Food and drink in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Food

Most hotels and pensions in Bosnia and Herzegovina offer a simple continental breakfast or small buffet with cold cuts, cheese and sometimes hard-boiled or fried eggs. Certain restaurants and cafés will offer scrambled eggs, omelettes, or pancakes but typical English, Australian or American breakfasts will be few and far between. In places like Međugorje where they are used to having ham and eggs, it is possible to find a filling brekkie. In the larger cities there will be an occasional restaurant that serves ‘English breakfast’.

All travellers should enter a buregdženica (savoury pie shop) and try the famous traditional pitta dishes of burekzeljanicasirnica and krompiruša at some point during their trip, although they are particularly ideal for budget travellers. They are all made from scratch and have been a traditional meal since Ottoman times. Burek is a meat pie wrapped in filo-dough; the zeljanica is made from spinach and cheese; sirnica is made from a fresh, homemade cheese; and krompiruša is diced potatoes with spices. Usually one portion (porcija) is enough to fill you and will cost around 2–3KM. You may be asked if you’d like pavlaka spread on top, a fresh cream that tastes wonderful with the pita. Thin yoghurt is also a popular drink alongside your pita.

Most meats here, whether chicken, beef, lamb or pork, are fresh from the mountainside. It is common practice to raise all animals free range, and with no added hormones or chemicals. Most people say they can taste the difference.

For those with a sweet tooth, look out for a slastičarnica: a bakery or dessert shop, which focuses on sweets such as cakes, strudel, cookies and chocolates. Sometimes they serve ice cream. Some slastičarnice offer treats made in-house, while others serve a selection from industrial bakeries.

Drink

By far Bosnia and Herzegovina’s greatest natural resource is the overwhelming quantity of the highest-quality drinking water, both fresh and mineral. Almost every town will have public fountains, particularly in front of mosques. This water is perfectly fine for drinking. Many roadside fountains were built even before Tito’s time, for foot or horse travellers. These are all underground aquifer-fed fountains – the water is deliciously cold.

The local beer is extremely cheap: a half-litre bottle is only 1KM in a shop and 2-4KM in a bar. The best local mass-produced beers are Sarajevsko, Nektar, Premium and Hercegovacko. Ožujsko is a good Croatian beer that is also produced locally. Draught beer is about a third of the standard European price. Imports are reasonably priced and are available in most bars, restaurants and cafés. Local craft brews and micro brews are slowly becoming popular among the young, hip crowd and are available in a few pubs in Sarajevo, Mostar, and elsewhere. Some are excellent. Old Bridž brewery from Herzegovina produces a reliably delicious beer. 

Herzegovina has not yet become a world-renowned name in wine, but don’t be surprised if in a few years that great glass of Žilavka or Blatina that you drank while visiting is listed as one of the top new ‘third world’ wines. The winemaking traditions of Herzegovina date back to Roman times. Sharing a similar climate and topsoil as Dalmatia, the savoury reds and dry whites of Herzegovina can easily compare to some of Croatia’s finest. Ask for domestic wines like BlatinaVranac and Žilavka from the towns of Mostar, Čitluk, Ljubuški, Stolac, Međugorje and Trebinje. The best of the best are from Gentille Winery, Nuić, Brkić, Tvrdoš Monastery wines, and Vukoje Winery.

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