Immediately upon exiting Tri Šešira our bladders remind us of the 4-5 beers we downed at Reveller’s before the 3-4 Djinns we just had. We barely get around the corner before it’s pission critical. A lowkey looking spot called…. Сарајевска ћевабџиница ‘То Је То’ Оригинал (sp?) will hopefully meet our needs.
We scoot in, avoid all eye contact with the servers and head straight to the back. There’s a table of five young Chinese folks at the back table who look up surprised and confused by our urgency, maybe thinking we’re rushing them, but we take a hard right just before their table and rip the door off the bathroom. D’aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah race horse relief.
We go to the bar and order a couple of Lavs on draught to reward ourselves. We’ve got just enough of the goon sauce in the mix to pass bravado off as invincibility. “Go meet those Chinese folks?”, “For sure.” We saunter our way to the back again and this time they’re extra confused because we actually are coming right up to the table. “Hellooooo!”, “Oh English… ya. Hi. Hi, how are you?”
There is a good collection of empty wine bottles on the table and one of the girls is out cold, resting on her side, head directly on the bench. This seems like our type of crew. Actually if I were to cast a group of unlikely heroes in an Asian action/horror flick it would be this table. There’s the handsome brash leader-type in a leather jacket, a chubby, nerdy dude in round glasses and dgaf black t-shirt, a hot chick in zippered leather, and two girls in somewhat matching blazers who may or may not be dating (one’s passed out).
In typical Asian fashion, they are extremely polite and offer us to sit with them, “Yes, yes, please, please, here, here. You are American?”, “Canadian!”, “Oh oh Canadian! Very nice, yes very good!”
We get the skinny on their travels: The leather duo have recently gotten married and they are all on vacation together to celebrate. I’ve never heard of a group honeymoon before but I like it. “Just married? Congratulations! We’ll need more drinks. More drinks?” they’re a little tentative but MacKay is unphased and drops some goon logic, “We’ll get drinks and if you don’t drink em, we will”, “Ahhh ok ok, I like this style!”
This group starts to liven up a bit now. Feels like they were winding things down after a good night but just needed a little outside stimuli to pull the energy levels back up. MacKay drops five beers on the table and launches into stories about living in Inner Mongolia for a bit. Round Glasses is all about it. These two kick it off big time while I’m chatting up the Newly Weds and Blazer 2. Without really even bothering with an ice-breaking period the whole table is getting along and laughing, travel stories getting slung as best as our collective communications skills can deliver over the language barrier.
On one of the full table guffaws Blazer 1 wakes up suddenly. She sits straight up confused and scared out of her mind. “Hey sleepy head”, “Hiiiíii.. ohhhh”, she’s wearing that slightly embarrassed face that reads ‘How long have I been out for, new people are here?’. But with an unheard of expedience in reading the scene her hand is thrust out to politely introduce herself followed quickly by, “Let’s get a picture!”, “Yes! Us to!”
After taking the picture the server warns us that they’ll be closing soon. Uh-oh, we’ve got a lot of beer to drink then since only one of the Action/Horror stars took up on MacKay’s offer. We put them back quickly and wish the cast a good night and another congrats on the wedding.
I like this spot. Wonder why it’s so dead in here on a Friday? More Sarajevan restaurant scene than straight up bar maybe.
We exit the ‘That is That’ back onto the street. We’re still just around the corner from Reveller’s. “This area seems like the place to be, right?”, “Ya, I’m sure we can find something cool around here.” Down the street a block and there’s a girl on the corner with flyers, “You look like music lover, yes?”, “Why yes”, “There is local band right here. New bar” and she points down the alley to a bar entrance. Yep. We’re in.
We walk in and there is a band on a raised section playing some Serbian folk tunes to an attentive room of locals. We try to post up at the bar without making too much noise and drawing attention to our drunk selves. “Yes, you like?”, “Two gin and tonics, please”, “Ah perfect!”
The band is just about perfect too. They’re quite good, not spectacular, but so honest and bashful up there like it could be their first gig. There are lots of moments when they surprise themselves or are just happy to have gotten through a song and relieved it’s over. The looks between them that betray to the audience that they lack the foundation of a given song but have just enough talent to pull it off anyways. The eyebrows and smirks at slightly missed notes. This is super.
We sit and enjoy the local band over a couple more drinks until they are finished their set. Healthy applause for those guys, that was great. Lots of Serbian folk sing-a-longs and chanting choruses and a surprise Lake of Fire cover in the style of the Nirvana MTV set (minus the vocal raspiness).
We head back out to Skadarlija Street in search of another scene. Getting a little late at this point, doesn’t look like there are many options. Up the street and our eyes are scanning for spots. We see something down a side street that looks like it has tables out still. Let’s investigate.
It’s a Ćevapi place called Drama. Oh, the folks at the hostel had told us this was a good spot for burgers. Not really feeling more burger after our platter earlier but we walk in to see if beers are an option. Of course, it smells incredible in here and we haven’t actually had Ćevapi yet so our wills easily crumble and we find ourselves on the street with a ćevapčići dish (minced meat on a bun) and a grilled cheese type of thing with 4 types of cheese in it.
What the hell?! These are both incredibly delicious. The bread is soooo soft and the ćevapčići grease just gets soaked in. Bite of that followed by a bite of cheese heaven. Swig of lager. Roll us over. This place rules.
Not really a scene here though. Just two sloppy Canucks on the sidewalk really. While we finish up I look up a metal bar nearby. Those seem to always turn into a good time. We walk towards it. Nope it’s not there. Hmmm There’s another place called The Optimist though.
We walk in and it’s totally empty except for some dude playing guitar and singing to absolutely nobody. Poor fella. Actually he doesn’t seem to care and just belts it out all the same. Some commotion draws our attention to another room. Ahh ok, it extends over this way.
Decent spot, but meh, not much happening in here either. A table of friends and one of business folks. We just have one drink and bolt.
It’s getting late and we don’t really feel like clubbing it up. Everything that isn’t a banging club is closing up for the night. We meander around for a while in hopes of stumbling on the local lock-in joint but to no avail. “I could go for a slice, you?”, “Dude, we just scarfed cevapi over there”, “I know but that just got the juices flowing!”, “Actually, now that you mention it…”
We zigzag the streets looking for a good slice window. We’d already passed one with a line earlier that had to be good but I’ll be damned if we can find it now. We haven’t gone very far, wth? Ok now we’re just going around in circles, “It’s got to be here somewhere”, “Well, we could always…”
Ask a Hot Chick (Pizza Edition)
MacKay and I have had some luck on this trip going up to random girls, asking random questions, and getting great results. It was time to test it out and see if we can re-locate that pizza window. Finding a hot chick is easy because everyone in Serbia is basically a drop dead gorgeous, tall, curvy super model. Something that nuked our minds the last time we came through these parts. Who knew?
We stop the next girl that’s passing us on the street in the hopes her English is good. She’s stunning. So is her English, “Pizza? Yes, best pizza in Belgrade, it is very close by”, she turns us around and points, “Left up here, then next right, then left again and it will be window on the sidewalk. There will be line, most probable. You cannot miss it”, “Awesome, thank-you!”, “It is my pleasure.” Success!
This intel leads us to a place called Bucko which is indeed the place we’d walked passed earlier. There is a line ten deep but it’s going by quickly. Sweet, best pizza in Belgrade, we’re excited.
“Am I reading this right dude? A full pizza works out to be only 6 bucks?”, “Haha yep. Fuck it. We could take it back to the hostel and share with whoever”, “Ah good idea.”
We watch the guy in front of us for tips on how to order. It looks like there’s a tray of stew-like sauces to cover your pizza in? Weird, never seen that before.
Our turn. We ask for a full pizza and they instantly hand us the next one on the stack coming out of the oven. You don’t even get to choose what type of pizza? Haha ok, the street demand is real. “You want sauce?”, “Ahhh sure, what are they?”, she starts pointing at each bin, “This mushroom, chicken, spicy, beef…”, “Ok, those four please.” The girl spoons sauce on each slice and spreads it. Very curious about this.
Instantly regret not asking for the purple stuff but the transaction is done and hungry Serbians behind us are eager for late night slices.
A whole box of hot chick approved ‘Belgrade’s best pizza’ for six bucks. Amazing.
We get back to Reveller’s with a couple of market beers each and high hopes for this pizza. Beeline to the kitchen and grab a table. No one really around, I guess it’s passed everyone’s bedtime? We open up our creation to try it out.
“This looks fucking disgusting dude!”, “Haha it really does.”
This kind of reminds me of the stew-like toppings that Marco puts on his tacos at D’Marcos in Valle de Guadelupe. Unfortunately, this experience is nowhere near the glory of Marco’s tacos. No, no, the best pizza in Belgrade is easily the worst pizza I think I’ve ever had. It’s unspeakably awful. What a late night slap in the nethers.
Bucko – Belgrade’s Best Barf Boards
Let’s break it down, stew by stew, clockwise from six o’clock:
- Spicy stew – A baby wombat accidentally ate a field of habaneros during the wet season and vomited on a piece of cardboard
- Mushroom stew – Watered down yak semen with rubbery bits on a piece of cardboard
- Beef stew – You forgot to go on the BRAT diet while travelling abroad and only had a piece of cardboard to wipe your ass with
- Chicken stew – Your worst cousin’s neapolitan shit-mutt of a cat ate their toddlers diarrhea and then re-shat it onto a piece of cardboard
Yes, the best pieces here are the ones without stew that just have cardboard and sauce taste. Wow, what a let down. There was a massive line-up outside for hours for this? Are we missing something? We crack another beer in the hopes it will wash our displeasure away. It does not.
Needing an escape from our battered taste buds, we hop off the patio onto the back of a ratty brown, bear-like Bauk who takes us to an abandoned industrial building over by the Danube/Sava confluence. We get back just in time for bed.