I wasn’t sure what to expect when we travelled to Albania on the over night bus from Northern Greece. I didn’t have the best food experience when travelling through Greece (I’ll have to write a whole post on that later), and when options were limited I would opt not to eat rather than eat some of the fast food available there. I didn’t know what to expect from Albania, but I knew I liked the cuisine of other Eastern European nations, and I hoped that would be true for Albania as well.
I was blown away by Albanian food.
Simple, fresh, hearty. Albanian food is comfort food. I loved it. Everything is fresh and most likely sourced locally. And after travelling from meat loving Greece it was refreshing to find a whole smorgasbord of vegetarian options.
The Best Foods to Try When Travelling in Albania
I loved Albanian food. To the extent that I have added several of these dishes to our weekly dinner rotation at home. My all time favourite is the first one on this list.
This dish is normally served as an appetizer, but I would normally eat it as a main course when I was feeling like something vegetarian. The dish is very simple and consists of chopped tomatoes and peppers cooked with cottage cheese and served with a hearty dark bread. It is simple and delicious. I cook this at home and have slightly “Americanized” it by serving it with grilled cheese sandwiches.
Lamb with Yogurt
This is pretty much a national dish in Albania. The lamb is baked and served with rice and a yogurt sauce. We had this our first night in Albania and I have never had such tender and beautifully cooked lamb in my life.
Deep Fried Cheese
Commonly served as an appetizer, you can find deep fried cheese balls in most restaurants. Not ordering them should be criminalized. The cheese used is a fresh and light white cheese with a soft flavour.
Stuffed peppers are popular in many cultures, and they are also popular in Albania. Here the peppers are generally stuffed with mince meat, rice and onions and served with yogurt.
This is a very traditional dish and is only for those with an adventurous palate. Pace is made from an animals head, usually a sheep’s, which is boiled until the meat comes off nice and easily. The meat is then stewed with onion, garlic and vinegar.
Our Top Restaurants in Albania
Our top three favourite restaurants in Albania were:
Oda, Tirana – This small restaurant, set in a traditional Albanian home gives you a real cozy, “home made” experience.
Restaurant Manglemi, Berat – This restaurant is set at the bottom of the hill in Berat and is also part of a hotel. We didn’t stay here, but we came for dinner one night and were not disappointed. Generous portions, a great selection of local food, and a good wine list makes this one a winner.
Bar Restaurant Onufri, Berat – This restaurant, set up at top of the hill in Berat, in the fortress is a truly unique experience. There are no menus. You sit down, and you will be brought plate after plate after plate of things to try until you simply can eat anymore. This is a great place to really sample some typical Albanian cuisine, and is also one of the places that we experienced the famous Albanian hospitality.