I've been travelling to Belgrade pretty frequently the past couple of years and I thought I'd break the ice and mention some of my favourite restaurants. This is Serbia and I'm a bit of a carnivore, so a lot of the food is quite heavy. Be warned.
In no particular order:
An upmarket mix of Serbian classics and modern cuisine, Zaplet features a great menu, impeccable service and sharp design. The interior features installations by one of Belgrade's premiere artists, so you're not short on eye candy while you happily scarf down your meal. My favourites include the turkey leg (not always on the menu), the rabbit ragu on tagliatelle, and foie gras with toast. I haven't tried many of the desserts, but my husband swears by the creme brulee. For people watching, it's tough to beat. You'll be sharing your meal with everyone from government ministers to Serbian celebrities to families to the business lunch crowd.
Zaplet's younger sister, geared towards a trendier crowd. With the same owner as Zaplet, Dijagonala 2.0 is located near the National Library in a brighter, airier space. The kitchen is open here, as are the huge windows looking on to a nearby park. The menu features a similar mix to Zaplet, with the emphasis here on the international. There's also a good mix of wines to choose from. My favourite dish here is To The Bone, a dish consisting of turkey neck, pork rib, duck wing, and bone marrow. With some of their excellent bread and a salad on the side, this can easily stretch to a meal for two. And it's a starter.
A grill restaurant on the very edge of trendy Dorcol, tucked away in an industrial park, Don Gedza is a classic taxi driver's secret haunt. You have a choice of food here, as long as that food is grilled meat. If you do manage to find the place, you may as well get the mixed grill, with pljeskavica (stuffed Serbian hamburger), a smoked pork cutlet, cevapi, and sausages, all cooked on a charcoal grill (is there any other kind?). With a mountain of fries, a couple of salads, and drinks for three people, we walked out of there with a bill just under 30 euros. Not bad.
As its name suggests, Cholesterol is also a grill place, just up the road from Don Gedza. Having stumbled across it on our walk back into town, we returned a few days later (when we had recovered). It's an upscale tavern with modern decor and a price increase to match, though still quite reasonable. The grill plate was enormous, including peanut stuffed pljeskavica (don't knock it till you've tried it) that could have easily fed us all on its own, grilled bacon, house-made sausage, and cevapi. We ordered a plate of muckalica which I mistakenly thought was some kind of vegetable dish, until I was informed that it was actually pork with peppers. Unlike Don Gedza, they have a full menu of traditional Serbian cooked food, most of which is sold out by dinnertime.
The restaurant in Square Nine
A brand new five-star hotel in the centre of town, Square Nine also features a bar and a restaurant. It's a beautiful hotel, with a lobby that looks both sharp and inviting. It's very easy to spend a few hours here noshing on the excellent food and sipping the outstanding cocktails, easily the best in town. The revolving menu is a list of well-executed classics with a modern twist. I had the 18-hour pork belly when I was there, while my dinner companion had the filet mignon, and I can highly recommend both. If you can stretch to spending some time in the hotel, do it; it's worth every penny for the mattress alone. On weekends, they also serve Sunday brunch.
A forno a legna pizza place situated on Skadarska, a charmingly touristy stretch of cobble-stoned street and old-fashioned taverns, Guli is an Italian restaurant with a Belgrade twist. It has a comprehensive menu of pastas and salads that I've never looked at because I come here for the pizza. If you get there in the summer, sit in the back patio and enjoy the cool shade.
Close by Tasmajdan Park, this Italian eatery is housed in an old pharmacy, hence the slightly odd choice of name. Also forno a legna, the pizzas here are the star of the show. If you have room, check out the rogac cake, a Serbian dessert made with fennel.
Smack dab in the centre of the Knez Mihajlova shopping district, Vuk is an old-school tavern that serves up the Serbian classics with gusto. I had the brizle (grilled sweetbreads), while my dining companions had the grilled veal and the prebranac (baked beans). The food is good, and it's another great spot for people watching, but that's almost besides the point; it's practically an institution in Belgrade.
I'm sure that I'm missing a lot of places, so I'd love to hear some recommendations.
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