The turbulent events of 2020-2021 closed a lot of familiar places - however, this also paved the way for some new players on the stage and triggered some refreshing changes to the Sofia scene.
A short list of new and new-ish places where you can have coffee, check out local beer and wine brands, reserve dinner and try new food options, or simply shelter from the heatwave.
Surviving Sofia in the summer
The space from the makers of nightclubs Terminal 1 and Stroeja is near the metro station of the National Stadium and became a regular stop around Euro 2020's live screenings. It quickly changed the dynamics in the outskirts of Borissova garden: B:EAT basically fills a gap in Sofia's day-to-day life and offers street food from various vendors every day.
The vintage game-themed bar on Chataldzha Street, not far away from Zaimov Park, is situated in an old two-storey house. The place quickly became a gathering point because of its cozy yard, perfect for both the beginning of the night or for the later hours. Expect stand-up comedy nights, bazaars and acoustic sessions.
A few minutes' walk and you could end up at "Vrabcha" street. It's a hangout with a certain reputation. The recently opened restaurant is situated right between craft beer veterans Vitamin B and long-time heavy metal hound Adams, bordering several long-abandoned buildings. The menu is short but exact and right for the atmosphere of the place and changes every day. Recommended for meat eaters but vegetarians will also find some options.
Da Massimo and Fabio
This Italian restaurant near Slaveykovi Square is another of Sofia's former courtyards turned into cozy spots - however, this one is more in the high-end price range. Recommended for those into seafood.
"The old center" of Sofia is often a source of interesting new places but this one on Iskar street is unique , in a good way - and has a rhythm all of its own. Sabrosa, from the former owners of the sadly closed French 75, is on the ground floor of a 1930s house. Recommended for those in search of interesting wine options.
Not far away from Sabrosa is Jazz Room, also recognizable for the Ж-shaped logo - a design, left over by Stefan Kanchev, one of the legends of Bulgarian graphic design. There's a varied whiskey menu and a constant jazz soundtrack emanating from the record player and the huge cylinder-shaped stereos. There's also a reading space and a vinyl listening area. The wine list contains exclusively Bulgarian brands.
Could the good-old doner become a lunch-time thing rather than an after midnight guilty pleasure? Ivaylo Spassov, a Masterchef winner, thinks so: Dönerstag, near both Jazz Room and Sabrosa, works in the afternoons and has seen people queuing for their Berlin-styled doners and falafels.
The Coffee Syndicate
The latest addition to Moskovska Street joins the rising number of places offering quality coffee and is a successor of concept store for design clothing, Mental Syndicate.
New arrivals on the shore
The Bookstore, Varna
Varna is the biggest town on the seaside but in terms of cozy day and night-time places, it mainly relies on old favorites - places like Cubo and Menthol have been a fixture for more than 15 years. However, on Preslav Street, in the so-called Greek neighbourhood and Talyana art district, a new venue with potential has recently opened. The Bookstore, as the name suggests, works as a bookstore and a library, a cafeteria and a regular bar, as well as an exhibition space. Recommended for the wine, gin and beer options in the menu.
Cubo 2, Varna
Speaking of Cubo, the new extension of the bar, smaller but much calmer and cozier, is a few minutes away but again on the shore, on the "Fisherman's beach". If you're in luck, you may even see some dolphins.
Nicholas by the sea, Chernomoretz
Chef Tsvetomir Nickolov, creator of the restaurant Nicholas 0/360 in Sofia, is ready with a new place, which checks a lot of boxes: location on the South seaside, good view and a variety of seafood options.
Dieci Boutique Restaurant, Devino village
This place, created by renowned Italian chef Gianfranco Chiarini, made the news earlier in July because of the possibility of getting a Michelin star. The location is rather untypical: Devino village, near the small town of Targovishte. The restaurant is situated in the village's former and abandoned school building, now renovated.
Established places with a new spin
Bulgaria's oldest craft beer club has gone through an extension - since the beginning of the year there's an extra bar and seating places. This is not all: next year will see the second floor of the house on Sofia's Madrid Boulevard integrated into Kanaal's concept. Naturally, it's recommended for those interested in trying local beer brands but it's also inviting as a coffee bar. With most safety measures lifted, music events have made a comeback at the space.
KEVA (in full and rather ironic: Club for the aesthetic education of the artist) near the National Academy For Theater and Film Arts is also hosting a variety of events but has now encroached further into the inner courtyard and now also includes a kitchen area. Making it an even better option for the summer.