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The Balkan Grill still going strong after 50 years

A Balkan Platter for two -- a tray with various grilled meat and salad -- garnished with djuvec, a flavorful rice-and-vegetable stew.

SLOBODAN LEKIC/STARS AND STRIPES

By SLOBODAN LEKIC | Stars and Stripes | Published: January 16, 2020

Located on the geographical crossroads between eastern and central Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East, the Balkans are renowned for the variety of the local cuisine, which incorporates influences from all of these regions.

The Balkan Grill in downtown Kaiserslautern, Germany, offers some of the region’s typically hearty meals, consisting of lots of grilled meats, seasonal produce and side dishes such as ayvar, a spicy pepper-based relish.

When the restaurant — run by three generations of the Petrovic family from southern Serbia — opened in the early 1960s, it was the first foray for many GIs into the exotic dishes of southeastern Europe.

It also attracted a dedicated following among the locals in Kaiserslautern, with its large portions of tasty food at reasonable prices. Today, many of the regular clientele are children and grandkids of people who started frequenting it 50 years ago.

The restaurant also offers some German favorites, including the best jaegerschnitzel I’ve ever eaten, as well as more exotic dishes such as the Peruvian Carapulca, a stew of pork and rice, almonds, mushrooms, eggs, ham, curry and other spices.

My own favorite Balkan dish is the spicy pljeskavica (plyess-kah-vee-tsah), a hamburger-like patty made of a mixture of beef, pork or veal, with a feta-like cheese in the middle.

Another ubiquitous grilled meat dish is cevapcici (che-vahp-chi-chi), finger-sized skinless sausages served in bunches of five to 10, served inside flatbread. Cevapcici are a variation of the Middle Eastern kebab, which arrived in the Balkans via the medieval Ottoman empire.

Also popular is the Veseli Bosanac (Merry Bosnian), a rolled steak served with djuvec (joo-vetch), a flavorful rice and vegetable stew used in many local dishes.

A Balkan Platter for two — a tray with various grilled meat and salads — is garnished with djuvec, but if you want something guaranteed to draw attention, order the king prawns flambeed with brandy.

The atmosphere is very friendly and English is spoken. The interior is very pleasant and during the summer, they have outdoor seating.

An important note: although the Petrovics hail from southern Serbia where the food tends to be very spicy, they have adapted their dishes to the blander tastes of their German clientele. So if you like your fare hot, make sure to mention it when placing the order.
lekic.slobodan@stripes.com

Location: Muhlstrasse 18, 67659 Kaiserslautern

Hours: Noon-2 p.m. and 6-11 p.m.; closed Mondays

Prices: Starters from 6 euros, soups from 4 euros, entrees from about 8 euros, nonalcoholic drinks about 2 to 3 euros, wine and beer from 3 to 5 euros. Portions are hefty. Special lunchtime menu every day except Sundays and German holidays with dishes available from 6 euros to 8 euros.

Menu: English menus are available.

Information: Seating is limited and the restaurant is frequently packed, so make reservations on weekends and holidays. Weekday lunches can get crowded. For reservations, call (+49) (0)631-70786.

A plate of cevapcici, a favorite in several countries in southeast Europe, in Kaiserslautern's Balkan Grill restaurant.
SLOBODAN LEKIC/STARS AND STRIPES

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