In common with other Balkan countries, Serbian cuisine is overwhelmingly dominated by meat, and many dishes manifest Turkish or Austro-Hungarian influences. Breakfast (doručak) typically comprises a coffee, roll and cheese or salami, while also popular is burek, a greasy, flaky pastry filled with cheese (sa sirom) or meat (sa mesom). Burek is also served as a street snack, as is the ubiquitous čevapčići (rissoles of spiced minced meat served with onion) and pljeskavica (oversized hamburger). You will find these on just about every restaurant (restoran) menu, alongside the typical starter, čorba (a thick meat or fish soup), and main dishes such as pasulj (a thick bean soup flavoured with bits of bacon or sausage), the Hungarian-influenced paprika-red gulaš, particularly popular in Vojvodina, and kolenica (leg of suckling pig). But the crowning triumph of the national cuisine is the gut-busting karađorđe šnicla, a rolled veal steak stuffed with cheese and coated in breadcrumbs – named after the national hero, Karađorđe Petrović. A popular accompaniment to all these dishes is pogača, a large bread cake. Typical desserts include strudla (strudel) and baklava.
With the reliance on meat, it’s a tough call for vegetarians, though there are some tasty local dishes such as srpska salata (tomato, cucumber and raw onion), šopska salata (as srpska, but topped with grated kashkaval white cheese), and burek.
You will not want for coffee (kafa) in Serbia, but sadly the traditional Turkish kind (thick, black, with grounds in) can be hard to come by, as many youngsters prefer to drink the Western variants. Balkan beer (pivo) brands like Lav, Jelen and Montenegrin Nikšićko are very palatable. On the whole wine tends to be disproportionately pricey on restaurant menus, but Montenegrin Vranac and Macedonian Tikveš are more affordable. Everyone should sample slijvovica – plum rakija – but pace yourself to avoid waking up with a shocked head and raw throat.