Albania has a rich food culture infused with Mediterranean ingredients like olive oil, tomatoes and pimentos. There are clear influences from Italian, Greek and Balkan traditions. Each region has its own specialties and Saranda in particular is famous for its fresh fish and seafood but also its pizzas and pastas by Italian recipe.
Typical Albanian Food
If you want to try the typical Albanian specialties, look out for the following dishes on the menu:
Tavë kosi: You’ll notice lot’s of lamb dishes on every menu. Tavë kosi is a lamb stew with yoghurt and eggs definitely worth a try.
Mish në hell: Spit-roasted is the most traditional way to eat lamb.
Shish qebap: Marinated and grilled meat cubes (lamb, pork or beef) on a skewer.
Qofta: Rissoles of minced lamb bound with egg, either served as a dish with salad and chips, or as fast food from kiosks.
Midhje: Mussels are a local specialty and are farmed in the Butrint lagoon.
Byrek: A typical snack found throughout the Balkans, which is a harty pastry filled with either cheese, vegetables, or meat. The Albanian versions are usually triangular in shape.
Typical Albanian Drinks
Coffee: A very integral part of Albanian life consists of meeting over coffee, either with friends or to do business. Most cafés and restaurant are now serving coffee from Italian espresso machines, but traditionally this was made the Balkan way. Kafe turke is made by boiling finely ground coffee, water and sugar together in a pot. A moka coffee pot is also fairly commonly used as an alternative.
Wine: Albania has some excellent wines. While the bottled wines are the best, some draught wine can be pretty alright as well, despite being rather young of age.
Raki: The is the typical national and most popular drink. In contrast to other variants, Albanian raki is not flavoured with aniseed. It is usually made from grape juice, but mulberries (mani) and brambles (manaferre) are also used.
Beer: Importing is expensive and a craft beer culture doesn’t exist yet in Albania. But who needs anything else than an ice cold locally produced lager when it’s crazy hot during the summer anyway? Try some Korça, Birra Tirana, or Elbar and ask for a ‘kriko’ if you want a freshly poured draft beer.
Where To Buy Food In Saranda?
There are plenty of supermarkets in Saranda, but most of them are fairly small and you might also notice that a lot of products contain Greek texts, because a lot of packaged products are imported.
Since importing is expensive, a lot of Albanians buy locally produced food, some of which is also available in supermarkets, but for a lot of items they go to local markets, like the Local Farmers Market, local bakeries, butchers and fish shops. If you buy locally you’re really supporting the community and most likely your ingredientes haven’t travelled further than the next village. Do mind though that unpackaged or unlabelled products don’t contain any preservatives so do consume them before they perish.
Where To Eat In Saranda?
Saranda is full of restaurants and bars so especially in summer you can have food and drinks in literally every corner of the town. The food scene is still authentic and you won’t find any international restaurant brands or fast food chains in Albania. Until recently a lot of the restaurants had a fairly similar menu with more or less the same traditional Albanian and Mediterranean dishes, but Saranda is really starting to step up now with more and more places with a distinguishing menu and more contemporary international dishes.
Obviously the beachfront boulevard is full of people strolling around during the summer evenings so here’s where you find the most bustling places and more inflated prices. Rruga Butrinti is very touristic as well, but has a great mix of options from traditional to international and more distinguishing cuisines. Bear in mind that a lot of restaurants in this area are closed in the winter. In other parts of the Saranda, like the center (uphill from the boulevard) and Kodrra, you also find a wide range of options with a more heavy weight on traditional food in general.
To find restaurants, you can search in our Restaurant Directory.