Food & Cuisine in Albania
You will not want for food or drink while visiting Albania as several restaurants have mushroomed all across the country. The Albanian cities have many popular restaurants and it would be wiser to reserve a table and show up in time if you want a good meal at a good place.
Satisfy your sweet tooth with oshaf, an exotic pudding made using figs and sheep's milk.
Just reading our Albania Restaurant Guide below will have you jumping out of your seat to head out and sample some local cuisine! So, after some shopping for Albanian souvenirs, relax in beautiful surroundings and taste a variety of dishes from the restaurant of your choice.
Food & Cuisine in Albania
The Albanian palate shows a definite Turkish influence. This is a result of the 400 years of Ottoman rule in the area. A few must-haves on any Albanian menu card are shish kebab, kofte and byrek. In the early 1990s, when communism finally receded into the background, Albania opened up to the world. Distinct Italian and Greek influences are now seen in the Albanian taste, especially in the urban areas.
Good food goes hand in hand with good wine and Albania makes the most of its grape cultivation. Several red and white wines are produced here. Kallmet, Cabernet, Merlot, Riesling, Sangiovese and Pinot Noir are the popular wines in Albania. Added to this list is the local traditional drink known as raki, a brandy made with grapes. Some areas also make plum raki with two variants, Diber and Korce. Mulberry raki is made in Boboshtive. Scanderbeg Cognac from Albania has won acclaim the world over.
There are non-alcoholic beverages available too. There is boze made from corn and rehani made from grapes. While boze is made in Kukes in northern Albania, rehani is made in Skrapar.
You have the option of starting your day with a continental breakfast that most Albanian hotels serve. However, if you are adventurous, you may try the traditional Albanian breakfast of pilaf, which is flavoured rice or paça - a soup made using animals' innards. For lunch, you may feast on Fërgesë Tirane, a sizzling fried dish made using meat, eggs, tomatoes and liver. You can also indulge yourself with tavë kosi also known as tavë elbasani, a dish made using yoghurt and mutton. For the fish lovers there is the Shkodra carp and the koran, a trout sourced from Lake Ohrid. If you want to taste local favourites of southern Albania, then ask for the kukurec. That translates to ‘stuffed sheep's intestines'!
Appease your sweet tooth with oshaf, an exotic pudding made using figs and sheep's milk. Or you may opt for reçel, which consists of cakes dripping with honey and served with candied fruits.
Various liqueurs, red and white wine and of course raki are available in all the bars and restaurants across Albania. You will also be plesantly suprised with the choice and the quality of locally brewed beer. Try to taste the Albanian cognac, which is sure to please you with its unique aroma. To meet tourist demands and taste, most bars also store several imported drinks. So you can find Macedonian wine, Austrian canned beer, and Greek ouzo among other popular drinks. Coffee drinkers can sample the popular Turkish coffee. And there is always espresso available if you are done with culinary adventures.
As in most centres of tourism, tipping is a part of the culture in Albania too. Earlier tipping used to be discouraged by the authorities but gradually the practice has gained wide acceptance.
The xhiro is by far the most prevalent form of nightlife in Albania. It is the name given to a leisurely walk in the evenings, exploring the main squares and boulevards in whichever town/village you may be staying. For a change of scene you can venture into taverns that play music and have dance floors. There are also the more sedate options like operas, theatre and concerts to choose from. For those who live life in the fast lane there are the new games arcades and discotheques.
The most important and elaborate meal of the day for Albanians is lunch. Besides the main meat course there are plenty of vegetables served both as a cooked main dish and a fresh vegetable salad.