With an increasing number of Zagreb’s guests staying in private rooms and apartments rather than traditional hotels, the need to find a good breakfast has never been greater. There were always plenty of cafés in Zagreb but few of them bothered to cook up food of any kind, never mind a sizzling pan of bacon and eggs. Until now. As well as a new genre of café, you are likely to find a designated breakfast menu in an increasing number of restaurants too. Here are seven of the best places to start the day.
Bistroteka belongs to the new generation of inventive bistros in Zagreb and it’s no surprise that they treat breakfast just as seriously as the rest of the menu. Choose between porridge with an array of snazzy toppings (17kn), eggs and spinach (25kn), or la pièce de resistance: scrambled eggs with smoked salmon and wasabi paste (39kn).
The cluster of outdoor stools belonging to this hole-in-the-wall pancake bar occupies the sunniest spot on the whole of Cvjetni trg. There are few better places to enjoy the exhilaration of a summery early morning. There's a wide range of pancakes from 15kn, plus a long list of toasted sandwiches.
If you want the same buffet breakfast that the hotel guests get, then the café of the Dubrovnik does the works for 75kn. You can also opt for a simple continental breakfast (25kn) or ham and eggs (20kn). The main square-side location is a major advantage, and the fact that you are being served by old-school hotel-café staff helps you pretend that you can actually afford to stay here.
This courtyard-bound semi-secret café is one for the later riser – they open at 10am. They are famous for serving čokolino (Croatian breakfast pap for kids) as well as cereal, toast, fresh juices and decent coffee. It’s the intimate, cutie-café setting that provides the extra ingredient.
This Istrian-themed trattoria mixes traditional home-style cooking with an unashamedly contemporary interior, striking a nice balance between minimal modern greys and folksy textures like pale wood and rope. The mainstay of the menu is the in-house pasta and njoki served with a variety of delicious sauces, ranging from white-wine-and-mushroom (55kn) to Istrian-truffle (115kn). Also well worth recommending are the seafood risottos, T-bone steaks and ombolo-style pork chops. It also functions as a wine bar (with both stools at the counter and outside on the street), serving the best in Istrian boutique production – check out the chalked-up recommendations on the blackboard for affordable by-the-glass options.
Consisting of a wooden-shed bar surrounded by a scattering of stools and chairs, the al-fresco Kava Tava delivers just about everything that makes a good café – except, arguably, for four walls and a roof. It occupies the north-western curve of Britanski trg, the square that hosts a Monday-to-Saturday fruit and veg market and a hugely popular collectors' fair on Sunday mornings. What makes Kava Tava unique in Zagreb's cafe-land is the all-day breakfast menu, comprising eggs and bacon, eggs and sausage, cereals and muesli. Sandwiches, hot dogs, burgers and pršut platters are also on offer. Otherwise the quality coffee will keep you motoring, and there's a full range of wines and beers (including Leffe, Erdinger and Paulaner). It's as popular in winter as it is in summer, with mulled wine and shots of Istrian rakija warming the cockles.
There's an increasing number of smart-and-comfortable cafes in Zagreb that do the coffee-and-cakes thing respectably well. What distinguishes Oranž is the sheer scope and quality of what's in the display window: plumping for the impossible-to-resist lemon-and-lime meringue pie simply makes you pine for all the other cheesecakes and gateaux that you could have had in its place. There is also a respectable number of sandwiches, quiches and salads, but it's the sweet side of Oranž that will hold you in repeat-visit thrall.
Occupying a premium spot on Zagreb's bustling thoroughfare Tkalčićeva, Otto & Frank is a bistro with an emphasis on breakfast, booze and bar snacks. Finding a flawless full English in Zagreb isn't easy — breakfast here is a typically light affair, constituting pastries, cheese and cured meats, but there's a growing rooster of restaurants you can go to for a good fry-up, and Otto & Frank lay on a killer all day breakfast. A stellar cast of craft beers from local breweries provide speedy replenishment for your hangover, and a daily selection of soups, salads and sandwiches are decent for the lunchtime munchies.
This restaurant hatched out of nowhere – taking over the long defunct and dusty-windowed Pushkin’s Restaurant on Boškovićeva, just off Zrinjevac square. Devoted entirely to eggs, this outlet has already proved popular with Zagreb’s Saturday morning crowd, with a world-spanning selection of egg dishes – there’s perfectly poached Eggs Benedict, omelets, Shakshuka; whatever way you like yours, Eggspress have it cracked – but with most dishes veering towards the 100kn mark, the concept doesn’t come cheap. Inside, the bright, modern interior features exposed brickwork, acres of seating and a grand piano – slightly incongruous with its barmy eggs-only concept menu.