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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Belgrade Insight to be integrated into Balkan Insight

After a 265 issue run, Belgrade Insight, BIRN’s bi-weekly Belgrade-focused English-language newspaper, printed its last paper edition on Friday 21 December, 2018. 

In its decade-long life since 2008, Belgrade Insight sought to bring quality journalism to its readers and subscribers.

Belgrade Insight covered political and economic developments in Serbia, but also told stories about people, businesses and events which shaped a unique and multi-faceted city like Belgrade.

In addition to detailed analysis and coverage of political, economic and business affairs, Belgrade Insight provided its readers with everything that expatriates, short-term visitors and local residents need to know in order to enjoy this great city.

It the past decade, it saw many changes in Serbia’s political and cultural climate: from the deep recession of early 2010s to Serbia’s candidate status in the EU, through Belgrade’s first Eurovision song contest and re-opening of city’s museums.

Although Belgrade Insight will no longer be printed, BIRN journalists and associates will continue their coverage of Belgrade and Serbia through the Balkan Insight website.

For any questions or refunds contact Snezana Caricic (