Every once in awhile an article comes out in Western media on how in the exotic Balkans no one has ever seen a vegetable and everyone sits in a corner gnawing on leg bones. Usually this is a young reporter who comes for a few days, eats some qebap, has a macchiato in a cafe and then considers themselves a Balkan expert.
The reality, as anyone who lives here can tell you, is the Balkans and Kosovo-in particular- have a diverse traditional cuisine full of quality local produce. And yes you can be a vegan or vegetarian here.
Traditionally in the Balkans meat was expensive and not eaten daily. In Greece, most people ate meat weekly, fish twice a week and the rest of their meals were vegetarian. This was similar to Kosovo. Nowadays, most people here do consider a decent meal to have some form of meat however, many people here still eat meatless dishes: flija, pogaqe, ajvar and salads throughout their diet.
And now we have loads of new restaurants modernizing the Kosovan food and cuisine scene with both vegan, vegetarian and omnivore dishes using fresh, local produce.
All of these restaurants are on Facebook and can be found with Google maps.
Tartine Deli on Fehmi Agani
One of the boldest new restaurants/deli and cafes in town. Fresh, local produce used to create an excellent take off from a French cafe. You probably already know their cakes and pies but did you also know you can buy sourdough bread, baguettes and croissants from the great Artizan bakery there? No more schlepping up to Sunny Hill just for bread. And that they do the best burger in town? Add this to the vegetarian offerings and you have a place you can go with all your friends.
Sonder on Uke Bytyqi
Aktash has the now wildly popular Sonder the best bagels in town (take it from a New Yorker). The bagels are made fresh daily and you can take them home. Saturday mornings are packed. My 7s rugby team loves the breakfast boards (they’re for two but after rugby practice we have been known to eat one each). The menu features vegetarian and vegan options all the way through. Try the Sonder or Lili Salad. Have a bagel sandwich.
Babaghanoush on Garibaldi
Legendarily fully vegetarian and vegan. Try the Sigara Borëk plate. The falafels, the Buddha bowl. One of the best restaurants in town and your meat-based friends won’t miss the meat.
Dit e Nat on Fazli Grajcevci
Everyone knows this famous cafe. Not everyone realizes it is also vegetarian. Go there to hug the cat, meet your cool friends and order their veggie burger.
Green & Protein on Rexehep Luci
Thank goodness for this quick and easy takeout or eat in. Fresh juices, smoothies and wraps, salads, sandwiches and soups. Everything is designated vegan, vegetarian or omnivore. If you’re out and about head in for something quick and easy this is it. Try the hangover cure smoothie after a night out.
Folé on Simon Shiroka
If you are coeliac or simply want to cut out the gluten, here is Folé which also caters to vegetarians and omnivores alike. Try the gnocchi. A Kosovar living in Canada was shocked to get avocado toast there.
Sofra Bezi on Josip Rela
A traditional Kosovan eatery with modern standards. For omnivores the Sofra Bezi breakfast is one of the best around. A traditional mezze of eggs with suxhuk, fresh vegetables and cheese. For vegetarians the veggie mezze is better than the standard meat one. They also make the best Leqenik (cornbread with leeks and cheese) anywhere. For everyone, they offer a fine selection of rakijas. Try the cherry.