I used to hate
catching the bus at SE 39th and Belmont. Between the super-sketchy Chinese place on the corner, and the laundromat across the street whose initials spelled out KKK (Kwicky's Kleen Klothes, or something), the bus stop had a distinctly seedy air. Now the scary laundromat has changed names, and the Chinese place is now a distant unpleasant memory—the owners of Two Brothers, the Serbian restaurant that recently moved into the space, have eliminated all traces of sinister-looking chow mein and steam-table fried rice. The transformation is impressive: The dingy old restaurant has been transformed into a surprisingly bright, clean space with a cheerful red exterior and a few tables outside.Two Brothers is a welcoming little café that features authentic Bosnian food. Some of the menu items might be unfamiliar, but this is a safe place to dive head first into the satarash, as everything I tried was quite good. The menu is meat heavy, but a satisfying vegetarian meal could be pieced together without too much effort. There are two vegetarian soups on the menu, a few salads, plus satarash
(sautéed onions, peppers, and tomatoes, served over rice), and a veggie crêpe option. The spinach soup was full of rice and greens in a light, milky broth; with a side of the dense house cornbread, it promises to be a perfect comfort food for the imminent drear of winter. So vegetarians have options, but meat is undeniably what this place is all about. I was pleasantly surprised by the tasty chevapi
; the unassuming little sausages are seasoned with a secret blend of spices, and served in thick house pita bread with sides of sour cream, chopped onions, and ajvar
(a traditional relish made from bell peppers and eggplant). The bread is great: Like a pita, but thicker and lightly toasted, it's made for Two Brothers by a nearby bakery. My favorite dish was the goulash, served with a choice of noodles, mashed potatoes, or rice. It was sunny on the day I ate there, but the goulash made me wish for wind and rain, so I could best appreciate the belly-warming beef stew. On another visit, I shared the mixed grill platter with a friend: Basically a meat sampler, the plate arrived laden with pork kebabs, sausage, pork sirloin, chevapi, and sausage. It was more than enough food for two; I have yet to eat a meal there for which I didn't require a doggy bag.We drank tea with our enormous platter of meat, an incongruous choice made under duress—the heavy flavors almost demand beer or wine, but as of my last visit, the restaurant was still awaiting approval of their liquor license (I was assured that imported beer would be available eventually). Two Brothers, though, has some lovely Croatian teas; try the apricot or hibiscus.Desserts include baklava, a house banana split, and sweet crêpes with Nutella or rosehip jam. The cheap, smallish crêpes are a good way to end a meal—or great for a snack on their own, if you need a quick Nutella fix. Two Brothers is a welcome addition to the neighborhood, and a cheap, no-frills introduction to an underrepresented regional cuisine. Stop by sometime this fall when the rain and cold have seeped into your soul, and see if the friendly service and a plate of steaming, hearty goulash can't warm you up.