3-VIII-2015 14:15

Several types out there, depending on what they are registered for (food - own kitchen, or just cold, or none; smoking or not or separated; live music or amps or not). General types:

- restoran - predominantly an eatery or something in a hotel; waiters may even wear white gloves

- stanični restoran - at a bus or railway station - don't eat there except as last resort; watch your wallet, ignore hookers and peddlers

- kafana - if you're lucky to find a traditional one, with grumpy waiters, just two kinds of beer, dented thin tin ashtrays and chequered (blue with yellow or red with white only), start taking pictures, get drunk, stuff 100€ into the turbofolk singer's tight cleavage, break a few glasses and later enjoy the hangover - this is the right place for it. Don't give the band more than 200 RSD per song, no matter how close the violin is to your ear - they will shorten the song regardless.

- kafe - i.e. a café - generally tries to be posh, have some interior design, may have a limited assortment of drinks but most of them in foreign names, if not straight imported. Choice of coffee is generally limited to ness, espresso, latte and in very few you may find traditional turkish. Music from speakers more or less always, unless there's something on the screens (mostly sports, but I've seen them play MTV or some such channel on screens while playing some other rap on the PA).

- splav - restaurant on a raft, moored to a river bank. Sometimes a recommissioned old ship.

- picerija (usually spelled pizzeria) - a cafe by all means, except they serve pizza as well

General rules:

- the waiters were traditionally grumpy, not necessarily too clean and tried to cheat you (depending on how much you drank). No more so, they are generally kids who can't find a better job, so they stick to this the best they can.

- tables are mobile. If you arrive in a group of six and above, tables can be rearranged. The waiters may do that for you, or you can do it yourself, specially if you started with separate tables but then became friends. Chairs as well - if you see your gang around a table, you just ask anyone at the near tables and if they don't say it's taken, just bring that chair to where you want it.

- the waiters are on the lookout for the word "tura" (a tour, but at the table it means "a round [of drinks]"). Whoever calls it, traditionally pays, unless all are equally broke, when everyone pays their own.

- you don't have to pay anything to the band, even if they surround your table. They are baiting you, and they have to play anyway. If you start asking for certain songs, then you are expected to pay. See kafana above.

- tipping is not mandatory at all, and not even expected. But it is still welcome - a couple hundred dinars is usually enough, or just round up the bill and wave away when the waiter brings you the change.

- barbecue is ubiquitous (except in a cafe or pizzeria); for other dishes, ask for the menu. Piglet or lamb on a spit is quite common, too, outside of cities. If it's a simple barbecue you're after, check dozens of fast food kiosks, they are usually good.

- in some places there is a baba sera; it's been a while since I last saw one in a restaurant (stanični, more probably)

- the cuisine may vary in time; the place where you ate gorgeously last year may not be that good anymore, the cook got a better offer from a new place or made one himself; a truckers hole by the road may turn out to be quite good - ask the truckers. Only a few places manage to keep the quality over the years

- location, like everywhere else, costs - so they may skimp on food and may water down the drinks if they have a good place; look for places which aren't exactly downtown and conveniently by the road, they may have to fight to keep their reputation

- if everything else fails, you can always buy a beer at the kiosk; some cities managed to go around the constitution so retail can't sell drinks after 23:00, at the behest of hospitality lobby; elsewhere, there are kiosks open all night. The choice of beers may not be great, but who cares, it will be cold.