Eating a Keto Diet in Bulgaria is easier than anywhere we have visited. And we’ve spent time all over Bulgaria!
Salads and grilled meat are on every menu in every restaurant in Bulgaria making Bulgaria travel keto diet nirvana!
About Bulgarian Cuisine
Bulgaria’s culture is an amalgamation of its neighbors and the various empires that have occupied it over history.
And it’s history, aside from those various occupations, is dominated by the fact that it’s on the major land trade route between Europe and the middle and far east.
Bulgarian cuisine is a product of that culture and history.
Many people think of Bulgaria as a Slavic or eastern European culture. But in fact it’s far more of a Mediterranean culture. For example, Bulgarian cuisine shares a number of dishes with neighboring Turkish and Greek cuisine. Bulgarian brine cheese (similar to Greek feta) is used in just about every Bulgarian salad. And, as in those countries, keto diet staple olive oil plays a prominent role in nearly every Bulgarian meal.
Because it’s on the historic trade route and thanks to former Ottoman domination, Bulgarian cuisine also shares several dishes with the Middle Eastern and even Indian cuisine including moussaka, kyufte and shish.
As you can see, not every dish in Bulgarian cuisine is keto diet friendly. Far from it. For example, the traditional breakfast pastry is called banitsa and is definitely a keto diet no-no. But we’ve got tons of other suggestions on eating breakfast on a travel keto diet no matter where you are in the world!
But unlike in Thailand, Vietnam and Malaysia, it’s always very easy to find keto diet foods on every menu in Bulgaria.
Background on Our Eating Keto
When we decided to become digital nomads, one of the first things we resolved to do was lose weight so we could travel more comfortably and pack lighter.
We lost 30 pounds each eating a keto diet and have kept that weight off while traveling the world full time on our travel keto diet.
We talk in detail about the whys and hows of our keto journey here.
Keto Diet in Bulgaria: So Much Salad and Grilled Meat!!
You’ll never go hungry eating a keto diet in Bulgaria. Every menu is chock full of keto diet friendly dishes.
But we still brought along our favorite keto snacks come from Genius Gourmet! They have amazing keto snack chips that travel very well!
Just about every restaurant in Bulgaria offers shopska salad – it’s practically the national dish of Bulgaria.
Bulgarian shopska salad is similar to a Greek salad. It’s a big pile of chopped fresh summer tomatoes and cucumbers with a few green peppers and onions sprinkled in.
But what makes a shopska a shopska is the pile of Bulgarian brine cheese (similar to feta) on top of the saled.
Pour a healthy portion of olive oil on one of these and you have a perfect keto diet starter – or entire meal!
Bulgarian Yogurt and Yogurt Soup
As in other Balkan countries yogurt is a staple in Bulgaria.
Believe it or not, Bulgarian yogurt is even more bitter than Greek yogurt! In fact, the literal translation of the Bulgarian word for yogurt is ‘sour milk.’
Another staple of Bulgarian food (especially in summer) is the cold soup tarator which is made from Bulgarian Yogurt.
But Bulgarian yogurt and tarator yogurt soup are only moderately keto diet friendly. And we never did get used to the taste. But it’s still an ok travel keto diet food you will find in nearly every Bulgarian restaurant.
Shopska Cheese Clay Pot
Clay pots are common in traditional Bulgarian restaurants. But as with all clay pot dishes on the keto diet you have to be very careful about what ends up in them. Every cuisine in the world seems to want to fill them with potatoes, for example.
One of my personal favorite keto friendly dishes in Bulgaria is the Shopska Cheese Clay Pot. Also called gyuvetch (the name of the pot it is served in), what we are talking about here is vegetables, meat and cheese and oil baked in a clay pot with an egg cooked on top in the last stage of preparation.
Although Lisa thought is was too tangy and salty, I thought it was delicious. Either way it’s 100% keto diet friendly.
Meat, Meat, Meat!
Main courses in Bulgaria are all about meat. Wonderful, beautiful keto diet friendly meat!
Unlike many meat-centric cuisines, deep-frying meat with breading is not common in Bulgaria (hallelujah!). Figuring out what a country calls ‘breading’ is number 1 of our 7 Tips and Hacks for Eating at Restaurants on the Keto Diet Anywhere in the World.
In Bulgaria meat is grilled! Especially different kinds of sausages, pork veal and lamb. Fish and chicken are also widely available.
In winter, main courses in Bulgaria are very typically water-based stews, either vegetarian or with lamb, goat meat, veal, chicken or pork. Be keto careful with these, though, as they may contain keto-unfriendly thickeners.
Best in our opinion to just stick with the wide variety of grilled meats available.
You can order grilled meat shish style (cooked on skewers) or on a platter or board. You can order pork, veal, lamb, beef or chicken…or a combination.
Pork cheek is one of our favorites. So is simply grilled sausage. Keto superfood grilled or fried chicken wings are also on offer in many restaurants.
But our favorite Bulgarian keto dish of all is the sache.
Sache is basically a giant pile of meat and vegetables cooked on a hot stone or hot iron plate which is placed in the middle of your table while it’s still sizzling and cooking. Again, you can order pork, chicken, veal or – best of all – mixed. Depending on the region of Bulgaria you’ll also get local sausage thrown in the mixed sache.
This is the PERFECT Bulgarian keto diet meal to share. We eat it over and over and over again in Bulgaria.
Eating Keto Diet in Bulgaria: Our Restaurant Recommendations
We managed to stick to our keto diet all over Bulgaria. You can check out our keto friendly restaurant suggestions for:
A Word About Keto Diet Lunch in Bulgaria
In the best Mediterranean tradition, meals in Bulgarian restaurants tend to be leisurely affairs. Dinners can last hours. And even lunch sometimes takes a couple of hours.
So if you are looking for a ‘fast’ lunch in Bulgaria we recommend looking for Doner Kebab stalls.
It still won’t be fast – expect to wait 10 to 20 minutes to get your doner kebab. But we ordered a portion of doner kebab chicken with cucumber/tomato salad all over Bulgaria when we wanted a quick lunch.
Just add some olive oil and it’s a quick(er) and very keto Bulgarian lunch!
Be sure to check out our 7 Tips and Hacks for Eating at Restaurants on the Keto Diet Anywhere in the World
Bottom Line – Eating Keto Diet in Bulgaria
We love Bulgaria.
A big part of our positive experience there is being able to stick (mostly!) to our keto diet both in our flat and at any restaurant.
We are very nearly ready to crown Bulgaria the most keto friendly country on the planet!!
More Keto Diet Tips
Please be sure to check out our main Travel Keto Diet page for more keto diet tips and hacks!
Just wanted to chime in and say: I live in Bulgaria, and I 100% agree with your conclusion that it’s a super-friendly country for Keto!
Not only are the salads everywhere, but they rarely add the dressing to your salad. You have olive oil (or sometimes sunflower oil) and vinegar at the table, so you can add your own.
The one thing that I find challenging regarding keto here is wine! Easy to avoid, sure, but it’s so cheap and good. 🙂
Cheers, and happy trails!
Greatt reading your blog