Culinary offer in Belgrade - I part
Belgrade kafana, one of the most renowned institutions of the Serbian capital, is the place where a centuries-long tradition and modern hedonist trends exist side by side.
Restaurants and kafanas (the term “kafana” is the one most commonly used for the tavern in Serbian) are undoubtedly some of the most beloved places in Belgrade. If you’re a visitor here and are fortunate enough to be taken by some of your Belgrade friends to his or her favourite restaurant, you should know that not only you will enjoy your perfect meal, but you will also have a great time, stay longer than you initially planned, and go home with the same amount of money that you brought, as you won’t be allowed to reach for the wallet, due to the typical Serbian hospitality.
In Belgrade, the restaurants are usually called kafanas. More precisely, kafanas are the restaurants with merry and relaxed atmosphere, where the guests stay late in night, talking loudly to each other, putting tables together, chat and often sing together. In kafanas, you can usually listen to “live music”, and the musicians are given tips for a well-played song “right above your head.” In kafanas, we spend our last pennies, and the guests sometimes argue over who will pay at the end. These habits have remained from our distant past and are passed on to the new generations, so be not surprised by the number of young people you may meet in these places.
This topic is a rather extensive one and we believe it should have two parts. The first part here will give you an overview of the most typical examples of old Serbian kafanas, the institution which for centuries has been not only a place famous for good eating, but the hotspot of the Serbian society where some of the most serious societal problems are resolved.
Some historical records indicate that the first ever kafana in Belgrade was opened as long ago as in the 16th century in Dorcol. This was the first place of this type in the region that the Ottoman rulers brought here on their way to conquering Europe. At the time, Europe didn’t have any taverns or kafanas. Only in the 17th century Venice, Oxford, and afterwards, London, Paris and Vienna opened their first taverns.
This concept of old-fashioned kafanas is still nurtured in Belgrade and we still gladly visit the restaurants which date back to the 19th century. The oldest restaurant in Belgrade which still works and serves its guests is the famous kafana „Znak pitanja“ (The Question Mark), and is located in the very centre of the city, near Saborna Church. “Znak pitanja” remained in an old house which was built in 1823, and the food is prepared in a similar way, so you will definitely find it interesting to visit this unique building and taste the traditionally prepared specialities of our cuisine.
Apart from this tavern, there are two more taverns from the 19th century „Dva Jelena“ (The Two Deer) and „Tri Šešira“ (The Three Hats) located in the famous, ancient, cobble stoned bohemian street Skadarlija, the high spot of all tourist areas in Belgrade. The tavern “Ima dana” (There Are Days), is a bit of a newer date, that is, after the World War II, and is also located in Skadarlija. All these places were visited by many world famous and historic figures who spent some time in Belgrade, so it can easily turn out that the table you’re sitting at is the same one where Jimmy Hendrix, Henry Kissinger, Pelé or Pierce Brosnan used to dine at.
The restaurant “Milošev Konak”(The Residence of Knez Milos Restaurant) is located within the charming Topcider park and started serving its guests even before the World War II, while the residence was built in early 19th century and has great historical significance as it was used personally by the famous Serbian ruler Milos.
There are a lot of the restaurants which are over a century old and insist on traditional approach. Some things are common for all of them – fantastic food and good atmosphere. The restaurant “Klub Književnika” (The Literary Club), located in the very heart of the city, has a tradition of over 70 years and was written about by some of the most memorable world figures. The place may seem a bit mystic, but it’s real. The Literary club has experienced a number of changes in the meantime, but the owners will proudly say that this place was home to some of the greatest romantic stories, the most famous one being the story of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Barton.
The restaurant “Madera” started its work in 1937 and became the favourite gathering place of prominent citizens and the bohemians of the time. It was fully refurbished in 2013 and boasts very modern interior, a gorgeous garden, great wine offer and the menu offers the traditional dishes prepared in a modern way that will simply blow you away. You can, for example, have beef fritters with potato foam and ”ajvar“ mousse. For dessert, you should have a mint mousse, or a warm chocolate truffle, or just enjoy the pancakes „A La Madera“.
For all the guests enjoying the seafood, our recommendation is the restaurant Šaran (The Carp) in Zemun quay. The enjoyable stroll by the river in summer evenings, wonderful dinner, great wine and the best company will make your every minute precious. This restaurant offers brilliantly prepared fish, fish specialities, the immensely popular fish soup and the pleasant tambourine music. What makes this restaurant even more special is that most of the dishes are prepared from the fish caught in the Danube on that very morning, which definitely adds to the high quality of the restaurant and guarantees the unforgettable culinary experience.
The restaurant Franš in Autokomanda area does not belong to the category of the restaurants and taverns with a long tradition as the taverns described above. However, this restaurant undoubtedly represents a strong culinary institution and with its professional approach and atmosphere deserves to be included in this list. Franš is a favourite among the business people, and primarily among the politicians and people from show business. This is where important guests and foreign business partners are often taken to lunch.
If, during your stay in Belgrade, you would like to be located right next to these culinary institutions, we recommend that you go through the offer of our comfortable apartments and choose the one which will enable you to go easily back to your comfortable bed after a crazy night out. You will need a good night’s rest to prepare yourself for another day of exploration of Belgrade kafanas. Noviapartmani.com recommends the apartment “Petar”, located immediately next to the oldest restaurant in this part of Europe, the restaurant “Znak pitanja”, and the apartment “Skadarlija lux”, located just above this famous street, the synonym for a good old kafana, and the apartment “Bianco” located in the heart of the city, where absolutely everything is at hand.