For lunch on Saturday, I went to a Bulgarian restaurant in Madrid that a friend had highly recommended to me. By coincidence, it was Mother’s Day in Bulgaria, and International Women’s Day. So we had much to celebrate.
One of my friends who was with us, Kaloyan, is originally from Bulgaria and said “Guys, I seriously feel like I’m in Bulgaria right now.” The décor, the music (albeit outdated), the company and the food were such vivid replicas of a typical Bulgarian tavern, that all of us forgot we were in Madrid throughout the entire lunch. In fact, a group of Bulgarian women dining next to us started dancing in circles after they ate. I felt like I had joined in on a Bulgarian wedding.
As it was a gorgeous and sunny day, we ordered Bulgarian beer, Kamenitza, which came casually in cans, and Shopksa salad, which reminded me of Greek salad; it had freshly diced tomatoes, cucumbers, green bell peppers, onions, parsley and heaps of fetta cheese. My friend Edison ordered a brothy and delicious lamb soup, and for the table we ordered Bulgarian bread, one sprinkled with fetta cheese and one without. The bread was really incredible.
I must admit, I didn’t even take a look at the menu. Since my friend is from Bulgaria, and the waiter too, their recommendations were more than trustworthy for me. So if you don’t know what to order, go ahead and do as we did.
For the main course, we each got our own, intimidatingly huge Parrilla Mixta (grilled meat platter). It came with different types of Bulgarian sausage, shish kebab (skewered meat), hamburger patty, white and red bean salad, and fresh cabbage salad. It was also served with a delicious red bell pepper sauce. This may be obvious, but we had to take some home.
Now, here comes the best part. Dessert! Yes, we still had room for dessert, and we ordered three different kinds to share: Bulgarian Tarta (heaven), Baklava (homemade puff pastry filled with nuts and honey) and Tikvenik (homemade puff pastry filled with pumpkin). I only have photos of the latter two because my friends devoured the Bulgarian Tarta before I had the chance to snap a photo. All of the desserts were incredible, especially the Tarta and the Baklava.
To top it all off, our kind waiter gave us shots on the house!
Taberna Bulgara is a bit of a journey from the center of Madrid, but well worth it. Take metro line 1 to Puente de Vallecas (a 15-min ride from Sol), and walk up Avenida Peña Prieta for a good ten minutes and you’ll see it. And with all the food we ate, we paid 20E each.