It used to be quite a challenge for vegetarians to survive in Belgrade. Serbian national cuisine is mostly based on heavy meat dishes, so one had to rely on bakeries or potato in all its forms when eating out. Luckily, the situation has improved drastically over the last few years, and these days you can find nutritious, protein-rich vegetarian and vegan options in restaurants, salad bars, and even at some fast-food outlets. Here’s our list of the best vegetarian-friendly places to check out.
Radost Fina Kuhinjica
Radost Fina Kuhinjica is usually the first choice for vegetarians, due to its attractive location beneath the Kalemegdan Fortress, cozy setting in a ground-floor apartment and the original menu that will make even your die-hard meat-eating friends think twice. At Radost they always try new recipes as a daily menu, but the evergreen dishes to definitely taste are the starter platter with baba ganoush, hummus and freshly baked pita bread, vegan burgers in either beetroot or shiitake variation, as well as Radost ramen soup. Don’t be in a hurry, because the cakes are more than worth waiting for.
Located in one of the most beautiful and historical streets in Belgrade, Kosančićev venac, the restaurant’s name is a play on the Serbian word for ‘mother’. Mayka’s menu consists of vegetarian dishes from various national cuisines that are made at ordinary homes, evoking the smell and the warmth of mum’s kitchen. In a stylish interior you can order samosas, curry, meals made of seitan and dhal, pizzas, spicy lemonade or Indian sweets. However, the signature dish that sublimes the restaurant’s philosophy is Mayka goulash, an authentic version of stew made with seitan, tagliatelle, heavenly spiced tomato sauce and warm, melted cheese.
If you opt for a shopping tour across the river, in Novi Beograd (New Belgrade), make your way to this beautifully designed little eatery. You’ll be surprised by its spinach burgers with sea salt or vegan sticks seasoned with roasted sesame. The absolute winner among desserts is the avocado, dates and hazelnut mousse, which goes great with fine wines from the restaurant’s selection. Despite its out-of-the-way location, Oliva (restoranoliva.com) has an unusual frequency of guests even on a Monday evening, which is probably its best recommendation.
If you pass Jazzayoga (jazzayoga.com) at lunch time, make sure you stop by and try food from its weekly menu. Depending on the day of the week, you may run into buckwheat moussaka with green beans, oyster mushroom stew, steamed rice with chickpeas and mint, chili sin carne or other yummy food combinations. You’ll also find sandwiches made of wholegrain yeast-free bread, other wholegrain products and cookies that will make the entire world seem right for you.
The only raw-food bar in Belgrade, Zdravo Živo (zdravo-zivo.rs) serves and delivers complete meals made from raw, plant-based ingredients. The menu varies daily and there are usually two to three options to choose from, such as raw fish and chips, stuffed peppers, spaghetti bolognese, burritos, cabbage rolls or sausages. Stuffed peppers and sarma (cabbage rolls) are among the most common meat dishes in Serbian cuisine, but transformed and dressed up as raw meals with fresh vegetables and seeds stuffing, they’re a perfect refreshing choice for hot Belgrade summers.
Hanan and Tel Aviv Hummus House
Its majesty falafel is gaining huge popularity even among non-vegetarians in Belgrade. Once rare to find, falafel is now served at several locations around the city. If you want to eat in, you can go to the central Hanan (restoranhanan.rs) restaurant in Svetogorska Street, but if you’d rather grab a really voluminous falafel sandwich on the go, stop by Tel Aviv Hummus House (telavivhummushouse.com) near the busy Zeleni Venac Market or visit Shawarma Hanan (facebook.com/pages/Hanan-Shawarma) near Cvetni Trg.
Super Donkey and Lime & Carrot
These are the places to pop into when you want a healthy, nutritious meal on the go. Super Donkey (facebook.com/SuperDonkeyKrunska26) is a salad bar, health-food store and tiny eatery all in one. Here you can enjoy wraps and colorful salads named Peruvian, Lebanese or Caucasian, made with veggies, nuts, seeds and creamy dressings, as well as homemade soups, smoothies and sweets. Lime & Carrot (limeandcarrot.com) is owned by a very talkative chef who even cooked for the Serbian tennis star Novak Djoković and who’s always ready to give useful health tips on any ingredient you mention. The Three Beans salad and pumpkin-vanilla soup will make you go back to try everything else on offer, and the owner will gladly mix a cold-pressed juice for you while singing along to the radio.
When you’re dining out with friends who are meat eaters, your best bet is to visit places that aren’t exclusively vegetarian but have amazing vegetarian options. These include Gnezdo Organic, Sakura, Marukoshi (marukoshi.rs) or Mezestoran Dvorište (restorandvoriste.rs). Hidden vegetarian gems may be found even at a traditional Serbian kafana like Proleće (varoskapija.rs/restaurant-prolece), where you can enjoy a pumpkin moussaka or prebranac (baked beans). Prefer to cook yourself? Head to Zeleni Venac Market to shop for fresh vegetables and fruits, then drop by Bio Market (facebook.com/Biomarket) health-food store to get wholegrain flours, nuts, seeds and special oils, and create your unique gastronomical experience of Belgrade.