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Sofia's dining scene is wonderful. You can choose between the fine-dining atmosphere of evocative-sounding places like Beyond the Alley, Behind the Cupboard (Sofia's best restaurant) and House with the Clock (located in the pretty 19th-century villa at 15 Moskovska St., right next to the British Embassy). Or, if you're in a more laid-back mood, hang out in trendy bar-restaurants like Motto and watch the city's media and model types schmooze, or go rustic for around 5€ ($6.35) at any number of unpretentious places that fill up in the evenings with students and office workers.

Restaurants that serve Bulgarian food are generally speaking superior to "foreign" cuisine types (with the exception of Turkish, Greek, or Armenian restaurants, like the excellent Egur Egur, where cuisine is very similar to Bulgarian). If you feel like Italian, La Capaninna, on Narodno Subranie Square (next door to Radisson SAS, with same lovely parliament views; tel. 02/980 4438), is a very good alfresco option, as is the more cafe-style Club Lavazza at 13 Vitosha Blvd. (tel. 02/987-3437) -- the latter is also the best place in town for a coffee (Lavazza, of course), with plenty of cigar-chomping bad boys to make it feel like a truly authentic Italian joint. If you're in the mood for Indian, Taj Mahal, Ulitsa 11-i August 11, is rated the best (tel. 02/987 3632), though newcomer Awadh, 41 Cherkovna, is making real inroads (tel. 02/943 3001). Cozy L'Etranger, 78 Tsar Simeon St. (tel. 983 1417), is the city's best French bistro, in one of Sofia's most cosmopolitan areas, but still a wonderfully intimate affair with only seven tables personally tended by owners Oliver and Mitana. Tambuktu, 10 Aksakov St. (tel. 02/988 1234), a chain specializing in fish dishes, is also highly rated by locals, though the garish signage did not encourage exploration on our part.

With the exception of Pod Lipite and Awadh, all the restaurants listed here are within walking distance of the hotels reviewed above, though you might want to take a taxi at night rather than risk getting lost. And don't forget to carry cash if credit cards aren't listed -- given how inexpensive dining is at these places, it needn't be much.

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.