Finding a good restaurant with some new creative and challenging dishes can be quite difficult in Croatia. Besides the boring pizza and the predictable pig and lamb on the grill, there is not much variety between Zagreb and Dubrovnik. In the coastal areas, one can find great seafood dishes but prices can be a bit overdone and most menus are very predictable as well. I realize this list is far from being complete. But over the years I have found these ten places all worthy to come back to and highly recommendable….
TIP: How to save money on your lunches in Croatia…
In many places in Croatia, a “gablec” is served during workdays (also often on Saturdays) between 10.30 am and 12 noon. These are the meals for the workers but everyone can sit down with them and enjoy a cheap and big meal. It is a substantial hot meal, often with a choice of three or four dishes, mostly meat, fries or potatoes and a salad, accompanied by fresh bread. The price per person is usually between 25 and 40 kuna. So that is between three and five euros. Take a light breakfast, and then enjoy the Croatian rhythm of an early hot meal. The portions are very generous and plentiful!
And here is my personal top 10 of restaurants in Croatia:
1. Zlatne Gorice
This most astonishing location amidst the vineyards in the hills overlooking Varaždin is so much worth a visit. The daily menus are very affordable and the view, the high quality of the dishes and the great desserts make it all a gastronomic highlight in continental Croatia.
I love the Međimurje region in Northern Croatia. It has a great atmosphere and very promising wine houses. It is not overrun by tourists like on the other side of the border and has the great spa resort of Sveti Martin. The Terbotz restaurant is a fantastic location on top of a hill overlooking the lovely area. The food is great, the ambience even better and the waitress very helpful and friendly. Make sure the visit the Maderka hill viewpoint when you are in this area.
3. Vagabond Restaurant
A very pleasant surprise on the old road between Fuzine and the Adriatic coast. Well hidden in the forest this restaurant uses very original recipes. They use a lot of herbs and plants from the area in their dishes. Their cakes were really great!
4. Vuglec Breg
I just love Zagorje. This is such a pretty area with the rolling hills and the ancient castles. By far the best restaurant in Zagorje is Vuglec Breg. The atmosphere and decoration of this restaurant is so cosy. The view is great!
5. Karlovac castle
Karlovac deserves so much better. This city could easily compete with other great towns in Croatia. If it wasn’t for the still very visible war damage and its many neglected buildings. The horrible grey soviet apartment blocks make this city even more dreary. But it is the city with four wonderful crystal clear rivers within its city limits. So really worth a try. Try a coffee first at the Korana river and then head up to the old castle that now hosts a great bistro. The food is of good quality and the prices are affordable.
6. DP Restaurant
A great restaurant at the banks of the most beautiful river in Croatia, the Mreznica. They offer some real homemade recipes.
7. Zumberacki Raj
A fresh trout from the greek, grilled with a tossed salad and some very crispy potatoes. For just a little less than 10 euro. It is worth a visit. The location is wonderful; in the heart of the nature park.
This family-owned restaurant has a long time tradition. Their food is of exceptional quality. But take a small portion. Their Frankopan cake is an eight-layer cake that you must try!
9. Kod Spilje
A little more pricy restaurant near Samobor. They have very high quality dishes and a very friendly and welcoming owner.
10. Ivancic Plesivica
The food is nothing really special. But the view…..Charlie Chaplin was one of the famous persons that liked to have his lunch here way back in history. This restaurant and all of the Plesivica area are a promising gastronomic area. It is just a stone-throw away from the bustling streets of Zagreb. I am quite sure we can expect some really great places for eating in the near future on these fantastic hills.