First, there is a riddle: you have to find your way inside. Frankly, we failed on our first attempt. Walking along Tsar Samuil Street, you would see a door with Кара Иван sign above. Next to the door there is a passage leading inside the building. Naturally, you would try the door, right? Well, the obvious is not always the correct choice. The door is locked, and it looks like permanently. The passage is what you are really looking for. I am not sure if this is a seasonal set up during warmer months, or it works like this year around.
Once you conquered the entrance blues, you will be rewarded with a delicious dinner. Traditional Bulgarian, or rustic, or home cooked – all these words apply to the type of dishes served in this restaurant. It is not a refined highbrow cuisine, but heartily cooked full of flavors rich meal that one would eat after a long day of hard work.
We tried many different dishes. Honestly, I can not single out my favorite. From famous Shopska salad to various kebabs, to expertly cooked pork, to desserts – I liked them all. Word of advice: some portions are very generous. Sometimes, you can guess the size from the description where they mention weight. However, if you are like me and a gargantuan amount of food is not your cup of tea, better to consult with your waiter.
Кара Иван offers a selection of Bulgarian wines. We sampled some with good results. They do worth a try since local wines are somewhat underrated and not very well-known. Oh, and check the long list of rakias too.
The majority of visitors are locals with an occasional couple of tourists. Friday nights are the busiest times with tables pulled together, families or friends come in larger groups and spend a joyful time eating, talking, laughing.