For spring break this year, I decided to take a trip with my mother to Europe, to visit some family. Knowing my love for food, and especially that which is Mediterranean and has meat, I knew this would be a perfect opportunity to explore, indulge, and take a break from the too many (but never enough) trips to my local BBQ restaurant. Here are the best meals I enjoyed:

Day 1

Mia Singer

I arrived in Belgrade for spring break on Sunday afternoon. Straight from the airport, my cousins immediately demanded that they take my me and my mother out to dinner. We decided to eat in a part of Belgrade called Zemun, which was originally an Austro-Hungarian city so it had its own history. 

Nestled among two rivers, and with close ties to the coastal nation of Montenegro, Belgrade is a great city for seafood. I experienced this on day one and was stunned at the freshness of the food. 

We ordered the type of fish we wanted and the waiter immediately asked how many people would be eating it. Instead of single portions at this restaurant, they pick the fish based on the party size. A few minutes later, the waiter returned with a fish to make sure it was an okay enough size and quality for us before they cooked it. 

Once the fish was finished, the waiter came back and fileted it in front of us, before divying it up onto our plates. It was a very nice approach to choosing and eating my food, and I enjoyed being able to see the steps going into my meal. 

Mia Singer

We also ordered some calamari, which is served grilled lightly in Serbia. I had had calamari in the states before, but there is something special about losing the breading, over-seasoning and over-salting of typical restaurants to simply have pure calamari with a sprinkle of lemon juice. 

Additionally, I was instructed by my cousin to try a signature type of meat from Serbia, which was flavorful and tender. I finished my meal off with a creamy and unctuous pannacotta (because every meal out requires dessert). I knew this would be a successful trip and I was excited for what was to come.

Mia Singer

Day 2

Aine Dougherty

On day two, I went out for late-night palacinke with another cousin. The restaurant we went to had a wide variety of both savory and sweet options. It was also beautifully located in a barge/boat type space on the Danube River.

 Unfortunately, neither of the two palacinke I purchased (one being a mixture of chicken and mushrooms, the other strawberry sauce, walnuts, and ice cream) made it to a picture because they were quickly eaten, but if you've never dabbled in savory crepes or sweet crepes for that matter, please do yourself a favor and get some right now. 

Day 3

Mia Singer

On day 3, my mother and I went out to one of her favorite restaurants in Old Belgrade, the more historical and cultural part of the city. For $42, we enjoyed roasted lamb, veal, amazing Serbian-style bread, two salads called Shopska Salata that quickly rose through the ranks for my favorite salad, and wine.

Not only was the meal amazing, but it tasted better because it came at an inexpensive cost. 

That night, before going out with some friends, I was talked into getting a Duck dish which was wrapped in philo dough and cooked alongside some cabbage, by a waiter who spoke impeccable English. I had never had cabbage, and this was a wonderful first experience again for the freshness of it.

Duck is hands-down my favorite meal, but I typically go for the classic Duck a l'Orange preparation. This new style concerned me at first, but I was not in the slightest disappointed by it. It was a wonderful, fresh, and filling meal to have before a night of going to some of the bars. 

Day 4

Mia Singer

The first day that we were walking around Belgrade, my mother told me I had to try something called čevapčići (che-vop-chee-chee) or čevapi for short. I spent days being curious, but not being able to resolve this curiosity.

My friends, for our second night of going out, informed me that we would go out to a Kafana to have this classic Serbian sausage, and rakija; a special Serbian plum brandy. A kafana is a special type of restaurant that includes live music representative of the region. We were able to get the attention of the musicians so they came over and sang to our table for a few minutes, and it created a lively and fun meal. 

Amongst all the high-class meals and fancy meats I ate, I think cevapi was the best thing I had. It contained all of the comforts of a hamburger or hot dog, combined with the flavor and spice of a Mediterranean meal. The fries were also lovely but I think the best part is that the menu had them listed as "baked aromatic potatoes" and I never want to experience a different kind french fry. 

Mia Singer

The rakija was STRONG. It is served in shot-glasses, but you do not drink it as such; it is meant more for sipping. It is certainly not for the faint-hearted and it makes sense for the aesthetic of the region. 

This meal was enjoyed at a Kafana, which is a special type of restaurant that includes live music representative of the region. My friends were able to get the attention of the musicians so they came over and sang to our table for a few minutes, and it created a lively and fun meal. 

Day 5

Mia Singer

On day five, I told my mother that I couldn't leave Belgrade without having cevapi again, so even though we went to an extremely fancy restaurant that was essentially a building within a building, I ordered my cevapi shamelessly. 

My mother also ordered us some more fresh, grilled calamari that came with a potato and spinach side that was the best spinach I have ever consumed. 

Overall, I had an amazing week eating my way through Belgrade. Both New Belgrade and Old Belgrade had many options, many coffee shops, and affordable food (especially for Americans). The food is fresh and true to its flavor; the natural taste of the food is respected and that comes through. 

Mia Singer