The next time you’re sitting around wondering where you’d like to eat, think…Bulgarian! Las Vegas has only one Bulgarian Restaurant and it’s nestled in a tiny strip mall right on Vegas Valley (near Maryland Parkway). If nothing comes to mind when you think of Bulgarian cuisine, Magura will set you on the path to a pleasant discovery.
One of the southeast side’s best kept secrets, the restaurant is half of an establishment that includes a pizzeria on one side and the Baltic eatery on the other, accessible by two separate entrances.
Inside the restaurant you’ll find costumes, artwork and décor that reflect the country and food that reflects…the Mediterranean. Many of the offerings are foods you’re already familiar with, like feta cheese and tomato/cucumber salad. There’s a Mediterranean flavor to the food, like the Greek-influenced cold cucumber and yogurt soup with dill (Tarator) a flavorful palate-cleanser for the meal to come. The serving is large which you’ll appreciate after the first sip.
A glance at the menu will find it full of dishes that include sausages, eggs, yogurt, tomatoes, cucumbers and onions. Descriptions for many of the dishes include the mysterious sounding “Bulgarian Spices”, which is actually a mixture comprised of one or more of the following: chubritsa, also known as Summer Savory, a strong pungent aromatic, parsley, thyme, with its light, dry aroma and a slightly minty flavor, salt, ground pepper, rosemary, garlic, aniseed and nutmeg.
The fare is meat-laden, but also full of vegetarian choices. A Mixed Grill will satisfy even the brawniest carnivore. Comprised of a pork Shish Kebob, pork chop, Kebapche (grilled Bulgarian spiced sausages) and Kiufte (spiced meatballs with onion), the dish is almost the size of a serving platter.
Salads are simply prepared and extremely fresh. There’s Shopska (tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and onion topped by Bulgarian feta cheese) the Ovcharska – all of the above plus egg, ham, and kashkaval (yellow sheep’s cheese known as Balkan cheddar) and a Pickled Vegetable plate full of carrots, cauliflower, peppers, and cabbage.
Presentation is colorful and sometimes even fanciful. The Karnache is a long spiced sausage served in a spiral coil. Mish-Mash is a large, multi-colored omelet full of onions, roasted peppers, tomatoes and feta cheese. Cheese in Bacon arrives in little combined nuggets of soft bacon and sharp white cheese. Not crunchy at all, this snack is cholesterol heaven for some, a decidedly acquired taste for others.
Dried meats include Lukanka and Sudjuk, both flavorful and extremely chewy – think thicker, softer jerky. Two popular cheese varieties are feta (from either cow or sheep) and kashkaval, a yellow sheep’s milk cheese also known Balkan cheddar. Roasted chicken and grilled salmon help offset the red meat offerings. Entrees come with two or three mounds of specialty salad per plate; roasted eggplant and Snezhanka (dry yogurt, diced cucumbers, garlic, dill, and walnuts) are two examples.
Stews like Gyuveche and Kavarma are prepared in earthenware pots and oven-baked; they can also be made in vegetarian versions as well.
Prices are moderate, ranging from around $4.95 for a soup to $14.95 for a meat dish, with many offering between those two; service is excellent, friendly, and knowledgeable. A question or two will get you the origin of what you’re eating from the smiling server.
A stroll next door will net you a thick spinach and feta pizza that you’ll remember long after it’s gone. Just don’t go right after you’ve eaten at the restaurant.
Magura Pizza does Italian beautifully (Mediterranean influence, remember?) and offers a large menu full of standard fare and specialty items – pizza types include Buffalo Chicken Wing, Shrimp Alexander and Philly Steak to choose from among the classic standbys of sausage, pepperoni, and vegetarian. You can also get a Reuben or Turkey Club, a Swiss Patty Melt on Rye, or crossover specialties from next door like Pork Chops, Chicken or Pork Shish Kabobs and Grilled Salmon. There’s even cannoli in addition to baklava. You could call it Pizza Plus.
For further information:
1305 Vegas Valley, Ste. B&C
Las Vegas, NV 89169