Nope, I’m not talking about the 80’s Yugoslav rock band. I’m talking about the real thing. Although I’m pretty sure most of us are non-believers that BiH will ever become a non-smoking nation, there are a handful of establishments who are a step ahead of their time.
We often hear from Bosnians that they’re going to die someday anyway, so why not die doing what they love most. Fatalism at its finest. I was in the cantonal court offices once, standing outside waiting my turn. There was a row of old-school plastic red chairs lining the wall. All the seats were occupied. Above it was a hastily posted sign “Zabranjeno Pušenje.” I could barely see the sign through the cloud of smoke. Anarchy at its finest.
It’s this combination of fatalism and anarchism that keeps our clothes and hair stinking like an ashtray. I won’t even mention what it’s doing for our lungs. But there is reason (and room) to breathe easy. Although nearly not enough to satisfy the growing non-smoking population of Sarajevo, there are a handful of cafés and restaurants forbidding smoking in their facilities. Thank goodness for that.
Let’s start with the most obvious one….Torte i To.
Torte i To is, for many, the best thing about the BBI Center. Not only is it smoke-free but child-friendly with exquisite coffee and cakes. (Note: there is a new, smaller smoking section that is completely blocked from the main café). As a New Yorker I also concede that their cheesecake is at least as good as New York cheesecake…if not better. A claim they boldly advertise. Torte i To also has a magnificent selection of organic teas. The service is the way it’s supposed to be and the entire café has a strong Wi-fi connection. A big two thumbs up for this family owned and operated business.
Hotel Central is an Irish owned hotel and spas center right downtown on Ćumurija Street. The whole joint, including the West Point restaurant is non-smoking. I think it gets a bad rap for being ‘too expensive’ while I think most would find the prices to be in the highly reasonable range. Mind you, the chef is one of the better ones in town and the natural fruit juices are superb.
Slatko i Slano. This is raja’s place. Most foreigners don’t know about it because it’s off the so-called beaten path. Actually, it’s in Hrasno, just behind the HOSE supermarket that is on the main east-west road into and out of Sarajevo. If you head towards the main Mercator from Zmaja od Bosne, Slatko i Slano is on the left. Downstairs is non-smoking, upstairs is not. The ventilation is good. I sit downstairs often and have never left bothered or stinking like an ashtray. More like a muffin if anything. The sandwiches are great and according to Emi Mesic (who helped AND inspired this article), the chicken sammies are to die for. She thought a bit less of the pasta dishes.
Milkman. This was a new one for me. I heard the food was great but didn’t know it was a non-smoking facility. Emi gets all the credit for this one. This place is on Grabavička street, where Vatra café and Cappucino restaurant are. It’s easy to find and the big green Milkman sign is easily visible when driving on the one-way. Emi claims the chicken is even better here than in Slatko i Slano. I believe her.
Franz & Sophie is tucked behind the old town on Petrakijina 6. If you cross the street behind the Cathedral, just keep going up, following the road as it bends up left towards Bošnjačka gimnazija. The owners are tea sommeliers with superior knowledge of tea(s) and they speak fluent English and German as well. The tea is, nonetheless, amazing AND organic. It’s not intended to be a café but many do tend to spend time whilst picking their favorite selections, listening to the sound advice and getting served fresh tea while you’re at it.
Although not a place one would go for a coffee or a meal, the City Boutique Hotel in the old town is a non-smoking establishment. So if you’re having friends or family coming to town who just really can’t stand the smell, City Boutique is the way to go. Oh yeah, by the way, the hotel is excellent – their Trip Advisor rating is over 4.5.
Thanks to Emi Mesic for her suggestion and feedback. This is exactly what Sarajevo Times (and I) want from you, our readers. Give us ideas, shout from the mountain tops, tell us what you want to know and we shall do our best to provide.