Restaurants in Bansko, the popular ski resort town at the foot of the Pirin mountain, offer several local specialties.
In this mountainous region in Southwest Bulgaria, the food is hearty and many of the dishes are made from generation old recipes.
Bansko restaurants offer specialties like Kapama, a slow cooked dish made with several cuts of meat and pickled cabbage.
Other local specialties are hearty stews like Kavarma and appetizers like Katino Meze. Local Bansko pork sausages as well as fresh vegetables and mountain fruits can be found in abundance.
After spending three months in Bansko exploring the local specialties, we’ve put together this guide to traditional Bansko restaurants.
Find what and where to eat in Bansko for traditional Bulgarian food.
Table of contents
- What to Expect At Traditional Restaurants in Bansko
- Bansko Restaurants Guide
- #1- Restaurant Motikata
- #2- Restaurant Krinetz
- #3- Veziova House Mehana
- #4- Mehana “Елите”
- #5- Kristy’s Restaurant – Ресторан Кристи
- #6- Tavern Voyvoda
- #7- Baryakova Mehana
- #8- Mehana Vodenicata – Механа Воденицата (The Mill)
- #9- Chalet Yanitza
- #10- Belizmata Restaurant – Ресторант “Рибарска Среща” (Fisherman’s meet)
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What to Expect At Traditional Restaurants in Bansko
As compared to restaurants in major cities like Sofia or Plovdiv, the restaurants in Bansko have their own unique identity.
Bansko restaurants have a traditional folk-style atmosphere. The food tends to be simple, rustic and bursting with fresh flavors.
As you look to experience traditional restaurants in Bansko, here are some additional considerations to keep in mind.
Location of Restaurants in Bansko – Old Town Versus Gondola
For simplicity purposes, navigating Bansko generally falls into two main areas.
The Old Town area which has narrow cobblestone streets, unique Bulgarian Renaissance houses, and large plazas.
Landmarks such as the City Hall, the main tourist office and the Holy Trinity Church define this part of town.
On the upper side of town is the gondola area, with a gondola station located close to the Pirin Mountains.
During the summer months the gondola area is relatively quiet and the inverse is true during the popular winter ski season.
In this restaurants in Bansko guide, you’ll find eateries located in primarily in these two areas of town.
This guide to Bansko restaurants starts by highlighting restaurants on the upper side of town, near the gondola.
Then traditional restaurants in the middle part of town. Lastly, it ends with some of our favorite Bansko restaurants in the old town.
There is one additional restaurant we’ve also highlighted on the outskirts of town, popular for fresh fish.
Mehanas – Traditional Bulgarian Restaurants
The word Mehana literally translate to a tavern. A mehana in Bulgaria typically refers to traditional restaurants where you will find local Bulgarian food.
Local Bulgarian wines are served, the decor and utensils are traditional, and in some cases local music is played.
In Bansko, they are many mehanas to choose from. In the recent years, Bansko created an association called “Unique Bansko” where some of the Bansko mehanas are featured.
The association aims to keep alive the traditional food and Bansko heritage. They showcase restaurants offering traditional recipes and experiences.
At the mehanas in Bansko, expect a traditional experience with regional foods as well as Bansko rustic decor and style.
Bansko Restaurants Seasonality
Bansko is a popular ski resort and the peak season is during the winter. That’s when the majority of restaurants are open.
The ski season usually starts at the end of November until about the end of March. The busiest time is typically from mid-January to the end of February.
In the Summer, Bansko attracts hikers, mountain bikers and those interested in outdoor activities.
Many restaurants are open and have beautiful and inviting outdoor gardens and patios.
The peak time in the summer is typically from mid-July until the end of August.
From April to June and September to November, which are the shoulder months, some restaurants might be closed.
During the two peak seasons, all the restaurant listed are open, with the exception of one noted.
In between the peak seasons, we recommend checking the hours directly at the restaurants.
We found that some restaurants will have a sign on their door showing their hours or when they will open next.
You cannot rely on the hours noted on Google Maps.
Although Bansko sees many tourists, the town has retained its traditions and charm. If it is your first time in Bansko, there are a few specifics about eating in Bulgarian restaurants worth noting.
First, not all restaurants in Bansko will accept credit cards. Although credit cards are commonly accepted, there are a few restaurants that will only take cash.
We recommend always having enough cash to cover your meals. Typically, the prices are very reasonable and lower than in other European countries.
Dinner for two people, plus wine could run anywhere between 20 BGN to 80 BGN (approx. $11 to $45 USD).
One thing that was particularly annoying was cigarette smoking. Bulgarian smoke a lot and everywhere. At outdoor Bansko restaurants, expect smoke swirling around the tables.
Sometimes, the smell of smoke even permeates into the inside of restaurants. Be prepared for that.
In this Bansko restaurants guide, we’ve mentioned a few places that have great service. But it is not the majority. So go with the flow and manage your expectations.
READ MORE about the 10 Surprising Facts You Need to Know About Eating at Bulgarian Restaurants,
Bansko Restaurants Guide
With the Google Map below, you can locate the following 10 traditional restaurants in Bansko we recommend.
We developed this Bansko restaurant guide during our three month stay in Bansko, while working at Coworking Bansko.
From the months of June until September, we enjoyed eating at a variety of traditional Bansko restaurants.
Explore these restaurants from the gondola station area, all the way to the old town.
With this guide in hand, you will savor the best of the local traditional Bansko food.
Bankso Map of Traditional Bulgarian Restaurants
#1- Restaurant Motikata
At the exterior of the city, on Pirin street, past the gondola and on the hiking trail is where you’ll find this hidden gem.
Restaurant Motikata is popular with locals and was recommended by a friend who lives near the gondola.
Built in a traditional style, the charming exterior has a small river with two bridges in the open courtyard.
With tables underneath trees as well as stunning mountain views, it feels like you are eating in nature.
The garden area is lovely in the warmer months and it can get busy. Book ahead or be prepared to wait.
Flavorful Bansko Food
The local specialties and grilled meats were some of the best we had in Bansko. The oven baked pork knuckle, a house specialty, was particularly outstanding.
Tender, juicy and flavorful, the pork was accompanied with mushrooms, roasted potatoes and butter dill sauce.
Additionally, we also ordered sache with pork, bacon, peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes and potatoes. Like the pork knuckle, it was very tasty and copious.
Along with the meal, we enjoyed good Bulgarian house wine and finished off with a delightful banitsa Turkish delight dessert.
This Bansko restaurant is a hike from the center of town and while it may seem out of the way, it is worth the trek. You’ll particularly enjoy the walk back as you digest the ample portions.
RELATED: Read more about Bansko food in our Bulgarian Food Guide: What to Know and Love
Best Restaurant in Bansko for Seating in Nature
Address: Pirin Street, Bansko
Hours: Open Everyday from 10:00 am – 12:00 midnight
Price: Main dishes range from 12 BGN to 18 BGN (approx $6.70 to $ 10.14)
Pro Tip: Note that this restaurant is cash only.
#2- Restaurant Krinetz
At the top end of Bansko, near the St Ivan Rilski hotel is the Krinetz dam or reservoir.
Popular with locals, Restaurant Krinetz, next to the dam, is known for serving trout, carp and other local Bulgarian dishes.
Getting to the restaurant is a bit of a hike. From the gondola area, it takes about 20 minutes walking up hill in the direction of St Ivan Rilski hotel.
Once you get to the top, you take a dirt road to the restaurant. Alternatively, you can drive or take a taxi.
Getting to the restaurant is well worth the effort. The outdoor seating is spacious with superb views of the mountains.
Our recommendation is to go for dinner and enjoy the brilliant colors of the sunset against the backdrop of the Pirin mountains.
Fresh River Fish
The food at restaurant Krinetz is simple and very reasonably priced. Fresh trout and carp from the dam are the two fish specialties you want to have.
On the menu you’ll also find fresh salads, grilled meats and vegetables as well as seasonal desserts.
We had dinner at the restaurant several times and enjoyed every dish we ordered. The fish is prepared either grilled or fried.
The salads are exceptionally fresh and everything is tasty. For dessert, get the Bulgarian yogurt with sweet mountain blueberries.
Best Restaurant in Bansko for Best Sunset Views and Fish
Address: St. Ivan, Bansko
Hours: Open Everyday from 10:00 am – 11:00 pm
Price: Trout ranges from 5 BGN to 7 BGN (approx $2.82 to $3.94). Trout, salad and potatoes dinner for two approx 25 BGN ($14.08 USD)
Pro Tip: The restaurant can get busy with locals. In the peak season, book ahead.
#3- Veziova House Mehana
This rustic looking restaurant with a cozy patio caught our eyes while walking down Pirin Street towards the Old Town.
Located on the upper side of town, Veziova House Mehana is a short walk from the gondola station.
A member of “Unique Bansko” association, Veziova House is noted as one of the best Bansko restaurants for traditional Bulgarian food.
Additionally, the Veziova House is also a small charming hotel, with a sauna, where you can unwind after a day of hiking or skiing.
The restaurant’s patio is shielded away from the bustle of Pirin street. And, the interior courtyard is a wonderful setting to enjoy a meal outdoors. In addition, the restaurant also has a spacious indoor dining area.
Tasty Traditional Bulgarian Food
To go along with delightful homemade red wine, we ordered a shopska salad to start and shared Kapama, one of the most traditional dishes from Bansko.
Like other restaurants in Bansko, the portions are quite abundant. Plan on sharing or go hungry.
The Kapama with chicken, pork, veal, sausage cooked in a traditional pot with rice and cabbage was excellent. Simple and full of flavor, we savored every bite.
A traditional Bulgarian pancake with local honey was the perfect treat to end our meal. Also worth mentioning is the friendly staff.
Our server spoke some English and guided us to the local specialties. She was attentive throughout.
Best Traditional Hotel-Restaurant in Bansko
Address: Pirin Str. 79, Bansko
Hours: Open Everyday from 8:00 am – 12:00 midnight
Price: The price of the Kapama specialty was 13.5 BGN (approx $7.61 USD)
Pro Tip: Centrally located, consider booking a stay Veziova House especially if in Banko for just a few days.
#4- Mehana “Елите”
Mehana “Елите” is a really simple tavern located in the residential part of of the upper town, close to the gondola station.
This mehana became our favorite lunch spot after we discovered it while walking to the gym early one morning.
On the way back, we would find Rayna, the owner, seated outside watching the morning unfold.
Her friendly demeanor led us to ask for the menu and hours. Although her English is limited, she happily showed us the menu and told us what she was preparing for lunch that day.
The best way to find the restaurant is to look for the big blackboard outside with Bulgarian food words written on it.
A small set of stairs leads you down to the dining room which is in her house. On the inside, are three tables with wood benches.
The decor is traditional Bulgarian. On one side of the room is a display of wool socks and hats that Rayna handknits for sale.
Rayna’s Homemade Food
Rayna offers a very simple menu. Ask her for an English menu and she will guide you along as she uses a Bulgarian menu, with the same dishes.
You will be able to see the translation of the food.
She offers made to order salads, grilled meats and desserts. Depending on the day, she also has special soups, dishes and of course home made wine.
The food is really fresh and tasty. Not all the menu items are available all the time and she will always let you know what she can offer that day.
Our favorite was the shopska salad, one of the best we had in Bulgaria.
Rayna also makes amazing grilled pork chops and sausages. And she has refreshing soups like the traditional tarator soup, a cucumber and yogurt based soup.
The desserts are particularly outstanding. We enjoyed banitsa made like a rice pudding, which was not too sweet and simply excellent.
For homemade food at a great value, go to Rayna’s home cooking restaurant.
Best Restaurant in Bansko for Home Made Lunch
Address: ul. “Tsar Ivan Asen II-ri”, 2770 кв. Новия град, Bansko, Bulgaria
Hours: Open for lunch (12:00 pm – 2:00 pm) almost everyday, check if the blackboard is out.
Price: Main dishes range from 3BGN – 6 BGN (approx. $1.70 to $3.40 USD).
Pro Tip: If you are looking for a wool hat or socks, Rayna has amazing and reasonably priced traditional hand knitted items.
#5- Kristy’s Restaurant – Ресторан Кристи
This unpretentious restaurant is hard to find because the name on the restaurant is in Bulgarian and not the translated “Kristy’s”. It is located in the upper area of town across a deli store.
We heard about the restaurant from our landlord when we first moved to Bansko. The place is popular with locals and you’ll seldom see tourists.
Kristy’s has two rooms with traditional Bulgarian decor. The first large room is the main space you’ll walk into. And the back room is open and partially outdoors.
Even though the large room in the front was not used when we visited, it had an overpowering smell of cigarette smoke.
Head towards the back to the outdoor backyard for a better dining experience.
During our visit, we had no problem communicating in English with the waiters.
Our first waitress, who we guessed was the owner’s daughter, was very friendly and helpful to explain the local food specialties.
This family owned restaurant makes homemade traditional Bulgarian food. The food is made to order and depending on the season and local produce, not every dish will be available.
We found all the dishes we tried fresh and well prepared. The lutenitsa was one of our favorites. The chicken kavarma, delicious and the guyvech, similar to a French cheese souffle was surprisingly excellent.
All the dishes are made to order and presented in a traditional earthenware pottery. Overall the food is of high quality and authentic.
Our total meal with two appetizers, two dishes, one extra side-dish and a carafe of wine was only 27 BGN (approx. $15 USD)
While Kristy’s typically accepts credit cards, the credit card machine was not surprisingly working during our visits. Plan to have enough cash on hand to pay for your meals.
Best Restaurant in Bansko for Local Food
Address: ul. “Todor Kableshkov” 25, 2770 кв. Новия град, Bansko, Bulgaria
Hours: Open for dinner everyday (5:00 pm – 12:00 am)
Price: Main dishes range from 5BGN – 20 BGN (approx. $1.70 to $11.20 USD).
Pro Tip: Order the house wine. At our first dinner at Kristy’s, also our first day in Bansko, we were not quite sure about trying housewine. However, we took our friendly waitress recommendation and found the house wine smooth and easy to drink.
#6- Tavern Voyvoda
Located about midway between the old town and the gondola area is Mehana Voyvoda. You can’t miss the impressive wooden sign above the tiled roof.
The large enclosed courtyard with outdoor tables is particularly inviting during the warm months.
On the inside, the decor is traditional and the atmosphere, cozy.
Exceptional Grilled Meats
Grilled meats and barbecue is the main specialty at this Bansko restaurant. Though the menu also features vegetarian dishes and good traditional Bulgarian food.
After passing by several times and being tempted by meat grilling outdoor, we finally stopped in for dinner one evening.
With our friends Matt and Lisa from Ready Jet Roam, we opted for the meat dishes. Both Matt and Lisa travel while on the keto diet.
We could not believe the massive freshly grilled meat skewers or shashlik that we received. Even though we were only four, the generous portions were enough to feed at least six people.
Presented in a traditional manner, the skewer-like swords had cuts of chicken, pork, lamb, beef and vegetables. Underneath the skewers were more vegetables and grilled potatoes.
To go with our meal, we brought a bottle of wine from Melnik, the nearby wine region known for Broadleaf Melnik wines. Even though the restaurant is not BYOB, they did, after much persuasion, open the wine for us.
The meat was excellent and the staff friendly. Together with the great outdoor seating made, this is a great spot for a lovely evening.
Best Restaurant in Bansko Grilled Meats
Address: Pirin Street 58, Bansko 2770
Hours: Open Everyday from 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
Price: Grilled meats on skewers for four about 100 BGN (approx $56.31)
Pro Tip: The restaurant offers “to-go” boxes which are perfect for the generous portions. Don’t hesitate to get one.
#7- Baryakova Mehana
Baryakova Mehana is one of the oldest and most traditional mehana’s in the city. It is housed in a large and impressive traditional Bulgarian Bansko house in the heart of the Old Town.
During our visit, we sat in one of the cozy verandas on the second level which had lush flowers all around.
The decor is traditional but not as rustic as some of the other Bansko restaurants. The outdoor views from the second floor as well as the flowers and nature creates a relaxing atmosphere.
During the winter time, the restaurant has a large wood burning fireplace. They host traditional Bulgarian dancers and musicians during the Holiday season.
Traditional Bansko Oven Specialties
Baryakova is a member of the “Unique Bansko” association. On their menu, they offer many Bansko specialties and in particular oven baked specialties.
During our visit, we ordered several dishes and house wine to share.
We had a shepherd’s salad to start. The oven baked beans were our tastiest appetizer, made with a flavorful tomato sauce and local Bulgarian beans.
We also enjoyed a warm walnut cheese dipped into traditional Bulgarian honey. The restaurant also makes their own bread and has a large selection of Bulgarian meat dishes.
On the menu you’ll find an extensive list of Bansko foods and other Pirin regional specialties. This is a great restaurant to try many different traditional Bulgarian dishes.
Best Restaurant in Bansko for Beautiful Traditional Setting
Address: ul. “Velyan Ognev” 3, 2770 кв. Стария град, Bansko
Hours: Open Everyday from 12:00 pm – 12:00 midnight
Price: Main dishes range from 15 BGN to 30 BGN (approx $6.70 to $ 10.14)
Pro Tip: Make sure to seat in the upper verandas in the restaurant and enjoy a pleasant dinner outdoors.
#8- Mehana Vodenicata – Механа Воденицата (The Mill)
Mehana Vodenicata is located near Chalet Yanitza, a short walk from the main plaza. The entrance on the side street leads to a large interior patio with comfortable outdoor seating.
Inside, the decor is a mix of wood and stones, with elegant tablecloths and cushions. This is another restaurant that is part of the “Unique Bansko” association.
According to the Unique Bansko website, they have been awarded “best restaurant of the year.”
Elevated Traditional Bulgarian Food
The restaurant features a wide range of traditional Bulgarian dishes. The lutenitsa was our favorite from all the Bansko restaurants, ranking as high as the one from Kristy’s.
The shopska salad was beautifully presented with fresh and delicious tomatoes. We also enjoyed a tasty shashlik or chicken skewer. The meat was perfectly grilled, fresh and firm.
This restaurant is a great place to have an upscale experience in Bansko over traditional Bulgarian food. Expect prices to be also on the upper side.
Best Restaurant in Bansko for Elevated Bulgarian Food
Address: pl. “Nikola Y. Vaptsarov” 1, 2770 кв. Стария град, Bansko, Bulgaria
Hours: Open Everyday from 8:00 am – 12:00 midnight
Price: Main dishes range from 10 BGN to 30BGN (approx $5 to $17 USD)
Pro Tip: This is a great restaurant in Bansko to celebrate special occasions or plan a romantic dinner.
#9- Chalet Yanitza
If you are disappointed with the service in Bulgarian restaurants, Chalet Yanitza will win you over.
This simple family hotel restaurant is located in the center of town, a block from the main plaza. With a small and cozy outdoor seating, Chalet Yanitza and the friendly “Garfield-like” cat welcomes you.
Ivan and Masha the owners, will welcome you warmly and invite you to take a place wherever you want.
They both speak English and will be happy to help you with any questions you may have about the menu.
You will feel at home as soon as you seat down.
Simple Menu and Food
The menu at Chalet Yanitza has a few traditional Bulgarian dish options. They also have daily specials including soups, appetizers, main dishes and desserts .
The cuisine is simple and home made. We tried several dishes including the generous shopska salad, moussaka and sache.
One of our favorite dishes was a homemade yogurt and roasted pepper appetizer. Fresh, spicy and smooth in texture, we could not stop eating it.
The portions are generous and prices are a steal. This is the perfect spot for a homey experience in the old town of Bansko.
Best Restaurant in Bansko for Friendly Service
Address: ul. “Ivan Vazov” 5, 2770 кв. Стария град, Bansko, Bulgaria
Hours: Open for everyday (5:00 pm – 12am)
Price: Main dishes range from 4BGN – 6BGN (approx. $2.25 to $3.5 USD).
Pro Tips: Chalet Yanitza also offer food to go. If you are not in the mood to cook, take home a prepared dish at a reasonable price.
Accommodations: Chalet Yanitza also offers cozy rooms and studios for short and medium term rentals at a great value. A daily breakfast is included and you can enjoy the restaurant at your convenience.
#10- Belizmata Restaurant – Ресторант “Рибарска Среща” (Fisherman’s meet)
With the natural beauty around, hiking the Pirin mountain is a popular activity.
Behind Saint George Palace hotel on the upper side of town on the right side from gondola is Belizmata Dam and an adjoining restaurant.
This restaurant is a popular place to end a hike and relax over a meal and drinks. It is typically closed in the winter months.
The atmosphere is rustic, and wooden tables and benches underneath umbrellas are scattered on the open grounds.
Just beyond the tables is a large size dam where you can fish for trout, carp or mullet. If you are so lucky to catch some fish, the restaurant will cook your fresh catch for you.
Freshly Caught Fish
The menu is simple and consists of fresh fish, grilled meats and vegetables as well as traditional Bulgarian salads. You also find a selection of local wine and beer.
The friendly staff speaks some English and the menu is translated in both Bulgarian and English.
Be aware that the service is rather slow. At this restaurant, you want to take your time and enjoy the beautiful dam and mountain views in the background.
Fortunately, the dishes are freshly made per order and they are very tasty.
We had salads which were full of flavor and made with homegrown vegetables.
The trout was fresh and firm and we enjoyed it grilled.
Overall, the food is simple and tasty. Even though the restaurant is a little outside of town, it is well worth the walk for the food and relaxed atmosphere.
Best Restaurant in Bansko to Catch Your Fish
Address: улица “Белизмата”, 2770, Bansko
Hours: Open Everyday in the Summer from 11:00 am – 9:00 pm
Price: Main dishes range from 10 BGN to 18 BGN (approx $5.63 to $ 10.14)
Pro Tip: Ask for a fishing rod and reel in you own fresh catch
Have you been to Bansko? What restaurants in Bansko would your recommend for authentic Bulgarian food?
Please share your comments below.
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Claire is a culinary explorer, digital nomad and engineer brain behind Authentic Food Quest. Together with her partner, Rosemary, they created Authentic Food Quest to help people find the best local food on their travels. For over 5 years they have eaten their way through South America, Southeast Asia, Europe, and North America while sharing the best local food experiences on their website. Authentic Food Quest has been featured on top publications such as Huffington Post, Business Insider, and Honest Cooking. Claire and Rosemary are also authors of Authentic Food Quest Argentina and Authentic Food Quest Peru, available on Amazon.