Eating like locals in Croatia

Many travelers ask us where to get true local dining experiences but we do not always offer nor suggest those places. Several reasons to that but main is that “normal” restaurant offer in Croatia is fairly plain and boring: meat and potatoes is what is all about. Many places also serve great grilled fish but that became too expensive for most locals in the recent years.

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Lamb on a spit with scallions, Torcida

Another reason is that the service is not always there so we prefer really nice places serving more imaginative dishes based on local traditions. Peka, lamb on a spit, grilled meat… this is most of the cuisine of the region served in the restaurants. Grilled fish I get better at my own gradele so I rarely eat it in the restaurants.

Of course, there are a lot of great places that are very popular with locals for the quality of food. Here, I will name just a few that I like to visit for consistent quality.

Torcida in Vrpolje near Šibenik is THE place for lamb on a spit. People from Split will argue that Klis is better but that is simply not true. Torcida rules and their home baked bread is another reason to stop or to make a detour. The place itself is nothing to write home about but the consistently great lamb is simply spectacular! Combine it with Velebitsko pivo and you will proper and authentic Croatian food experience to remember.

Next place I know I will have a good meal at is Propeti Poni (or the The Prancing Pony from LOTR) in Šibenik.

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Constant quality of their meat dishes, fast service and great selection of pre-cooked meals, make Propeti Poni one of my favorites.

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Tripe
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They used to have a great selection of international beer…

There are several great places in Split like Pimpinella near Firule hospital but I really like Ćiba. A friend of mine took me there last spring and as soon as I noticed the owner carrying a banana box full of home grown potatoes, I knew I found my local favorite.

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This place is known for its grilled dishes selection.

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Stuffed burger

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Most of these meat dishes are found in the entire region and are common all over the Balkans. Pljeskavica, čevapčići, ražnjići..all classics!

Besides these few places, I am regular for tripe at Veseljak in Sukošan as well as at Joso just across Skošan marina.

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Of course, these are just a few places in just one region but I will be adding more as the season approaches and we start exploring more places for our restaurant recommendations. As one can see, not very creative cuisine but surely seriously tasty dishes! Tastes worth exploring if you are interested in real local cuisine.

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Ruinart Champagne dinner at Pelegrini

We have been invited by chef Rudi for an evening of Ruinart champagnes paired with his (always) great dishes. Pelegrini is one of the top 3 restaurants in the Country and always an absolute pleasure to dine at so we could not refuse.

After a short intro by a local importer of Ruinart champagnes, we started with carpaccio of oysters and Angus beef with spices and rice chips.

Next dish was gazpacho with scampi and strawberies-an explosion of tastes masterfully blended together!


Everything so far was paired with Ruinart brut. Our next wine was a superb Ruinart Blanc de Blanc.

A dish that followed was scampi wrapped in smoked pečenica bacon on nori algae with banana gnochi.

Pork ears with potatoe purre and mustard followed. Perfectly balanced dish again!


We moved to Ruinart Rose next and the first dish with this wine was octopus (cooked and fried) on purre of beans.

Next was Dom Ruinart (2004). One of My favorite champagnes! Perfect in every way.


And it went perfectly well with veal shank with baked picant cheese iz mišine. Mango purre was a Superb addition!

Before dessert, we had a strawbery mousse with some sort of jello of olive oil and lemon juice. Pure perfection!

Dessert that followed was a bit of surprise. Very American. Oreo cookie tart with peanut butter and chocolate. Raspberry on top and raspberry coulis.

The dinner ended with their own version of traditional mađarica cake made of carob.


Simply put, Pelegrini did it again! Rudi never fails and always delivers exeptional experience. Ruinart champagnes just Made everything extra special!

Restaurants in Split – eating out in Split

So this was an exciting summer for all of us who like eating out from time to time. There are many newly opened restaurants in Split following the booming of tourism and increase of number of travelers who choose Split as their destination.
Most of the restaurants are trying to have something other than boring, classic offer like grilled meat and fish and one major new trend is “Dalmatian tapas”. The finest example of small bites with good wines is Pikuleca by Dino Galvagno. We simply love that place although the portions are small and not exactly inexpensive but this is my favorite choice for late night, light food. The tastes are simply superb and unlike anything you can eat on the coast but still respecting the tradition and local ingredients. I would only prefer that it is more Dalmatian and without Istrian wines.

Octopus - at Pikuleca
Octopus – at Pikuleca

 

So, this summer we had opportunity to eat at:
newly opened F de Mar on the western promenade which was ok as the service was sloooow,
Bokeria – God knows what that was. The interior, however, is stunning.
Brasserie on 7 – EXCELLENT burgers (served only till 7 PM grrrrrr)
Uje Bar – quite ok. Will eat again.
Villa Spiza – great as usual
Chops Steak & Grill – Superb steak selection and great service!
Korta – always great!
…and few others.

We particularly enjoyed newly opened Paradigma as the  best (the only?) choice for fine dining in Split with superb dishes and great wine selection. This is their version of octopus!

Octopus - at Paradigma

Turbot - at Paradigma
Turbot – at Paradigma

One of our favorite lunches was served at Restaurant Dvor, Firule neighborhood of Split. Located in a finely restored classic Split  house by the sea, Dvor offers one of the most romantic settings in all of Split. 
The food is always good but the staff seems to be a bot more relaxed than they should. It does not bother me but would prefer more professional attitude. We always enjoy their ginger and carrot soup! 

Ginger and carrot spicy soup at Dvor restaurant
Ginger and carrot spicy soup at Dvor restaurant

And I also like how they serve classic soparnik for couvert.

Soparnik with olives and olive oil
Soparnik with olives and olive oil

The best seafood we ate at Matejuška tavern. Just a tiny place for locals has been made quite popular due to top position on Trip Advisor. Not sure if they will be able to maintain the quality, but everything we had (tuna and flaunder) was simply superb! This place is also quite inexpensive as the 5 of us ate for 100 Euros (three courses with house wine).

Seafood lunch at Konoba Matejuska
Seafood lunch at Konoba Matejuska

There are definitely many great additions to Split restaurant scene and I am glad the town is slowly becoming an interesting place to eat out. Split  – and its guests – deserve it!

Travel in Croatia