think only open during the day) with the food set up behind hot and cold display cabinets. However, it was certainly fine for my daily light breakfast of savoury and sweet pastries and coffee.
Whatever time I went for my breakfast the place was always busy (bearing in mind that sometimes my breakfast times would coincide with normal people's lunchtimes!) and it certainly seemed cheap enough. Service is very "cafeteria" style, which for me was a case of pointing and saying "Edna Molya!" but is friendly enough and whilst a little plasticky decor-wise the restaurant is pleasant enough.
Favorite Dish: I was never sure exactly what I was ordering, having developed my "Point and Edna Molya" technique but I usually ended up with a pair of pastries and a decent cup of coffee. I think the larger pastry is a "Sigara Burek" but I've no idea what the sweet smaller one is! But delish they are and ideal for a light breakfast.
PS It does sell beer too!!
I'm not quite sure whether this little restaurant, tucked away in a side street just off Varna's main square (Nezavisimost), is in fact as old as it looks or whether it is a relatively recent mock-up of a traditional Bulgarian "Mehana". But either way it certainly does have an authentic feel to it with its wood and brick facade and interior, the various museum-type knick-knacks hanging from the walls, the small charcoal grill in its alcove and the wood-burning stove nestled in the corner.
The menu however certainly is authentic, offering a range of traditional Bulgarian peasant dishes such as "Mozuk v Maslo" (which is beef brains stewed in butter) as well as the full gamut of salads and grills.
The restaurant is set out a little formally but in fact is pretty laid-back and you are as welcome to pop in for a snack and a glass of wine as for a full-blown repast. I was particularly impressed with the waiter who single-handedly managed to juggle serving what became an almost full restaurant, cooking on the chargrill and still found the time to give me few guidelines on the winelist and the Rakia menu.
Favorite Dish: On my only visit (this time round) I opted for the Rabbit (Zaek) in the Banskian-style which was bit like a Greek Stifado, cooked in wine with baby onions. As a salad I opted for the house salad, simply to find out what the "smilanski (??) beans" were - a sort of dark coloured butter-bean. Added a basket of local bread and washed the lot down with a bottle of excellent Mavrud (Assenovgrad 2003). Everything was absolutely Delish!
Feeling pretty stuffed I reckoned I needed a digestif and so followed the waiter's recommendation by having a large Slivenska Perla Rakia. Oooops! That stuff is lethal and I can see why it should only be consumed WITH food! It was a good job my hotel was less than 100 yards down the hill!!
With a bill of just over 32 Leva for the whole shebang I can certainly recommend Chuchura -just be careful with the Rakia!
I could never work out from the riot of signage of this little place on the main square whether or not it actually has a name - the main sign above the window reading: "Always freshly baked...Specialities from Pleven". It certainly is, however, a very popular Varna institution and has a pretty much permanent queue of a dozen or so people from mid-morning until late lunchtime.
To say that there is a permanent queue isn't to say that that service is slow, in fact quite the contrary, but rather that the place is so popular that the queue never dies down. Forget about MacDonalds and others of its ilk, if you want good fast food at really cheap prices this is the place!
I must admit to having been pretty impressed with this as a slick operation and moreso impressed by the fact that the woman serving managed to do it with a smile. Just as an off-the-cuff estimate I reckon this place must serve at least a couple of thousand people a day from a simple menu of pizza slices and savoury pastries with everything being freshly baked in batches throughout the day. The place seems to be staffed by only two women, one doing the batch cooking and the other serving and taking the money, and boy do they work hard!!
This is where having learnt to read Cyrillic came in pretty handy as the pizza and pastries are served from behind a long glass-fronted heated counter with the items signed in Bulgarian. By the time you've got to the till to order your chosen item it is probably a couple of metres away and so my "Point and Edna Molya" technique would have only caused confusion. Confusion being the last thing that the woman serving would need with a permanent queue of people to serve!
Favorite Dish: Well it has to be Bulgaria's other Nationl dish: the pizza slice, which I probably had 2 or 3 times and at 1.15 leva made for a real value-for-money snack lunch. On the couple of other times I grabbed a quick bite from here I tried the "Balaton" (sausage in pastry) and the "Budapeshta" (ham in pastry) and both were equally up to the task of lining the stomach before the day's serious business of beer drinking began!
This was another place I sought out in my search for a proper pub only to find that it too was more of a restaurant than a bar. But never mind an excellent dinner was had washed down by a couple of glasses of the dark bock-style Stolichno.
Vikings actually looks like it should be a pub with it's long wooden L-shaped bar and barstools, but with no-one actually using them. It is a pleasant place though with a laid-back buzz and a mixed age clientele. The menu is pretty extensive (with English and German translations) mostly revolving around grilled meats - their "Meshana Skara" (mixed grill) served on a sizzling platter looked especially impressive.
I found the service excellent, though I was little disappointed to be handed the English menu without asking for it - Ach, maybe my Dobar Vecher needs a little tweak ;)
Favorite Dish: On my one visit I opted for the Balkan Sausages with a potato salad and cheesy garlic bread and of course a brace of Stolichnos. The sausages were superbly meaty, with an interesting ketchup and mustard dip, the salad fine and as to the garlic bread... well that came as almost a whole loaf, freshly baked and topped with yellow cheese and delish tho' it was that defeated me!
A very substantial dinner enjoyed and if I remember correctly the bill was well under 20 leva.
The bright red signage of the "Happy Bar & Grill" does give the impression of just another junk food establishment and when I first encountered it in Sofia I gave it a "Thumbs Down" verdict without even sampling its wares.
On re-encountering it here in Varna, where the chain originated and there is an outlet on just about every main street, I finally succumbed to its temptations and was pleasantly surprised. "Happy Bar & Grill" is pretty much what it's name suggests and it is indeed a fast-food establishment but not in the Macdonalds vein. Here the menu manages to take a good selection of the Bulgarian staples but adapt them to suit its buzzy, slightly brash, style and does so with a degree of panache which makes the restaurants very popular with the locals and deservedly so (and the pretty waitresses with their short skirts don't do it any harm either!).
Yep, another preconception destroyed!!
Favorite Dish: Definitely the "Meshana Skara" (Mixed Grill) which is basically a plateful of pork in various guises including sausage, schnitzel and meatballs in a creamy mushroom sauce, with a green side salad and a Kamenitza (golyama of course!).
I had heard nice things abut this place and that is cheap. The pub is really cool looking from outside and inside and it has patio. The menu is huge-from salads to pizzas and meals. I had something called french guyveche (broccoli, mushrooms, cheese and about 10 pounds of oil ..i guess the cook got carried away). My friend's salad (Darts salad) was pretty good.
The thing that i disliked the most, was the rude waitress and the fact that she didnt return any change. May be it was just my bad luck. Still, as i've heard nice things about the restaurant i might give it another chance. So,its up to u!
Favorite Dish: the best thing was the fried "noazets" (resembles fried balls of potatos) with the beer Kamenitza
This chain of restaurants in Burgas and Varna has a good selection of beers and mostly Italian and Bulgraian foods. The one in Varna is located on the pedestrian shopping area and is one of the multiple options for a lunch while wondering around in the center.
This place is perhaps a bit more expensive than some of the competitors.
Favorite Dish: The mushroom starter was excellent.
We went to try this place based on a VT tip. Sure, the traditional style house is great, but otherwise I was quite disappointed.
The service was slow and the food mediocre. This might be a good place for a lunch, but I wouldn’t recommend it for fine dining.