Review: Cevapi in Sarajevo Old Town

I know I knocked the idea of having cevapi every day while in Sarajevo in this blog entry…but as a tourist, it is something you need to do. Sarajevo is generally known as the capital of the Balkans for good cevapi, and I think it’s due to the unique meat blend of beef and lamb (no pork, most of the Bosnian population is Muslim) that’s normally used. There’s a million places around the Old Town that you can go for cevapi but we went to two places recommended by our free tour guide – one much better than the other.

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Our first visit was to Cevabdzinica Specijal, where we met with an overly pushy waitress who tried to walk us down the street to their sister restaurant for a meal. We kept protesting that we only wanted to get our order ‘to go’, at which point we were told to wait outside the restaurant for our order to be brought to us.

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This is what a takeaway cevapi from Cevabdzinica Specijal looks like once unwrapped. It looks a bit sad – the bread has just been ripped in the top, and the little cevapi sausages unceremoniously dumped on top with some chopped onions and a dollop of cream cheese. Presentation was definitely lacking a little something here.

While K liked the raw onion, I thought that fried caramelised onions would actually be a better match with the spices of the cevapi, adding some much needed sweetness given the tangy cheese. At least it was a better cevapi than the one we had in Manufaktura, and I think it comes down to the texture – where the Manufaktura cevapi was a little bit rubbery, this was quite tender.

Cevabdzinica Specijal is located at 11 curciluk veliki in Sarajevo.

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Left unsatisfied by our cevapi experience from Specijal, we headed on to Cevabdzinica Zeljo, one of the more popular grill restaurants in town. It’s named after the local football team, hence the prominent football branding throughout the restaurant and its popularity amongst locals!

We stood inside the restaurant for this round of take-away cevapi, and watched the grill master work the grill without any cooking utensils. Interestingly, he just used handfuls of bread to move the cevapi around on the grill – the same bread that’s later served to customers. This had the added benefit of the bread soaking up cevapi grill fat!

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There’s no doubt that this cooking method does result in a much tastier cevapi meal as the bread is super tasty, having soaked up all the meat juices from the grill. The presentation is much better as well, with a much more manageable half-sandwich of cevapi in flatbread which is easier to hold and eat with two hands. While we got it without the customary onion and cheese, it didn’t seem to lack any flavour as it had all soaked into the bread. This was a winner!

Cevabdzinica Zeljo is located at 19 Kundurdžiluk in Sarajevo.

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If you want to finish off your meal with a treat, you can drop into one of the many cafes in Sarajevo Old Town for one of the famous Bosnian desserts. I’ve mentioned three in this blog entry already, but there’s another you can go to – Caffe Sport if you want to continue Cevabdzinica Zeljo’s sporting theme!

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Have a tufahija (stewed apple with walnuts and whipped cream) here if you want to have something very local to Bosnia. Note that this version will be much sweeter than others as the sugar syrup is very concentrated. If you want something a bit lighter, you probably want to head to Ramis Cafe instead!

Caffe Sport is located at 7 Bravadziluk in Sarajevo.

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