13 Of The Best Restaurants In Tirana That You Gotta Try

A few meals at the right places will leave you purely convinced: Tirana is the next foodie destination.

Over the years, the art of traveling has gradually evolved into uncovering up-and-coming gems. Ever since discovering Budapest a decade ago, I’ve fallen in love with cities that may not glimmer with the tallest skyscrapers or thriving in the newest technology. They may not be the London or Paris of the world, but their authentic originality radiates through genuine smiles rather than relentless bartering. Wandering the streets of clandestine capitals requires a slower pace, acute observation, and most importantly, a deep gratitude for its very existence.

Food is often a telling indicator of a rising city’s amalgam interlacing history and creativity. It’s no surprise that Tirana will soon be hailed as the next “foodie destination,” with its emergence of farm-to-table approach which respects not only sustainability but also the diligence of small farmers. In addition, don’t be surprised to witness an early introduction of hotel restaurants that aim to transport Albanian cuisine to the forefront of a traveler’s palate.

Funny enough, there’s no shortage of sushi restaurants in the city. Similar to the rise of stylish Japanese hotspots in downtown San Francisco twenty years ago, Tirana views sushi as a fashionable trend. Pizza is another common type of eatery seen around town, thanks to Albania’s close proximity to Italy.

Here’s a list of the best restaurants in Tirana, it’s a combination of my own personal  food journey and a list of recommendations from a local friend. Follow along, you simply can’t go wrong.

Mullixhiu

Shëtitorja Lasgush Poradeci Hyrja e Parkut tek Diga e Liqenit Artificial Tirana, 1019, Albania

Dedicated to his philosophy of supporting a sustainable ecosystem that circles right back to local and independent farmers, Chef Bledar Kola leads his humble laurel on the edge of Grand Park Tirana. Mullixhiu, meaning “miller”in Albanian, is an ode to the oldest occupation in agriculture. Kola’s farm-to-table interior exudes the intimacy of a wooden cabin yet romantic via dim lights and quiet chatters. Hailed as Tirana’s ultimate Michelin experience, Mullixhiu’s vibrant menu is symbolic of gastronomic democracy with a 5-course menu at an incredibly accessible 3000 lek (USD $25.) Don’t miss Trahana dish (fermented grains with fermented mulberries, purslane sauce and sunflower seed powder,) or a personal favorite Ali Pasha Soup (veal meat ball with rice inside and stock with herbs.) For those who don’t mind Quail, it’s braised on a bed of polenta with plum sauce.

Mullixhiu
Fli (layers of charcoal cooked party with beef cheek, sour cream & honey sauce. Cow cheese on top.) PHOTO WENDY HUNG
Mullixhiu
Braised pork on a bed of polenta with plum sauce. PHOTO WENDY HUNG
Mullixhiu
Trahana (fermented grains with fermented mulberries, purslane sauce and sunflower seed powder.) PHOTO WENDY HUNG
Mullixhiu
Qumeshtur (milk pie with ice cream and honey.) PHOTO WENDY HUNG

Padam Boutique Hotel & Restaurant

Rruga Papa Gjon Pali II, Tirana, Albania

Situated in a beautiful villa in downtown Tirana is the Padam Boutique Hotel. Its renowned restaurant though, is one of the best in the city with live music and twinkle lights dangling from the ceiling. I highly recommend the 5-course tasting menu for USD $44, you can indulge in duck carpaccio, sea bass carpaccio with fresh kiwi and pears. The egg confit is the ultimate star with divine taste of truffle and gorgeous gooeyness of a half-cooked egg. The tortellini dish oozes lemon zest combined with crushed nuts. The finish line with a hearty steak was spectacular, luxurious also with layers of truffle.