Our European trip this summer will begin with a week in Bulgaria, visiting Bulgarian friends who are going to show us around the country. The first several days of that visit we will spend in Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia, seeing its historical highlights and undoubtedly experiencing Bulgarian food. Our friends are aware of my dairy allergy, so I am sure they will look out for me; but as I usually do, I have been researching to make sure I avoid dairy wherever it may pop up (I recently wrote an essay on Bulgarian cheese for Oxford University Press’s upcoming “Oxford Companion to Cheese,” so I know some popular Bulgarian dishes that feature cheese). Here are some of the restaurants, bakeries and groceries I have learned about that feature dairy free (mostly vegan) foods, in case I need to supplement whatever I eat with our friends.
I should begin by saying that I found most of these in two sources: the ever-present Happy Cow’s guide to Sofia, and a blog post by Charlie on Travel. While in Sofia, Therese and I will be staying at the Hilton Sofia, so in discussing these restaurants/bakeries, I have been mindful of how convenient they are to the hotel.
Sunmoon Bakery – Gladston.
Sunmoon is a chain, with a few locations in Sofia. This particular one is known as being the best, and is even considered to be the best vegan restaurant in the city. About a dozen blocks from our hotel, or maybe a fifteen minute walk, we might make a special trip to check it out. It is, after all, a vegan bakery, with lots of vegan (and raw and gluten free) desserts, and it also sells a dozen varieties of fresh made bread.
Mix of Figs.
Also about 15 minutes walk from our hotel, this restaurant bills itself as selling healthy vegan fast food. This may be where Charlie on Travel encountered “really gross vegan fast food,” so I am not sure that we will be visiting Mix of Figs.
An organic and vegan grocer just 7 blocks from our hotel, Green Earth is open to 8pm during the week, so this might be a good option for picking up a snack to munch on while we wind down at the end of the day.
I am always game for trying out raw vegan desserts, and since Rawlly is only 4 blocks from our hotel, it would be convenient to pay them a visit. However, their opening hours are not given anywhere on the Internet (not even on their Facebook page), and independent bakeries can sometimes have odd hours, so we will see!
Kring has daily set menus, posted on their website, and they specify what dishes are vegan and which aren’t (including mentioning dairy items), from salads to desserts. Unfortunately, it is a good 15 to 20 minute drive from our hotel, so it is unlikely we will give them a try. But if Sunmoon and Green Earth’s dessert offerings are underwhelming, and we can’t figure out when Rawlly is open, Kring might be a fallback option for dairy free desserts in Sofia.
I will let you know which of these food providers we frequent while in Sofia (and also tell you about the restaurants we visit with our friends). Later in the week, we will travel to their hometown of Veliko Turnovo (and make day trips elsewhere). VT (as they refer to it) is more of a challenge – it had one very noteworthy vegan restaurant which has unfortunately closed (I got confirmation from the restaurant itself). I will write more about that later!