I used to despise anything vaguely like a franchise restaurant and would refuse to eat McDonald’s (my rebellious phase), I have since mellowed greatly to certain franchises, but I can’t stand places dominated by them. To me, there is nothing worse than a generic town center that feels classy/hipster because they have a Tim Hortons, but lack nothing local (or street foods).
But, this does not at all mean they are all bad, and one of my favourites in the world is Happy Bar and Grill in Bulgaria. I decided to visit in Varna with our Soviet Tours guide.
I first discovered Happy (as the cool kids call it), when I was living in Varna, and frankly fell in love with the place.
So, what is the story of Happy Bar and Grill? Don’t worry I will get to the food later.
They were so confident communism would last forever in Bulgaria that they spend $350 million on a monument. Alas, communism fell in 1990, and in 1994 the Happy Moryashki Bar in the seaside city of Varna. It was the first sushi-style restaurant in the region, the locals loved it, so they just kept opening more and more, all under the centralized brand.
Nowadays there are 22 Happy’s in Bulgaria, as well as 2 randomly in Barcelona.
So, what is the theme and food of Happy Bar and Grill? It is hard to explain! They claim it as Greek (which I think is just an excuse to make the girls wear toga’s), and there is indeed Greek food, made by sturdy Greek Men, but the lion’s share of the menu could be described as hearty Balkan, with great salads, pizzas, bread, and meat, lots and lots of meat!
They also serve sushi!
The Sushi at Happy Bar and Grill in Bulgaria is actually pretty good, OK it is not exactly Japan, but I found the Tuna Tataki pretty amazing.
Can you drink in Happy Bar and Grill?
Draft beers, lots of decent cocktails, and even nice lemonades! I drink a lot when I am at Happy.
Is Happy expensive?
No, Bulgaria is cheap as hell in general, and when you consider this is on the higher end of the spectrum, two of you can have a great meal, with drinks and dessert, and you will be unlikely to drop more than 50 Euro.
But what is on their menu?
Check out this cheeky little link to find out.
Anything else I should know about Happy Bar and Grill?
They seem to only hire hot waitresses who wear short skirts. As a modern 2019 man I personally find this degrading, but each and all to their own.
The Street Food Guy was happy at Happy Bar and Grill!