Arguably the best place to do this local delicacy justice is the family-run Gostionica Bukaleta 3 miles from Cres town in the hilltop village of Loznati. If you’re staying in Cres town Santa Lucia may charge a little more but it’s worth it – try the lobster or octopus slow-cooked for several hours under hot coals in a ‘peka’ – best to pre-order.
Cres restaurants are casual but generally very serious about good quality food. The fish is fresh but so is the lamb: Cres island lamb is famous and the local preparation is usually superb. Arguably the best place to do this local delicacy justice is the family-run Gostionica Bukaleta 3 miles from Cres town in the hilltop village of Loznati. If you’re staying in Cres town Santa Lucia may charge a little more but it’s worth it – try the lobster or octopus slow-cooked for several hours under hot coals in a ‘peka’ – best to pre-order.
Recommended by locals, Konoba Trs serves both seafood and meat, although the most popular dish is lamb, so well-cooked it falls off the bone.
Restaurant Artatore, located in a pine forest a short walk from the sea, opened in 1972. Awards and acknowledgements include "The forgotten tastes of our fathers" project and 3 stars from local newspaper Vecernji list. From shellfish prepared any way you like, to fish and meat baked in a bread oven, there's plenty to choose from.
Its terrace suitably occupying a prime waterfront spot in Cres town, the Restoran Santa Lucia is named after the historic term for this neighbourhood just outside the original historic walls. Seafood is handled superbly, whether it’s lobster cooked to order, octopus baked in a traditional peka roasting dish or simple fish soup adorned with scampi. Truffles show up as an appetiser with cheese, served with fuži noodles or on steak. Santa Lucia is also an annual fixture in Croatia’s Top 100 Restaurants Guide produced by local experts.
Dating back well over 70 years, to the time when the island of Cres was in Italian hands, the Gelateria Učka offers the finest ice cream for miles around – and in such wonderful flavours (necatarine, anybody?). Here in the mouth of Cres town harbour, you can also order a decent coffee (cf Italian tradition) and a slice of cream cake or even authentic baklava. If you’re after anything naughty and sweet, you’ll find it here, and top-quality too.
Just outside the village of Valun, facing out towards the long promontory of Cres island, MaMaLu is run by the Krivičić family of Marko, Marina and Luka. Expanding their modest ice-cream shop and putting to use generations of experience at sea, the family now serves seafood fresh out of the water, shrimps in particular, on an expansive terrace lapped by the Adriatic. If the Bura wind blows, there are tables inside, the pretty interior adorned with images of maritime activity through the ages.
Do the local delicacy justice by heading about 5km from Cres town to the hilltop village of Loznati and the Gostionica Bukaleta, where a family lovingly raises their own lambs and then serves them fresh. Get beyond mint sauce with lamb spit-roasted, grilled and cooked several other ways. The bread and olive oil are own-made. It’s relaxing, with lush green surroundings and welcoming servers, but also popular, so book ahead.
Named after the star Austrian architect who designed it, the Alfred Keller is a riot of marble and onyx, overlooking scenic Čikat Bay. Given the fact that the inspectors at Gault&Millau bestowed not one but two chef ’s toques on this upscale à la carte dining destination, the cuisine more than matches the sumptuous furnishings. Chef Thomas Brasleret delves deep into Lošinj culinary lore – and sources as close to home as possible, particularly where aromatic herbs and seasonal organic products are concerned – to conjure something memorable. Of course, the material he has to work with is already first-class, Cres lamb, fresh clams and shellfish, Istrian boškarin beef, even donkey meat – but it takes that little bit extra to complement each dish with a local or international wine from over 400 labels lining the cellar. Open from April to November.
There certainly aren't many places to eat in the small village of Lubenice, so Konoba Hibernicia can get very crowded at the height of the season. Dishes include the celebrated Cres Island lamb in several variations, and bread is home-made.
If you've not yet tried tender Cres lamb roasting under a lid (pod pekom) then this restaurant's terrace, overhung with flowering trees, is the place to try it, or some roast pork in various combinations. There's also a decent selection of fresh fish and seafood in various combinations. To avoid disappointment, bear in mind the traditional roast is only on Sundays.