Ve(g)liko Tarnovo

(Written in September 2010)

Veliko Tarnovo is the lovely crumbling medieval Bulgarian capital. It has far fewer dining options than Sofia, but a large student population and steady tourist traffic keeps things diverse.

Ego Pizza (2 locations: 17 Ul. Nezavisimost & Slaveikov Square)

This trendy place has a very extensive menu with lots of diverse salads, some with cheese and/or meat, but many without. A vegan meal is easy to peice together. The “Grilled Vegetables” listed as an appetizer are actually enough for a good meal for one or a meal for two with salads. Their “singed” bread is esentially wood-fired pizza dough, and delicious. A big basket will cost about $1.50USD. Watch out for the fruit salad on the dessert menu, which comes burried under a mountain of whipped cream.

Vehetarian options abound, with lots of vehetarian pizza options, pasts choices and a few baked vegetable dishes. Their is also an extensive beer, wine &  spirits selection. The location on Nezavisimost feels more upscale and has several tables on a balcony overlooking the beautiful old-town. The Slaveikov Square location is more laid back and pub-like.

Shtastlivetsa (79 Ul. Stefan Stambolov)

Widely regarded as “the best” restaurant in VT, this spot is certainly the swankiest eatery and town and has the largest menu. Seating inside can be a little stuffy, but a few downstairs tables offer lovely fews from the glassed-in porch. Outside seating is along the busy-ish main street but surrounded by pretty flower boxes.

Lots of huge and creative salads, though most contain cheese. They offer a vegan “gyuvech” on the menu which is delcious and a bit like shepard’s pie. Their are lots of vegetarian options on offer and good quality pizzas made from scratch. They offer whole wheat crust on request and would probably be happy to do a pizza without cheese,if you ask.

Mehana Gurko (33 Ul. Gurko)

By far the most atmospheric place in town to have a relaxed lunch or dinner. Set away from the main street and overlooking the river and old-town, this charming tradition tavern feels like it has changed little for decades. Their food is very traditional and simple but very fresh.

Vegetarian and vegan options are limited but can be pieced together from their salads, baked vegetables, egg-dishes, and sides. Very reasonable pricing, friendly staff, fresh veggies and ambiance more than make up for the limited menu. This was our favorite VT haunt.

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