Friday, 28 July 2017

Kosovo: Pristina’s Best Qebaptores

Text by Maneater for Balkan Insight   
As much as we might hate to admit it, everyone of us regularly gets that yearning for a plate of those meaty bundles of joy most of the region refers to as qebapa.

And trust me, I don’t blame you. Every street in Pristina seems to have its own tiny qebaptores wafting out glorious smells. Think of it this way – as pizza is to Italy, qebapa is to Kosovo.

Now narrowing down the top five qebaptores was no walk in the park. But with surveys, discussions and straight-up qebapa testing, my dining partners and I were able to come up with the following list of Pristina’s finest qebaptores.

Get ready to rip apart a complementary samun (round bread) as you run to the following eateries for a taste of what they’ve got.

Te Martini, Rr 2 Korriku

Martini sits alongside three other qebabtore joints on a deadend street taken up by more bars and taverns, making it a favourite Pristina spot to knock back a couple of beers in the evening. Think of it as more of a block party, with rickety qebaptore tables taking up sidewalks and parking spots and crowds of people taking up every square foot of the street.

Martini may be the drabbest eatery of them all, but stands out with its prizeworthy specialty: the pleskavica.

Preferred by many, Martini’s pleskavica is said to be made by the hands of a qebaptore master.

Grilled to perfection and accompanied by fresh cabbage, roast pepper, onion , tomato, cucumber and cottage cheese, many drink it down with a glass of raki, and head down to the rest of the neighbouring bars in order to drink some more on a full stomach. The grilled liver is also an appealing favourite, if you’re into organfeasting.

Best for: Watching the crowds on this virtually pedestrianised street and tucking into a fine pleskavica or succulent liver.

Cana 19, Rr Rexhep Luci

Now if you’re not into the whole mismatched tables, Albanian pop star posters and diverse culinary sets reminiscent of the majority of qebabtore shops, then Cana 19 is for you.

At this eatery, you have the same traditional grilled meat options (which undeniably looked very fresh behind the counter) at the same inexpensive prices, but in a more modern and open space.

Located as central as central gets, along the road that runs to ABC cinema, Cana 19’s visitors include young people, professionals, families and more.

Their outdoor terrace is especially large, while the interior is furnished with modern dark wood tables, air conditioning and very clean floors and counters. Their cream cheese and pepper mixture is truly addictive and goes great with qebapa, or even on its own.

Best for: Although Cana 19 doesn’t serve up the best qebapa in town, it is certainly the most stylish.

Sarajeva, Rr Andrea Gropa

Some swear that the Bosnians make the best qebapa in the world. Well, a taste of their take on the recipe is available at Sarajeva Grill.

While the other qebapa places shape the ground meat into small round forms, these qebapa are cylinder shaped and bite size. Those unskilled at portion control will have a hard time saying no to an extra ordering of these treats.

I have to admit that I upped my usual standard of 5 qebapa to 10 at this place, and even had them baked in a fatty cream called kajmak for extra flavour. My dining partner ordered a bombice, a plate-sized meat cylinder stuffed with the kajmak mixture.

Kajmak always calls for more samun, so be prepared to indulge in carbs during a meal at Sarajevo.

Best for: With a more Bosnian approach to food, the grilled meat is truly delicious, although their salads were average.

Partizani since 1967, Rr UCK

Partizani qebabtore is a pioneer in the ground meat preparation industry, and a nostalgic spot for many young Pristina men who recount their fathers taking them for a meal at this eatery back in the Yugoslav period.

Despite the change of location, and the total revamp of its décor, which now resembles a kitchen set ad rather than a traditional qebaba place, the same recipes remain.

Other than its famous morsels of meat, Partizani includes different salad choices beyond the usual cabbage, such as Greek and mixed salads.

Other specialties include pleskavica with a filling of melted cheese, or a cold glass of goat yogurt.

Best for: Out of the top five listings, this one scored first for cleanliness and its wide selection.

Te Shabani, Rr Xhemajl Prishtina

Once you get passed the plastic lawn chairs and crammed tables of Shaban’s place, you will notice a 1980s menu placed on the wall with a small listing of qebapa, pleskavica, sausage, salad and peppers.

It may not seem impressive at first, but the service is super fast, and the meal is well worth the short wait.

The qebapa are grilled to perfection and taste extremely fresh, while the side serving of gjiz (cottage cheese) complements the mixed salad and meat to perfection.

We left pleasantly full, as oppose to regrettably stuffed. If you don’t fancy the dining area, then Shaban gladly packages your food to go, so you can enjoy it in the comfort of your own home, and not worry about squirting qebapa juice (as one of my dining partners did) all over your shirt.

Best for: Probably the best qebapa in town but not so enjoyable for a sit-down meal.

This article is courtesy of Balkan Insight, the online publication of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, which contains analytical reports, in-depth analyses and investigations and news items from throughout the region covering major challenges of the political, social and economic transition in the Balkans.

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Read about other Balkan countries' versions of Kosovo's qebapa on




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