Where have you been?
Next was an amazing plum rakija and some sarma, which is a cabbage leaf stuffed with meat and rice. It’s one of my favorites! We followed that with some mashed potatoes and ghoulash. I loved the vegetables and chunky beef!
I also watched them grill the cevapi, which are basically sausage, and bake some tavas!
I ended with some delicious Turkish coffee, and then Miroslav and I drove to Rakija Grill, the sister restaurant to Rakija Lounge. We drove past the cruise ship port and through downtown.
Then, I had the pljeskavica and cevapi sandwich. They came with ajvar (a red pepper paste) and kaymak. The bread was incredible and the beef was out of this world! It was so massive, I couldn’t finish it, so I took it home with me. Miroslav even gave me some gifts to take home!
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Elsewhere, they were making burek, which is a flaky, stuffed pastry that can be stuffed with cheese, meat, vegetables, and more. They stretch out the dough, stuff it, and make the burek to order. The baking process takes 25 minutes.
Later, I enjoyed a Balkan dinner with my wife and daughters. It was so delicious! I ended my day with some rakija from North Macedonia. What an incredible day of eating Balkan food for 24 hours. Huge thanks to my friends at Rakija Lounge and Rakija Grill for making this day possible.
The first dish I watched them make is tulumba, a cylindrical deep-fried snack from Turkey that was popular during the Ottoman Empire. It’s similar to Spanish churros and Indian jalebis. They deep-fry it and then dunk it into a lemon-flavored simple syrup.
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Next was the Yebiga rakija, which is super strong! I followed that with the ricotta burek, which was beautiful, flaky, and airy. It’s light, so it’s not filling. It was great dipped into the yogurt! Then, we had some honey rakija, which is my favorite!
Rakija Grill has outdoor seating and a traditional taverna-style interior. It’s very reminiscent of the restaurants in the Balkans. They have lots of wine and rakija and traditional décor on the walls. They also have a little market where you can buy foods from the region including snacks, meat, and cheeses.
In the dining area, I enjoyed some rakija and then jumped on the chicken karadjordjeva and French fries. It came with some delicious tartar sauce and was very filling! I’d had similar dishes in Italy and Austria, but never rolled up like this!
One of the first regions of the world I explored as a professional travel content creator back in 2008 is the Balkans, with my trip to Montenegro. Since then, I’ve returned several times to explore Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Serbia, North Macedonia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Albania, and Kosovo. During those trips, I fell in love with the hearty and fresh food of the Balkan region. I miss it a lot, so I decided to remedy that by eating nothing but Balkan food for 24 hours in my hometown of Miami!
My Balkan food adventure began at Rakija Lounge in South Beach, where I’d have some local favorites for breakfast! It’s a super chill lounge and restaurant with a beautiful outdoor area. I headed straight to the back with Marija to watch them make some fried dough!
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We had a spinach burek and a cheese burek. Then, I headed out to the dining area with the owner, Miroslav and Vesko. We also had a cup of yogurt, a flight of rakija, cold cuts, and a fried bread called uštipci.
We started with the Golden Rooster rakija, which contains edible 24-karat gold flakes. It was so smooth and is made from quince fruit. Then, I jumped on the uštipci, which is like a donut. It doesn’t have much flavor, so you dip it into a type of sour cream. It’s also great with the cold cuts wrapped around it!
In the kitchen, they had just mixed the meat to make cevapi and pljeskavica, which is basically a Serbian burger patty stuffed with cheese and a cheesy, creamy spread called kaymak. They also made some chicken karadjordjeva, which is a type of pounded schnitzel stuffed with kaymak and rolled up.