The Nutshell Guide to Belgrade: Cafés

After a long hiatus spent in arduous research, in order to help discerning locals and tourists navigating the urban jungle (or over-sized village) of Belgrade, The Nutshell Times is writing a guide series to steer you to the perfect pljeskavica, kafana or exhibition. The aim is to make it as no-BS and informative as possible so do take our word for it: we like quality, character and reasonable pricing.  If you have your own suggestions and comments please do share: it can only make it better. The guide will grow with time and do check for updates.

Cafés + Bars

Considering the long history of Ottoman influence, it is unsurprising that Belgrade has a strong cafe culture: the usual way of meeting friends and colleagues is over a cup of coffee, although the standard Turkish coffee [Turska kafa] (sorry Greeks…) is giving way to capuccions [kapućino] and even instant coffee. Cafés [kafići] come in different shapes and sizes, some doubling as bars at night (most commonly on floats [splavovi] and in Strahinjića Bana), some trying to have a pub-y atmosphere (e.g. Ok.no) but all offering unlimited opportunities for people watching and business deal making. However, partly due to its socialist past and the attitude towards post World War II reconstruction, Belgrade does not really have any grand old-world type cafés (although Ruski car, Moskva and Dorian Gray do try to emmulate the model) and only “?” maintains the feel of oriental coffee-houses, like the ones that you may encounter in Sarajevo. Finally, artisanal coffee places are slowly developing (best cups are at Coffee-fix and Communale) so do not expect to find many menus brimming with information about beans and suchlike, while flat whites are few and far between. The following list is not complete, but all the places listed so offer excellent atmosphere and often more than decent coffee.

“?” [Znak pitanja] (6 Kralja Petra Street):

Famous for its unusual name and unique decor, ? is the oldest kafana (tavern/café) in Belgrade. Best thing to order is Turkish coffee which comes with turkish delight in a traditional coffee set. Besides being a cafe, the place offers a decent fare of Serbian food, including breakfast.

Centrala (6 Simina):

Lovely place with a boho atmosphere and a great arty crowd. No stand-out drinks, but very reasonably priced and great to hang out.If it gets crowded and if you’re in a dire need of a drink, there is a nice place further down Simina (in the courtyard of a red house) called “Alternativa”, which sadly suffers from being too self-consciously arty (read: pubescent art works).

Supermarket (Corner of Strahinjića Bana and Višnjićeva)

Belgrade’s (at least, wanna-be) intellectual posh-o’s favourite and thus a tad snotty and pricey, but salvaged by amazing decor and pure fun of browsing through even more overpriced quirky designer items and magazines on display in the contiguous shop. Added bonus is that it is located just off Strahinjića Bana, a.k.a the Sillicone Valley, so people watching can extend to the showy crowd below.

Moment and Priča (Corner of Petrogradska and Topolska)

Although Moment and Priča are two unrelated cafes with slightly different vibes (Moment is sleeker, Priča is more comfy and girly in style), they are almost perfect substitutes as both feature wonderful gardens, in one of the few remaining leafy residental streets in well-to-do Vračar and are perfect for either a post-market coffee (as they are close to Kalenić market) or for chilled late-might drinks with a good friend.

Coffee Dream (Nikole Spasića 2)

Coffee Dream is arguably the best coffee chain in Belgrade as it manages to maintain consistent quality throughout its longish menu (spanning novelty coffees, shakes and frappes), trendy-but-not-intimidating design in all of its shops and has very polite staff to top it off. Recently  it moved its flagship from Kralja Petra street (the place is now imaginatively called Coffee Cream and is to be avoided at all costs due to the poor quality of coffee) to the nearby but quieter Nikole Spasića street, but it maintained its charm and still is the perfect place to grab a raspberry yogurt frappe before embarking on a tour of the Belgrade fortress.

Čekaonica (BIGZ Building, Bulevar Vojvode Misica 17)

Perched on top of an abandoned art-deco beauty and offering a Sim-City like view of Belgrade, Jazz Club Čekaonica is one of the best recent additions to the Belgrade bar scene. Be warned that navigating your way to the club through a seemingly abandoned old printing company’s building (especially at night) may be a tad scary, but the buzzing atmosphere, great live music and the view more than make up for it.

Blow Up (Despota Stefana 36a)

Great and self-consciously indie affordable cocktail-bar in which offers a great start to a boozy night. The neighbouring naval-themed Brod is also ok (if a bit stuffy) and famous amogst indie lovers for its quality playlists.

Communale (Karađorđeva 2-4)

Communale is one of a number of  trendy haunts situated in the wonderfully refurbished old warehouse near to the Sava river port, however it distinguishes itself with great coffee (probably among the best capuccinos in Belgarde) and slightly less showy clientele. It also doubles as a superb at least seemingly no-frills Italian restaurant with amazing foccacias and pasta. Nearby Frida and Igauana are also ok, however the former attracts a relatively rowdy crowd at night, while the latter is  a decent yet slightly pretentious restaurant.

Coffee Fix (Sarajevska 37)

Best coffee in Belgrade are to be found in this unassuming coffee shop close to the train station and many embassies, whose staff reportedly gets their caffeine from here. Founded by a Belgrader who returned from Oz, it also the only place in Belgrade (besides the dreadful Costa) that offers flat white.

Smokvica (Kralja Petra 73)

Called after a resilient little fig tree growing in its stone garden, Smokvica is a lovely summer bar and is often full of pretty fashionable people.  Although the service is often grumpy, food, drinks and the ambiance more than make up for it. In case it is full (as it very often is), a similar (friendlier but less glitzy) town-house garden is offered in Blaznavac (Knjeginje Ljubice 18, 5 mins walk).

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