Belgrade: The unexpected foodie haven

When I first saw Belgrade, Serbia on our itinerary for Remote Year, I had no idea what to expect. In the month leading up to our stay there, I started hearing rumblings from our RY2 friends that we were in for a treat. They couldn’t have been more right.

2016-08-28-14-44-08On our first day there, a few of us had signed up for a food tour with a company called Gastro Balkan. Uros Zivkovic, the brains behind the operation, excitedly met our crew in front of our workspace and led us to our first stop, Ambar Belgrade. It was located in a long row of restaurants in what we would come to know as the waterfront warehouse district.

At our first stop, we tried some local dips and were treated with our first official shot of Serbian rakija, the local drink of choice. Rakija is made from the distillation of fruits, making it a sweeter drink. It can also be made with honey, and is served in a shot glass. Don’t let that fool you, it’s still meant to be sipped. At any time of day, you’ll see people of all ages with a coffee and a shot of rakija. Our group’s favorite flavor was quince. I definitely recommend that you try it if you have the chance.

2016-09-20-00-41-08After introductions with the chef at our first stop and some more tasty treats, we continued our tour and tried a series of amazing plates. Some of the more notable items were the mint and chocolate “flower pot dessert” (pictured right) at Homa Bistrot, fried cheese at miamiam and an assortment of meats, especially the pork, at Restoran Patlidžanz. The concept of a “tasting portion” was also completely lost due to the generosity of all the business chefs resulting in plenty of wonderful leftovers throughout the day.

We closed out the evening with artisan ice cream from Crna Ovca and a coffee at a new spot around the corner. As if the day wasn’t special enough, Uros had also put together a little goodie bag of macaroons and a cheese board with our initials engraved. Without a doubt, this was the best welcome I’ve ever had to a new country.

2016-09-15-10-32-34 After the tour, Uros promised to send along more spots that we needed to check out. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of offices. Give me a café, restaurant, couch, beach, whatever; just not a desk in an office. So, when we got the long list of other restaurants that we needed to check out, it gave me the perfect outlet for new work spaces.

On practically a daily basis, Miranda and I would check in with each other to see which café we’d select as our workspace. A few that that we ended up frequenting were Smokvica B&B, M:eating and Savanova. Each of them were in a different area of the city with completely different vibes. Savanova could have been a Scottsdale bar, Smokvica had a cute little patio and M:eating was as hipster funky as you can get. It goes without saying that the food was amazing; among my favorites were the white chocolate lava cake, pizza and salmon burger from Savanova.

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There was one restaurant that was my personal favorite in Belgrade. TRI was a small Berlin-inspired hole in the wall that you had to know someone to find because it wasn’t on the map. Everything was amazing, from their perfectly made spinach and goat cheese “triangles” (similar to our version of a quesadilla) to the filet mignon salad. My favorite dish though was the lavender ravioli. I proceeded to go there three more times specifically for that before the end of the month. Not only was the food amazing, but it was beyond affordable. While I was on a date, we ordered a bottle of champagne, an appetizer, two entrees and one dessert; the total came to $35 USD.

This short post doesn’t even begin to do Belgrade’s food culture justice. The revitalization of the city, welcoming nature of the people and the economic growth makes me believe that Belgrade will absolutely be a hotspot for travelers in the years to come.

With love, Paige