Nothing starts a day like a greasy burek – Balkan type of pie, usually with minced meat or white cheese – and the Trpković bakery is by far best at it. Besides the regular two, they also offer burek with potatoes, greens and, my favorite one, with ham and cheese. This pie can be very heavy even for the locals, not to mention for an unaccommodated stomach. That’s why it traditionally goes with a glass of yogurt, to settle the matter.
Where to try: Trpković bakery
The Bosnian, or the Sarajevo version of burek is basically the same thing, jut in different shape – not in triangular pieces, but in form of a snail-like roll, similar to Greek pita.
Where to try: Sarajevo bakery
Another explosive thing that the locals eat for breakfast is the so called “Zlatibor bun”, or oven-baked flatbread with prosciutto, gravy and kajmak. A true mountaineers’ snack.
Where to try: Čobanov odmor
Time to explain what this is. Basically, it is natural butter, a creamy dairy product with a very distinct salty-sweet taste. It is available to get in most of the places mentioned under, but if you want to buy some really good stuff, not just put it into other food as addition, the best bet are the city vegetable markets. Beware if you want to transport it though, it melts and gets bad vary easily.
Where to get: Vegetable markets.
Ajvar. Hmm. And mmm. This red pepper based thing is, strangely enough, both a salad and a dressing. Making of ajvar is an extremely long and painstaking process, causing it to become known as “the Serbian vegetable caviar”. It can be both spicy and mild and comes only in winter, but can last for very long. And the taste is unforgettable.
Where to get: Vegetable markets, or ask the locals to get you a jar.
Another thing that is hard to describe, čvarci are crispy balls made out of pork fat, boiled for a very long time on high temperature. The result is a fat, savory snack that goes amazing with bear, but doesn’t do well with hearts and blood.
Where to get: Vegetable markets
If you like pickled stuff, Serbian winter will fall good on you. When you say turšija, what you actually mean is a whole lot of pickled everything: carrots, tomatoes, paprika, cabbage, onions, cucumbers and other stuff. It comes as a side dish in every kafana. If you have a local making it at home (and many still do) ask to try the pickled water call rasol. Folks say it is the best hangover medicine known to man.
Where to try: Kafanas (traditional Serbian restaurant)
One of the best known local takes on a beans dish, almost as good as the Portuguese one, prebranac is baked, creamy and completely unique in taste. Like turšija, prebranac is a dish that you can taste during the cold months in every town kafana mentioned in this text and in our 5-day bohemian guide to Belgrade.
Where to try: Kafanas
Whole roasted animals are kind of a local fetish and seeing a poor piggy turning above a dim flame is nothing out of the ordinary. Best places to eat an entire being is usually a bit out of the center, but it is well worth a trip.
Where to try: Kafanas at Ibarska magistrala road
Meet “pod sačem”
Translated as “meet in sač”, it comprises this time not just out of flash, but also out of vegetables and potatoes, all together, cooked for a long time in an enclosed clay pot. Soft, melting and tender tastes of cooked variety can be a great refresh.
Where to try: Durmitor
My absolute favorite, this steak is in fact a long, deep-fried, cylinder shaped pork creation filled with melting kajmak and garnished with tartar sauce. One of the most mind-blowing experiences meat eaters can get, for sure. One of the best ones is served in a central place called Mornar… but if you are not lazy to go out of town to a restaurant called “Srbija”, you can order a 900-grams-heavy steak for just 8 euros. Up for the challenge?
Where to try: Kafanas and restaurants
Ribs and knuckles
Meat kills, but so do we. Get the irony? Local way of preparing pork ribs and knuckles is, again, very tedious but worthwhile. Softness and pinkness of the meat is so heavenly that I never dare taint it with horseradish – a common invader in this type of dish.
Where to try: Kafana Stara Hercegovina
Originating from Turkey, this dish is prepared across the Middle East and the Balkans in variety of ways. Local version is almost exclusively made out of minced meat with rice and spices, wrapped inside a pickled cabbage leaves, and cooked with herbs and pork ribs inside a clay pot. It is also a seasonal dish, reserved only for winter.
Where to try: Kafana Kalenić
The ultimate prize for flesh lovers is almost certainly the beef stake. Exploiting good quality local beef, the restaurant Toro in Zemun area really brought it to perfection. Although a bit expensive for Belgrade, it still lower than the usual European prices.
Where to try: Steakhouse Toro Grill
What to say about rakija, that hasn’t been said before? I knew we should have gotten drunk on the beginning of this texts. Liquid cocaine, the fuel of the Balkans, rakija, rakia, raki, call it whatever you like, this brandy is made from almost every possible fruit and is served everywhere. Best place to explore the worlds of rakija is Rakia Bar, but if you have a good local connection, things can be even beyond religious.
Where to try: Rakia Bar
Made out of an old autochthonous grape variety, tamjanika white wine is flowery and calming with a dominant pineapple kind of Muscat taste. One of the best bottles is Villa Vina, that costs an incredible 10 euro.
Where to try: Wineries
Coming from another local grape, prokupac is a red wine with full and sweet taste. It is among the most popular wines in bars because of its high alcohol percentage.
Where to try: Wineries
Everybody loves pancakes, right? So just go straight to the best place. Glumac is located in the center, it’s cheap and the portions are huge. Try it out with grinded bisquit called plazma.
Where to try: Glumac
I never had a sweet tooth, but ice cream is still an essential part of summer. Crna ovca, or the Black sheep recently emerged as one of the top local producers. Knowing that the competition is fierce, they boosted up their offer with a lot of new and exciting flavors. But I still hold on to my favorite raspberry.
Where to try: Crna Ovca
If anybody is interested in a job, all we need is someone that likes to travel, write and eat sweets… just to help us. This place under is great, by the way.
Where to try: Mandarina
Moskva šnit at Hotel Moscow
More than a cake… A Belgrade classic in a way. All about the ambient.
Pizza at Bucko
If you are wondering why did I put pizza into sweets, then I will tell you that you will know if you try a piece at Bucko with their special topping. It is like cheeseburger in McDonalds. It’s a savory dessert.
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