Manzo: if you're on a meat diet
Accidentally or not, the Manzo Restaurant (meaning "beef" in Italian) is occupying a space once built for fruit and vegetables. The place offers several varieties of focaccia, three calzones and several types of pasta. And here we end with the dough. Because the main character in the menu is meat.
The design here is clearly in the style of the 1970s and in this case, convenience did not fall victim to the communist-era esthetics, as sometimes happens. The vibe is channelling a New York bistro, and while entering, expectations are growing not so much for the pasta as for the burgers - there are four varieties.
This cornerstone of contemporary food, as we remember from Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, finally conquered the world after becoming number one in France in terms of consumption. Sofia is in no way an exception to this trend, so Manzo gets involved in the eternal debate about "where they do it best". Alongside the burgers, there are two classic steaks - beef and pork. Raw tartare and carpaccio are the perfect warm-up for the grill: the beef is from Uruguay and Italy, the pork is from Bulgaria (more specifically, Livadi Chiflik).
Plus, Manzo is also suitable for a quicker and a light meal - try Lampredo, the classic Florentine sandwich with grits, as well as a saucy dinner with grilled bonfilet.
193 Rakovski Street12 - 22 h
Cozy cocktails out of the tourist traps
Places with generic names like The Restaurant or The Cocktail Bar usually should be avoided at all cost, because they are tourist traps for those seeking lazy options. Not in Sofia's case. The Cocktail Bar is a place to have a good time and where the staff knows what it's doing (you won't just get a mix of several types of lemon juice and gin) and offers a look which might remind you of a Parisian kiosk. The place was named Bar of the Year in 2019 by Bacchus Magazine (a gourmet edition linked to KQ publisher Economedia).
An added bonus to the bar is that it is fully glazed so you have a nice view all around. Just don't ask what the space under The Cocktail Bar was used for. Honestly, don't ask.
Rayko Daskalov Sq., Sofia
Where Asia meets Bulgaria
Although it's in one of the city's most central locations (literally just across the park from where The Cocktail Bar is located), Niko'las 0/360 is definitely not one of the places where people end up by accident. According to the restaurant team, the audience around the place became more specialized with time, so today almost everyone who enters Niko'las knows where they are going and what to expect, including what the daily menu is, which is posted on Facebook. And speaking of social networks and platforms, 83% of the reviews on TripAdvisor are five-star. Niko'las 0/360 is Bacchus' Restaurant of the Year for 2017.
If we have to give a keyword for the cuisine here, it's fusion with a strong Asian accent. This is one of the few places where you can try surf & turf options. Interestingly, Chef Tsvetomir Nikolov (who is also the owner) mixes Asian with Bulgarian cuisine, which comes as a surprise to many. The menu changes frequently according to the fresh and seasonal products the market offers, so you can get up-to-date offers from the restaurant's website, which gets updated frequently.
Prices are high by Bulgarian standards but below the average for Brussels and Paris, and for the quality being offered, they are actually downright low.
3 Rayko Daskalov Sq., Sofia
+359 87 688 8471, nikolas.bg