For a start, many of the stands at the iconic Naschmarkt are run by Bulgarians. It is a great convenience to those at the nearby Bulgarian Embassy (Schwindgasse 8), Bulgarian Orthodox Church and Bulgarian School (both at Kuhnplatz 7). What a better start of our Bulgarian journey than trying some typical Bulgarian food?
Café Restaurant Seasons
On Ziegelofengasse 17, 1050 is the Café Restaurant Seasons, the only Bulgarian restaurant that has continued to deliver during the lockdowns. The owner, Roumen Petkov Savtchev, met us at the door, slightly ill at ease because of the restrictions, but the conversation soon turned warm and neighborly, and we understood why he has become a friend to almost the whole Bulgarian community in Vienna. A man with a long experience in the field, Savtchev manages to offer a menu with seasonal dishes that satisfies the nostalgic needs of his Bulgarian clientele but also presents Balkan cooking to foreigners. The most sought-after dishes are the meatballs with Bulgarian herbs, bean soup, tripe soup, breaded sheep cheese, roasted chicken liver, Shopska and Snejanka salads and, for dessert, yogurt with honey and nuts. You can always order a Banitsa or some other Bulgarian specialty in advance as the restaurant also has a catering service.
Bulgarian Products Shop Pilgram
The newest Bulgarian shop in Vienna, Pilgram has won our hearts with its wise and funny advertising video and warm welcome. The young business partners Christiana Marinova and Todor Stefanov came to Vienna to study law, but went through several very difficult years. Driving a taxi to make ends meet, Stefanov had an accident, leading to a long trial, unsupported by his employer, leaving him to struggle through it alone. So he decided to work for himself, and opened the shop with Marinova in the middle of the pandemic. Their strategy was determined by the clientele in the neighborhood.
They work with small producers in Bulgaria and make fresh deliveries every week. Rather than trying to create a Balkan Oriental atmosphere, they simply present the products on well-ordered shelves, with labeling understandable even for foreigners. You can buy the original Bulgarian yogurt, Lyutenitsa, the Bulgarian white cheese (similar to feta) and kashkaval (yellow cheese), rakia (grape brandy), unique Bulgarian tomatoes but also products like martenitsa (a decoration of white and red threads, given in March for health).
An interesting and charming place, WeinSelekt shares its second floor with a small bookstore and library affirming the everlasting love story between wine and the printed word. It is also a stage for thematic evenings with Bulgarian artists, actors and musicians, and a very useful place for picking up a present, as you can buy wine bottles labeled according to the upcoming holidays. Among the rich variety of wines, our insider tip would be the unique Mavrud, a wine made of a grape variety of the same name that grows only in the region.
Dabov Specialty Coffee
One of the place where you find this kind of coffee is at Dabov Specialty Coffee at Josefstädter Straße 5, 1080. The café is small but cute, and in the summer you can enjoy a table outside. Regulars enjoy the friendly atmosphere and good music, but also the stylish packages of coffee reputed to come from the best farms in Africa, Central and South America and India. We recommend their house-made cold brew!
Here, you will not find the typical kitschy brochures of sun and sand. Instead, you might be offered a visit to Rosa Valley, where you can learn about Bulgarian rose oil production, or perhaps to the breathtaking landscapes in the Rodopi Mountain, where legend tells us Orpheus was born and lived. Or perhaps most magical of all, the silent beauty of the Bulgarian Orthodox monasteries, where you can retreat from one world to find another.