Most dining out in the city happens for lunch or dinner, though traditional burek is a dish for any meal! You’ll find the Buregdžinicas (burek shop) open in the morning. Many of the pekaras (bakeries) are open early and offer a variety of breads, pastries, and burek you can grab for breakfast.
After spending nearly two months in the city, I’ve compiled my favorite places to find traditional Bosnian food. For this article, I’ve chosen the best spots in and around Baščaršija (the old town), which is where you’re likely to spend a lot of your time. It’s also where the locals come to dine so you know it’s the good stuff!
Okay, now let’s get to the eating!
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Here’s a Google Map of the restaurants in Sarajevo that I’ve referenced in the rest of this article. You’ll find them listed on the map in the order they’re listed in the article, if you open the layers. (Learn more about how to create and use customized Google Maps here.) Some of the names on the map use the Cyrillic alphabet, but I’ve used the Latin script that you’ll see on the restaurant itself. All you have to do is get to the location!
In this article, you’ll find places for street food, traditional Bosnian dishes, coffee, and sweets. Café culture is huge in Sarajevo so I’ve listed a couple of my favorite spots, but there are wonderful cafes all around the city. There are also restaurants in Sarajevo specifically for those who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet so I've included a few of those as well.
The Best Restaurants in Sarajevo
- Višegrad is my favorite for traditional Bosnian dishes, especially the dolmas (vegetables stuffed with meat). They also have a great menu of rakija, the local brandy made from fruit. The décor inside is an added bonus!
- Ćevabdžinica Hodžić is where I always go for ćevapi. I’ve tried at least a dozen others and always come back here.
- Aščinica Hadžibajrić is my favorite cafeteria style lunch spot where you can choose from selection of traditional dishes.
- Sač is the spot to get the best burek! It’s made using the traditional methods and you can order by the kilo.
- Ministry of Ćejf café has a lovely view looking down into Baščaršija. It’s quieter than some of the other cafes and has tasty sweets to go with your traditional Bosnian coffee.
What to Know About Visiting Restaurants in Sarajevo
Most of the traditional dishes are centered around meat, though you can still find some vegetarian dishes in the cuisine. I’ve listed a few specifically vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Sarajevo at the end of the article for any who follow those diets.
Very few restaurants accept credit cards so be sure to have cash on hand. ATMs are plentiful as are exchange offices with minimal commissions. Smoking indoors is still allowed in most places but outdoor seating is available nearly everywhere if you want to avoid it.
Because Bosnia is a predominantly Muslim country, you won’t find alcohol available in the street food spots or cafes, but you can usually find beer, wine, and spirits at the sit-down restaurants. There are plenty of bars around as well for a fun night out!
Best Street Food Restaurants in Sarajevo
The most popular Bosnian street foods are burek and ćevapi. You’ll find plenty of restaurants in Sarajevo that specialize in one of the two dishes. While there’s not a huge variation from one place to the next, I do have favorite places to get both.
Burek is a thin, flaky dough that’s stuffed with different fillings and baked to a beautiful golden crisp. One of my Bosnian friends joked that they won’t let you be a Bosnian if you don’t like burek! Vegetarians even get to enjoy three of the four different types (potato, cheese, or spinach). It’s a dish everyone loves and can be eaten any time of day!
Ćevapi is a dish made up of little minced meat sausages (lamb, beef, or a mix) stuffed inside a light and fluffy flatbread and served with raw onions. Personally, I like to get a salad as well. The veggies are so fresh and it lightens up the meal a bit.
These are two of the most well-loved meals in Bosnia! When I’m in Sarajevo, I typically have one of these dishes (sometimes both!) on the daily. Now let's talk about my favorite spots to get these traditional Balkan foods, though you’ll find them on offer all over the city.
Best Places for Burek
This place is SO good and always busy. It’s tucked down a little alley and can be tricky to find in the labyrinth of Baščaršija’s side streets. This place makes burek the traditional way -- a huge spiral of dough cooked in a cast iron pan with a funky lid over hot coals. This is the way! I swear this cooking method is part of what makes it so damn good.
The burek is served in slices like a pizza and you pay by the kilo. The usual slice is usually about $7 and enough to keep you full for quite some time. If you only want to spend 10 Marks (about $5), you can just ask for them to weight out enough for that amount. Take your burek to go or sit at one of the tables outside, if you can find a spot. If you’re dining in, try topping your burek with their yogurt sauce.
This spot also has great burek! This place is a little bigger than Sač and has more outdoor seating available. Prices don’t vary much from place to place so you can expect to pay about the same. Rather than the traditional spirals, you’ll find the burek here in long, churro-like shapes. Trust me, it really doesn’t matter. Just eat the burek!
Best Places for Ćevapi
This spot is my personal favorite. Though most of the ćevapi you’ll find around the city tastes pretty similar, I just love this one. This is my favorite spot because it’s a little bit off the main square close to Coppersmith Alley and I love to listen to the sounds coming from the workshops around the corner. The same server has been working there since my first visit in 2015 and it’s nice to see a kind and familiar face.
You can order your ćevapi with five, seven, or ten sausages. Five is plenty for me but you do you! Also, I love the salad here to add some fresh veggies to the meal. Just the five-piece ćevapi is about $3 and closer to $8 with a salad.
This is another great spot to get ćevapi and watch the world go by. The food is great and they have a few more outdoor tables than Hodžić. Just like with burek, prices really don’t vary much from place to place so you can expect to pay the same as I listed above. Sorry, I didn’t snap a photo of this one, but the ones on Google Maps will show you what it looks like.
The Best Restaurants in Sarajevo for Traditional Dishes
There are two different styles of restaurants where you can find traditional dishes. The first is cafeteria style where you can choose multiple dishes to try and pay based on how many items you select These places close in the late afternoon so plan on these spots for lunch. After lunch hours, there are standard sit-down restaurants that serve incredible traditional dishes, if you’d like to have a lovely dinner out on the town.
Best Cafeteria Style Restaurants in Sarajevo
This place was recommended by our walking tour guide and it was incredible! It’s pretty small and nondescript. It blends right in with the shops around and is easy to miss if you don’t know what you’re looking for. I walked by it dozens of times and never noticed it! The adventure partner and I visited a couple of days after our walking tour and actually saw our guide leaving so he was serious about the recommendation, which is always nice to see!
Honestly, I don’t even know what I ordered. The cook spoke a little English and tried to explain, but I just pointed at things that looked good until my plate was full! My intuition was on point and I particularly loved the bean stew. The offerings may change from day to day so you never know what you’ll see! Your lunch comes with a little basket of the delicious flatbread they make to soak up the remnants left in your dish. Seriously, don’t miss this spot! It’s worth scheduling this lunch into your day.
This restaurant is larger than Hadžibajrić and offers a wider variety of dishes. I particularly love their bamija (okra and meat stew), which I’ve now learned to cook at home! The process is the same -- point at what you want and they’ll dish it up. Here, they do have a menu for you to look at if you really want to, but I recommend letting your stomach lead the way.
Best Traditional Restaurants in Sarajevo
Of all the traditional restaurants in Sarajevo, this place is my go to for dolmas, the delicious meat-stuffed vegetables that are a staple throughout the region. In the warmer months, there’s plenty of seating outside but it’s worth stepping indoors to have a look at the decor. It’s a fascinating mix of traditional crafts, pictures of famous Bosnians, and woodwork.
Besides the incredible food, they also have a great rakija menu (local fruit brandy). The slijva (plum) is my personal favorite but I’ve never had one I didn’t enjoy. They also have the local Sarajevska beer on tap, which is delightful! I recommend a stein of beer and a little rakija to sip alongside.
This spot has the best Bey’s Soup I’ve found in the city (so far)! The rest of the food is wonderful too, but having tried the soup in many places, that was a standout. The dolmas here are wonderful as well and they have a larger menu than Višegrad. Also, the Coca Cola wine glasses were just delightful! I’ve never seen anything like them. The 80s music videos playing on the tv added just the right amount of kitsch to the experience!
This place is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It’s a popular spot with the locals so your best bet for finding a seat may be to visit outside of the busiest meal times. There is outdoor seating too, when the weather is good. During the time we were there for dinner, they had to turn at least three groups away because the restaurant was full (it was cold so no one was outside though). This was in the middle of October -- definitely not high season -- so plan accordingly!
Best Dessert Spots in Sarajevo
The Bosnians love their sweets! This is common throughout the Balkans, but I haven’t seen people relish them quite as much as they do here. As you walk through the Old Town, you’ll see plenty of shops dedicated only to desserts and sweets! Plenty of cafes have sweet treats available to go with your coffee too.
Baklava is a staple here and this tiny little shop has an incredible variety! Until visiting Sarajevo, I had no idea there were so many ways to make baklava. The traditional Bosnian variety is made with walnuts instead of pistachios and is worth a try.
There are a couple little tables in the cafe where you can enjoy your baklava and get coffee to go with it, which is a perfect compliment to the sweetness! Many times, I’ll just grab a couple pieces to take away and enjoy them back in my accommodation with a glass of wine that I picked up at the market. It’s a great way to end a full day in Sarajevo!
This lovely little bakery has so many delightful options! They have a wide variety of baklava but also offer other pastries. This shop has plenty of seating available so you can enjoy your sweets and while watching the city unfold around you. This one is a bit outside the Old Town so have yourself a wander and get some treats!
Lovely Cafes in Sarajevo
I’m hesitant to say “the best” because there are so many wonderful cafes all around the city! The two I’ve listed here are my personal favorites for reasons other than the coffee. In nearly every cafe you’ll find options for coffee (definitely try the traditional Bosnian way!) and many have cakes or other sweets you can order as well. Hookah lounges are popular in Sarajevo and provide another way to enjoy the coffee culture in the city.
Ministry of Ćejf
This is a wonderful spot for a coffee and a view. It’s a short walk up the hill just east of Old Town where life is a bit quieter. You can see the minarettes from the mosques below and take in the tree-covered hills in the distance. They also have an amazing date cake! This care is small with just a few tables made out of old sewing machines, which just adds to the delightful atmosphere.
This cafe is tucked away in the courtyard of a little market building with a few stalls, one of which has gorgeous Turkish rugs on display. Though the upstairs is now offices, it was the first hotel in the city a few hundred years ago. During the rule of the Ottomans, merchants would come and stay in the rooms upstairs while they did their business around the city.
Knowing the history makes it fun to sit and imagine what it would have been like back then. The tree growing in the middle of the cafe is also a huge draw for this nature lover! Here you’ll find traditional coffee, tea, and fresh juices on offer. They also have sweets for you to enjoy as well!
As I said before, the cafes all have basically the same offerings. These choices are all about the ambiance.
Vegan & Vegetarian Restaurants in Sarajevo
Full disclosure: I’ve never eaten at any of these restaurants in Sarajevo but wanted to provide some options for any readers who adhere to vegan or vegetarian diets. As mentioned before, most Bosnian dishes are centered around meat, but you’ll see a number of doner kebab shops around the city which offer falafel as a vegetarian option. One of my travel skills is finding the best food and, based on my research, these are the places I would visit if I was looking for plant-based options.
This spot is a Mediterranean restaurant focused on vegan and vegetarian options. You can get falafels, hummus, salads, wraps, and smoothies. The menu looks great and it’s located right in the heart of Baščaršija.
If you’re in the mood for some Italian food, this place looks wonderful! They have a gluten-free pasta selection plus a wide variety of vegan and vegetarian options. They have plenty of appetizers, soups, and salads too. There’s a full bar available too, making this a great place for nice evening meal! Inside, the decor is nautical themed, something you don’t see often in Sarajevo.
This place offers plant-based fast food. The menu has a number of different meat-free burgers and wraps. You can also get soups and salads, if you want something fresher.
Oh lord, I could talk about the incredible food in Sarajevo and the Balkans all day! If you’re looking to plan your own trip to Sarajevo and the Balkans, you’ll find additional resources below to help you create an experience you’ll never forget.
- How to Plan Your Holidays in the Balkans: The Complete Guide to Creating Your Perfect Trip
- The Best Places to Visit in the Balkans: 9 Destinations for Nature, Food, and History
- Balkan Food: Top 10 Dishes to Try on Your Travels
- Balkan Tips: 6 Important Things to Know Before You Go
Sarajevo is one of my absolute favorite places in the whole world. I’ve been four times now and will go back over and over again. This city has captured my heart and holds a special magic, in my opinion. Below you’ll find more resources specific to Sarajevo:
- Visit Sarajevo: 10 Reasons Why This Hidden Gem Should Be On Your Bucket List
- 10 Unique Things to do in Sarajevo for a Trip You’ll Never Forget
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I know it’s easy to get bogged down in the details of planning a trip. If you’d like a little help figuring out the logistics or researching your destination, I’ve got you! I’ve created these travel consulting services specifically for indie travelers which means you get only the help you want and you won’t be handing over control of your trip!
Thanks for being here! I’ll see you next time.
Now get out there. The world is waiting for you.
What other questions do you have about finding great food in Sarajevo? Have you been to the city and know other awesome places that aren’t on this list?
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