When traveling, a large part of the fun and learning is finding out about, and sampling the local foods and drinks. We were only in Sarajevo for 2 days and nights, but we did manage to sample some of the traditional specialities, and enjoyed them all.
The Old Town has a variety of restaurants and cafes, but we couldn’t get into many of them, as it was Iftar and some were specially reserved for the Iftar meal—a fact that really re-inforced our feeling that this is a city where the Ottoman influence is strong, where East meets West (Iftar is the meal eaten by Muslims after sunset during Ramadan. It is often done as a community where people break their fast together).
Another example of this East-meets-West is the type of seating that some eating places have: low, bench-like tables with cushions on the seats.
Probably one of the most popular foods throughout the Balkans, and certainly in Sarajevo, is Cevapcici. This traditional dish is rolled and seasoned meat that comes in portions of 5 or 10. It is served with Somun (a flatbread), onions, yoghurt, and sometimes Kajmak (sweet cheese spread).
Somun is the flat bread that was brought to Bosnia by the Ottomans. It’s a popular addition to meals, especially during Ramadan and you can find it in bakeries around town.
Another popular local speciality is what they call Pita. It’s a pastry made with thin phyllo dough with different fillings, such as meat, cheese, of vegetables, especially potatoes, spinach, squash and mushrooms. Long logs of the filled dough are shaped like coiled sausages and baked, often on a fire. We had some at lunch the first day, where they were called cheese pie.
Bosanski Lonac is also very popular. It’s a thick stew-like soup made from meat, potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots, pepper and bay leaves.
Coffee (kahve) and baklava are very common after meals. As we discovered in Mostar, coffee is definitely the national drink in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In 1570 Sarajevo became the first city in Europe (after Istanbul) to have a coffee shop—100 years before Paris, Vienna or London.
In spite of this being a largely Muslim city we were easily able to get beer or wine with our meals. I guess that makes sense, as many visitors from foreign countries are starting to visit here more and more.
One dinner was at Dveri (Prote Bakovica 12), not far from our hotel. It was a very pleasant place, small with a green leafy trellis over the outside courtyard seating, and a lovely waiter. Nath had squid, Sonya a fried steak dish, and Rod and I pork with parmesan. With special house bread (somun), bottled water, a liter of red wine and a beer, the total was only around US$60. A place to return to, if we are lucky enough to ever get back here.
Lunch the next day was at Zembilj, in the food alley next to our hotel. Very nice food, at very reasonable prices. We would definitely return here too.
Our final dinner was in the other food alley by our hotel, where we had great traditional food. Sadly, I’ve lost the receipt from that one, so we don’t remember the name, or the prices.