If you need an introduction to what the centre of Sofia offers in terms of Bulgarian dishes, or which places to rediscover after this period of social isolation, here's a short guide to the star venues.
The eternal breakfast classic banitza is easy to find; however, this one is also undergoing a renovation: you can check out what the Slunce & Luna (Sun and Moon) and Fabrika Daga restaurants are offering.
Another local breakfast, mekitsa, made of kneaded dough with yoghurt, can be found at Mekitsa & Coffee. Speciality coffee is getting more and more present in Sofia, however, it's rare to find a local brand producing coffee - you can watch out for places offering Dabov coffee as well as the cozy Bug Coffee shop/cafeteria.
Brunch culture is also breaking into Bulgaria with places like Urban Table, Boho, the recently revamped Flip Flop, as well as Cafe 1920, which for two years now has been putting brighter colours around the Lion's bridge region, being the front-runners.
Bulgaria also has a blossoming craft beer scene. If you're into that, the obvious choice is Sofia's oldest craft beer bar - Kanaal, which has recently opened a kitchen space and is a perfect opportunity to discover some often-ignored gems around the Oborishte, boulevard Madrid and Poduene neighbourhood area. Meanwhile, in the very centre, Nosferatu, a more heavy metal-themed bar, is offering local beer brands that are rarely distributed in Sofia. Same goes for Sofia's newest craft beer bar/shop - Beertag in Iztok neighbourhood. Crafter, which now has two locations, and combines both beer and wine in their selection (including drinks that combine both of them).
The wine scene is now taking cues from beer's reinvention. Casavino near park Zaimov is an obvious starting point and one of the newest spots is Garafa Wine Shop. However, good local wine is not (too much of) a hard find - most quality venues have proper wine options even if the place does not specialize in them.
Bulgaria hasn't really tried hard to make its local cuisine a real internationally recognizable brand. It's not even a guaranteed success - some initially well-received places like Karmare and Bagri are now closed and the pandemic didn't help. Bulgarian cuisine remains something to be discovered by yourself, sometimes outside of Sofia, and it's often associated with strictly home activities.
However, there are some places who are spilling away from the secrets, with a twist. For several years now, Rakia Raketa Bar and Kosmos are at the front row of serving traditional Bulgarian dishes and drinks, in a progressive way that doesn't feel forced or with too much nationalistic kitsch thrown in the mix. A similar vibe can be found in Qftetaria, focused on the traditional for the region meatball and the more touristy Moma.
If you're looking for a more old school experience with folklore music around and cheaper prices, Hadjidragov's Cellars should make the cut. Pod Lipite, another place focused exclusively on traditional food, is an option for both breakfast and dinner and works with its own farm. In early 2019, "Shtastlivetsa" opened a place in Sofia, after more than two decades of successful trading in Veliko Tarnovo.