Prior to our 10 day road trip through the wild nation of Albania, we were unsure of what to expect. We didn’t know much about the history, we were a bit unsure of the culture and customs, and we most certainly were unaware of the cuisine on offer.
Luckily, after just one day in the country’s capital of Tirana, we had learned loads about the culture and history, so all that was left was the matter of the food.
The UNESCO town of Berat is home to some of the best food we’ve ever eaten. Anywhere. We may have only dined at one restaurant in the town (Mangalemi), but that’s because all of the food was authentic Albanian, the home cooked meals were delicious, and the prices were more than fair!
From inland Berat, we also made our way to the coast where we found some more scrumptious foods, with an Italian flare.
Check out these 10 mouth-watering dishes from our travels in Albania.
Freshly Caught Shrimp
Being located right on the Ionian Sea, it comes as no surprise that fresh seafood is popular with tourists and locals in Saranda. The fishermen sell their catch early in the morning right along the pedestrian promenade, so if you want to take a peek at the fish on offer, head there around 9:00 and check it out. Dining seaside while feasting on freshly caught shrimp is a must.
Cost: 1500 ALL ($12) for 15 shrimp
This simple dish ended up being one of our go-to meals for lunch. Green and red peppers, along with skinned tomatoes and onions are cooked down with cottage cheese and spices. The end product is a thick dip, which when accompanied with some bread is actually quite filling.
Cost: 300 ALL ($2.40)
Lamb and veal are popular meat choices in Albania, and the tavë kosi is one of the most beloved dishes in the country. Lamb is baked in an earthenware dish with eggs and yogurt. The end result is a quiche-like dish, with tender meat and a light, creamy egg topping.
Cost: 500 ALL ($4.00)
Perime Në Scarë
Grilled vegetables are a popular appetizer or accompaniment not only in Albania, but all of the eastern Balkans. Typically, eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes, onions and peppers are the vegetables of choice, and oftentimes cheese will be crumbled on top.
Cost: 300-400 ALL ($2.40 – $3.20)
Fileto Pule Me Panna Dhe Kerpudha
Translated, this is grilled chicken breast with a cream sauce and fresh mushrooms. Since lamb and veal are the most popular meats in Albania, it’s a welcomed change to see chicken on the menu!
Cost: 650 ALL ($5.25)
The cafe culture, complete with “dolces” (sweets or desserts in Italian) are popular in Albania. People sit in cafes while puffing on cigarettes, drinking espresso and eating these delicious desserts. This one was basically all chocolate with a bit of cake inside. It was extremely rich and very delicious.
Cost: 150 ALL ($1.20)
Speca me Glizë
Yellow, orange or red peppers are stuffed with rice, cottage cheese and spices, before being baked in the oven. This was one of our favourite meals, as it was bursting with flavour, and was a healthy choice.
Cost: 250 ALL ($2.00)
A special of Mangalemi Restaurant, this is a delicious savoury pie. Topping a thin crust is a fluffy mix of pumpkin, potato, cottage cheese and a hint of lemon. Divine!
Cost: 250 ALL ($2.00)
Due to the large Italian influence in Albania, there are many Italian foods on the menus – pizza, pasta, risotto, etc. We don’t mind though, as this type of food is one of our favourites! The wood-fired pizzas are actually really well done and can be found all around the country. We had a couple while we were staying along the Ionian Sea.
Cost: 550 ALL ($4.45) for a large pepperoni pizza
This honey nut cake is a typical Albanian dessert, and is also a very popular one. It’s made with all of the usual cake suspects – baking soda, flour, sugar, eggs – but what sets it apart are the honey and walnuts.
Also, when the cake is ready, a hot syrup made with vanilla, sugar, water and cloves is poured over the cake and left to soak overnight. This cake was delicious, and wasn’t too sweet either.
Cost: 150 ALL ($1.20)
Sometimes when travelling, we tend to get a bit tired of having the same cuisine day after day. However, Albania had enough of a variety to satisfy all of our food cravings! We loved the fact that practically everything that we ordered from the menu would be not only delicious, but inexpensive as well.
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