Brunch in the Balkans

It's All About the Meat
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Brunch in the Balkans

So your book club is meeting in Budapest, Dubrovnik, Belgrade, or Sarajevo. Maybe you’re new to the city and wonder what the brunch will be like? Fair question!


You’ve come to the right place to find out.


Brunch in the former Yugoslav republics and Hungary can be summed up in three words—meat, meat, and meat. Okay, maybe just MEAT, then cheese and bread. If you are vegan or celiac, seriously reconsider the invitation to brunch as you will be catered to without enthusiasm or imagination.


On the bright side, food and drink is very reasonably priced—beer (usually a lager or pilsner) is rarely more than $3.00 CAD a pint.


Below is a typical brunch served in a quaint café in Budapest. A mini meatloaf with gravy, spätzle (a kind of soft egg noodle) and cream. Note the bread basket (bread is uniformly good in the Balkans). Also the paucity of vegetables (a carrot flower does not count).

If you simply want to grab something quick and meet in the park for your next BooknBrunch get-together, we suggest a grilled sausage with mustard and pickle traditional to this area.

Alternatively, you could grab a sis cevap in Belgrade, which is essentially a sub with a grilled slab of minced meat, onions, red pepper sauce and tomato with kaymak (a Balkan cream cheese), all for $1.80 CAD. Rounding out the quick-and-easy category of brunch food are the many variations of cheese bread. Sorry to all you vegetarians and vegans.

Alternatively, if you and your book club are looking to host brunch at a member’s house or local hotel, you may wish to come up with a vegetable, cheese and meat platter.  The region boasts vegetables that are fresh, local, and flavourful, although they seem destined to serve as a garnish for the preferred meat dishes. Be sure to try out a coffee shop or two as well. Larger cities in the region house many amazing cafes with strong brews to keep you awake through afternoon.

At the risk of overstating what one can expect from brunch in the Balkans, we’ll end with a classic plate you’re sure to encounter. The classic cevapi (a type of skinless sausage) is best in Sarajevo and other parts of Bosnia—a true relic of the Ottoman Turks who passed on their culinary heritage in the form of this meal. You can also find variations of this plate all over the eastern Mediterranean.

To sum up brunch in the Balkans, if you are a vegetarian, you may have an uphill battle on your hands. However, if you count yourself in the carnivore category there are many brunch options for all budgets, time constraints and venue variations.  A carnivore’s veritable paradise.


Jason Kim

Jason reads as a respite from a hectic corporate job.

A major traveler, Jason enjoys eating exotic breakfasts (and brunch) at far off locations and reading books to get into the culture of the country in which he is visiting.  Favourite reads were My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk in Turkey, White Tiger in India, and Eat Pray Love in Bali.

Favourite book:  A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Favourite brunch dish: Hanoi style pho


The Lost Art of Cursive Writing


Recipe From a Favourite Book