We won’t sugarcoat it. Serbia isn’t the easiest country in the world in which to be a vegetarian, as meat is king when it comes to the majority of the national dishes. Despite this there has never been a better time for herbivores in Belgrade and around, as modern trends continue to make serious inroads into the big city. Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Belgrade as a vegetarian.
Make the most of the markets
The majority of Serbia’s national dishes might have meat as the main ingredient, but that isn’t to say that fruits and vegetables are foreign objects in the country. Some of the freshest produce around can be found here, and the many markets of Belgrade are full to bursting point with the stuff on a daily basis.
Not many people go on holiday with ideas of cooking high on their agenda, but Belgrade can be a great place to stock up on ingredients and get to cooking a mouth watering meal of your own. The markets are immensely inexpensive too, so this also doubles up as an economical option.
There are a number of restaurants in the city that cater directly to vegans and vegetarians. Radost Fina Kuhinjica is one of the best dining spots in the city regardless of menu, a delightful spot hidden away in an apartment building near Kalemegdan. The garden is gorgeous, and the menu isn’t bad either.
There are plenty of other options too. Jazzayoga presents a different menu every day, New Belgrade’s Oliva caters to herbivore diets on the other side of the river, and Zdravo Živo stands proudly as the only raw food spot in the Serbian capital.
Belgrade has always been a major international city, no matter what certain nationalist sections of the population would like you to believe. Its position on the border between the Ottoman and Austrian Empires has guaranteed a long tradition of cultural diversity, and this is still true in the 21st century. There is plenty of international cuisine in the city as a result, bringing dishes that don’t rely on meat to exist.
Asian cuisine is noticeably on the rise in Belgrade, with a number of Eastern restaurants staking their claim as some of the best in the city. Dorćol’s Marukoshi and Istok deserve special mention on the vegetarian theme, presenting exquisite dishes from Japanese and Vietnamese culture respectively.
Fare from the Middle East is also gaining traction in the city, with plenty of Lebanese restaurants popping up all over the place. Hanan is arguably the best, although there are a number of excellent fast food options too (which we’ll get to shortly).
Slim pickings at traditional spots
There isn’t a huge amount of vegetarian options available at Belgrade’s traditional Serbian restaurants. Grilled meats are king, for better or worse. Vegetarians will often be left with the choice between grilled vegetables or a salad, and while both are guaranteed to be tasty they don’t really fill the tummy. Saying that, Serbians do often go overboard on the salads, so you might get lucky there.
Friendly fast food
Belgrade does a fine trade in fast food options, perfect for gorging on after a night in the bars, pubs and clubs of the city. Health might not be the first thing on the minds of revellers, and the combination of greasy burger and rakija is extremely difficult to ignore. Still, the international nature of Belgrade’s fast food means vegetarians will find plenty of fare waiting for them late at night.
A number of pizza joints are dotted around the city centre, and almost all of them will be busy once the clock ticks past midnight. Those looking for an altogether more gourmet fast food experience should head to Tel Aviv Hummus House, a falafel wonderland next to Zeleni Venac. Shawarma Hanan is another thumbs up choice when it comes to hearty falafel fare.