The best restaurants in Split
Another small but mighty stronghold of Split’s new gastronomy scene is owned by young spouses Sara and Toni Vrsalović. It’s based right next to the Iron or Western Gate of the Diocletian’s Palace, which was designated to be used by the Roman emperor's guard. Now, there is this contemporarily designed indoor space, beside a shady and pleasant terrace in the backyard of one of Split’s medieval palaces. Mazzgoon is named after Dalmatian word for mule (mazga), known for its never-say-die persistence. Its cuisine is also a combination of traditional regional dishes and international influences. You’ll find excellent Dalmatian brodetto, with home-made pasta from Korčula, but there is also a shrimp burger and street-food varieties. Mazzgoon is also a source of new happenings in town: its menu is also a monthly magazine called Mazzgoon Times, with news about Split’s culinary and clubbing scene. Nice touch.
A small enclosed piazza that almost feels like a private courtyard, Poljana Grgura Ninskog is one of the cult spots of Split’s Palace precinct, hidden from outsiders but a regular short-cut for locals heading from Silver Gate to Golden Gate. Hip bar Planet Jazz used to occupy one corner of the square; a spot now taken over by Korta, a soothing restaurant that mixes Dalmatian tradition with modern culinary style. There’s a good balance on the menu between fish, meat and pasta. Korta is one of the few places in Split to serve San Servolo, the delicious beer crafted by a boutique brewery in Istria.
Opened in 1973 and praised in Croatia’s top gastronomic guides, Boban is tucked among residential buildings a short walk up from Firule – the taxi driver will know it. Specialities include home made gnocchi filled with scampi and prosciutto, filet mignon in red-wine-and-truffle sauce, and monkfish fillets wrapped in pancetta and served on rice with a cream sauce. Expect the best local wines.
A five-minute walk from the Riva, this smart but affordable neighbourhood konoba is a good place for traditional Dalmatian lunches, with squid risottos, simple fish fillets and homemade-pasta-with-goulash combinations frequently chalked up on a board outside. Under its previous incarnation as Bistro Black Cat, it was the kind of place that served foreigner-friendly dishes that proved highly popular with incoming backpackers – and exotic items like chili con carne, tortillas and the odd vegetarian choice are still on the menu. Whatever you eat, be sure to include dessert in your dining plans – the home-made cakes are in a class of their own.
Simple traditional fare, including some very "old-school" dishes. A pleasant garden and terrace, with somewhere for the children to play.
This great little Dalmatian bistro is just behind Sv Frane church near the Riva. In a neat rustic interior, a table groans with Adriatic goodies – little fish, fresh vegetables, olive oils and so on. Prices here are completely reasonable – even for a blue fish mixed grill, grilled tuna fish with capers or oven-roasted sea bream with olives – and the portions generous. Marinated cheese and octopus salad feature among the many starters – or let the waiter recommend something from the cheap-and-quick daily specials.
Opened by retired engineer Masahiro Okamoto in 2013 this is pretty much what central Dalmatia was crying out for, a sushi bar that’s welcoming, inexpensive and serious about producing quality sushi. Samurai’s sushi makes the best use of local ingredients - you can have pršut sushi roll (8 pieces 75Kn) as well as more traditional shrimp and salmon varieties. The other Japanese dishes on the menu - beef sukiyaki bowl, mixed tempura bowl and several noodle dishes – are ideal light-lunch material.
Occupying the same panoramic terrace as the former Bekan, the Kadena boasts fabulous views over Zenta Marina towards the distant islands. The tasting menus offer several courses from 270kn to 320kn. The wine list requires a huge cellar. Various bruschette and creative desserts add to a classic Dalmatian menu already given an extra dimension by the imaginative introduction of additional ingredients and sauces.
One of the types of restaurant Split has always lacked was a good steakhouse – so Chops-Grill has fitted right in. Here grilled meats range from the Black Angus burger to several variations of rib-eye steak and on to a gigantic half-kilo T-bone. There’s also quality Adriatic seafood such as monkfish and tuna. What also makes Chops-Grill different from the competition is its breakfast selection, obviously created for those who like to start a day with something substantial, all the way up to the calorie-packed American Cowboy variety. This is a pretty big restaurant by Split standards, with more than 50 tables, and has a nice position just off main shopping street, Marmontova. Though surrounded by several bars, set on the corner of a small square, it’s still quiet.