Croatia is a fascinating country to explore, particularly for the travelling foodies. Since it has so much influence from neighbouring countries over its history, various regions have different specialties that they have made their own. You’ll find a hint of Greek, Roman, and generally Mediterranean, cuisine woven into the coastal regions, while the mainland regions bear some resemblance to Hungarian and Turkish cuisine. With so many delicious local specialties on offer, here is a look into what to eat, and where, in Croatia.
It’s no surprise that Zadar’s location along the coastline means it embraces the Mediterranean way of life – and therefore, food! Locals are immensely proud of traditional recipes that have been passed down between generations, always on hand with a great recommendation for you. Fish and seafood are staples so you can expect to try seafood risottos, fish stews and fresh seafood in general. Zadar is also connected by a bridge to the island of Pag, world-famous for their cheese, so don’t miss it!
Trogir is found near Split, so is often a good choice to visit with more of a small-town island feel. While small, Trogir still boasts several local specialties. Indulge in a cosy pasticada, a traditional beef stew where the meat is marinated for at least 24 hours prior then served with pasta. You may choose to round off your meal with rafioli, a ground almond-based pastry, or rozata, the Croatian version of a custard flan.
Nowadays, Dubrovnik is often associated with Game of Thrones however we can’t look past tasty meals like squid ink risotto and šporki makaruli (the Croatian version of a bolognese sauce with macaroni), or snacks like local olives and candied orange and lemon peel.
The city of Zagreb is always on the move – quite literally, being Croatia’s most important transport hub for road, rail and air – and is progressively becoming a popular place to visit. For a good-for-the-soul Zagreb meal we can’t look past cuspajz, an authentic stew made with vegetables and whatever meat takes your fancy. If you prefer something while being on the go, a snack of štrukli will hit the spot with its combination of a special dough filled with cottage cheese and sour cream.
The southern city of Pula lies on the border of the Istrian Peninsula, shared with Slovenia and Italy, so if you’re a pasta aficionado, Pula is the place for you! Local Croatians have developed krafi, a form of ravioli that can be served as a main or dessert depending on its filling and accompanying sauce. You’ll want to keep an eye out for pljukanci which has been hand rolled to form a pasta that is thicker in the middle and thinner on the edges, best served with a moreish meat sauce. And last but not least, fuži – with its unique shape and paired with a veal sauce or chicken goulash.
Another prime coastal town, Opatija is a true gem amongst Croatia. Seafood and meat fans will be in for a treat here! Croatian prosciutto is common here, and you can almost taste the care that has gone into its natural drying and curing process. Krčki pršut has been dry salted with sea salt flavoured with pepper, rosemary and bay leaf, adding that little something extra to it. Opatija’s proximity to the nearby island of Cres means travellers can enjoy a high-quality lamb, bred exclusively here. Locals make sure that every part of the lamb is utilised, from its meat to its innards. Other local specialties include dried octopus, scampi and sheep’s milk cheeses.