Ashurbanipal is one of my absolute favorite international food restaurants in Sofia. An Iraqi place in the area of Jenski Pazar (Ladies market), it still remains unnoticed by the passers-by unless they know where it is – mainly because it looks kind of closed from the outside.
The clients are often people who have somehow heard about the restaurant from friends or foreigners who live in Bulgaria (still a mystery to me how they know about it). Ashurbanipal is founded and run to this day by Freddy – the most friendly and inspiring Iraqi man, who has been living in Bulgaria for more than 10 years.
Do not be surprised by the lack of menus – be patient and Freddy will come and tell you what dishes they have for the day – there are always some vegetarian and vegan options. A second surprise might come when you order – you will be called to the small bar to pick up your food, starting with salad – wait – you probably have not ordered that? Well, here salad, bread and tea are free of charge, as a compliment from Freddy to his guests. My recommendation is not to miss the biryani rice, as it is one of the tastiest things I have ever tried.
Ashurbanipal is a bit small and might be closed in some unexpected hours, so make sure you call to check and reserve a table. Do not expect anything fancy – it is the opposite, but the magnificent food is definitely worth your visit.