Our Favorite Restaurants in Sarajevo (So Far)Dionne and I have been in Sarajevo for 6 months now. Due to our crazy schedule and the ridiculously low prices here, we estimate that we have eaten out at least 200 times. Not all in Sarajevo mind you. But we figure that we have eaten considerably more meals here in Sarajevo than Rick Steves. So here is a countdown of our 10 favorite restaurants in Sarajevo so far.
10. Pizza CompanyFull disclosure. Of the 10 restaurants on this list, Dionne and I only discovered 2 of them ourselves. We have been assisted by so many friends here in Sarajevo. The most helpful have been Muslim Aid who wrote down a list of 10 restaurants that we had to try. Also helpful have been Emin and Senada, Emir, the missionaries, and many others. Very proud to say that we have not discovered any of these restaurants via Trip Advisor!
|We have found this more in Tuzla than Sarajevo...but people here like to put ketchup on their pizza. For the missionaries...well, when in Rome...|
|One of the first pizzas I had here in Sarajevo. This was before I figured out what the word Jaje means. This was definitely NOT from Pizza Company!!!|
The second time we met them, Emin and Senada told us that the best pizza in Sarajevo is found at Pizza Company. We have tried at least pizza at 15 places so far and we have to agree with them. Although the "orient" pizza at Manglo is a close second.
|Elder Garza enjoying the chicken pizza at Pizza Company.|
|Emin and Senada posing with a famous FEI competitor.|
9. WOKIWOKI is a favorite little spot of the missionaries. It is walking distance from the church. It is cheap. And the food is quite good. So what is not to love?
|Even the WOKI logo is happy!|
|Elder Parkinson has fallen in love with chicken curry on the mission. So he always gets the chicken curry sandwich.|
|This is a chicken kebab plank from WOKI. The white sauce is likely a kaymak...a local spread.|
PekaraLet me take a second and step away from the list. One joy of the Balkans are Pekaras. These are little bakeries that seem to sit on every corner. In the U.S. their goods would be centrally manufactured so that every bakery would sell the same stuff (e.g., Krispy Kreme). In the Balkans, each Pekara bakes there own goodies. This means that every pekara you walk into is different than the next one.
So, of course, we are trying to find the best of the best. And we believe we have been successful thanks to an assist from the Sisters. There is a little French Pekara downtown that is just a step above the rest.
|They have a chocolate almond croissant that Dionne could eat every morning.|
When Sister Locey left us after 6 months in Sarajevo, she wanted to have her last meal at the top of AVAZ tower. She, and we, were under the impression that there was a restaurant on the top of AVAZ. Alas, it was only cafe. But in researching AVAZ we learned that Sarajevo does have a rotating restaurant on top of the Radon Hotel. So we decided to go there instead.
8. Plava Prizma (Radon Hotel)
|This is our January group of missionaries. Never seen a missionary so excited as Sister Locey when she learned she was going to the Croatian coast. We are excited for her.|
7. LAVAWe have seen so many menus (jelovnik) here in Bosnia that they are beginning to run together. Much like U.S. restaurants all seem to have the same things (caesar salad, chicken tenders, burgers, wings, grilled steak, sea bass, etc), Bosnian restaurants are very redundant. They almost always have similar offerings (chicken soup called Begova čorba, Bosnian pot, pizza, pasta, chicken filets with french fries, steak, river fish, salads that feature cucumbers, tomatoes, and/or cabbage, and a few "wok" dishes). In fact, it is quite possible to order without ever seeing menu. So we really enjoy the places which have different fare. Or, in the case of LAVA, does the traditional fare in unique ways.
|LAVA is in the top of a lesser known shopping center.|
|This is my veal gnocchi. Bosnians love cream sauces...mostly sour cream, kaymak, garganzola, or yogurt-based.|
|I have tried over 20 different lava cakes so far. This includes last week when I had three different lava cakes in 2 days.|
6. NooviSpeaking of lava cake, Noovi's is a close second to Miss Sophies. This is a small restaurant with a relatively limited menu. But what they do, they do really, really well.
|Noovi's lava cake. The cake is solid and yet explodes with oozing chocolate once you cut into it.|
|It just dawned on me that I really enjoy losing 20 lbs by going to Noovi every day for a month and eating this salad. It was that good.|
The Restaurant We Have Visited the Most TimesI want to take a quick break from the list and talk about the restaurant we have visited to most since we arrived in country. It is an American restaurant. We are ashamed to admit that we have eaten at McDonald's more frequently than any other restaurant.
|Hanging out at a McDonald's in Serbia with the Elders.|
5. KlopaEmin and Senada rejoins the list at this point. They invited us to dinner downtown. This is where they took us. Klopa is a little pizza joint where none of us order pizza. It is because all of the other things on the menu as so good.
|This is Emin and Senada's son, Isa. He is not a big fan of chicken...but for some reason he really enjoyed eating pieces of my thai chicken dish.|
|Klopa is located downtown near the Pope John Paul II Church.|
|Emin with his diary chicken burger.|
4. KimonoDionne has eaten a lot of chicken filets here in Bosnia. And I have never heard her once say that she is searching for the "best chicken filet" in Sarajevo. There is only so much you can do with a chicken filet. On the other hand, she has been very interested in finding the best steak here in Bosnia. An early contender was the T-Bone at Piano...but it was just the sheer size of the steak that intrigued us...rather than the flavor. Another contender was the filet mignon at the Four Seasons. But still there was something missing. We knew that we had not found the best steak yet.
|The Piano T-Bone is nearly 2 lbs and includes all sorts of veggies. It is a challenge for the hungriest of missionaries to finish.|
|I have circled the tuna layer...a sushi dish laced with canned tuna simply does not work. Trust me. It was nasty.|
|My birthday dinner. That is a smile of relief.|
|Elder's Isom's farewell dinner.|
3. Mala Kuhinja ("Little Kitchen")Remember when I said we took the Elders and the Sisters out separately when we first arrived here? The Elders took us to Čipas. The Sisters, however, took us to Mala Kuhinja; number 3 on this list. We don't have that many pictures of Mala Kuhinja. Just this video. But let me describe the premise. They do not have a menu. The waiter asks about your group's food preferences. What you like and what you do not. And then they make seasonal dishes that fit your profile and bring them to the table. The food is Asian fusion Bosnian style.
Several of the dishes they have made for us have been excellent. Dionne especially likes a beef dish in a creme pumpkin oil sauce. They made some of the best salmon I have ever eaten (salmon is one of my least favorite fish dishes). And the only reason they do not top this list is because the promise of on-going innovation has really not materialized. As we have returned, the dishes that they bring us seem to be variations on the same theme over and over again. Dionne and I are having an on-going conversation about which restaurants we will take our kids to here in Sarajevo. A few months ago Mala Kuhinja was on the top of the list. It has dropped. If we have a couple of nights in Sarajevo, then we will make time for the Little Kitchen.
2. PinoOur first night in Sarajevo our predecessors, the Schlehubers, took us to their favorite restaurant in Sarajevo, Pino. We were absolutely enthralled. Pino is up in the mountains overlooking Sarajevo near the bobsled run. It is as close to our house as Baščaršija (old town). And we discovered stray puppies just off the side of the road. So we must of returned to Pino and that area 5 times in the first few weeks.
|This is the Pino resort.|
|Almedin explaining the specials.|
|This was my favorite dish on the old menu. And the buckwheat donuts.|
The Worst Meal and the Worst Restaurant So FarBefore I get to the best, I want to share the worst. Most of the restaurants and dishes we have eaten in Bosnia have been very good. We are often pleasantly surprised at how good the food is. Even when we are just eating at small rural restaurants. There have not been many things that we struggled to get down.
But other than the aforementioned sushi bowl, there is one other dish that I really struggled to eat. Dionne, who rarely orders "crazy" generally does not have to worry about hating her dish. But sometimes I take a wrong turn or two when I order. And this dish was a wrong turn. I have seen dishes like this on menus here. It is called "Old School" or something like that. Hopefully "Old School" does not mean that it is filled with the canned meat served during the siege. Because that is what it tasted like.
|A dish I ordered at a little cafe. It was supposed to have hot peppers on top instead of onions. Trust me, the meat inside of the thing was simply awful. I am shuddering with the memory of the taste by just looking at it right now.|
|Missionaries Isom, Rasmussen, Higlee, and Locey enjoying a P-day. Mohan is to the right. He was quite pleased when he beat everyone during the first game. And it was only his 4th time bowling.|
We credit both Muslim Aid and Emin for helping us find Dveri. But there is no way we would not have found this restaurant. Recently, two technical specialists, the Bennetts, came to visit from Salt Lake. We had dinner with them in Old Town. They mentioned that there a little place there that they love. They did not know the name but figured they could walk there. I just laughed, said nothing else, and took them to Dveri. They were so happy when they realized that this was the place. If you want great Bosnian food and are going to be here just one night, Dveri is the place. We will take our kids to Dveri.
|Dionne at Dveri.|
When we first tried Dveri, a few things stood out. The bread was absolutely phenomenal. It is baked like a cinnamon roll but is not sweet. And it is very, very good. And order Ajvar to good alongside it. This is a Balkan specialty made from red peppers. Dveri's is a good as any we have tried here. Dionne had a Gulaš (meat stew) and fell in love with it. So the next time back she recommended it to everyone at the table. They all got gulaš. But this time there was too much peppercorn...so nobody liked it that much. In this situation, Dionne's practice of ordering one thing and sticking with it might of doomed us to missing Dveri's true virtues.
|The bread and gulaš at Dveri.|
With Emin and Senada we were having the great "steak" discussion. Emin said that hands down the best steak is at Dveri. Period. He was so insistent that we decided we had to return to Dveri soon and see if their steak could compete with Kimono's.
|With the Bennetts at Dveri.|
After two bites of the gargonzola steak, Dionne declared Dveri the winner. Best steak. Best bread. Best Ajvar. A great herbal tea. Located in Baščaršija. In a quaint little restaurant that oozes charm. Now I look forward to going through so much more of their menu. Kids...this is it. If we only one night in Sarajevo, we will go to Dveri's. And you will not be disappointed.
Except Bryan. We will take him to Piano's because he has always been our quantity over quality child.