One of the most attractive parts of Sarajevo is its vibrant food scene, ranging from restaurants serving international cuisines to those specializing in local traditional favorites. If you are looking for a good spot to enjoy the latter, there are in fact so many places that the search can become overwhelming.
Our team of local Spotters in Sarajevo share their favorite spots in the city to help with tough choices like this. Here, we’ve selected five of their best traditional food places, ranging from quick bites of the delicious local pies to homey courtyard restaurants. Whether you are new to the Sarajevo scene or an experienced connoisseur looking for a new favorite – prijatno!
Dzenita is a great spot for a tourist visiting Sarajevo for the first time and looking for a taste of Bosnian food: traditional to the core with the taste of loving, homey food. Located in Bascarsija, the old town, it manages to stay unique despite being surrounded by many other local restaurants – thanks to its fresh, homemade food and kind staff. Especially when the weather is nice, it’s lovely to come here and sit outside to chat and enjoy authentic food at its best.
As mentioned above, there are a lot of traditional restaurants in the old town of Sarajevo. Inat Kuća is another favorite, made very special by its legendary history (told in the words of our Sarajevo Spotter Naida).
When the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy occupied the country, they wanted to build an enormous building to show off their power. But their chosen location was on the property of an old man called Benderija, a resident of Sarajevo who did not want to let them demolish his house and take his land away from him for any reason whatsoever.
After long negotiations, the stubborn man finally said that he would give up his property only if they would give him a bag of golden coins and move his house brick by brick to the other side of the river. They had no choice but to do exactly what he had requested in 1895.
Since then, Benderija’s house has been called “Inat kuća” (House of Spite), and in 1997 it was turned into a lovely traditional Bosnian restaurant. The house is still there, defying all governments and symbolizing the stubbornness of the Bosnian people.
Bosnia and Herzegovina is well-known for various pies as the main part of its traditional cuisine. Since pie is like the air here, there are many places that serve it, but the quality differs. Spotter Naida says that her favorite pie, “without doubt the best one in the city, is at Pie House Bosna”. The pies here taste just like the ones Bosnian grandmas and moms used to make. So if you are in Sarajevo, don’t deny yourself this tasty treat – your belly will be grateful!
Located away from the main tourist areas on the slope of a hill, Avlija is a great choice for those looking for good food and a cozy ambience. The name itself means “courtyard” in Bosnian, and it is indeed situated in a plant-filled courtyard of an old house. They offer traditional dishes (such as “klepe”, which is similar to ravioli) mixed in with some modern ones, all for very reasonable prices. Enjoy the atmosphere and tasty dishes while mingling with locals just as you would with friends in their garden at home.
If you are a visitor looking to dive more deeply into the Sarajevo food scene, Bistro Sami is the spot for you. You won’t find this place in any tourist brochures – it’s more rough-and-ready than some of its counterparts, so come here only if you are prepared for a little adventure. The clientele are mostly locals of various backgrounds who have one thing in common: their appreciation of “merak” (the rough translation would be “joy”).
Prepare your online dictionary so you can navigate their excellent menu of traditional bistro meals, such as Bosnian doughnuts with a side of domestic cheese and/or clotted cream (or smoked meat for meat-lovers), sarma with mashed potatoes, homemade soups, and other mostly meat-based dishes. Although they’re not tourist-oriented, they will welcome you as if you were family and will talk about you long after you leave, telling their regulars about how they’ve had some Americans over even though you come from, say, Poland.
Spotted by Locals Sarajevo is a blog and app by Sarajevo locals who write about their favorite spots in the city.