Every week, I document another dish that impressed and satiated me during my food adventures around New York City

KAFANA, 116 Avenue C (between East 7th and East 8th Street), East Village

This summer I spent a few weeks travelling around Eastern Europe and I learned that the king of food in most countries is beer and sausage. Here in New York, I’ve only experienced a bit of the true Eastern European food at places in Astoria many years ago.  It’s a cuisine that is prevalent here, but it’s just a little more difficult to find.

And while Kafana is right in the heart of Alphabet City, few people know it outside of Serbians and Bosnians looking for a taste of home. For everyone else, it’s a hidden gem worth uncovering.

Before you think about ordering anything else (aside from a beer), you have to try the national dish of this region. They are called ćevapi and are skinless sausages served with a side of raw onions. They are as addictive as a bowl of salty peanuts.

Ćevapi at KAFANA

If you’re not careful, you could find yourself in a meat coma. But it’s worth it because the crisp smoky sausages are well-spiced and juicy. These are skinless and grilled meat cigars made from beef, veal, and pork. They don’t have the pop of a skinned sausage, but the meat is so fresh and tautly grilled that you don’t miss that sensation. There are plenty of other sensations on hand.

The raw onions are there to break up the rich meat and they help, but I also used a little bit of the complimentary avjar (red pepper sauce) that came with the bread basket as a quick dip.

As the weather starts to turn colder, Kafana offers a respite from the blistery New York evenings and a wonderful, warming Central European specialty that you wish you had discovered years earlier. Price: $12.95

KAFANA
116 Avenue C (between East 7th and 8th Street),
East Village
(212) 353-8000
kafananyc.com
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About the Author

Brian Hoffman is a classically trained actor who is now a full-time tour guide, blogger, and food obsessive. He leads food and drink tours around New York City, which not only introduce tour-goers to delicious food, but gives them a historical context. He also writes food articles for Gothamist and Midtown Lunch in addition to overseeing this blog and a few food video series, including Eat This, Locals Know, and Around the World in One City.

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