Let’s be honest, Montenegrin cuisine is not world-famous, so you might be wondering what to eat in Montenegro and where are the best restaurants in Montenegro. Let’s discover the most famous Montenegrin dishes together.
At first, I noticed that they serve pasta and pizza in every restaurant. Not a good start, because I’m spoilt with both of these in Italy already. But once I arrived and started to order things that I never heard of before – I really got to know Montenegrin cuisine. And that’s where I fell in love.
Do you know what is the secret of Montenegrin cuisine? Food is genuine, locally grown, and simple. Once you have good ingredients, you don’t need to complicate things. This is one of the reasons why you shouldn’t focus on fine dining when visiting Montenegro. Family-run restaurants in the countryside of Montenegro are the best.
Montenegro has many different flavors – from seafood near the coast to heavy meat dishes in the mountains. Below you will find a complete food guide and what to eat in Montenegro.
Things to know about restaurant culture in Montenegro
Before we talk about what to eat in Montenegro, I want to share restaurant etiquette in Montenegro and some other important tips.
Forget about fast food eateries and milky coffee drinks. Coffee or kafa is black and short – like Italian espresso. Local sandwiches will compensate for fast food.
Expect much meat. Considering the long coastline, I was expecting a lot of seafood, but I can certainly say that meat takes over in Montenegro.
You can drink wine any time of the day – actually it will help you blend in with locals. Before visiting Montenegro, I didn’t know anything about their wine, but shortly after my arrival, I started to love it. We will discuss their famous black wine at the end of the article.
Even after the smoking ban, you will notice a lot of people smoking in restaurants and I’m talking about indoor places. Certainly not pleasant.
It’s not mandatory to leave a tip in Montenegro, but it’s becoming more and more popular. The decision is yours!
Now let’s dive into this gastronomic adventure and let’s discover authentic Montenegrin foods and drinks that you will want to try. Because I’m sure you are still wondering what to eat in Montenegro.
Njeguška pršuta and sir
I want to start this gastronomic adventure with one of the most important things what to eat in Montenegro. And it is their local gold – pršuta.
Njeguška pršuta or smoked ham is a meat specialty from the village of Njeguši in the South of Montenegro. It is a dry-cured ham similar to Italian Prosciutto. Its unique flavor comes from the mixture of mountain and sea air. Topped with a wood aftertaste that comes from the smoking process.
Njeguški sir is a local cheese from the same area and another thing that you should taste in Montenegro. Special taste and aroma come from the wooden pot where cheese is kept, called “kaca”.
Also known as crni rižot, it is popular all over the Balkans, so this is one of those things that you need to taste in Montenegro. Black risotto in Montenegro is infused with squid ink, with more squid on the top, and served with garlic and parsley. Some restaurants use wine as a secret ingredient, but don’t tell anyone!
You can find other versions of black risotto as well – it can come with octopus, shrimps, cuttlefish, or mussels. If you are not the biggest fan of risotto (like me!), you can take a sea platter. Most of the restaurants offer risotto included, so this way you get a little portion to try it. I personally loved it, but I wouldn’t want to finish the entire dish of risotto, especially in summer.
Burek is one of the oldest Balkan dishes that originated in the Ottoman Empire and it means “to twist” in the Turkish language. The twisted pastry is usually filled with meat, potatoes, spinach, or cottage cheese.
The pastry shop in Montenegro is called Pekara, so this is the place where you can find the best burek. If you ask me, burek is a great breakfast option in Montenegro. Also, from my experience, the best burek is the ones that are just out of the oven. At the end of the day, it has lost the crunchy touch that makes it so delicious.
Lamb in the bell
You might see it as lamb under the sač in some restaurants, but the idea is the same. Slow-cooked meal with spices and potatoes cooked on the fire and closed with something that looks like a bell. This way of cooking makes the taste unique and leaves my mouth watering just as I write this.
In some restaurants, they might open the bell in front of you and let you breathe the aroma of the dish. It’s a true satisfaction for all of your senses. Also, this is coming from someone who doesn’t like a lot of meat, but lamb cooked in the bell just melts in your mouth like a bite of happiness.
I had the most amazing meat in Meat&Wine. This restaurant is located 10 minutes car ride away from Kotor and it was one of the best restaurants in Montenegro.
Mussels are the holy grail of Montenegrin cuisine. Highly loved by locals and available in all the restaurants. Just until it’s sold out for the day and it happens a lot, so come early!
In Montenegro, they cook mussels in wine, olive oil, bread crumbs, and other spices. But what makes it so special, is the quality. It’s like to taste the essence of the sea. Oh, and you can find other seafood cooked the same way. For example, shrimp buzara is very popular around Montenegro as well.
If you are wondering what to eat in Montenegro, you certainly should start here.
Cevapi is another important dish in Montenegrin cuisine. It’s like a long meatball cooked on the grill. The dish is accompanied by chopped onions, cottage cheese, ajvar, and sour cream. Cevapi are served with flatbread and spices.
Cevapi is a simple and very affordable dish. A lot of restaurants in Montenegro serve grilled meat platter that includes cevapi as well. This way you can try many local goodies, however, the portion is usually for 2 or 3 people.
One of the best meat platters I tried in BBQ Tanjga in Kotor. It’s a simple eatery, but it always has a line waiting outside. And after having a meal here, I can understand why.
This is not the most popular dish, but I suggest trying it. Japraci is made of new leaves of raštan or vine with cow meat, bacon or smoked meat, and rice. Sometimes served with sour cream or thick domestic yogurt that locals love in Montenegro.
It might sound heavy, but the green leaf makes it healthier and easier to digest, so it’s a perfect combination of both worlds. If you are familiar with dolma, it is something similar but has a Montenegrin touch to it.
Fresh fish is particularly popular on the coast of Montenegro and usually is served grilled. Simple BBQ is enough when you have a great quality product and that’s exactly what makes Montenegrin cuisine so special.
Bluefish and white fish are loved by locals. You can always find fresh gilthead sea bream, barb, common sea bream, European sea bream, mullet, red mullet, red scorpion fish, and frogfish. During the wintertime, fishermen are luckier with piper crowner and hake. And let’s not forget the tuna! It’s amazing.
Once again, if you are on limited time, go for a seafood platter. This way you can try many different things.
Kačamak is very similar to potato mash. However, Montenegrins find a way to make it even better. Think about added cream, cheese, and sometimes even spices. Normally served with a domestic yogurt that locals use here a lot.
The taste depends a lot on the preparation. First of all, the quality of ingredients and prime time of the product matter. Once ingredients are ready, you need someone with strong hands, because mash is created with a wooden stick that is used to beat the product until it’s all mashed and creamy.
Yes, I know it is heavy, but this dish is mostly served in the mountains of Montenegro. Perfect for cold winter months.
Priganice and pancakes
Simplicity is the key here. Priganice and pancakes you will find in every restaurant and it’s a great breakfast option in Montenegro. Or snack between meals.
I’m sure you know about pancakes, but you might be wondering what is priganice? It’s a combination of water, flour, and salt and it’s one of the characteristics of Montenegro cuisine. You need to mix it all together and make small balls with a spoon. Once it’s done, it goes inside boiling oil. The best part? It can be served as a sweet with honey or as a salty with cheese.
During my time in Montenegro, I learned that they might use a secret ingredient and that’s rakija – this strong alcohol keeps priganice wet and airy.
As I mentioned before, you will find it in every restaurant in Montenegro, but my personal favorite is Ombra in Kotor. It’s one of the few great restaurants in the old town of Kotor and we spent a lot of time here – for breakfast, snacks or drinks. Most of the places around serve average and overpriced food. A lot of vegan options as well!
Perast cake and Kotor cake
And what is a proper meal without dessert? But what to eat in Montenegro for a dessert? To be honest, I was not impressed with desserts in Montenegro, but that’s because I’m a chocolate lover. If you are like me, fresh fruit will be the best choice and it is available in every restaurant. But there are two cakes that were unusually tasty and you shouldn’t miss these.
As you can imagine, Perast cake comes from Perast. Legend says that ladies of Perast came up with this recipe, so their sailors could bring the cake with them in the sea and it would stay fresh for weeks. Yes, you read that right. Perast cake tastes like an almond cloud, but the recipe is a secret.
Kotor cake is the rival of Perast cake. It s puff pastry with thick custard and you might recognize it as Krempita. It is slightly different, but you get the idea.
Black wine, white, beer, and rakija
I’m a wine lover and Montenegro didn’t disappoint me. Local wines are the cheapest option on the menu and you shouldn’t miss them. Vranac is a very popular red wine option, while Krstač is the most popular white wine. They also produce their own chardonnay and sauvignon blanc. Don’t get confused when you see black wine – it is what we know as red wine. Dark grapes make the wine very dark and it almost looks black.
Montenegrin beer is something that you should try as well. I’m not an expert when it comes to beers, but it is light and perfect for hot summer days.
Rakija is widely considered to be а national drink of Montenegro. It is something similar to Italian grappa and it is considered a local medicine.
Food is a great way to discover the country that you are visiting. You can learn a lot about their traditions and way of life. If you follow this blog long enough, you know that I love to write about food, but honestly, only my favorite cuisines end up with a separate article. Montenegro wasn’t an exception!
I believe that after reading this article, you know what to eat in Montenegro and where are the best restaurants for this gastronomic adventure. I don’t say that you have to try every single dish from this article, but make sure that you prioritize these things over fast food and other available cuisines.
Keep in mind that food around the Balkans is very similar and it’s hard to discuss the origin of these dishes. But recipes vary and I highly advise testing it all around, so you can make your own judgment.
If you are planning to travel around Montenegro, make sure you check the highlights of Montenegro that you shouldn’t miss.
I would love to hear your thoughts, so if you have any feedback or additional tips, leave a comment below. Also, check out my Instagram for regular travel videos and travel inspiration. Or explore other destinations on this travel blog.
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