If you have ever been to Banja Luka, or if you are its resident, it is certain that, in addition to the natural beauties and sites that the city on the Vrbas river is rich with, the gourmet pleasure is always placed on the top of the list of things to experience here. Authentic Banja Luka cuisine will certainly not leave anyone indifferent – traditional dishes full of taste, fantastic aromas and tempting appearance, make the Banja Luka menu loved by anyone who decides to eat here. A large selection of dishes with the hospitality and cordiality of the people, are something that adorns this region as an ideal place for rest, enjoying nature and staying at interesting locations of cultural and historical significance.
Uniqueness is what makes the tastes and smells of Banja Luka – many dishes have the prefix of Banja Luka, and many of them are not prepared anywhere else except in Banja Luka and its surroundings. Kozaračka pita, pura, cicvara, kvrguša, ćevapi – these are just some of the delicious dishes on the list, which is too long and has a long history behind it, which the people of Banja Luka are proud of and which they keep even today. All dishes of Krajina, after which Banja Luka is also called Krajina beauty, are not only of good taste, but they are also decorated with some local stories that give a special flavor. The kozaruša pie is said to have such a thin crust that Kozara can be seen through it, and the girl who masters the preparation of this specialty is ready for marriage. And when you eat well, there is nothing nicer than something to sweeten a meal. Banja Luka doesn’t lag behind in sweets either, so you will surely have a hard time deciding between apple pie, paws, baked apples in the oven, and if you do your best, in the kitchens of old Banja Luka residents, you can find Banja Luka candy, traditional fig, almond and chocolate cake. which was produced long ago, between the two world wars, in the Banja Luka settlement of Mejdan. Meat dominates the traditional menu of Banja Luka. All kinds of meat, prepared in various ways, with the addition of side dishes such as potatoes, rice, peas and salad. Abundant portions, to which foreigners may not be accustomed, are something that makes the Banja Luka table unique – on which all the prepared food is brought, and everyone gathers around the table to enjoy the prepared delicacies. Our grandmothers are not familiar with the term “I can’t take it anymore”. They are happiest when their grandchildren eat well, but also when they see that the plates are empty and the guests are satisfied. Another feature of this cuisine is the dough. A variety of pies, pastries and breads – making the smell of fresh pastry far away and complete the gourmet experience. Bun, an indispensable addition to kebabs (ćevap), is a quick and easy dish that can be tried as a side dish but also as a breakfast dish, with hot butter and honey. Pies lumpy, crunchy – they all got their names from the look they have after baking.
The lump has “bumps” of chicken that is pressed into the dough, the lump is “poured” and the dough is crumpled, you guessed it, crumpled and so put in a pan and baked. Krajina half-potatoes, characteristic for this climate, are made with potatoes and bacon or cheese, and for a real taste experience, they are baked under the sac. In addition to tradition, Banja Luka cuisine can boast with the extraordinary offer of recognizable world dishes, both through the influence of the diversity of cultures and peoples who lived in this area, and because of its epithet of a modern capital that offers something for everyone. The offer of healthy food and drinks is at every step, so Banja Luka does not lag behind in this either – a modern city with a rich history that is preserved and proudly displayed. You can find all the dishes of Banja Luka in modern city restaurants, but also in some places that make the pleasure even more special and authentic. Imagine going to lunch in an ethno village that offers real gastronomic pleasure with an ambient, antique atmosphere with which the food seems even tastier, and your experience is such that you will remember it for a long time. Probably the best experience would be prepared for you by a local, and given the kindness and hospitality of the people of this area, that is not impossible at all. Everyone will do their best to make your stay as pleasant as possible, and to proudly show you what you can try and experience here. The gastronomic offer is rounded with the Banja Luka’s Nektar beer – all lovers of good beer will surely remember this taste for a long time, for which the Banja Luka brewery in Trapisti is responsible. Nectar beer has a tradition dating back to 1873, and was created by the hard work of monks from the monastery of Marija Zvijezda, from which the famous Trapist cheese originates, and this will be elaborated further below. These two features of Banja Luka make the rich Banja Luka table even more special and unique.
However, tradition is what makes Banja Luka special, so we will start from that. Of course, expected, implied, but also proud, in the first place – Banja Luka kebab.
It is special in everything – its appearance, taste, method of preparation and serving. According to the original, traditional recipe, it is made from beef and lamb with the addition of spices, salt, pepper and garlic, and is always prepared on the grill. Although it can be found in all restaurants, kebab shops or grills are places dedicated only to it and variations of grilled dishes. Along with kebabs, there is always a bun, but also onions or pepperoni as desired. Kebabs are properly eaten with their hands, according to tradition. Although the waiter will bring you cutlery, almost no Banja Luka resident will use it to enjoy this specialty. There are some places that say that if you haven’t been there and eaten kebabs, you haven’t even visited Banja Luka. The oldest kebab house in the city is “Kod Muje”, which dates back to 1923. In addition to Mujo, you can try kebabs today in several other old and authentic places, such as the kebab house “Meho”, or the well-known “Biljana”. Almost all restaurants, both modern and traditional cuisines, offer kebabs on their menu, and since you are in their capital, where you can decide to taste it, you will not go wrong. Kebab is so recognizable for Banja Luka, that it got its own festival as its feature – “Kebab fest”, which has been traditionally held in Banja Luka since 2018, where the promotion of kebabs as a gastronomic specialty of many caterers is accompanied by a rich cultural and entertainment program. This multi-day event gathers up to 10,000 people who enjoy the traditional taste.
Apart from traditional dishes, Banja Luka also boasts one traditional product – Trapist cheese. Trapist cheese has been produced in the Marija Zvijezda monastery since the nineteenth century, more precisely in 1872. The story behind it is very interesting, and it includes the process of making it was as it was closely guarded secret and the only one who knew the recipe was Father Tomo. Tomo shared the job with a dozen experts, but so that each does his part of the job, and does not know what the tasks of the other are during the making of this specialty. In that way, the recipe remained authentic and unique. Today, you can buy Trapist cheese in all stores, but it is recommended to go to the monastery because
you will be sure to get freshly prepared cheese directly from the place of production. Trapist cheese can be an ideal gift for someone or a souvenir from Banja Luka. Many visitors who come to the town on the Vrbas river, take Trapist cheese as a souvenir of their stay here, and its special taste
is long remembered and reminiscent of Krajina beauty.
One thing is for sure – you will not stay hungry in Banja Luka. A wide range for all tastes, and even if you do not like meat or traditional dishes, you will complete your experience of this city and all its uniqueness. Catering facilities of all types, from cafes and bars, through bars to restaurants and cocktail bars are something that characterizes the city on the Vrbas. At every corner, you will see at least one place where you can relax, and it is precisely this epithet of hospitality that Banja Luka carries, that makes the gastronomic offer impeccable. Banja Luka is a special city. A modern city with a soul, which preserves all that is exceptional that makes it so, and at the same time keeps pace with the times, not forgetting its history and the foundations on which it was built.