Novi Pazar is the centre of Serbia’s Islamic community, and the dishes flying out of the kitchen mirror this. The city is full of fantastic restaurants, with traditional Balkan cuisine taking pride of place at the top of the bill.
Make no mistake about it — Novi Pazar is different. Islam is king in these parts, and the city has a unique energy that isn’t found anywhere else in Serbia. The city has a number of excellent restaurants that make up in taste what they lack in frills, most of which can be found in the centre of town.
If you find yourself at Kod Jonuza in Novi Pazar, don’t bother looking for the menu. The search would be fruitless anyway, as your options are ćevapi, ćevapi and ćevapi. Simply choose the quantity and something to drink, and little nuggets of magic will soon be ready for you to devour. It is easy to imagine that this place hasn’t changed in decades, and we mean that in the most positive of ways.
Most of Novi Pazar’s finest spots are congregated on the main drag, and Cosmopolitan sits proudly at the top of that list. The name is something of a giveaway, and it doesn’t disappoint. This is where the beautiful people of Novi Pazar seem to congregate, although this place is as much about substance as it is style. As great a choice for breakfast and coffee as it is a 9pm discussion, Cosmopolitan is a mandatory stop in Novi Pazar.
Another excellent choice on the main street, Med Caffe ticks most of the boxes we’ve come to expect from cafes in this part of the world. You know what you are going to get with the drinks — intensely strong Turkish coffee and a selection of vibrant teas — but the authenticity of everything else is the real pull. The ‘A’ word is a brave one to throw around the Balkans in the modern world, but Med Caffe is the sort of place that seems uninterested in anything outside of its own interests. It is all the better for it.
Any visit to Novi Pazar is incomplete without a stop at Stari Ras, and the nearby RAS Pazarište hotel is an excellent choice for lunch when in the area. The idyllic garden represents one of the best locations in the region, making this a great spot for families or those looking for a little bit of serenity with their sustenance.
Novi Pazar has a surprisingly healthy roster of pizzerias, with Raffaello getting our nod as the best of the bunch. All things Mediterranean are embraced here, but there is just enough Balkan spice to remind you of where you are. With a great location on the city’s main street, the smoke might not be to everyone’s taste but the conveyor belt of customers don’t seem to mind.
The use of the term ‘restaurant’ might be a little liberal, but those on the lookout for traditional mantije (little spheres of dough, meat, onion and more) need look no further. Novi Pazar is famous for the burek-esque bites, and Agušević is the most popular place in town that specialises in them. It also happens to be open 24 hours, taking care of those middle of the night mantije cravings.
It is no secret that the Balkans is a difficult place to visit for vegetarians, and Novi Pazar might just be the toughest. Meat is king here, and Beko excels on that front. This butchers has three decades of excellence already in the locker, and its cuts of meat can be found in restaurants all over the country. Why not head to the source for the finest cuts?