Where to Eat in Sarajevo: How to Dine and Drink Your Way Out As Locals Do
Last updated on December 29th, 2019
Sarajevo is such a vibrant city, full of history, good coffee, and yummy, yummy foods. During the time we stayed there on a short-time basis we promised ourselves to cook at home instead of eating out. But it didn’t mean to happen. With the number of cool restaurants, cafes, and diners it was difficult not to eat as locals did.
So we explored and tried many places. Some of them were excellent and some just good enough. This post has many tips on where to eat in Sarajevo either you are looking for a restaurant, cafe, street food, fast food, bar or club. Enjoy your meal, your cup of coffee, Rahat lokum and enjoy Sarajevo!
WHERE TO EAT IN SARAJEVO
LOCAL DINERS AND FASTFOOD
Sarajevo doesn’t have a shortage of nice restaurants and cafes. But if you would like to eat as locals do, I recommend looking for three main local fast food places: Ćevabdžinica, Buregdžinica and Aščinica.
ĆEVABDZINICA is a type of local diner where you can find dishes that include grilled meat (look for a word rostilj.) Sometimes grilled vegetables are offered as well but it’s a rare event. For the most part, Bosniaks (as other nations in the Balkans) do not eat a lot of veggies so finding them may be a challenge. Sorry to say but vegetarians won’t probably find anything in this fast-food place.
You’ve probably heard about Ćevapi dish, one of the most popular traditional dishes in Bosnia, made with ground beef sausages and served with pita bread with fresh onions (a bit heavy but yummy.) You can always find it in Ćevabdžinica diners along with other meat plates. Actually, the name of Ćevabdžinica comes from a word Ćevapi.
The price is almost the same around the city, whatever you find on the main street in Oldtown will cost about the same on the outskirts.
There are dozens of Ćevabdžinica diners around the city and a lot of them work 24 hours. If you get hungry in the middle of the night, there might be one Ćevabdžinica in the neighborhood where you are staying.
The best cevapi in Sarajevo we tried was in the legendary Ćevabdžinica Zeljo, Mrkva, Petica Ferhatovic, Specijal. They all are in the old town in Bashcharshi district. It means they are always packed with tourists and are noisy. We loved eating outside of the old town. The menu was always the same but those places were quiet and mainly filled with locals.
Besides Ćevapi you can try Sudzukice (another type of beef sausage,) Pljeskavica (a grilled meat patty mixture with spices and sometimes cheese, served with a salad or fries,) Teleca jetra (is like a cevapi but instead of sausages it comes with beef liver,) Teleci bubrezi (beef kidneys,) Telece brizle (breaded calf and lamb,) Teleca snicla (beef schnitzel,) Teleci raznjici (beef kebab) and Ramstek (sirloin steak.)
BUREGDZINICA is a bakery that has seating for customers to sit down and enjoy their goods. It is different from pekara (bakery) where you can buy bread, pastries and other baked products. In Buregdžinica you only get burek or other phyllo dough pie with cheese, potato, meat, pumpkin and spinach fillings. Locals eat them always with plain yogurt and we did too thinking it was very good.
Mark and I went to many Buregdžinicas. There were days when we ate there 2 or even 3 times a day (we were absolutely obsessed with bureks).
Our favorite place ever was Dervoz Buregdžinica, not far from the Veliki park. If you happen to be in that area (I do recommend checking it out,) visit Dervoz mini cafe. Bureks they make melt in the mouth and are soooo good. We just kept stuffing our faces every time we stopped for a snack. Try burek with potatoes and pumpkin. The meat one was good too. And hey, don’t forget yogurt! There is a grocery store across the street where you can buy one.
AŠČINICA is also a local diner but the food served there is the same what Bosniaks cook on a daily basis at home. It is a wonderful place if you want to get acquainted with the traditional cuisine of Bosnia. Depending on a place, you can find different types of fish, meat, stuffed cabbage (which is very similar to the traditional food of Ukraine,) risotto, baked vegetables and more.
If not sure what to choose, go with Sarajevski Sahan – a big platter with different foods. In this case, you get to try a bit of everything and learn more about the local cuisine.
Aščinica Stari Grad in Old Town is a really good one but they are usually open during the first part of the day.
Whenever you are in Sarajevo, I recommend putting in your map a word Ćevabdžinica, Buregdžinica or Aščinica. You’ll see lots of options around.
RELATED POST: SOME OF THE COOLEST THINGS TO SEE AND PLACES TO VISIT IN SARAJEVO
BEST CAFES AND RESTAURANTS IN SARAJEVO
There are so many cool restaurants and cafes in Sarajevo that everyone can find a place to dine and relax. Below is a list of places we loved and believe you’ll enjoy them too.
KAMARIJA is a cute cozy cafe with a beautiful veranda and yummy drinks. They sell coffee, smoothies, fresh juices, and desserts. Locals love it for the view of the city and vibe. Every time we went there this place was completely packed, and mainly with locals. I think we were the only foreigners there.
If you happen to be visiting Yellow Bastion, Kamarija cafe is probably 200 meters away around the corner. You can easily find it on google maps and there are signs, pointing to this cafe everywhere. We were sitting on the lowest level so didn’t get to see a lot of the city but still enjoyed the place very much. On cooler days they have blankets to keep you warm.
VIDIKOVAC is another cafe offering delicious dishes along with gorgeous views of the city. Its name actually, Vidikovac, in the Bosnian language means ‘viewpoint’. So it really offers a gorgeous view. On the menu you can find pizzas, soups, sandwiches, crepes and some Bosnian dishes.
TEAHOUSE DZIRLO. Oh my gosh, you absolutely have to visit this teahouse. You see, Bosnia has an incredibly delicious coffee but local people are not used to drinking tea. It is not common to find a good cup of tea in most of the restaurants or cafes in Sarajevo.
On the contrary, this small charming place offers a huge selection of teas that owners brew using some special techniques. One of the owners is an older gentleman who speaks English, Italian, French, and German. He is very sweet and enthusiastic about his business. Talking to him is such a pleasure. As I remember he told us there were 40+ different types of tea, a few types of coffee and Turkish salep (oh, it reminded me so much about our time in Istanbul). I recommend trying salep (it was so good, people! as good as in Istanbul) and tea. We paid less than 3 euros for a big pot of rooibos tea.
ART KUCA SEVDAHA. What a lovely small cafe is Art Kuca Sevduha. It has an inner garden, fountain and offers Bosnian tea (herbal drink,) coffee, fresh juices, and Turkish sweets. This place is not only a cafe but also a museum dedicated to sevdalinkas (traditional urban folk songs) and their performers.
DVA RIBARA – those who crave fish should pay a visit to this restaurant. It is beautifully located on the waterfront and offers a view. In the summertime, there is also a veranda. Everything is delicious here but especially good is salmon (or pastrmka in Bosnian.)
PIRPA PIZZA is just next door to Dva Ribara restaurant. Here you’ll find super mega delicious pizzas, burgers and kebabs. They are very casual and actually don’t look like a restaurant at all. Their food is very good though, so I wanted to mention this place.
AVLIJA. If you happen to be in the northern part of Sarajevo, stop for dinner at Avlija restaurant. It is famous for the inner courtyard full of plants and flowers. In addition to traditional Bosnian meat dishes, there are excellent kinds of pasta and salads, and portions are huge. You’ll love it and won’t want to leave!
NANINA KUHINJA. This restaurant is famous for the oriental interior, classic Bosnian cuisine, huge portions, and a cozy atmosphere. I thought it was too touristy and pricey compared to other restaurants in the same area. But the setting is pretty, the food is good and there is a nonsmoking policy (which is very rare in the Balkans.)
Side note: Unfortunately in Bosnia, as in other countries of former Yugoslavia, there is no law that forbids smoking in public places. It was a bit disappointing to walk into a beautiful cafe or restaurant and not to be able to stay there for more than two minutes because of cigarette smoke. Some places from this list do not allow smoking though and some still do. They also offer outside seating. If the weather is warm, dine outdoors.
BEST BARS AND CLUBS IN SARAJEVO
TITO. The interior of this place reminds a lot about Yugoslav times. Red colors, slogans and portraits of socialist figures tell a lot about its past. There is a large selection of beer and rakia at ridiculous prices. In the evenings there are parties with live music, and during the day you can relax in the courtyard of this bar. It is perfect for those who feel nostalgic for Yugoslavia or would love to get a feel of what it was all about.
BALKAN EXPRESS. It is another place for transferring in socialist Yugoslavia. Besides Tito portraits you can find lots of retro attributes. The price for beer is around 1 euro and legendary Yugoslav rock from the 70s is played on the background. Often, in the evenings there is live music.
BIRTIJA. Must hit place for blues and jazz lovers. Birtija bar is a quirky unique place with warm atmosphere and super lovely stuff. Pleasant music is always playing on the background and the interior with a slight touch of Art Nouveau is pleasing to the eye. Beer is also very cheap here, around 1 euro. You’ll be amazed to see many ornaments and interesting details.
CLUB MONUMENT. This is another mandatory spot for jazz lovers. Various local and foreign jazz bands play here. Admission is around 3 euros. The drinks are well priced, with a decent selection of food.
S ONE SKY LOUNGE. Usually, you would go to this place because of the view and ambiance. Drinks are rather expensive and very basic. This bar is located on the roof of the Courtyard Marriott, has a nice playlist of music and great staff. And here you get a fabulous view of the entire city of Sarajevo. The downside of this place is in the evenings it gets always crowded and smokey.
DIBEK. We stumbled upon this place while walking through historic district Bashcharshi. It isn’t our type of a bar but those who love drinking Turkish coffee and smoking shisha will love this little spot. There are a courtyard and entire second floor in oriental style. You can order a hookah, a cup of excellent Bosnian coffee, lie on the couch and relax.
Side note: all these bars and clubs allow smoking. If you are a non-smoker, it will be probably too much for you to take. I recommend going before the night hours when there are fewer locals.
THE LAST A FEW WORDS ON DINING IN THE CAPITAL OF BOSNIA
We loved Sarajevo. We loved everything about this city except for one small but important detail. Majority of restaurants, cafes, bars, and lounges allow smoking. Man, how do they even live like that?
Mark and I enjoy taking our laptops and going to a lovely coffee shop to work while sipping coffee and munching on a dessert. Unfortunately in Sarajevo, as entire Bosnia and as entire Balkans region it was impossible to do so. Sometimes having lunch was more of a struggle and the reason for that was smoke. We felt that locals walked and slept with a cigarette in their hands.
If you are a non-smoker (we are) it may be really challenging to dine out and enjoy most of the places. Still, there are ways how to have a pleasant experience.
1. Most of the diners and fast food places we went to, such as Buregdžinica and aščinica, were smoke-free. With Ćevabdžinica it was more problematic.
2. A lot of restaurants and cafes have separate areas for people who do not smoke. I know, you do still smell cigarettes but it is not that bad. Look at the door or window, usually, there is a sign saying that.
3. Choose to sit outside whenever possible. Many places have heating lamps and provide blankets to keep you warm if the weather is chilly.
This is my list of the best places where to eat in Sarajevo and a few tips on how to have an enjoyable experience. I do hope that very soon the smoking policy in Bosnia will change though.
If you have anything to add, please do so and share in comments, don’t be shy! Would love to hear from ya all!
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Thank you for lovely post about Sarajevo and thank you for promoting my country Bosnia and Herzegovina…
Wellcome back anytime to B&H, and just one notice, it’s not Serbian than Bosnian language …
Hi Kao! Thank you for your comment and letting me know about the language mistake! I have already fixed it! 🙂 Visiting Bosnia was absolutely eye-opening, both of us loved your country and especially the people. You guys are the friendliest in entire Europe! We hope to revisit one day!