Serbia is a paradise for gluttons, especially those who love their meats. Serbs are extremely passionate about food and are known to savor and cherish their meals – all of which are prepared with great pride and love. Sitting down for a meal with a local can be as long as a 4-hour affair. Pass by a traditional Serbian kitchen and you will smell the aromas spreading from some of their top dishes. Their portions are massive and bursting with authentic flavors.
Whether you’re on the look out for local cuisine or international – there is no dearth of restaurants in the country. With influences from all across the globe, you will find restaurants serving a mix of traditional dishes as well as international cuisines in Belgrade – home to some of the world’s finest fine-dining restaurants that offer amazing food in an elegant setting. Stroll through the lanes and you will find coffee shops, restaurants and bars in every nook and corner of the capital city. Zlatibor on the other hand is more popular for authentic cuisine, made using age-old ancestral recipes with home-grown ingredients.
Listing below some of the places we tried at Belgrade and Zlatibor.
Manufaktura is located in the very heart of Belgrade, close to the Knez Mihailova street. If you want to try authentic Balkan cuisine with amazing dishes, drinks, cheese – this is the place for you. It is one of the most popular restaurants in the capital city with a rustic, cozy interior and a vibrant al-fresco seating. The latter is really where you want to be as you can dine under colorful umbrellas and enjoy a lively atmosphere ambient with live music. Don’t forget to make a reservation in advance as they have a strict reservation policy for the outdoor area. We tried the famous Ćevapi – a dish ubiquitous in the Balkans. There are many different versions of this traditional dish but the most common version includes a platter consisting of sausage-style fingers, served with kajmak (cream cheese), onions, beans and potato chips. You can find it in almost every restaurant in Belgrade, or on every corner on the street as it is one of the most popular fast food dishes in Serbia.
Located at Belgrade’s Bohemian quarter – Skadarlija, Dva Jelena is the perfect place to experience the real pleasure of Bohemian life. With tambura orchestras playing folk music, you can’t help but fall in love with this place. It dates back to 1832 and its food speaks volumes of its rich history. It is one of the most visited restaurants there and is well received by both locals and tourists. From grilled meat preparations, seafood specialties to a variety of vegetarian options – there’s something for everyone here. We tried the Pljeskavica (meat patties) and Karadjordjeva šnicla (schnitzel), both of which are considered to be the national dishes of Serbia. Pljeskavica is essentially a grilled burger patty made with mixed minced meats, stuffed with pancetta and kajmak (cream cheese). The Serbian version of schnitzel is made with veal or pork, served on a bed of mashed potatoes and is surely a must-try.
Toro Latin Bar is one of the most popular restaurants in Belgrade, located in Beton Hala at the Sava river pier. Started by one of the world’s most popular chefs and restaurant owners Richard Sandoval, they follow the “small plate” concept so guests can taste small portions of various dishes. They are known for their Hispanic cuisine and offer delectable Spanish croquettes, guacamole, tacos, empanadas among other Latin American fare. Apart from food, they also have an enormous choice of innovative cocktails, Latin wines and spirits for sipping and enjoying. The vibrant decor fuses traditional and contemporary tastes, making this one of the most happening spots for all occasions. It is always crowded so I highly recommend to make a reservation in advance. We tried the tacos, flatbread, and guacamole – all of which were amazing.
Ambar is the first modern, international chain of Balkan cuisine restaurants located at Beton Hala. It blends tradition and heritage with creativity and modern design. Their first class service, simple and minimalistic interiors, rich food and drinks are sure to touch all the senses creating an unforgettable visitor experience. It overlooks the waterfront and the city’s famous splavs. This place has an infectious vibe that will make you want to return always. We tried several dishes here but our most favorite one was the chicken rolls stuffed with kajmak, gorgonzola, fava and tomato salsa.
Specializing in sea-food dishes, Sent Andrea is a 30-year old restaurant located at Zemun Quay by the Danube river. Famous for its distinctive offer of fresh Adriatic fish supplied daily and directly from fishermen’s nets, this place is a delight for sea-food lovers. With an elegant shore-side setting, warm Mediterranean hospitality and atmosphere with acoustic guitar tunes, this restaurant is a soulful oasis where food lovers can enjoy gastronomic delights in good company. We tried the black risotto and a flavorful, delicious plate of salmon.
If you want to escape to the streets of Mexico, this tiny hole-in-the-wall spot is the perfect place for you. The homely atmosphere of La Taqueria offers nicely cooked Mexican tacos, quesadillas, soups, nachos and churros along with a selection of beers. It is well-known for its friendly service and flavorful food and is a great option for a quick bite. We tried the Taco al Pastor, quesadilla and guacamole.
Situated in the buzzing markets of Serbia’s mountainous Zlatibor area, Gozba is a well-known cafe serving local fare. Since we had already tried most of the popular authentic dishes in Belgrade, we decided to try the famous komplet lepinja – a speciality dish, best made in Zlatibor. If you want to try something unusual and tasty, this dish is for you. Although it is a popular winter dish, it is easily available all year round here. A freshly baked flat bun with egg, meat, milk, cream and kajmak (cream cheese), it is considered to be a “cure for everything” – from hunger, happiness to hangovers. It is a highly recommended breakfast delicacy but can be enjoyed at any time through the day. It is extremely filling and highly caloric. For the most authentic experience, enjoy it with your hands.
Located at Uzun Mirkova 12, Taiyaki is a small shop serving the Japanese fish-shaped cakes with endless flavors, fillings and toppings. It is a delight for Instagram-lovers and ofcourse, for those who like Taiyaki!
Craving something sweet? Head straight to Slatkoteka – a cutesy cafe serving a variety of different donuts, both sweet and savory in all shapes and sizes. Made using grandma’s traditional recipes, highest quality ingredients and toppings, each batch is freshly baked and flavored in front of you. Drop by and ‘donut’ worry as you are sure to leave happy!
You know what’s better than ice-cream? Italian gelato! One corner away from Nikola Tesla’s museum, you will find a tiny place called Luff. They offer a lot of different flavors so picking one can be a difficult choice. You can either go for the decedent flavors or try the ones that are low on calories like the chocolate sorbet!
Creperie at Zlatibor:
While strolling through the evening market at Zlatibor, we stumbled upon a small street stall serving massive crepes and waffles – unlike any other we’ve tried before. You can pick your spreads and toppings and enjoy it hot and fresh.