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Taberna Balkanika: an authentic taste of the Balkan Mediterranean

10 February 2018

We walked through the long tunnel entrance deep into the ground floor of a 1970s residential building, entering what felt like a cellar bar in Žižkov (the Lavapiés of Prague). Stepping into Taberna Balkanika, we were met with a long table of around 50 people speaking a Slavic language we couldn’t quite place. Their food looked incredible – big, hearty, hot and perfect for one of the coldest nights of the year.

As we sat down at the last empty table, the music seemed unusually loud – that is, until we realised it was live. There was young man wearing a black sequinned shirt singing well-known Balkan tunes, and the waitress sang along as she walked up to our table.

One of the singers that evening

One of the singers that evening

THE FOOD

We’d been on the hunt for the Czech classic smažený sýr (fried cheese), and even though Taberna Balkanika  represents Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia and Romania, we were hoping they might have a similar dish. And look what we found…

Smažený sýr!

Smažený sýr!

Battered and deep-fried edam-like cheese: this is Prague’s most popular street food and a staple in any Czech restaurant. The rest of the food we ordered transported us straight to Serbia…

Roasted pepper salad

Aivar (roasted red pepper salad)

Artisanal bread with a mix of white cheeses sprinkled on top

Artisanal bread topped with a mix of white cheeses

Potato cakes

Potato cakes

Taberna Balkanika is also famous for its sausages and its hot meat stews, which come served in a piping hot cauldron…

Satch de pollo

Satch de pollo

They also have a Bulgarian beer on the menu…

Shumensko beer

Shumensko beer

We spotted this poster of the singer on our way out, having watched him eventually rope most of the restaurant into a Balkan-style circular folk dance…

The lead singer of the night

The lead singer for the evening

Even if you live nowhere near Quintana, Taberna Balkanika is well worth the trip – and if you fancy a quick caña before dinner, head to the permanently rammed Docamar, which is famous for its patatas and claims to have the best bravas sauce in the whole of Madrid.

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