mcchowhound | Jan 11, 200309:51 PM     1

I was intrigued by the mention of this place a few days ago on the Chowhound board. A Bulgarian restaurant in the middle of downtown Oakland seemed irresistable. Alas, not so.

Bulgaria at Night "occurs" from Thursday through Saturday nights when a large mall-ish pasta lunch restaurant is taken over by a Bulgarian cook for dinner. The address is on 12th St., just west of Broadway, but I think it would be hard to find from there. The real entrance is in the pedestrian mall (which would be 13th St. if there were one) in the middle of a large group of office buildings.

The room is bright and plastic, as might be expected (though they could help it by turning down the lights.) Two or three tables of other diners were huddled in the shadows against the back wall when we got there Friday night at 7:30. All were speaking a language which we took to be Bulgarian.

The waiter was friendly, but didn't speak much English. Another good sign. The menu had a number of Bulgarian specialties. We ordered Skopje (sp.?) salad - a traditional Bulgarian dish with feta cheese, a pork "File," (usually thin pork rolled in feta and caraway seeds) and the mixed grill. The "feta" seemed like a particularly bland Wisconsin Swiss - not even remotely sour. There was no noticeable seasoning in anything. The meat was O.K. - big portions ($16.95 and $15.95) with decent french fries - but nothing you would drive to downtown Oakland in the rain for. There was a nice Baklava for dessert, and the wine list has some good Bulgarian reds. There was also live music - a group of four people in what might be traditional rural Bulgarian outfits playing and singing something that was probably authentic.

The idea of this place is great. The people seemed a bit surprised that we were there - not extravagantly welcoming, but certainly nice and helpful enough. I would be really happy if someone else goes at another time and finds the food to be better. It's certainly possible that we went on the chef's night out. Please post if you know more.

One last thing: an earlier post has a link to a site which describes the restaurant but gives the wrong telephone number. The correct one is (510) 834-7363. Given that they seemed to have about fifty tables, you probably won't need a reservation.

Want to stay up to date with this post? Sign Up Now ›

More from Chowhound

9 Veggies You Can Grow in a Fall Garden & Why It Pays to Be a Late Bloomer
Food News

9 Veggies You Can Grow in a Fall Garden & Why It Pays to Be a Late Bloomer

by Anna Hecht | Planning on tending a fall garden? Didn't even know you could do that? Here are the best things to...

13 Essential Apple Recipes for Fall
Recipe Round-Ups

13 Essential Apple Recipes for Fall

by Chowhound Editors | There are so many things to love about autumn rolling around again, especially apple season. Make...

Ready, Set, Watch: 'The Great British Baking Show' Is Back This Week
Food Trends

Ready, Set, Watch: 'The Great British Baking Show' Is Back This Week

by Jen Wheeler | In this tumultuous year of oh Lord 2020, many of us are looking for any silver linings we can find...

Star Gifts for Fans of 'The Great British Baking Show'

Star Gifts for Fans of 'The Great British Baking Show'

by Jen Wheeler | If you know a fan of The Great British Baking Show (aka, GBBS, GBBO, or The Great British Bake Off...

Get fresh food news delivered to your inbox

Sign up for our newsletter to receive the latest tips, tricks, recipes and more, sent twice a week.