Albania‘s capital, Tirana, is a fascinating city that dates back to the Ottoman Empire. It’s always had interesting food, although perhaps not matched by its restaurant scene in the past. But that’s all changing and there are now some great options; our guide explores the ten must-try dining spots.
High-class and high-end, Gourmet offers its guests both outdoor and indoor seating choices and even a fireplace for the colder winter nights. With an open kitchen and an international menu based on the refinement its name suggests, Gourmet is the perfect location to try more sophisticated dishes such as goat cheese baked in cast iron with Italian Serrano ham and mango jam, tagliatelle with green asparagus, salmon and vodka sauce or yogurt mousse with lime and fresh fruit in mint syrup.
The Sky Club is the place to go for those who wish to enjoy the best panoramic view of Tirana and its rolling, mountainous surroundings. Located close to the center of the city, on the highest floor of Tirana’s Sky Tower, this scenic restaurant is one of the most popular in the Albanian capital. Besides its exclusive view of the city, Sky Club also offers a varied menu, with both international and local recipes at reasonable prices.
Oda casts a light on Ottoman culinary influences present in Albanian cuisine, and invites its visitors to discover perhaps the best traditional-style restaurant in Tirana. Small, but unforgettable, Oda has an authentic old house location, with low tables that make dining on ottoman stools a unique experience. The menu is filled with typically Albanian recipes, but also includes treats for vegetarians with dishes such as eggplant stuffed with onions and garlic and fried rice balls or oven-baked cottage cheese with pepperoni. A dinner at Oda would be incomplete without the famous homemade rakia, Albania’s national drink.
With an exotic garden filled with lemon trees and banana plants, and just a few minutes from the expansive Rinia Park, Vila 100 is a great location to relax, listen to good music and simply enjoy a cozy and intimate atmosphere. The menu is based on a fusion of styles and international influences, revolving around home-made pastas, such as the signature octopus penne, and grilled meats.
Piazza Piano Bar is not only one of the best restaurants in Tirana, but is also one of the first restaurants to be opened in the capital of Albania. Its central location, just a few steps from the National History Museum, makes it hard to miss and a stop here is a great choice for those who enjoy fish dishes, the specialty of the house. Moreover, Piazza Piano Bar offers a classy touch at reasonable prices, completing its menu with a list of the best local wines.
A café, bookshop, pizzeria, art gallery and publishing house all in one, E7E is one of the most artsy, laid-back spaces Tirana has to offer. It also hosts weekly cultural events, from film screenings to live music or literary meetings and readings, and is a great place to meet locals of all ages and other travelers in search of more off-the-beaten-track venues. On top of its unique vibe, E7E has a small but charming interior garden; a perfect place to chill on hot summer days.
The Black Sheep is one of the few authentic pub-style venues in Tirana. Famous for its wide selection of beers, as well as its open garden, a particularly attractive feature, considering the scarcity of these green restaurants in the Albanian capital, the Black Sheep is a wonderful option for pizzas or pasta, eaten while listening to good music and enjoying an outdoor summer night. Wash down with one of 100 types of local and international beers on the menu.
A trendy location for a young crowd, the Daily Bar is located right in the heart of Tirana and is one the most recent additions to the city’s buzzing nightlife scene. Its colorful architecture and fun atmosphere make it a memorable destination for all those who enjoy good service, sophisticated and exotic cocktails, as well as live music performances from local and international artists. The Daily Bar also hosts daily Happy Hour evenings.
Part of the Padam Boutique Hostel, Padam offers a high-class experience, with stylish yet simple decoration and the renowned international culinary creations of its chef, who constantly reinvents the menu with fresh dishes and ingredients. Padam also has a great variety of drinks and cocktails served pre-dinner on its lush green veranda.
As its name indicates, the Tea Room is a place dedicated to tea enthusiasts and connoisseurs, one of the very few of this type in Tirana. Nonetheless, the café/tea house is also a popular and lively local restaurant with a delicious menu and a consistent wine collection, including Italian specialty wines and mulled wine served with chestnuts in winter. The Tea Room is pleasingly inexpensive considering its excellent service and well-attended live music nights.