Rab town lends itself to finer dining, particularly along the old waterside; Lopar is full of pizzerias and snack bars, serving spaghetti and schnitzel to Central Europeans on a budget. Each has a competitive tourist trade; service is good and affordability key. The main venues in Rab town are the Santa Maria and the Astoria. The restaurant of the Hotel Arbiana offers gourmet dining.
Where to eat on Rab Island...
In the Old Town, around the corner from the main square, the Santa Maria creates an impression with its pretty interior of rough stone walls and gorgeous sea views. Little wonder that this was a palace 200 years ago. Lovely outdoor seating also faces the harbour. The food does justice to the setting: excellent scampi and seafood; steaks and stews. It’s a little bit pricier than the local competition but reasonable all the same.
For all its design modesty, this three-star is a handy little option three stops on the No.9 tram from the station. Rates for compare favourably with those in hostels at the nearby Student Centre or station – and the Laguna has a sauna and gym and free wireless. 155 rooms and five apartments.
Distinctive dishes are served in this Old Town spot with a warm, rustic indoors and a split-level roof terrace – though the only view is other rooftops. Local specialities include Rab-style fish soup with good-size chunks of fish, mussels, a scampi, potatoes and rice in hearty broth; and ‘fish prepared in the manner of a good housewife of Rab’, ie baked. Look out too for fillet of shark, and langouste lobster, grilled or broiled.
Near Lopar’s ferry slip on the main road is a pretty porch/terrace, covered with vines that appear to have been growing since this opened as a restaurant in 1971. Though the atmosphere in this family-run establishment is relaxed, food and service are taken seriously. The speciality is lobster how you like, top-quality white fish or calamari Feral-style, ie stuffed with fruits de mer, potatoes and local green blitva. Book a day ahead for fish stew old-fisherman style or suckling pig on a spit.
Uphill from the beach and across from the Hotel Lopar stretches this beautifully sculpted terrace, where palm trees grow from a tiled floor, providing a sought-after shaded spot for pleasant meals in an attractive, casual atmosphere. Fortuna has the usual seafood offerings, plus mackerel, hake and sole – lobsters are ordered a day in advance. Check the chalkboard for specials, written up in German.