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5 Budapest restaurants for savoring grilled Balkan specialties

With the approach of summer, we crave the charcoal flavor of grilled meats more and more, and fire up the garden grill as soon as possible. However, the grilling season lasts all year long in the Balkan Peninsula, where sizzling meats are a smoky specialty along with zesty and creamy sauces. Being the capital of the nation just north of the border, Budapest’s Balkan culinary lineup is pretty impressive, and as a result, good ćevapčići, pljeskavica, burek, ajvar, lepinja, kaymak, and smetana are relatively prevalent in the city. Here are five places making these delicacies in an authentic way.



Balkan flavors include the cuisines of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, and Serbia, all strongly affected by Turkish gastronomy with regard to spices and ingredients. Therefore, the regions’ dishes are often very similar and differ in their names only. In addition to the excellent veal, beef, and lamb meat, they also have a lot of vegetables, various creams, and sauces to spice up the charcoal-grilled meat dishes – the most typical of them being ćevapčići (sausage-shaped mincemeat) and pljeskavica (a spiced patty).


400 Bar

Back in 2010, when  and  were not yet international tourism destinations, and there was a charmingly dilapidated ivy-covered transformer station standing in place of today’s , 400 Bar opened and quickly became popular because of its easygoing atmosphere, huge terrace, lunch specials, and Serbian dishes. The local Bosnian-Serb communities come here a lot to eat ćevapčići (2,590 HUF) and pljeskavica (2,590 HUF) platters served with ajvar (a relish of red bell peppers and garlic), chopped onion, and flatbread, or Serbian-style burgers (1,350-1,490 HUF). The ćevapčići and pljeskavica are made from veal, and we can also order pljeskavica stuffed with bacon, hot pepper, and cheese.


Montenegrói Gurman Bistro (Closed)

We can bump into Montenegrói Gurman at multiple locations in Budapest, and even in pop-up form. The first unit of the restaurant opened before the great gastro-boom at Blaha Lujza Square, and for a while, it was the only place to get authentic Balkan grill dishes. Even today, its popularity is unbroken – after all, we’re still talking about a “fast-food restaurant” offering nutritious and healthy foods at reasonable prices. The pljeskavica and ćevapčići are made from lamb by Serbian and Montenegrin chefs, in a traditional way. A mixed meat platter for two (3,990 HUF) is more than half a kilogram, and goes well with ajvar, kaymak, or urnebes (a salad based on cheese and chili peppers). On top of all this, their unit at Rákóczi Road operates around the clock, so we can drop by literally anytime we feel a craving for flavors of the Balkans.


Pola Pola

Pola Pola is a relatively new player in the field, as it opened in the spring of 2015 at Klauzál Square, and since then expanded with several smaller units. The restaurant clearly reacted to the area’s street-food mania, spiced up with an open kitchen. It might be because of the interior design or the smoky taste of their famous lepinja flatbread, but Pola Pola reminds us of summer sunshine and barbecue evenings, even in the wintertime. In addition to ćevapčići (1,590 HUF) and pljeskavica (1,790 HUF), we can’t go wrong with the sausages (1,790 HUF), either. If you like your grilled food with lots of sauce, it’s better to order extra doses of it. Fortunately, the summer-flavored lepinja are available to be purchased separately, as well.




We can find several units of Yu-Grill in the city: on , at Haris Passage, and during the summer season, even at . They work with traditional seasonings, 100% beef, and Serbian chefs who learned how to cook authentic Serbian grilled dishes, sides, and salads in their homeland. We recommend tasting the chef’s special pljeskavica stuffed with cheese, bacon, and pickles (2,250 HUF), or arriving to Yu-Grill with a group of friends and ordering grill platters together. A mixed platter with meat, sides, and vegetables for two costs 5,190 forints. It’s incomprehensible why their District V restaurant tries to attract passersby with hostesses, while their kitchen is delicious and traditional, and the end result speaks for itself – there’s no need to fish for guests, which actually makes the place seem less appealing than it is.


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