Vegetarian survival guide in Bansko

by Nadejda Barbarov

When I first came to Bansko a couple of weeks ago, a task was put in front of me: write an article about the Apartment rentals here in Bansko or about the Vegetarian food. Being specialized in Economics, the logical thing to do would have been writing the article about the Apartment rentals, putting in some graphics and some analyses, playing with some numbers and here’s the article! But no, as always I had to pick the most illogical, weird thing to do: I’ve decided to write both articles.

Writing about Vegetarian food was at that moment the thing that mostly inspired me. And not because I’m vegetarian. Actually I’m not, haha. Or I wasn’t at that moment. Anyway, everything that I knew about vegetarians and vegetarian food in general was my friend that would pick the French fries every time we would go out to eat together. I wasn’t even sure about the difference between vegetarian and vegan. Was the vegetarian or the vegan that eats only vegetables? So I started asking around my fellow coworkers and friends in Bansko, hoping that some idea would come on process. It turn out that I was very lucky. About 20–25% of people that I met at the Coworking space are vegetarians or vegans. “That’s a real blessing” I thought. So, every time that we would have dinner or lunch together here I was glancing at their food and asking questions before or while they would put something in their mouth: what did you take? Is it good? Can I take a pic? Thanks God, I had very patient friends around, before I decided that maybe would be better to become vegetarian for a week.

First of all, I’ve noticed that the Bulgarian vegetarian cuisine is mainly based on yogurt and cheese. These are actually the most international known Bulgarian products, as always present in Bulgarian menus in one form or another.

Second, there are no completely vegetarian restaurants in Bansko. Each restaurant presents in its menu some dishes that can be considered vegetarian; some restaurants have a vegetarian section in their menu (with very few dishes).

So here is a list of restaurants where I’ve been to, looking for good vegetarian food:

1. Lovna Sreshta, for someone that is looking for a place with a beautiful garden and a friendly cat expecting for cuddles. You can find here a wide range of traditional Bulgarian dishes, mainly including cheese, like the house desert “The home made yogurt with jam of your choice” that seems to be a fruit yogurt, but it’s more consistent, something between yogurt and cheese. For vegans there are seasonal vegetable dishes, very good potatoes and rise based dishes with prices that go from 6 to 10 lev.

2. Le Petit Nicolas, a tiny fancy French bakery located not far from the main square, that offers very good sandwiches and salads, other than traditional delicious croissants and baguettes. You can choose the ingredients of your salad or take a vegetarian sandwich. I chose “Le Provencal” (about 8 lev) and made it toasted. Simply delicious.

3. Oscar, for a friendly environment. They treat their visitors as family members; they care about what you eat, what you drink and how good you are feeling. Vegetarian and vegan friendly. A menu well thought where everyone can find something for the own taste, like the “Wood fire baked zucchini with beans & onion salad and beetroot emulsion” that I had (about 10 lev), and for the first time in a week I felt that being vegan can be really pleasant. Moderate to high prices, it is all worth.

4. El Torito, sounds Spanish, but it’s not. Actually it’s a very traditional Bulgarian restaurant with a nice garden where one can find good food at low prices. It’s mainly a BBQ/meat place, not vegan friendly, but vegetarian friendly, as there are many vegetable dishes prepared with cheese like baked mushroom with cheese, potatoes or the delicious unusual house desert: baked cheese with pepper jam. The prices are also very good going around 6 to 8 lev.

5. Log House, a medium to big restaurant in Bansko that offers a wide variety of dishes, including vegetarian pizza, salads, vegetarian soups (traditional Tarator), seasonal dishes. Also a strong point: desserts, tasty and unusual, just don’t be afraid of trying them. I chose “Bananas in pijamas” (5.50 lev), didn’t regret.

6. Happy food, right across the street from the Log house one can have street food. There is a quite good choice between baguettes, burgers and pancakes. I had a Baguette with humus, grilled vegetables and mozzarella at 6 lev.

7. Smokey Mountain, bar & grill, mainly a night local with pool table for challenging friends and not only. For a vegetarian headed up here to eat while planning to play pool, there is one choice: the spicy Veggie burger with beans. And the price is pretty spicy too (17.50 lev). Well, planning to play pool costs.

8. Izgreva hot springs restaurant, after a hot bath a good meal is welcomed. Especially if the place offers good food at a good price. Again the cheese is here at its own home, but there is also room for vegans with baked potatoes, vegetables and breaded mushrooms at service at moderate prices that are about 6 to 8 lev.

9. Hotel Ida restaurant, has a variate menu going from Italian food to Mexican food, including pizzas, burritos, salads. One can opt for a vegetarian Margherita or even for a vegan Fajita at about 10 lev.

10. Caffe’ Kids Fun & Family, right at the corner from the Coworking space, so easy to reach in a full working day. There is only one option, the Vegetarian sandwich with avocado, but good enough to give the energy of a complete lunch at only 3 lev.

In the end it’s worth mentioning that I’m writing this article in the summer (or close to it) and many restaurants are closed due to the fact that Bansko is mainly a ski resort working at full potential in the winter. Now I’m looking forward for new, winter vegetarian adventures.

About the Author:
Nadejda is from Moldova and follows the European dream. She is extremely curious, sometimes to the point of taking risks in order to satisfy her curiosity, and likes changing perspectives. She is a mediator, frequently with no fixed ideas, always in the middle of something, trying to keep the balance.

We building an amazing coworking space in Bansko, a mountain resort in Bulgaria. This is our story.