The Split restaurant scene's culinary revolution is a recent phenomenon and one that's still booming. Decent and diverse eateries seem to be opening on an almost monthly basis, making Croatia's second city a gastronomic destination equal to almost any in the country. Split is not only a tourist playground – it's a living, breathing, dining-out city for locals too.
The best restaurants in Split
Once a bland café, the Radovani family's Hvaranin is one of the liveliest of Split's traditional venues. With mum and dad in the kitchen and son behind the bar, this is a second home for many journalists and writers whose books sit on the shelves. Everything is simple, home-made and delicious. Specials include gregada fish stew Hvar-style, and white risotto with mussels. Don't miss the traditional dessert, rožata crème caramel. Seating is limited so book ahead.
An authentically-Dalmatian gem, Konoba Fetivi is an informal dining experience that places the region's bountiful ingredients centre stage and presents them unfussily and respectfully. Run by a family who have been in the neighbourhood for 300 years, they serve local specialities, including many meat dishes, but the seafood takes pride of place on the menu. Wholly dependent on the season and what's been caught, the seafood menu alters by the day (as do individual dishes such as the shared seafood platter). Seafood is cooked simply, grilled to perfection, with flavourings never needlessly over-reaching beyond the traditional salt, pepper, lemon, fresh garlic and sumptuously fruity olive oil, the latter sitting in small bottles on each table. Premium wines are available alongside house options which, like the aforementioned olive oil and artisan breads, come from small, local producers. Year-round, the comfortable and informal indoor seating immediately puts you at ease and the partially-covered courtyard area is a wonderful place in warmer months to listen to the local tales offered by the super-friendly staff and the background music which is, like everything else here, distinctly Dalmatian.
Between the port and Bačvice this homely konoba offers simple relaxation. Pictures of Split throughout its history hang beside old Hajduk ones. Tasty, well priced food keeps locals happy: peppers stuffed with mincemeat and rice, pašticada stew and fish served in the Dalmatian way with blitva greens.
The generous glass frontage of Bokamorra allows diners to make the most of the views but, in truth, the lovely interior of the restaurant and the wonderful presentation of their pizzas and cocktails are more than enough to keep your attention inside. Pizzas are all they do, including a dessert option but, luckily, theirs are the best in town. Delicious pizza base is made freshly from dough aged for 48 hours, topped with high-quality ingredients such as cheeses, truffles, salad leaves and air-dried meats. The seating is funky, the booths great for groups including families, the crowd is young, entertained by a great music soundtrack (sometimes even a DJ), although your grandma might complain about the level of the volume. Great staff will try to pair your pizza choice with a cocktail recommendation, which the bar specialises in and which change with the seasons. Bar staff draw on over 150 different spirit options from the back bar to concoct them.
This small, family-run, checked-tablecloth restaurant in the heart of the Varoš quarter is a long-standing local favourite. Pretty much everything in the Adriatic seafood repertoire is here – grilled fresh fish, seafood risottos, scampi, and squid. It’s also the kind of place where you will find traditional Dalmatian fare like pašticada, the trademark local stew made from beef marinated in wine and prunes.
This splendid new venture from a Croatian who has spent many years in Berlin, lies on the western boundary of Diocletian's Palace, near the Riva, and shares an old building, smartly done up. Green partitions, stone walls, bright art and simple furnishings make this a great place for an upmarket lunch. The traditional Dalmatian menu features home-made elements such as pasta and bread, includes a veggie corner plus plenty to appeal to meat and fish lovers. Round it off with home-made chocolate cake.
Situated just above the coastal path that works its way east from Bačvice Beach, Dvor is a uniquely calming place from which to admire the inviting silhouettes of Šolta and Brač across the water. Sit in the conservatory or venture out onto the terrace shaded by trees. Dvor functions perfectly both as café and restaurant – fish, steak and fowl are fired up on the open grill overlooking the lawn outside, and there’s an excellent choice of Croatian wines by the glass.
The growing cluster of restaurants at the gateway to the Varoš quarter is slowly turning the area into one of Split's prime dining-out strips. Latest addition Tinel is another establishment that endeavors to deliver quality Dalmatian fare at affordable prices, with seafood risottos and pastas in the 50kn range, and the likes of scampi and lobster at the more expensive end of the menu. The restaurant has a refreshingly neat and colorful interior that doesn't go for retro Dalmatian cliches, and a cosy outdoor terrace at the back.
The owners of Bokeria, the Bokavšek family, are at pains to explain that the reason for naming their establishment after the famous market in Barcelona was to bring a spirit of diversity to Split. Judging by the growing popularity of this place since opening in 2014, that’s what they’ve achieved. Bokeria is set in a building that once was a hardware store, and site of a few failed ventures before someone finally managed to fill this vast space. This is a big restaurant, compared to most others in Split, but it’s far from cold – the interior design is supreme in its simplicity. The food is conceived along the same lines – and also takes its lead from the venue’s full name of Bokeria Kitchen&Wine. What’s on offer here is seasonal, with ingredients supplied from the local produce and fish markets. If there is a style in Bokeria’s cuisine, than it’s Mediterranean, something more than simply Dalmatian, from excellent vegetable concoctions to bruschetta to seafood, all the way up to steaks and beyond. The wine list is representative with the finest possible Croatian selection. Recently they instigated theme nights, and occasional smooth live music, mostly jazz. This restaurant was one of the biggest hits of 2014 season, and there’s no reason to doubt it won’t hit the spot again.
Brasserie on 7 is a sort of extension of already well established Zinfandel, sharing ownership and philosophy with it. It's been opened at one of the most central locations in the city, in the middle of main seaside promenade Riva. This restaurant became one of the new stars of Split gastronomy, with nice selection of re-defined local and international dishes. Highlights are chilled seafood platter, smoked salmon or an octopus salad on a fish side; Black Angus burger with pancetta and Portobello mushrooms or lamb leg with rosemary and yogurt for meat-leaning guests. Brasserie on 7 became one of the main spots for all dessert aficionados, especially with its special program "eat all the sweets you can for 29 kunas" (€3.8). As for drinking, Brasserie on 7 has impressive wine list, similar to that of its sister venue Zinfandel, plus selected beers including those from excellent Istrian micro-brewery San Servolo. This place is also excellent choice for a coffee sipping on a sunny day, with the city life passing by.