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The Best Local Dining Experiences

  • Manastinska Magernitza (Sofia, Bulgaria): Its name translates to "Monastery Kitchen," and the traditional recipes from 161 Bulgarian monasteries executed here translate to culinary bliss. There is plenty on the menu you won't find elsewhere in Bulgaria, like plakovsjka hayverna, peeled garlic mashed with salt, oil, lemon, bread, and walnuts. This is a place to linger over your meal and make plans to return.
  • Kopitoto (St. Konstantin, Bulgaria): "Folk restaurant" might be the best way to describe Kopitoto, located about 10 minutes north of Varna on the road to Sunny Beach. Bulgarian bells and other folk objects are used in the decor and there is a fire pit in the center of the outdoor dining area that provides ashes for the nightly "ember dance" during which dancers stomp around on warm ashes to music. Entertainment aside, you should go to Kopitoto (translation: horse hoof) for traditional Bulgarian food.
  • Bitoraj (Fuzine, Croatia): Bitoraj is a 75-year-old restaurant in a new building, which only enhances the dining experience. The menu offers game dishes available nowhere else in Croatia, plus a huge selection of traditional delicacies. From bear ham to Bitoraj's signature dish of wild boar baked under a lid (peka) on an open fire, all dishes utilize the best ingredients the surrounding woods can offer.
  • Paprika Vendéglo (Budapest, Hungary): Escape the city without leaving Budapest when entering this restaurant. Whether you want to sample wild boar or a more domestic dish, the overflowing portions and excellent service will fill all your needs.
  • Karczma Jana (Olsztyn, Poland): You'd expect to find excellent food in Warsaw, Kraków, and Gdansk (and you do), but in Olsztyn, it's a surprise. Karczma Jana is one of the distinctly Polish restaurants with traditional decor and local specialties done very well.
  • Piwnicka Swidnicka (Wroclaw, Poland): It looks like a classic tourist trap with big wooden tables set right on the main square, but Piwnicka Swidnicka is actually an excellent traditional Polish restaurant. Come for big plates of classic dishes like pork knuckle or beef roulade served with puréed beets.
  • Casa cu Cerbi (Voievodeasa, Moldavia, Romania): As a guest at the House of the Stags in this tiny village near the painted monastery at Sucevit, you'll be treated like family. You'll be served huge portions of soup, bread, meat, and vegetables in the kitchen-cum-dining room of this new-but-traditional wooden house.
  • The Aristocratic Atmosphere at Cafe Pushkin (Moscow, Russia): Plunge into the refined opulence of 19th-century Russia as you spear a bite of suckling pig or sip fine tea from a silver samovar.
  • Fresh Fish at Staraya Tamozhnya (St. Petersburg, Russia): The spare stone arches of this restaurant evoke the building's history as an 18th-century Customs house.
  • Le Colonial (Kosice, Slovakia): Too many Slovak chefs still follow the old recipes by rote, but here they mix it up a bit, to good effect: Fried chicken breast is a staple on every Slovak menu, but here it comes stuffed with tart sheep's cheese and served with freshly cooked string beans. The interior is perfect for a romantic meal.
  • Hisa Franko (near Kobarid, Slovenia): Fans of this renowned family restaurant (where you can bed down for the night in the sumptuous rooms upstairs) come from all over Europe to join chef Ana Ros's latest culinary adventure. Leave the choice of wine to her husband, Valter Kramer, Slovenia's most accomplished sommelier.
  • Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.