Tradition is king in Valjevo, so it is no surprise to see an abundance of authentic Serbian restaurants lining the streets. That isn’t to say it is grilled meats all the way of course, and there is a surprisingly varied culinary offering waiting in the home city of basketball star Miloš Teodosić and more.
We expect certain things from the traditional Serbian restaurants we visit. For one, we like to see old paintings adorning the walls, preferably celebrating the Serbian way of life over the centuries. Secondly, the tables absolutely must come with an old fashioned tablecloth, preferably one with red and white (or blue and white) chequers. Finally, the grilled meat must be sizeable and positively dripping with grease. Kraljević Marko ticks all these boxes and then some, and we aren’t really sure why everywhere doesn’t serve everything on a bed of kajmak.
Tešnjar is the traditional highlight of Valjevo, but the famous street has definitely seen more life than it currently experiences. The good people of Jefimija are keeping the tradition alive however, with this vibrant restaurant at the beginning of the street. The menu offers exactly what you’d expect from an authentic Serbian spot, succulent grilled meats with salads big enough to standalone as a separate dish.
The Hunter’s Lodge in Valjevo isn’t exactly what you’d expect a hunter’s lodge to be. For one, the walls aren’t covered in hunting trophies (read: skulls) and rifles, such tropes exchanged for an air of class and modernity. The menu is definitely along hunter’s lines though, with a wide variety of carnivore-friendly dishes waiting to be enjoyed. It lies a kilometre or so from the centre of Valjevo, but is well worth the trip.
The Gradac river runs through the centre of Valjevo, so it is no surprise to see a few restaurants setting up shop along its shores. Tadića Mlin is one of the finest, a simple yet effective traditional Serbian restaurant that also doffs its cap in the direction of the water. The nearby pond provides some rather delicious trout, offering something a little bit different to the conveyor belt of grilled meat in town.
There is more to gastronomy in Valjevo than traditional Serbian meat and big salads, and La Piazza is at the forefront of the alternatives. A pizza and pasta bar in the centre of town, it offers fantastic casual Italian cuisine at a preposterously low price, which may cause some visitors to rub their eyes in disbelief. The atmosphere can get a little rowdy at the weekends too, making this an energetic option in Valjevo.
A famous and historic spot that wouldn’t be out of place on Belgrade’s iconic Skadarlija street, Tri Kosa is one of the most popular eateries in town. Tradition is king but modernity is appreciated, and the two collide in a delightful manner to create one of the finest culinary experiences in this part of the country. It isn’t the cheapest option in Valjevo, but sometimes you need to pay more for a little extra quality.
It might be a short drive from the city centre, but Kod Bore is further proof that some of Serbia’s best restaurants require a little bit of work to enjoy. The decor is reassuringly old fashioned, and the food complements this in the most homely of manners. It is always a good sign when an out of town restaurant attracts a consistent mass of clientele, so Kod Bore must be doing something right.