I had no idea what to expect as far as food in Albania. Luckily, I was able to find some amazing restaurants and hidden gems in Tiranë.
First of all, Albanians know how to grill. I had some of the best kebabs in my life in Tiranë. Kernaca Zgara Korçe, near the market in the city center, was cheap and amazingly good. I got a pork kebab, 2 chicken kebabs wrapped in bacon, xaxiq (thick yogurt sauce – like Greek tzatziki), and qofte (meatballs), for just under 700 lek. I’m sure their next door neighbors, who also serve the same food, are just as good. Near the hotel I ate at Shija Korçare, which was not quite as good, but also reasonably priced.
For traditional Albanian food, I ate at Era in the Blloku district. For a starter, I had grilled eggplant topped with a slice of goat cheese and tomato. My main course was fërgesë, which is very tender pieces of veal, peppers, tomatoes, spices, and goat cheese cooked into a nice, gooey mess in a stone bowl. Both dishes were very tasty. The two ran about 1000 lek together with bread.
Even more traditional is Oda, which is also near the market. You sit in an Albanian home Ottoman-style and the food is as homemade as can be. I had a salad and stuffed eggplant washed down my homemade raki, the traditional Albanian spirit. It’s a little hard to find – you have to spot it in a small alley off a main boulevard, but it’s well worth it.
I also ate at two pizza places but neither were memorable. My amazing pizza experience in Krujë ruined every other pizza in Albania for me.