Read, Write, Run, Roam

Behind the Belgrade Bulge: Trpkovic Bakery


Last week I crossed yet another item off the Belgrade Bucket List: follow the advice of commenter Bojan to try raspberry pastry at Trpkovic bakery. Going to Trpkovic felt like destiny. In addition to Bojan, two other people had told me to try Trpkovic last week. They suggested (really, demanded) that I try the burek. Burek is a phyllo pastry “snack” in the Balkans, which means it would be a meal anywhere else. Meat, cheese or spinach is mixed with egg and cream, layered between phyllo dough and brushed with oil. Repeat this process a zillion times, bake it in the oven, and voila! Burek.

Trpkovic bakery isn’t exactly a Belgrade secret. As I approached the door, there were two lines of people waiting. The line out the door was for burek, and the shorter one was for pastries.

As I waited in the burek line for ten minutes, I was reminded of the “Soup Nazi” Seinfeld episode. There was clearly a method to Trpkovic, and I wasn’t sure what it was. I knew about the two lines in advance, but as I got closer, the process seemed specific and confusing. Usually there’s only one size of burek, but people seemed to be receiving burek of different sizes. Were they asking for it by the gram? I had no idea how many grams were in a small burek. I couldn’t hear orders because the bakery was loud and people were ordering in rapid Serbian. I didn’t want to seem like a Trpkovic twit or worse, be told, “No burek for you!”

I told the woman behind the counter that I wanted a small cheese burek to go. This was obviously wrong because she paused. (She had been dishing out burek like a machine.) Then she nodded and disappeared behind a mass of other women taking orders. A second woman asked what I wanted, and I told her I wanted 100 grams of rasperry strudlica (per Bojan’s suggestion). I wasn’t sure if I could order pastry from the burek line, but this seemed okay. She muttered something and handed me a white bag 10 seconds later–just as my burek appeared. It was like magic. Stressful, Serbian magic.

I was running late to meet a friend so I brought the bag with me. I felt triumphant and hungry. I almost forgot to take a photo before I tore into it.

Don't let that grease get in the way of goodness

As I suspected, the confusion was totally worth it. The burek wasn’t too crunchy or greasy. The amount of cheese filling was perfect. I made my Serbian pal try a bite for an “expert” second opinion. She said it was the best burek she’s tasted.

After that, we were on a roll—or specifically, rolica. I’d asked for strudlica, but either the waitress didn’t hear me, or rolica was the closest she could get. Either way, these were amazing. They were light, flaky, and burst open with raspberry filling. I took a photo of them in the bag because we were eating them too quickly to guarantee a photo later.

People, the Belgrade Bucket List is going to give me a Belgrade bulge. But it was worth the wait–and the new waistline. Many thanks for all the Belgrade Bucket List suggestions—keep ‘em coming!

Trpkovic Bakery has three locations: Nemanjina 32, Dimitrija Tucovića 60, and Milorada Budžalića 6. I went to the Nemanija location, about 200 meters south of Slavija Circle.

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18 responses

  1. Mare Kovatch

    Hey! I live up near by, up hill, then right! some 30 meters away!
    So, next time, bring your darling, we could get some burek all toghether, then eat at my place!
    and one tip! : Dont know if you heard for some old serbian tradition about eating burek?when you eat it, best thing for drink in that situation is warm bear! 🙂

    October 3, 2011 at 10:52 pm

  2. Mare Kovatch

    upps! now i red, that you havent been at Dimitrija Tucovica location.
    and one more tip! that location is the first one opet, other words – real place with tradition 🙂

    October 3, 2011 at 10:55 pm

  3. Bojan

    Oh yeah, you got the right stuff, rolnice.Waitress knows…
    Thanks for the photo, although now I’ll have unbearable cravings for those little precious bites…
    And don’t worry much about the bulge, you’ll take care of your waistline when you come back.

    October 3, 2011 at 11:01 pm

  4. VP

    Usually, a burek is one kilogram and the normal serving size is a quarter of that. Most places allow you to order by gram, though. I usually take about 400 grams for a good breakfast, but the 100 grams you took is basically baby-size (as evidenced by the picture).

    October 3, 2011 at 11:02 pm

  5. Baby size?!!?! Well, at least I feel better about wolfing it all down now. I think I might die if I ate 400 grams of burek. It would be a good way to go, though.

    October 3, 2011 at 11:06 pm

  6. I wish I could mail them to you somehow! I never would have gotten pastry on top of burek if you hadn’t suggested it. Thank you!

    October 3, 2011 at 11:08 pm

  7. Anytime! Warm beer….not so sure that I’ll try that. What’s the kefir drink called in Serbia? It’s like buttermilk (sour milk) and I saw people getting that with their burek too.

    October 3, 2011 at 11:11 pm

  8. Holy cow, I’d be busting my seams and zippers if I were to live in Belgrade. Both burek and rolica looks sooooooo good; I’ll take a kilo please!

    October 4, 2011 at 9:09 am

  9. Warm beer? No way. That’s a joke. Burek without a (cold) yogurt is not really a burek 😀
    I don’t know about grams, but I order either 1/4 or 1/8.

    October 4, 2011 at 12:31 pm

  10. I guess that was yogurt what you saw there. But if you want a kefir, ask for “kefir” 😉

    October 4, 2011 at 12:33 pm

  11. VP

    Usually with burek you take “Jogurt” (yoghurt). Don’t confuse it with similarly named beverages elsewhere, you can’t find real jogurt outside of the ex-Yu area (believe me, I tried, I really tried). My favorite (mainstream) brand is Dukat, you could also drink Fit in a pinch. Some bakeries, even in Belgrade, have “Planjanski jogurt” (which is made in Velika Plana, surprisingly enough) and that’s by far the best jogurt I’ve had in a long time. If you’re buying it with burek, you can probably just get a plastic cup or two; in shops they come in half litre and litre sizes usually. You can get them with fruits and stuff, but I like normal, plain jogurt the most. If you really must, you can always add your own fresh fruit. Kefir is called kefir in Serbian, and it’s a completely different thing – it has a sour-ish taste and I don’t really enjoy it that much.

    But yeah, 400 grams of fresh burek and a liter of jogurt are a great start to any day! (100 grams and a cup of jogurt for you, probably) 🙂

    October 4, 2011 at 1:20 pm

  12. Okay, I will try to find the planjanski jogurt (or a substitute) and let you know. A cup sounds just perfect. You have to remember, Serbians are much taller than Americans! (At least, this American.)

    October 4, 2011 at 3:16 pm

  13. @mostovljanin I was wondering about the warm beer…

    October 4, 2011 at 3:19 pm

  14. @Rowena, I am not sure why I haven’t doubled in size here. I feel like all I do is eat. Maybe it’s all the walking around.

    October 4, 2011 at 3:20 pm

  15. erasfa

    Seriously I’m dying over here. Funny thing that post about burek attracted so many comments 😀 Trpkovic has really good burek and this comes from someone with Bosnian grandparents who ate lots of pita and burek, made from scratch, while growing up. In Svetogorska street there’s a good place for pita and burek. I think it’s called Sarajevac.
    Men can easily eat 400g of burek but women take smaller portions like 250-300g. I’ve never heard of warm beer being the best beverage for burek LOL

    October 4, 2011 at 11:40 pm

  16. @erasfa: I love how seriously people take Burek! I will keep a lookout on Svetogorska–I think I know the one you’re talking about. Does it have low tables inside?

    October 5, 2011 at 3:40 pm

  17. erasfa

    Yes, that’s the one. 🙂

    October 5, 2011 at 8:09 pm

  18. I can’t believe I’ve avoided weight gain ths whole year…only to have it all go up in a blaze of glory. Will try this place too. 😉

    October 5, 2011 at 10:47 pm

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