When it comes to sweet treats, Zagreb really takes the cake. Croatians love to indulge their sweet tooth and as a result, you'll find plenty of excellent cake shops and patisseries spread across the capital. From old school bakeries serving traditional treats to smart new patisseries selling exotic creations, we've tracked down the best cake shops in Zagreb.
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The best cake shops in Zagreb
Robert Hromalić is easily one of Croatia’s most talented pastry chefs, having trained under the watchful eye of French patisserie-extraordinaire Yann Couvreur, but Le Kolač keeps things simple with just five options on the menu. A range of finger-shaped eclairs are stuffed with the most divine ingredients - the chocolate version is a heavenly rich mousse with a crunchy cocoa-nibbed glaze. The lješnjak (hazelnut) is a creamy, nutty affair with white chocolate ganache and an edible golden exterior. The shop is cutesy enough, but the cakes are really the star of the show - you’d struggle to find a better quality patisserie in town and at 27 kunas each, (€3.60) these sophisticated treats are extraordinarily good-value.
Zagreb’s most famous patisserie has been a family business since the 1930s and remains very much of its era, with Art-Deco fittings, marble-effect tables and low wooden stools. As well as being a dependable source of satisfyingly moussy cheesecakes and velvety chocolate tortes Orijent has built its reputation on a creative repertoire of own-recipe desserts – as exemplified by the Cirus (18Kn), a creamy custard with strawberry pieces wrapped in a light crust. Orijent is also one of the best places in town for artisan ice cream, with traditional vanilla and chocolate flavours joined by a clutch of experimental recipes. Plum and adzuki bean might not be everyone’s favourite ice-cream combination, but the Key Lime is a perennial winner.
Done out in tones of blue, grey and light wood, this funky new cake shop and café provides enough variety sweet treats and salty snacks to keep a regular, interesting and chatty clientele through the door from breakfast time to evening drinks. Pride of place, though, goes to the bright and inventive cakes on show, sold by the slice or as dainty, individual creations, topped by a sliver of strawberry or dollop of meringue.
With a mixture of old wooden chairs and modern cast-iron affairs upholstered in pale blues and pinks, this delightfully twee, Frenchy-flavoured little place is the ideal spot to sip tea and munch your way through some of the Croatian capital's best lemon-meringue pies, cheesecakes and quiches. There's invariably a strong showing of different cakes in the glass display cabinet, rendering the selection process tantalizingly difficult.
Sporting an infectiously kitschy look based on floral wallpaper and American diner-style furnishings, the popularity of Chococafé has been built around two complementary themes. It does indeed offer plenty of the dark gloppy stuff, with hot chocolate drinks and chocolate cakes; however, it’s as a pancake bar that it pulls in most custom. Crepes come with a broad range of sweet and savoury fillings – you can order from the menu or assemble the pancake of your choice by ticking off the desired ingredients on a sheet of paper. The pancakes are large and satisfying without hitting any real culinary heights; the pop art-meets-granny’s parlour interior design does make it a rather instagrammable place to sit.
A lot of locals swear by Cukeraj, a traditional cake shop and café that sticks to a time-honoured Central European repertoire. As well as a dependably sticky Sachertorte (18kn per slice), they also turn out one of Zagreb’s best examples of the Međimurska gibanica (15kn), a multi-layered confection that somehow contrives to put fruitcake, custard and apple pie in the same gloriously calorific stack. There are croissant-sandwiches and toasties for those who want something a bit more savoury. The only drawback is that the café space is in itself a bit on the ordinary side, and you might not make a special effort to come to this part of the centre unless you are applying for a visa extension at the Petrinjska branch of Croatia’s interior ministry.
Opened in 2016 and a big beast in the boutique bakery scene, Korica ('The Crust') hand-bakes all its own stuff on the premises and has a handful of tables where you can sit and eat it. There’s a pronounced French flavour to what’s on offer, with croissants, brioches and baguette sandwiches lining up alongside some seriously mouthwatering mini-quiches. Appetizing dessert-breads flavoured with banana, carrot or cranberry ensure that there’s quite a bit to choose from. Indeed it pays to arrive hungry: when you see what they’ve got on their glass shelves you’ll probably want to order the lot. If you’re buying bread to take out the there’s a choice of speciality loaves made with sourdough or rye flour, and some stand-out cinnamon and raisin batons. Coffee is Korica’s only weak point, but then that’s because it is merely OK when everything else is so superb.
Cremme/The Cookie Factory has lost no time in becoming a firm favourite among people who love their desserts. Located in a cosy vaulted space, the Factory's holds a funky and light-filled design scheme, very similar to an ultra-modern deli. All sorts of enticing goodies are on display around the counter, with the glass display cabinet, full of own-recipe, melt-in-the-mouth cookies, looking particularly tempting. Other treats include cheesecake, carrot cake, and brownies served with a mound of ice cream (23kn). The business has broadened its remit and also sells Croatian-made cosmetics, so you can now wear some of their natural ingredients as well as eat them. They take festive cake orders too. As it says on the wall near the door: 'Life is uncertain, eat dessert first'.
Ask locals to name the city’s best place for cakes and a lot of them will opt for Torte i To (“Cakes ‘n’ That”), despite the rather soulless location of their flagship outlet in the Kaptol Centar shopping mall. They certainly qualify as undisputed champions in the cheesecake category, with several quite sumptuous, fruit-laden varieties on display at any one time. They also offer quite a few cake recipes that you don’t find elsewhere, such as the soft-and-spongy, lemon and poppy-seed Armenian Cake; and a veritable club-sandwich of a cake featuring layers of chocolate, orange and fig. As well as biscuits and other nibbles, Torte i to also sell their own wittily-packaged chocolate bars, one of which simply reads “odjebi” or “f*ck off” - surely the ideal gift for at least someone in your life.
Magnolia by name, magnolia by nature: the décor of this elegant café-patisserie is an unblushing shade of pink; the desserts on offer in the display counter delicate and decorous. Highlights among the cakes (20-22Kn per slice) include a spongy green-tea cake, a “Caiprinha” lime-and-cream cake, Magnolia’s rich own-recipe chocolate cake, and a superb cream-and-meringue confection. At 12Kn a slice Magnolia’s quiche is one of the best-value savoury treats in town. The drinks list includes a better than avarage choice of sparklies, from miss-spelt ‘prossecco’ to more expensive Moets, making Magnolia an appropriately bubbly spot for a wee celebration. The music is pop-retro, and slots nicely into Magnolia’s all-round sugar-and-spice-and-all-things-nice feel.
A long-standing favourite in the cake-shop stakes, Zagreb is a dependable all-rounder that also has a solid selection of ice cream. Pick of the treats is the Zagreb torte (20Kn per slice), a spongey combination of chocolate, hazelnuts and apricot jam that is a worthy rival to any of the chocolate cakes on offer elsewhere. Other highlights include the Geraldine, with chunks of pear enclosed in a cone of custard and cream (18Kn), and the mille-feuille slice (16Kn) – the latter an exemplary piece of pastry-pulling that is not always done quite so delicately elsewhere in the city. Slastičarnica Zagreb’s terrace, right next to the Nikola Tesla memorial on the corner of Masarykova and Preradovićeva, is a quiet alternative to the bustling cafés of Flower Square just around the corner.
Just round the corner from the main branch of Vincek, Zagreb’s most famous ice-cream parlour, this health-conscious offshoot offers an array of cakes and ices that are both gluten-free and made with rice or soya milk instead of cow’s milk. Not that you would know by tasting the treats on offer; standouts such as the refreshing Orange Cake (22Kn) or the more substantial carrot and ginger sponge (16Kn) are not just worth shouting about for dietary reasons. There are only two tables inside but there is a rather lovely outdoor terrace, grandly situated right below the bottom station of Zagreb’s funicular. Vis a Vis’s ice creams come in regular vanilla and chocolate flavours and a number of more inventive alternatives; carrot, almond and ginger being one particular favourite.
Chocolat 041 was quickly enthroned as the most talked-about coffee-cake-and-ice-cream places in town. The fact that it is owned by former Croatian international Zvonimir Boban is only part of the reason; the ice cream is superb, and the range of irresistible cakes – all of which are based on chocolate in some way or another – almost guarantees repeat visits. The décor, too, is a talking point: comic strips and album covers recall Zagreb pop culture of the 1980s, and a relief on one wall spells out the name Zvečka - a tribute to the New-Wave-scene café that once stood next door at no.23. The partially glass ceiling means that people seated down below can look up the chair legs of the first-floor lounge – so think about wearing long trousers if you’re heading upstairs.