This is our latest destination food guide, the Eat Sheet. For more on how we do these a little differently, head here first.
People don’t come to Belgrade to eat. Mainly European tourists flock here to dive into the Serbian capital’s fierce Berlin-like nightlife scene, where big clubs are built out of old factories, on boats moored along the Sava River and even in old silos. That being said, you have to eat. And the restaurant scene in Belgrade is getting better every year. There’s everything from tasty, stomach-filling street food to help prolong a night of drinking at the city’s great cocktail bars to gastropubs to stylish restaurants serving up creative and high-end takes on Serbia’s meat-heavy fare.
DO IT FAST
If you’re craving a sandwich in Belgrade, point yourself to Mesozder. Mesozder, located in Sava Mala, is a casual/fast food joint that makes American-style sandwiches with fillings, such as an excellent pulled pork sandwich and a version of shredded cheese, the bodega sandwich with melted cheese and minced meat. in East Harlem.
SEE AND SEE
Dorćoleta, located in an old industrial zone that has slowly seen trendy clubs and restaurants pop up over the last five years or so, may not be for everyone: come before seven or eight in the evening and you’ll be treated to the above- average pan-asian fare. Come any time after that, especially on Friday and Saturday nights, and a DJ spins pop music, much to the delight of the 6-foot-tall, cosmetically dancing Serbs and the usually sedentary rich men who love them. The cocktails, created by veteran mixologist, Dejan “Tomke” Tomović, are fantastic.
KEEP THE MEAT
Rai Urban Vege
In a city where meat is master of the palate and stomach, a good plant-based restaurant seems like it would be hard to find. In fact, there are a handful of good vegetable stands dotted around the city. One of the best is Rai Urban Vege. That is, if you can find it. Located a few steps from Kalemegdan Park and Belgrade Zoo, you have to navigate an unmarked corridor, go down some stairs, cross a shady courtyard and there you will find a great menu of great meatless pad Thai, enchiladas, bowls with curries and soups. And just to remind you that you’re still in Serbia, Rai also has strong rakia, gin and beer on the menu.
IF IT’S NOT BROKEN
According to tradition, this ancient restaurant originally wanted to be named after the church across the street – the oldest church in town. But after a protracted battle, the restaurant relented and, unsure of what to call it, the owner wrote a temporary question mark on the door. Got stuck. And so today, Znak Pitanja, the Serbian word for “?”, is not just an ancient temple of Serbian gastronomy and a tourist and local hangout, but a good one at that. If the leafy and atmospheric backyard is open, relax at a table and feast on hearty beef goulash or karadjordjeva, a breaded 10-inch pipe-shaped piece of pork stuffed with kajmak cheese, which local Serbs call “the dream of young woman’, probably because of its size and shape.
The burger joint has hit the Serbian capital with a large, exclusively beef. The city center is full of burger joints, but Ж Burger, pronounced ‘Zh Burger’, is one of the best. After all, he took the top prize at this year’s Belgrade Burger Festival for his mozzarella and pesto masterpiece. If that’s too rich, the double bacon cheeseburger is also excellent and will either ease a Sunday morning hangover or provide fuel for more Saturday night imbibing. It is located in the Cetinska complex, an old brewery that has been transformed into a magnet for bars and restaurants in the center of Belgrade.
START WITH ME
In the trendy, leafy neighborhood of Dorćol, Bloom is a bustling, bright and airy two-level all-day breakfast and brunch spot that serves excellent egg dishes, avocado toast and açai bowls, as well as salads, soups and cold-pressed juices— essential restorative ingredients in this meat and booze-centric town. Expect to wait a bit, especially on weekends.
THE HOT SPOT
Iva: New Balkan Cuisine
Iva: The New Balkan Kitchen may have lit its burners for the first time in 2019, but only after Michelin published its Belgrade restaurant guide at the end of 2021, when everyone was clamoring for a place at this spot in Dorćol. This is due to the fact that it was the only restaurant to be awarded the Bib Gourmand, the highest rated restaurant of the few places that Michelin set its sights on in Belgrade. Chef-owner Vanja Puškar is the toke who strives to push the boundaries of Balkan food with well-crafted dishes like lamb that falls apart at the touch of a fork and unusual oxtail gnocchi in bone marrow reduction.
UNDER THE RADAR
Endorfin shouldn’t be an off-the-radar restaurant and bar: Talented chef Uros Živkovic, late of the ultra-luxe Langouste haunt and longtime resident of Trieste, Italy, is the man in the kitchen cooking up Balkan, Italian, and inspired food. from French cuisine, including lamb tartare in a burrito-like taco crust, ultra-tender duck with orange and house-made gnocchi bathed in a rich rabbit ragu. Owner Miloš Vuksić, a veteran of the New York bar and restaurant scene, created the excellent cocktail program. The wine list is full of Serbian natural wines and the restaurant regularly organizes weekly multi-course dinners at a special price paired with local wines.
The awkward old man sitting in the corner is Dragan and he doesn’t want to be disturbed. That’s okay, because you’re at Kod Dragana—Dragan’s Place—for very affordable, large-portion Serbian fare in the Stari Merkator section of Novi Beograd or New Belgrade, across the Sava River from the Old Town. Rakia, the strong stomach-melting fruit brandy ubiquitous in the Balkans, is likely of the moonshine variety, and the beer is cheap. Fill your stomach with things like sarma, cabbage stuffed with meat. cevapi, beef sausages and roast pork. Vegetables are almost non-existent here.
ONE FOR THE FOOD
In the trendy Vračar neighborhood, Pietra serves some of the best pizza this side of Naples. The pizzaiolo is a Serbian who worked in Naples for years and now makes incredible pizzas for local Belgraders and Italian nostalgics. The pizzas, topped with fluffy, bright red San Marzano tomatoes and mozzarella di bufala, may appear on Instagram, garnering plenty of approval among your followers, but it’s your palate that’ll give you a big ‘like’ for coming here. Even better, the cocktail program here is amazing—the drinks get just as much effort and attention as the pizza at Pietra.
ON THE ROAD
Buregdžinica “Our Story”
Belgrade has a few different types of street food—namely, Pljeskavica, a bunless beef and lamb hamburger patty, and cevapi, finger-sized mince sausages that can be excellent, especially when topped with soft butter—like kajmak cheese . Upscale versions of both can be found in sit-down restaurants throughout the city. But the only street food visitors should seek out is the burek, a meat and cheese pastry found mostly in bakeries around the city that came to the Balkans through the Ottoman occupation that began in the 14th century. One of the best is in Buregdžinica “Naša Priča”, or “Our Story”. Here’s your story: super flaky pie-like slices filled with feta and cream cheese and sometimes beef or lamb that’s addictive. It is located in Skadarlija.
APPEARANCES CAN BE DECEPTIVE
Located right on the Sava River in the Beton Hala complex, among a handful of other trendy restaurants, it’s easy to dismiss Ambar as an attraction, a designer-clad restaurant whose main purpose of existence is to be one of the popular kids on the block. But Ambar, which also has an outpost in Washington, DC, happens to serve up some of the best Serbian fare in town. Juicy lamb čevapi, the ubiquitous finger-shaped mincemeat, are some of the best you’ll find in this metropolis of 1.5 million people. Plus, bacon-wrapped, goat cheese-stuffed plums, hearty lamb stew, and aivar with red pepper spread are all excellent here.
Homa isn’t the stuffiest, fanciest restaurant in town, but it is, by far, the best imagination restaurant in town. Located in lower Dorćol, Homa serves Serbian staples elevated to the 9th degree: slow-braised tender beef tongue in bone marrow sauce with mustard ice cream, perhaps mistakenly having the flavor profile of something you might eat in a Jewish deli. in New York. It’s also no coincidence that it tastes delicious. The creative deconstructed omelette patty—usually a patisserie filled with meat and cheese—is also worth your stomach space. The wine list is long for Serbian natural wines.