A Foodie’s Guide to Sarajevo
My first experience of Bosnian food happened ten years ago when I visited Mostar for the day. We found ourselves in a lovely little restaurant right by the bridge and settled in for a beer. Feeling peckish I ordered a salad and what came can only be described as a bowl full of lettuce with a few slugs thrown in (for added protein I assume). So when thinking of Bosnia, the first thing that came to my mind wasn’t exactly the food. However, in recent years the food has come on leaps and bounds with its capital Sarajevo, in particular, which is becoming a hotspot for foodies!
The ultimate cultural crossroads in the Balkans, Sarajevo, is a vibrant blend of East and West. This is a place where you can find a Catholic church, Orthodox church, synagogue, and mosque all within the same neighbourhood. It’s this mix of cultures that produces delicious cuisine packed with flavour. So “tuck in” as we take you on this foodie tour of Sarajevo!
Coffee & Cafes
Coffee is more than a drink in Bosnia, real kafa is a ritual. It is served in a fildzan– a small handle-less traditional coffee cup and given the number of coffee houses that line the old town’s streets it’s clear to see kafa is a staple among Bosnians. In the heart of the Old Town, and set within an old Ottoman dwelling, is Kuća Sevdaha, a café that also acts as an art gallery. Visitors enter through a lovely stone archway, and walk through to a pretty courtyard area, perfect for a coffee on a warm summer’s afternoon. For tea lovers, Čajdžinica Džirlo offers traditional Bosnian and eastern flavours and aromas. Bosnian coffee is strong, dark, and slightly sweet making it the perfect afternoon pick-me-up or morning delight!
These restaurants may be on the cheaper side but that doesn’t take away from the incredibly tasty meals they have to offer. Cheap dining and delicious food, what’s not to love!
Karuzo – Sarajevo may be a meat lover’s paradise, but vegetarians should head over to Karuzo. The only meat-free and smoke-free place in the city, Karuzo is leading a health revolution. The ship-styled interior is an indication of the Mediterranean-style seafood dishes along with vegetarian and vegan options. Another that is very popular so you will need to book in advance.
Zara iz Duvara – This place benefits from being just around the corner from Sarajevo’s market, where fresh vegetables and fruit are sold daily. Specialises in traditional Bosnian dishes reviving the use of some of the more neglected ingredients such as barley, mountain herbs, preserves and homemade chutney. The offers change but favourite dishes include Bosnian stew, klepo, dolma and ćevap. It’s worth booking in advance to avoid disappointment!
Fine Dining Cuisine
Sarajevo is still a relatively cheap country to visit whilst in Europe so while these places may be on the higher end of your budget, they definitely won’t break the bank.
4 Sobe Gospode Safije – Elegant, quaint, cultured and located in a beautifully restored house which creates an intimate atmosphere ideal for a romantic dinner. The restaurant’s chefs have created two menus, one with a modern twist on Bosnian dishes and the other a blend of culinary influences ranging from India to Mexico. Unsurprisingly booking in advance is a necessity.
Mala Kuhinja – Offers one of the most exceptional dining experiences in Sarajevo. Inspired by Asian cuisine, the chef prepares dishes that fuse Asian and Balkan culinary traditions to produce a truly unique combination of flavours. There is no menu here with your meal being cultivated to your specific culinary tastes. Dinner is often fully booked, lunch not so much.
All that sightseeing definitely makes you thirsty! Luckily Sarajevo has some fabulous drinking spots to quench your thirst after a busy day of exploring. Attached to the famous brewery which has won more awards than any other beer in the world, Pivnica Hs, allows you to sample beers with hearty Bosnian dishes. Alternatively, one of our favourite wine bars in the city is La Cava. It always has an upbeat, lively atmosphere with friendly service and some good local wines. There’s outside seating available as well as a very cute and cosy interior if you can get a seat!
Sarajevo’s culinary mosaic has been created after centuries of cultural exchange and overlap, with the heavy presence of middle eastern influence, it’s the perfect place to visit a Hookah lounge or test out the incredible Turkish delights without having to leave Europe.
Shisha – Live like a local and indulge in one of their favourite pastimes, smoking a Shisha pipe. Locating one of the many hookah lounges won’t be an issue, just stroll around the Old Town Bazaar and you’ll find one in no time! For those that don’t know Shisha is essentially drawing the smoke from hot coals through a pipe containing water. The coals contain tobacco which is mixed with fruit and sugar giving it a sweet taste. For those that have sampled them in the UK, in particular, London will definitely be a struct with how expensive it is, needless to say as, with everything in Bosnia, you won’t need to worry about the price.
Turkish Delight – With Bosnia’s obvious strong Turkish influence, it’s a great place to enjoy this sweet treat. Now for those who always avoided the chocolate-covered gelatin square in the old school daily milk tray boxes as frankly they didn’t taste great, try and eradicate that from your memory – this is a very different animal. With so many flavours try a selection with the guidance of the helpful shop attendants. Much like Revels or Jelly beans, some were delicious, some not so much and others maybe not to your taste but it’s fun trying them! We recommend the pistachio flavour. For Turkish delight lovers, there’s nothing we need to say!
Food Walking Tour
This walking tour allows you to explore, see the main monuments and taste some delicious local cuisine – what better way to sightsee! You’ll learn about the history of Sarajevo and Bosnia & Herzegovina as well as the everyday life of the locals who inhabit the city. All are typically delivered by a local who lived through the Siege of Sarajevo so there is really no one better to show you around. If you have any special dietary requirements please be sure to let your guide know at the start of the tour!
Sarajevo is a true taste sensation and a destination foodie’s definitely shouldn’t miss! If you’re interested in visiting Bosnia for yourself then check out our 4-night Mini Bosnia Experience and for any quieries about any other experiences please don’t hesitate to get in contact at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Lucy Kaufmann