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Chicago Bursting With Bulgarians

By Scott Smith in Food on Oct 3, 2006 3:32PM

It’s a well-known fact that Chicago has the largest Polish population of any city outside of Warsaw. But Gridskipper reminds us that it’s also the city with the largest Bulgarian 2006_10_bulgarians.jpgpopulation outside of Bulgaria.

The Encyclopedia of Chicago says that Bulgarian writer Aleko Konstantinov’s book Do Chikago i nazad (or To Chicago and Back) was instrumental in the wave of Bulgarian immigration in the 1870s. Currently, the unofficial estimates of the Bulgarian community put the count at about 20,000 to 30,000.

For Bulgarian food, Gridskipper mentions Café Florida in the city as well as the inaptly-named Sofia In Chicago and Café Mirage in nearby Schiller Park. Groceries with Bulgarian food include Lincoln Quality Meat Market at Giddings and Lincoln, Beograd Meat Market on Irving Park and Balkan Flavor at Irving Park and Bernard. has a list of Bulgarian restaurants, including Chicago By Night on Belmont and Caffe at Adriana on Wilson.

Local Bulgarian bands include Kolorit Orchestra and Orchestra Izgrev. Apparently, it’s a rule that all Bulgarian bands must include four guys and one brunette earth-mother type. For a primer on traditional Bulgarian music, check out this book from the University of Chicago Press.

For your fix of Bulgarian news and events, Bulgaria is the largest weekly newspaper published here in Chicago with a circulation of 15,000. 21st Century Bulgaria is another weekly with an article this week on how to get cheap wine. Bulgaria TV can be seen at 10 p.m. on Comcast Cable channel 248.

For more on Chicago’s Bulgarian culture, consider a visit to the Bulgarian Cultural Center of Chicago at 3756 W. Irving Park. Call 773-583-3521 for hours.

Bulgarian flag courtesy of ITA's Flags of all Countries.