Tasting on Belgrade
Having been a strategic location throughout history, Belgrade has seen over 115 wars and been destroyed more than 40 times. But because of its confluence of cultures, Serbian food is a mix of Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, and Central European cuisines. And what a mix it is!
The currency in Serbia is the dinar, and at the time of writing, the exchange rate was about 110 dinars to US$1. All businesses are listed from most budget-friendly to least within each category.
- Coffee & drinks
- Desserts & ice cream
- Grocery stores & farmer’s markets
Coffee & drinks
Uzitak Coffee Selection and Delights
Located just off Cetinjska Street, this little coffee shop offers craft beer from Kabinet Brewery. I enjoyed a bottle of SuperNova (270 dinars) while relaxing in their comfy indoor space. Their menu is in both Serbian and English. The barista was very friendly and spoke perfect English, and it appears to be a place with regulars.
Desserts & ice cream
This frozen desserts shop was my favorite of the two I got to visit. It’s in the Dorćol neighborhood, which is near Kalemegdan Fortress Park but north of the touristy Knez Mihailova Street. You can get two scoops for 250 dinars, and they have a wide variety of interesting flavors to choose from. I savored the combination of sesame coffee with chocolate coffee beans and crema mascarone with vanilla cookies. Everything is labeled in English and Serbian, and the staff speak excellent English. You can also watch the magic being made in the kitchen since it’s enclosed in glass.
This shop is tied for top-rated ice cream place with Crna Ovca, and it is quite good but has a less daring set of flavors. I got two scoops for 260 dinars: one of lemon and basil and the other of orange and ginger. Both were strongly flavored and hit the spot on a warm evening. All flavors are labeled in Serbian and English, and the staff speaks English well.
Grocery stores & farmer’s markets
Pijaca Zeleni venac
I’ve read that this is the best farmer’s market in Belgrade, and since I went there every day of my stay, I can’t argue with that opinion. Everything is affordable: you can even get 1kg of sweet watermelon for 25 dinars and 100g of chanterelles for 100 dinars! Not only that, but it’s open from 06:00 till 19:00 every day.
For instance, this haul of chard, figs, garlic, Roma tomatoes, Persian cucumber, and watermelon was under 400 dinars. Not many vendors speak English, and they only accept cash. Some vendors wouldn’t even sell less than 1kg of produce to me, so I had to find the ones who would.
Even though I wasn’t looking for it, I got this wheel of Sjenica cheese that fell off the back of a truck for 250 dinars, which I hear is half off what you’d pay in the grocery store. It’s a soft, white cheese in brine and made from Sjenica sheep’s milk. I enjoyed slices of it day and night but had to leave half of the wheel behind with my Couchsurfing host. I hope he enjoyed it!
If you learn just one word in Serbian, make it “pekara”, which means bakery. Once you know what the word looks like in Cyrillic (пекара), you’ll see them everywhere, and you will never starve.
The word for bread is hleb (хлеб), so you’ll see that around, too. I got an entire loaf of bread for 80 dinars at this place.
I also tried proja (pronounced “pro-ya”), which is a cornbread with white cheese. There wasn’t much cheese in the muffin-looking version I got, so I decided to try some after I went to Zavicaj.
Trpković has a few locations, and many people were lined up when I visited to get some burek. I asked for a small slice of one with cheese, and it was a mere 38 dinars. It would’ve probably tasted best if I’d eaten it right away because of the flaky phyllo dough. But the bakery offers many options, so take your time to explore them!
Petar BT Plus
It’s just a hole in the wall, and my Couchsurfing host Ogi called them ahead of time to place an order so that we wouldn’t have to wait around outside. I asked him to get the most typical Serbian thing that they have, so he got a cevapi sandwich (four skinless sausages, onions, lettuce, sour cream, kaymak, ajvar, feta cheese, and minced chili pepper all in flatbread) for me as a welcome dinner.
To Je To!
This restaurant was my favorite during the trip. They serve a nice list of traditional Serbian dishes for a great value.
- prosos kobasica (218 dinars for 100g): sausage made of veal, pork, smoked bacon, and hot paprika; came in two thin casings and had a hint of spiciness
- sarma (100 dinars for 100g): minced veal and pork with rice, wrapped in cabbage or green leaf; filled to the brim with minced meat
- ajvar ljutenica (89 dinars for 30g): slightly spicy spread made from roasted paprika
- tomato and cucumber salad (124 dinars): with onions
- kolači (248 dinars): rose baklava; drowned in syrup and too sweet for me, didn’t taste like rose water but definitely had walnuts
My plate came with somun (flatbread), on which I spread the ajvar. The staff is attentive and speaks English, and they have an English menu, too.
Zavičaj was a fun experience because of all the attention paid to decorating the place with traditional Serbian knick-knacks. Even the plates are handmade and have the restaurant’s name painted on them. They also have really nice staff who speak English and an English menu.
I started with a 300mL mug of draft Lav beer (170 dinars), which was light and nondescript. The Serbian salad (270 dinars) consisted of tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and light-colored chili peppers that were actually quite spicy! I also wanted to give proja (80 dinars) another try, but it didn’t appear to have any cheese in it, and it was way too dry for my liking.
I had heard that Karađorđeva Šnicla (650 dinars) is unique to Serbia since it honors the leader of the first Serbian uprising against the Ottomans. The way Zavičaj prepared it was by breading a piece of pork and stuffing the pork with kajmak. It came with fries and a dipping sauce. The kajmak quickly leaked out of the pork log immediately after I cut into it. In spite of that, I could tell that it was skillfully made.
The baked beans (390 dinars) came in a huge portion. They were pleasantly seasoned and baked with shredded onions. I liked them enough to ask for a box (20 dinars) and take them home to eat later.
For dessert, I tried to order the urmašica, but the waiter recommended that I get the house seasonal cake (240 dinars) with walnuts, hazelnuts and cherries, freshly made today. It was a great suggestion! I enjoyed it thoroughly.