Kafana, the most famous Belgrade restaurants

When we talk about authentic places in Belgrade, "kafana" certainly rank at the top of the list of those by which the Serbian capital is recognized worldwide.

Kafana, the most famous Belgrade restaurants

Many old Belgraders claim that taverns are the heart and soul of this city. It's true! For centuries, they have been a meeting place for all generations, where joy and sorrow were shared over a glass of good rakija and wine. When you add famous gastronomic specialties and the widely renowned orchestras that perfectly complement the authentic atmosphere, it's clear why Belgrade kafana’s are an essential part of the entertainment and nightlife for many tourists.

However, kafana are much more than just entertainment venues. A kafana is a kind of institution, some even say the center of social life, which has been shaped over centuries. In kafana’s, it's not just about good food, drinks, music, and singing. Many, even the most significant problems, were solved in them. Serbian history is full of examples when many important state issues were resolved precisely in Belgrade kafana’s.

There are indeed many taverns in Belgrade. Novi Apartmani have made an effort in this text to introduce all future guests of Belgrade to the most striking examples, kafana’s that still try to maintain their traditional style, which in some cases has been built over centuries.

Historical records say that the first kafana in Belgrade was opened in Dorćol in the 16th century. It was the first establishment of its kind in this area brought by the Ottomans during their campaigns to Europe. At that time, taverns did not yet exist on the Old Continent. It wasn't until the beginning of the 17th century that Venice and Oxford, followed by London, Paris, and Vienna, got their first taverns.

The oldest Belgrade tavern (kafana) that still serves guests in a traditional way is "Znak pitanja" (Question Mark), from which we will start our TOP 5 list of traditional Belgrade kafana’s.

"Znak pitanja" is definitely the oldest Belgrade restaurant that still serves guests in a similar way, just as it did in 1823 when the building in which this kafana is located was built. It is located in the very center of the city, near the Saborna Church, and represents a place with a completely authentic atmosphere where traditionally prepared specialties of domestic cuisine are served. This tavern also represents a protected cultural heritage because, in its own way, it represents a true little Belgrade time machine for numerous tourists and gourmets from all over the world.

After "Znak pitanja," we go to the famous Skadarlija Street, popularly known as "Skadarlija," a famous Belgrade cobblestone street and bohemian quarter that firmly holds several gastronomic gems that have successfully resisted all changes for centuries. To write about Skadarlija and not mention the kafana "Dva Jelena" (Two Deer) simply makes no sense. It is a kafana that dates back to the early 19th century. It started operating back in 1832 and has since been one of the most famous symbols of Belgrade's bohemian tradition. This tavern was visited by numerous famous guests. Besides our famous artists such as Đura Jakšić, Laza Kostić, Milovan Glišić, "Dva Jelena" was one of the favorite taverns of the famous Toma Zdravković. This kafana also hosted some of the world's most famous leaders such as Jimmy Carter, Margaret Thatcher, and Josip Broz Tito, as well as actors like Pierce Brosnan and Gérard Depardieu.

Next, with the next kafana, we stay in "Skadarlija" because the famous kafana "Tri Šešira" (Three Hats) is on the third place on the list of Novi Apartmani. This kafana started operating during the 19th century, precisely in 1864, and since then, just like today, it rightfully enjoys the status of a cult Belgrade kafana. An interesting fact is that the kafana got its name from the craft workshop that was there before it, which had three tin hats as its logo. The tavern still exudes the spirit of old times when its regular guests were Branislav Nušić, Tin Ujević, Đura Jakšić, and other giants of literary creation. The charms of this tavern were not resisted even by King Juan Carlos, George Bush, Willy Brandt, and other world leaders.

Perhaps not dating back to the 19th century, but fully deserving its cult status, just like its place on our list, is the famous "Madera" kafana, which opened its doors to guests in the pre-war 1937 and quickly became a favorite gathering place for famous names and the then Belgrade bohemians. Through extensive renovations in 2003, this famous catering facility receives the attributes of a modern restaurant, but with retaining its recognizable features from the first half of the 20th century. "Madera" has a large garden, and the menu offers traditional dishes prepared in a modern way that will simply delight you. There is also an impressive wine list that will delight even the most discerning connoisseurs.

It is difficult to reduce the list to just five traditional Belgrade kafana’s, as there are so many that will amaze every bohemian with their atmosphere and offer. However, in the end, we decided to include "Klub Književnika" (Writers' Club) on the list of Novi Apartmani. This catering facility, located in the very center of the city, with a tradition of over 70 years, as well as its authentic space and menu, also falls under the category of tavern institutions. This tavern has changed and adapted to the times over time but still exudes that unique atmosphere that inspired some famous romances, just like the one between Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

If you are a tavern enthusiast or a gourmet who, as a tourist, wants to experience the authentic atmosphere of the famous Belgrade "institutions" for the first time, we suggest you visit our website in the STRICT CENTER section to view the offer of fantastically equipped accommodation and choose one of the apartments according to your preferences that will successfully provide a peaceful retreat in the strict city center, close to all the above-mentioned kafana’s where you will undoubtedly feel the soul of Belgrade!

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