It is not an easy task to acquaint the foreign visitor to Belgrade with Serbian cuisine. Many dishes cannot be adequately translated into another language, while others are simply not eaten anywhere else, even though they are made from ingredients available in all European countries. Therefore, a thorough investigation of Serbian cuisine is required, a guide to a cuisine that has evolved from a jigsaw of historical influences merging at the crossroads of civilisations.
Sit back and let Belgrade’s experienced restaurateurs take over – you won’t regret it! No complaints have yet been made by the many royals and heads of state, who have taken away only great memories of their night in Belgrade, with food, drink and of course, music!
In addition to Serbian, the menus in Belgrade’s restaurants are also written in an international language, normally English. If you speak to your waiter in English, French or German, you will be understood in the majority of restaurants.
Restaurants are usually open between 08.00 and 23.00, but some are open from 12.00 to 01.00.
If you decide to try an authentic, traditional Serbian first course after your aperitif of ‘hladna prepečenica’ (45-50 proof plum rakija – brandy) you should ask for some proja (cornbread), sir (cheese) and kajmak (kaymak – clotted cream). Please, do not be surprised if you are asked to choose a salad, as they are usually eaten with both the first course and the second course in Serbia. If it is winter, you should choose kiseli kupus (sauerkraut/pickled cabbage), and if it is summer, opt for hladna bašta (see: Salads)
You can get all kinds of international cuisine in Belgrade’s restaurants. Nevertheless, when we want to eat well, we turn to local cuisine.
Serbian grilled meat dishes have become the symbol of Serbian cuisine, with one of the best known being ćepvapčići (minced beef rolled into finger-size pieces on ice, grilled and served with finely-chopped onion).
Belgrade is a city on two rivers, therefore, you must visit one of the many boat or raft restaurants that are anchored along the banks of the Sava and the Danube and sample some of the fish specialities.
Salads are commonly eaten as a side dish in Serbia. In the past, the type of salad that was eaten depended on the season. Turšija (pickled vegetables) was eaten, while fresh vegetables were more common in summer. These days it is not so strict, but the tradition has carried on. Tomatoes, peppers, onion and chilli peppers are the most common ingredients in mixed salads.
After a good lunch or dinner with cold wine, the waiter will ask if you would like something sweet. The answer should of course always be yes! Serbia is a major fruit producer and exporter, but in national restaurants you will never get fresh fruit as a dessert, but only as an ingredient in cakes.
The choice of both alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks is excellent in Belgrade’s restaurants, covering drinks from all over the world. Restaurants that keep selected types of rakija (brandy) and wines in their own cellars are highly regarded.