November 8, 2018 Going out

Belgrade’s Best-kept Kafana Secrets

Forget the city-centre tourist traps and dance, sing, eat and drink the night way in these lesser-known haunts of the capital.

Gradimir in Vracar is a hidden gem for lovers of Serbian folk music. Photo: Srdjan Garcevic

Mitjo Vaulasvirta

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From the tourist traps of the once-Bohemian Skadarlija to rollicking street-corner bars in the far-end of Medakovic, Belgrade is packed with kafanas – traditional restaurants or cafés – which makes choosing the right one a task requiring painstaking consideration. To make the job of finding your next go-to-spot easier, here are five lesser known kafanas for long nights of feasting, dancing, and singing with insight tips from our kafana-loving editorial board.

Mornar  (Decanska 2)

In this centrally located yet easily missed restaurant, the crowd of white-bearded seafarer types matches the maritime-themed décor, which features a wooden ship’s wheel and captain’s hat. A place for an extended lunch or boozy dinner, Mornar has a very reasonably priced menu and is known for cooked and grilled house specialties that range from 300 to 500 dinars. Try their homemade ajvar and nowadays hard-to-find aspic; they make excellent starters for Mornar’s famous cooked tripe, or the stuffed chicken rolls.

Gradimir (Cara Nikolaja 67)

Tucked away in a basement at a Crveni Krst courtyard, Gradimir is a bona fide kafana decorated with old photographs of Belgrade and packed with long wooden tables topped with red-and-white checkerboard cloths on which they serve immense portions of grilled meat. To ensure a long rakija-fumed and folk music – narodnjaci – tuned night of feasting and singing, reservations are recommended on weekends. While currently undergoing renovation, Gradimir is scheduled to reopen in late November.

Kafanica (Kneza Višeslava 66)

This whimsically and colourfully decorated kafana is a gem hidden up in the Kosutnjak forest. Kafanica’s tree-covered backyard garden, where chickens roam free, is a cosy lunch spot on sunny autumn afternoons, while the restaurant’s rustic interior and live acoustic music set the mood on weekend evenings, when the place comes alive at 9pm. Kafanica specializes is dishes cooked ispod saca  – under the bell. You can’t go wrong with their slow-cooked veal and tender potatoes. Table reservations are necessary.

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