Girl Meets Bulgaria

Musings of an American expat in Bulgaria (with detours in Utah and Alaska)


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Restaurant Review: Pri Mitaka (При Митака)

Restaurant Pri Mitaka--Gradeshnitsa, BulgariaWhen Vince made the reservation for our hotel in Melnik, the employee on the phone recommended we stop at a little roadside restaurant in Kresna on our way down because they had huge grilled chicken breasts. I initially thought that was an odd selling point–oh how wrong I was! She didn’t give a name or address, so we had a bit of a hard time finding the place, but I am so glad that we did!

Restaurant Pri Mitaka (При Митака) is actually located in a little village past Kresna called Gradeshnitsa. It’s right on the main road from Sofia to Melnik; if you are looking for it, you can’t miss it!DSC_1565

It’s clearly a family run business. The young daughter sat us at a table inside (there is also ample outdoor seating), the son was running the outdoor grill, the dad was sitting about supervising, and the mom brought the food out. We ordered one chicken breast to share, a shepherd’s salad, bread, and two Cokes.

And so began my recent obsession with the Bulgarian shepherd’s salad. This delicious mix of cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, roasted peppers, corn, ham, hard-boiled egg, olives, mushrooms and parsley (also normally comes with cheese, but I’m not a fan!) with oil and vinegar on top, is so delicious and fresh. I absolutely love it and have eaten it several times since.Shepherd's salad Homemade breadChicken fillet and Shepard's salad
The restaurant does in fact specialize in freshly grilled cuts of meat, as do several of the neighboring restaurants. The chicken breasts are hammered flat so they come out about 3 times the size of the plate. Grilling meat by the roadside

Everything we ate was incredible! The chicken was perfectly seasoned and grilled (not to mention ENORMOUS!); the bread was homemade and also hot off the grill; the salad was HUGE and made with the best quality vegetables; heck, even the Cokes tasted better than they normally do!

The second we started eating, both Vince and I agreed that it was some of the best food we’ve ever eaten in a Bulgarian restaurant. We stuffed ourselves silly for only 18 lv ($13.00). The service was awesome as well and as we were leaving, Vince told the mom how much we enjoyed the food and how it was some of the best we’d had in all our travels around Bulgaria.

We liked it so much that we stopped by again for lunch on our way home! It was slightly embarrassing to be back so soon, but I think it speaks volumes to how much we liked their food. We ordered the exact same thing only we took one piece of bread to go because one piece is plenty for two people. The bread is among the best bread I’ve eaten. EVER! It’s also shaped in such a way that you can open it up and slap the chicken breast on it for a quick sandwich for the road. We saw several people pull up in their cars and order them this way.

I can’t say enough good things about Pri Mitaka. If you are ever in the area and are looking for an affordable and delicious place to stop for lunch or dinner, look no further!

More wine from Kordopulov house and another meal at Pri Mitaka: two more reasons to return to Melnik!

W.

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Fun in Plovdiv with the Denali Crew

My friend K. who is visiting from Alaska also happens to be my boss in Denali (for Princess Cruises). She’s been there for years and has always had a large staff of Bulgarians working for her–mostly big, burly Bell staff men. She sometimes refers to them as her “Bulgarian Mafia.” Don’t know how accurate that really is, but you never know! 😉 All I do know is that they are a great bunch of guys (and one gal who is a supervisor in housekeeping) that I am happy to call my friends.

*cue sappy muzak*

When she made plans to come to Bulgaria we knew that a large get together with everyone was in order. Almost all of us (besides Vince and I and another married Bulgarian/American couple who live in the states) live in or around Plovdiv and Asenovgrad. We made Plovdiv our home base for a night last weekend and booked a room at a hostel (Hostel Mostel, which wasn’t all that great, btw). All of the plans were made and all we had to do was show up at Restaurant Arbanasi ready to party.
Denali Gang

The food was delicious but the entertainment was what it was all about. We had the best table in the house (thanks F. for making the reservation “for your American friends who get the best table in the house.”) When Vince hears Bulgarian music and has any amount of alcohol in him…he turns into a dancing fool. Having a few glasses of wine myself, I eventually joined in as well.

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A Dinner Date at Pizza Lachoni

Pizza Lachoni

Last Friday night Vince and I decided to ditch our plans to eat at home and head out to a restaurant for the evening.

There is a pizza restaurant in our complex, Pizza Lachoni, that we’ve been wanting to try since I got here.

Before I even mention the food, I should say that this place has a few things going for it.

Number 1: it’s literally a 5-minute walk from our apartment.
Number 2: Did I mention it’s really close?!

OK. So it’s nearby, but what about the food?

It was…good.

Not fantastic. Not horrible. Definitely a solid B.

I should interject here that I am incredibly hard to please when it comes to pizza. I love the stuff. So I can be quite judgmental on things like toppings and the type of cheese a place uses. Pizza in Bulgaria is never going to be like it is back in the states. I have come to accept that fact. But my quest to find a decent slice continues!

Alrighty, back to the subject…

The restaurant itself is fairly modern and is probably the largest I have been in in Sofia. There are long wooden tables and benches for seating. They aren’t the most comfortable option, especially for couples, but they’d probably be great for larger parties.

There is a large bar and all of the servers are smartly dressed in bright green uniforms.

V. at Pizza Lachoni
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Celebrating 27 in Sofia

Yesterday was my 27th birthday.

Side note-I don’t feel any older, but I am acutely aware now just how close 30 is. Society tells me that I should fear that number; the big 3-0. Yet, somehow, I foresee my 30’s being just as awesome, if not more so, than my 20’s. I suppose I’ll find out in 3 short years!

My day yesterday was calm, quiet, and rather uneventful. Vince and I ate breakfast together before he left for work (a trend that I think will continue as I can’t sleep in here for the life of me). I read a few chapters of my current book before starting work for the day.

We had plans to go into the city for dinner so I asked a few people for restaurant ideas. We eventually settled on Carolyn’s suggestion of Made in Home.

But let me back up a little…

We caught the Metro at the shiny new stop by our apartment. I am really quite impressed with Sofia’s subway lines. Sure, it was my first time riding on the system, but the trains were clean, the stations {mostly} modern and sparkling, tickets were easy to buy, and the stops are conveniently placed.

We were short on cash and definitely did not have enough to cover dinner, so upon exiting the Metro at the Sofia University stop, we wandered around looking for an ATM–Bulgaria is largely a cash economy. ATM’s are everywhere in Sofia, so we didn’t have to walk very far to find one. Unfortunately, I had forgotten what a pain in the ass it is to use my debit card to get cash out in Bulgaria. Both times I have been here before, I had a hell of a time finding an ATM that would work for me. I usually get the “card temporarily refused,”or “balance insufficient” errors. After trying about 4 machines, I remembered what my bank told me when I frantically called them last winter: ATMs in Bulgaria don’t usually have the option to choose to withdraw from checking OR savings. Apparently, when it comes to my debit card, they default to withdraw from savings. As much as I’d love be have lots of money in my savings account, I don’t generally transfer anything there from my checking.

After trying (and failing) at probably 15 ATMs along our walk to the restaurant, we eventually made it and asked if  they took credit cards.

No dice. Not surprised.

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Clear Sky lodge: “The Best Steaks in Alaska”

A few weeks ago I visited Clear Sky Lodge for dinner.

This small restaurant–which sits at mile 280 on the Parks Highway in Anderson, Alaska–claims to have the best steaks in the entire state.

I’m not a big red meat fan, so I am not sure about all that. But I can say that it was delicious!

I can’t believe it took me two seasons before I visited.

Shame on me!

I’m no food critic, so this “review” is just me rambling about what I thought of the joint. Don’t expect too much more than that.

Clear Sky, from the outside (and inside) is nothing to write home about. In fact, I would not have been surprised if health officials had raided the place while I was mid-meal. It wasn’t dirty, don’t get me wrong, it was just…

A hole in the wall.

Plain and simple.

A hole in the wall that cooks up (on one tiny grill right in the dining area) some amazing cuts of beef.

Good thing my steak was so good, otherwise it might have been hard to overlook the $22 price tag, paper cups, and slow service.

But none of it mattered when I took my first bite.

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