The clue is in the name: Montenegro means “black mountain”, and the dark rocks covered in forest-green foliage flank the country’s coastal towns like towering monoliths. Down at sea level, however, it’s a different story: Budva boasts a stunning Old Town, plenty of beaches (although the sand is, unsurprisingly, the colour of Montenegro’s characteristic dark rock), and oodles of beach bars and restaurants to keep you sated while you’re not sightseeing or sunbathing. Food in Budva is as you might expect from a town at the heart of the Adriatic: heavy in fish and seafood, with some traditional Balkan dishes but a strong influence from the Mediterranean – especially Italy. You’ll see restaurants serving pizza and pasta everywhere, so in this guide I’ve decided to focus on the food that might be a little harder to find…
6 of the Best Restaurants and Bars in Budva, Montenegro
Restora Rivijera: authentic Balkan food
One of the best selections of traditional Montenegrin dishes that we came across was at Restora Rivijera in Budva’s Old Town. I recommend ordering the makarule sa pašticadom: a kind of beef stew served with homemade pasta (made from a dark flour that I couldn’t identify) doused in olive oil and shavings of a hard local goat’s cheese. The stew was rich with warm spices, and the noodles had a bite to them that reminded me of Swiss spätzli. Be sure to try a glass or two of the “8 Tamburasa” wine as well – a fantastic white blend from Serbia. I can’t find a website or even a phone number for Restora Rivijera, but their address is 16 Njegoševa, Budva.
Jadran: fresh seafood
Right on the seafront, Jadran has been going strong for over 40 years – and it’s clear why. Perfectly fresh seafood (we tried the mussels and the stuffed squid, but the seabass cooked in a salt crust at the next table was making us jealous as well), attentive service, good value, and even live music at the end of the pier. Jadran is huge, so while reservations are always advisable, you have a good chance of getting a table even if you just show up spontaneously. A large glass of chilled house wine tops your meal off for only €2 – like I said, great value for money. Visit Jadran’s website: restaurantjadran.com.
Zeleni Gaj: smoked ham and more
When in Montenegro, you must try the famed Njeguška pršuta – dry-cured, smoked ham from the village of Njeguši in the south of the country. We ordered it at beachside bar and restaurant Zeleni Gaj, where we also enjoyed the leskovačka mućkalica – a spicy pork stew with red peppers and tomatoes. The view over the Adriatic with the setting sun catching the clouds added to both the flavour and the atmosphere. Visit Zeleni Gaj’s website: zelenigaj.me.
Hajde: vegetarian food
Back in the picturesque Old Town, we stumbled upon Budva’s only vegetarian restaurant. Well, sort of. The very friendly proprietor told us he recently started selling a couple of seafood dishes as well as his veggie offering – but vegetarians (or those of us who find ourselves eating way too much meat on holiday) will be happy to find a lovely selection of mezze dishes, grilled vegetables, sandwiches and drinks. Be sure to try the marinated aubergine with some cheesy garlic bread, and wash it down with Hajde’s signature pear-based cocktail. Visit Hajde’s Instagram account: instagram.com/hajdebudva.
Taste of Asia: Thai food
If you’re anything like me, you go on holiday all enthusiastic about eating the local cuisine at every meal – only to find yourself a week into the trip craving ramen or curry. That’s the thing about having grown up in the UK and Amsterdam – I’m used to eating from the world over, whenever I like. So, if you need an Asian food fix halfway through your Adriatic adventure, you could do a lot worse than head to Budva’s only Thai restaurant: Taste of Asia. In theory, they serve dishes from elsewhere in Asia as well, but I’d venture to guess that the chef has a Thai background because the green curry we tried was far superior to the Sichuan chicken. Of course, I’m not implying that this is the best Thai cuisine you’re likely to eat – far from it. But when you get a craving for a spicy green curry, this will hit the spot. Visit Taste of Asia’s Facebook page: facebook.com/Thai-restaurant-Taste-of-Asia-Budva.
Casper Bar: cocktails
The only hangover of my holiday was thanks to Casper. And no, that’s not because I was drinking low-grade alcohol. It’s because those Sorrentino cocktails were so darn good that I just kept ordering them… all bloody evening. Casper’s is a relaxed but grown-up bar just inside Budva’s Old Town, whose outdoor seating is shaded by masses of leafy lemon and pine trees. The cocktail menu is arranged by type (spritzed, shaken, stirred, shooters and signature) – and I can attest to both the Manhattan and the Sorrentino being bittersweet and fiercely moreish. Hence the hangover… Casper’s is also famous for its eclectic jazz and soul scene, so it’s a good spot for music lovers too. Visit Casper’s Facebook page: facebook.com/casper.bar.budva.
Planning a trip along the Adriatic coast? Then check out my foodie guide to Dubrovnik Old Town as well!