It is always wise to acknowledge the elephant in the room, especially when the elephant is this delicious. Elephant isn’t actually on the menu here, but the area around Niš is known for having the best food in Serbia. These are some of the best restaurants in the city itself.
Pleasure by name, pleasure by nature. That might sound a little seedy, but the sentiment absolutely rings true at Pleasure Cafe. Something of an all in one spot, Pleasure is as good a place to grab a quality lunch as it is to enjoy a book with a cup of coffee, and the evening is full of cocktails to boot. It covers all bases with aplomb.
From a modern continental spot to one with both feet firmly planted in all things Serbia. Mrak is a Balkan grill and a half, offering all the classics in an environment that likely hasn’t changed in a very, very long time. This is a big compliment of course. This isn’t the world’s most comfortable restaurant, but it doesn’t need to be. The meat is magnificent.
There is an unwritten rule in the Balkans, that a restaurant with red and white checker tablecloths is a sure sign of quality. This rule isn’t always watertight, but it absolutely is in the case of Kafana Galija. One of the oldest restaurants in the city, Galija serves up a bevvy of Balkan grilled meats with all the subtlety of a hammer, but all the taste you can dream of. Tradition, and then some.
The youth of Niš have their eyes focused on the west far more than previous generations did, and as such the excitement over ćevapi and sarma has been replaced by goo-goo eyes over pizza and pasta. There are a number of pizzerias in town, and Go Go just about gets the nod over the others. Is it the best pizza in the world? Of course not, but it is a fine place to dip in for a slice or five when in Niš.
Tradition is the name of the game in Niš, and this cavernous eating hole ticks every box. The entrance promises no small amount of mystery, but the mystery is soon blown away in a blaze of grilled meat, hot bread and sizeable salads. All the grilled classics are here, along with ribs and other ‘delicacies’. It is also preposterously inexpensive.
One of the best things about food in Niš is the massive portion sizes that restaurants dish out, and nowhere is that more apparent than at Kafana Meze. A relatively large place (by city standards at least), the efficient staff bring a conveyor belt (not literally) of dishes to the tables, with grilled meats dominating the fare. It even has English language menus, which is rare in this part of the world.
The name means ‘Old Serbia’, and it is easy to close the eyes and be transported back to the halcyon days of national excitement in this part of the world. The party never stops at Stara Srbija, although it is best to come in the evening to ensure that is fact and not fiction. Great food, low prices, huge portions and plenty of smoke wafting around—‘Old Serbia’, ‘New Serbia’, this is definitely Serbia.
Located in a traditional Ottoman house, Stambolijski takes the recipes of the past and presents them in a way that represents the midpoint between traditional and contemporary. The presentation is actually somewhat superfluous, as food this good could simply come on a plate and it would still impress. The prices are a little higher here than most in the region, but you pay for what you get.
At times you can be forgiven for thinking that the only restaurants in Niš are ones offering grilled meats and nothing else, and those tired of such things (impossible!) will find salvation in Elite. This is a luxurious place for all the family, with an interior that harks more to the House of Habsburg than the Ottomans. It is predictably pricey (by regional standards), but don’t let that put you off.
The first thing you’ll notice is the interior. That sort of goes without saying, that is likely to be the first thing you notice in every restaurant you enter, but we hope you get the point. The detail here is incredible, and guests could easily spend the evening examining the walls of Dagi Plus. That would be foolish, as there is plenty of toothsome food waiting to be devoured. The old style simply accentuates that.
Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip
meet our Local Insider
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN A GUIDE?
WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR JOB?
It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.
WHAT DESTINATION IS ON YOUR TRAVEL BUCKET-LIST?
I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.