Sarajevo surprised me with all its lovely restaurants, cafés and bar offerings. Especially the cafés – Sarajevans are café people and lounging around in one of the many coffee spots and sweet bakeries seemed to be a typical activity for an afternoon in Sarajevo. The city centre is full of cafés and they have adopted the coffee cultures from every historic influence: traditional Bosnian, Turkish, Viennese and Italian.
Foodwise, the city seems to be slowly incorporating some aspects of modern, international cuisine to its variety. The traditional “ašćinica” canteens are the places where most locals eat, and they are – in practical terms – similar to the old fashioned family taverns also found elsewhere in the Balkans, Greece and Turkey. Many ašćinicas mainly serve lunch and close some time in the afternoon. Bosnian traditional foods are hearty and tasty, incorporating influences from the wider Balkan, Turkish and even Mediterranean cuisines. In the traditional restaurants, the foods of the day are on display behind the counter, you can go look at them and then order what looks best.
The cuisine is very meat-focused, with relatively few vegetarian options, other than as side dishes. Alcohol is a little difficult to find in many restaurants, although not impossible!
And – oh yeah – you should also read my other post about Sarajevo.
Some typical foods you should eat when in Sarajevo
Bosanski Lonac – A must-eat! Bosnian stew, made of meat chunks and vegetables. The stew varies a lot depending on personal preferences, family recipes and regions, as well as historically societal class. The stew is prepared by alternating layers of vegetables and meat, until the pot is full.
Sarma (meat) & Dolma (vegetarian) – Filled grape leaves. Sarma tends to have a rice & mince meat filling or dried smoked beef – dolma usually just has seasoned rice.
Prebranac – Made across the Balkans, Bosnian baked beans. The beans are soft yet still with a bite to them. Flavoursome, rich and savoury, like a warm hug.