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Bagel & Lobster Barr
© Bojan-Haron Markicevic

The best cheap eats in Zagreb

Eating out needn't hurt your wallet. Here's our pick of Zagreb's best value restaurants

By Justin McDonnell
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Set menus for under €10, traditional eateries offering gableci and a raft of cheap bistros that don't skimp on quality - it's easy to eat cheaply in Zagreb if you know where. Everything listed here has been priced at 100 kuna or less and diversity is what we're looking for, so expect to find everything from Japanese gyoza to traditional Croatian dishes. Gather your pennies and hit the streets – filling up in Zagreb's best restaurants needn’t empty the wallet. Dobar tek!

RECOMMENDED: The best restaurants in Zagreb.

 

50 cheap eats in Zagreb

Pingvin

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Street food Lower Town

Something of a Zagreb fast-food institution, Pingvin has been serving toasted sandwiches since 1987 and has long been considered the city’s most dependable source of late-night munchies. It’s disarmingly simple - just a service window and three rest-your-elbows tables in the entrance to a courtyard. It’s also one of the first places where new arrivals get to try Croatia’s famous dry-cured ham, the pršut and cheese combo (24Kn) being one of Pingvin’s standard orders. You can also get hot dogs, burgers, tuna salads, simple grills (at 34Kn the fillet of sea bass is arguably the classiest option on the menu), and that Central European after-pub classic, cheese fried in breadcrumbs.

Lokma from Istanbul

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Turkish Zagreb

The only decent Middle Eastern restaurant in Zagreb's city centre, Lokma from Istanbul benefits from a first-class location on buzzing bar street Tkalciceva. Once predominantly a Turkish-take out, Lokma have recently upgraded the menu to incorporate an expansive selection of mezzes, attracting an entirely new breed of sit-down diners to this tiny restaurant and its slim courtyard. The Levantine-themed dishes are tasty, authentic enough, and hearty portions mean you get plenty of mezze for your buck - each around the 30kn mark. Open past-midnight, it's perfect for the late-night munchies.    

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L'oro di Napoli
L'oro di Napoli
L'oro di Napoli

L'oro di Napoli

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Pizza Upper Town

Zagreb is so full of it’s-quite-good-I-suppose pizzerias that it’s often difficult to pull out a place that’s really special. Located in a basement just north of Zagreb Cathedral, the Italian-run L’oro di Napoli might just fit the bill. The pies that are spaded out of its dome-topped oven are almost impossible to find fault with, sporting gorgeously leopard-spotted crusts and a just-the-right-side-of-sloppy range of traditional toppings. Italian-sourced ingredients are used throughout: their Pizza Bufalina, generously spread with mozzarella from Campania water buffalo, serves as a reminder of just how exciting – both in texture and in flavour - real Italian mozzarella actually is. The wide-ranging menu covers things that don’t crop up elsewhere, such as Pizza Nerano (with courgettes and parmesan cheese), or Contadina (with broccoli and Neapolitan salami), although there’s always a trusty Quattro Stagioni for those who prefer to hedge their bets. There’s a floor-to-ceiling picture of Napoli on one wall and the rocky coast of Capri on another, but the decor is otherwise on the functional side and not quite suited to a candlelit dinner. There will be an outdoor terrace in the courtyard come the spring.

Gyoza & Sake Bar
Gyoza & Sake Bar
© Gyoza & Sake Bar

Gyoza & Sake Bar

5 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Japanese Zagreb

The owner of this little bar-cum-restaurant spent years living in Japan, before moving to world-food mecca New York, and finally, returning with his Japanese partner to Zagreb, equipped with culinary expertise; but he’ll be more than happy to tell you that himself, in elaborate, gesticulated detail. Eat at Gyoza once and you’re a welcome guest, eat there twice and you’re a friend. The menu is small and specialised, and each meal – whether it be glass-noodles with prawns, or the Saturday special ramen – is prepared exactly as it would be in an izakaya bar in Tokyo. As its name suggests, the star of the show is the gyoza, traditional little parcels packed with grated meats or vegetables, which, when dipped in soy sauce, taste salty, fragrant, and fresh. It’s not fine dining – don’t expect elaborate sushi platters. Instead, you’ll get simple, authentic dishes served up by the friendliest staff in the city.  

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Tip Top
Tip Top
© Fumie Suzuki/Time Out

Gostionica Tip-Top

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Mediterranean Lower Town

Little has changed here since Tin Ujević and his literary gang were regulars in the 1940s – except that their pictures have been mounted and an outline of Tin's iconic hat etched on to the windows. The front bar has since been converted into restaurant space but the back dining room still provides intimacy. There are inexpensive specials every day, and a seafood-dominated menu that features red mullet, sole or sea bass at 370kn a kilo. Plenty of Korčula varieties on the wine list, reflecting the venue's ownership.

Evergreen
Evergreen
© Evergreen

Evergreen

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Japanese Zagreb

A sushi restaurant with a bright, garden-themed interior, and an extensive menu. Majestic arrangements of sushi come on light wooden boards, and there' a range of fresh hot fish dishes too. Two-person platters are around the 200 kn mark, meaning you can taste all the best things on the menu at a steal. 

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Korica
Korica
© Korica

Korica

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Bakeries Lower Town

Opened in 2016 and already 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.

Umami Grill

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Contemporary Asian Zagreb

Consisting of a single large table indoors and a couple of benches outdoors, Umami is a quality Asian-themed fast food outlet where you can just about eat sitting down if you ask your neighbour to budge up a bit. The regular menu usually features a curry dish, a wok dish, a Japanese dish, a Thai dish, a salad dish and a soup dish – and with hardly anything breaking the 40Kn barrier, it’s an inexpensive and satisfying way of acquiring your daily fix of spicy global food. It’s certainly a godsend in the busy Tkalčićeva area, where a speedy post-sightseeing, pre-drinking feed is very often just what the visitor needs. 

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Bagel & Lobster Barr
Bagel & Lobster Barr
© Bojan-Haron Markicevic

Bagel & Lobster Barr

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Street food Zagreb

When does fast food stop being fast food? When it hits a certain high level of quality? When it exceeds a certain price? When it's lobster? The food in Bagel & Lobster Barr does arrive very quickly, served to go or while you sit on high chairs, at pretty cramped tables. But, depending on what you order, the quality here is so good you hardly associate it with being fast food. Although you can pay for the privilege of not doing so. Bagels and lobster together is a weird concept. It's not burgers and lobster, it's not surf and turf. You can tell it's a weird combo by the fact that Bagel & Lobster Barr don't actually offer a lobster bagel. Bagels come in mozzarella, chicken, salmon, roast beef and pork options which, between 30-56 kuna, are quite reasonably priced, although the bagels themselves lack that authentic chewiness found in the standard Jewish bakery version. Salads are available as a side, 15-25 kuna or as a main, 25-42 kuna. Then there's the lobster, who minutes earlier may have been swimming in the tank behind the service area. Grilled lobster is served with a Hollandaise and lemon sauce, fries and salad or you can go for croquettes made from lobster, rice semolina and mozzarella, served with Japanese mayo, fries and salad. Each lobster option is considerably more expensive than their bagel counterparts. The fries here are truly amazing, triple cooked to ensure a fluffy inside and a hard, crunchy outer. The Japanese mayo is a good thought too, this milder version

Burgeraj

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Burgers Lower Town

A small but perfectly chosen menu has made Burgeraj one of the city centre’s cult eateries. The spicy Pepper Jam Burger or the shiitake-filled Tamari Burger are worth making a pilgrimage here to try out. The interior looks a bit American diner-ish and the excellent drinks list (Fentimans Ginger Beer, Californian Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, local Pale Ale from Zmajska Pivovara) makes this a great place to hang out – it’s just a shame there’s only enough room for about 16 people at a time. 

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Rocket Burger
Rocket Burger
© Rocket Burger

Rocket Burger

5 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Burgers Tkalciceva

A new crop of quality burger bars sprang up in recent years and this was one of the first, serving deftly grilled patties of pure beef to an appreciative crowd. The cheddar bacon supreme (35kn) is the ruling monarch of the menu, although the pulled-pork sandwich (33kn) also has its devotees. There’s a breakfast option (bacon, eggs and pancakes) available up until 2pm; bottled Belgian beers, Strongbow cider and locally brewed Nova Runda craft beer provide ample excuses to hang around. With a handful of tables on the pedestrianised strip of Tkalčićeva, the setting couldn’t be better.   

O’Hara

5 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Pizza Zagreb

It's a bit of a mission from the centre, but O'Hara is worth it. Routinely topping foodie lists as one of the best pizza joints in Zagreb, this faux-Irish-pub-cum-Italian-trattoria succeeds on many levels. Forget it's location (a no-man's land in the western surburbs of Zagreb) this place sells the best pizza for miles around, matched by a beer menu that matters - there's over 100 bottled varieties and stout and craft beer on tap.

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O'Brok

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Zagreb

At its simplest, the Croatian word obrok means “meal”, although it also comes with the connotation of something rather basic or straightforward, like army rations or school dinners. It’s a neatly ironic introduction to what this small and intimate restaurant actually does, serving up quality food that suits the quick-luncher as well as those with time for several courses. The aim is to give Croatian cuisine a bit of contemporary style, but without losing sight of what’s traditional about it. Four or five specials (65-90Kn) are chalked up on a board each day - old-school recipes like lung stew might feature alongside something a bit closer to the comfort zone, such as pork chop with mushrooms or lamb with peas. Mains are often accompanied with down-at-home extras that other restaurants no longer serve – such as žličnjaci, oddly shapen gnocchi-like things that soak up a good sauce. Baked štrukli, the central-Croatian dish comprising pockets of dough filled with cottage cheese, is something of a house speciality. White walls, pale wood and jazzy background music help to ensure a smooth, soothing experience.

Submarine Burger

5 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Burgers Lower Town

Can burger-flipping be a sustainable, ecologically responsible industry? Well Yellow Submarine is certainly giving it a go. The submariners pride themselves on making thick, succulent burgers from organic local beef, garnished with local škripavac cheese and veggies. Smokehouse (36kn), featuring bacon, mushrooms and smoked cheese, is just one of several imaginative combinations. Fast food this good should be enjoyed slowly – the mellow wooden-stool interior is a pleasant place to sit.

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Stari Fijaker

5 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Croatian Zagreb

From the embroidered red-heart tablecloths to the dark brown panelling and pictures of old Zagreb, the barrel-vaulted dining room of the 'Old Coach' is a nowadays rather rare example of what pretty much every traditional Croatian restaurant used to look like. The menu is famous for sticking to north-Croatian staples, with schnitzel-style cuts of meat, roast turkey with mlinci (baked pasta sheets), venison goulash, and roast knuckle of veal leaping off the pages of a lengthy and not too pricey menu. Litres of wine run at 60kn. Zagorska soup (23kn) of potatoes, mushrooms and ham is a great way to kick off a meal – and may well be enough to qualify as a lunch in its own right.

The Garden Bar & Kitchen

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Zagreb

Having spent a couple of years establishing a unique brewery-cum-bar-cum-DJ space out in the suburbs, the ever-agile Garden Brewery now has a base in the city centre too – allowing aficionados to save serious money on all those taxi fares. First and foremost it’s an excellent multi-tap, serving the Garden’s five core beers, a handful of their seasonal specials, and one or two guest brews. It’s also a very good place for lunch or evening munchies, with a menu artfully poised between creative fusion cuisine and grub that goes well with alcohol. It’s one of the best places in town for a good inexpensive lunch, with daily menus (Mondays to Fridays till 3 pm) offering two courses for 65-68Kn. Items on the main menu frequently come with a global-meets-local twist: the fish and chips feature Croatian salmon trout; rolling up the buncek (roast pork knuckle) and serving it in a hot-dog bun is a culinary joke that works rather well. The knockout Zagorska juha (soup from the Zagorje region; 30Kn) is chunky, full of flavour, and serves admirably as a quick lunch in its own right. And as you might expect from the Garden crew the place very much looks and sounds the part, with a minimalism-meets-pop-art interior and a soundtrack that runs from vintage soul to clubby electronica.

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© Foodista

Smokeraj

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants American Zagreb

Barbequed meat is so popular in Croatia that its cooking process could be considered a national pastime. So, it is an ingenious idea of incredibly likeable Smokeraj proprietor Mojimir Žuvela to introduce a new angle to this much-loved local favourite. Smokeraj is the first all smoked barbeque restaurant in Croatia, offering the classic American-style barbeque process over the flame grilled variety ubiquitous in the Balkans. Meats such as pork and beef are slow smoked over many hours in a simple seasoning, leaving cuts such as pork ribs, hock and pulled shoulder completely rendered of their fat and infused with a truly wonderful, full flavour. Žuvela has this process exactly right, but visiting Smokeraj just after its October 2018 opening there remain several stumbling blocks preventing this great idea reaching its full potential. The subterranean restaurant is simply decorated, with wooden tables, chairs and furnishings of logs hanging from the ceiling which give a rustic feel that reflects well the easily affordable, everyday prices of the menu. Menu recommendations are well chosen, highlighting the bbq pork ribs, pork hock and the salad and burger which both use smoked, pulled pork burger (all around 50 kuna). The restaurant is lit a bit too brightly. As a result, it doesn't feel like the kind of place you'd want to stay for an extended period and splash out on a good bottle of wine. Just as well, because wine doesn't appear to be Smokeraj's strong point, but they have wis

Gostionica Purger

2 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Croatian Zagreb

Almost halfway between the main square and the train station, this is a classic Zagreb restaurant of once state-owned ilk. The food is sturdy and the dishes traditional. In the no-frills, three-room dining interior, you can expect classics such as sarma (sauerkraut stuffed with minced meat), lamb, veal and seafood. Purger, by the way, is local slang for someone born and bred in Zagreb.

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Kod Šime
Kod Šime
© Kod Šime

Kod Šime

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Croatian Lower Town

This authentic locals’ joint just across from Kvatrić outdoor market added extra dining-room space in 2012 to cope with its increasingly devoted army of followers. Simple, inexpensive Croatian food delivered with a smile is the name of the game. Order the sarma (minced meat in cabbage), the pašticada (beef stewed in plum sauce), the calamari or just about anything else on the menu and you are guaranteed several things: you will be satisfied, you’ll eat something traditional and local, and you’ll have more than enough money left over to buy the next shout. The outdoor overlooks a park full of locals walking dogs or watching kids play.

Sofra
Sofra
© Sofra

Sofra

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Balkan Zagreb

The best Bosnian restaurant in town is hugely popular despite its hidden location in a residential quarter - take a taxi. Grilled meats are the order of the day here, pljeskavica and ćevapi, served with traditional bread, although a 120kn plate for two might be the way to go. Dishes are designed to be shared and enjoyed slowly - allow a good two hours for your meal.

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Papa’s American Bar

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants American Lower Town

Located in the same building as the Tuškanac cinema and spreading its outdoor seating across the its housemate’s terrace, Papa’s works equally well as an eating or drinking venue, with club sandwiches, hot dogs, wraps, and highly regarded burgers driving home the Transatlantic theme. There’s a list of original-recipe and classic cocktails and some great bottled beers – including Croatian Vukovarsko, Czech Kozel and Brooklyn Pale Ale from across the pond. 

Capuciner
Capuciner
© Capuciner

Capuciner

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Italian Kaptol

Not only is Capuciner convenient, facing the Cathedral, and filled with locals, but it's fairly priced, most dishes in the with most dishes in the 40kn range. They specialise in big salads; excellent house pizzas with toppings like prosciutto, spinach and artichoke; and pastas, gnocchi and numerous veal dishes. This is a very good spot to grab a solid meal during a long day of sightseeing. From Kaptol, walk through the bistro to the back dining room with wooden-beamed ceilings or head out to the winter garden/summer terrace, which you can access through a back door from the building's side alley.

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Ginger Sushi
Ginger Sushi
© Ginger Sushi

Ginger Sushi

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Sushi Zagreb

The Zagreb sushi scene has experienced a flurry of openings and closures in recent years leaving Ginger Sushi as one of the most reliable central bets for good-quality Japanese fare. There are stools inside if you want to eat in but this is primarily a take-away place. The long menu covers most levels of the sushi stratosphere although with bento sets starting at 30kn you might just want to take a look at what’s already boxed up and ready to go. Asahi and Kirin beer in the fridge.

Basta
Basta
© Basta

Basta

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Pizza Zagreb

You can tell that Basta is flashy by looking at the clientele; young professionals, well dressed groups of girls in their early 30s on their weekly meet up, visiting groups of foreign business people and those out to impress on dates. There are no teenagers or backpackers here and, in the evening, no children. The expensive looking but not altogether tasteful interior décor mirrors such. An intriguing space, set within a courtyard right in the centre of Zagreb, Basta manages to hold a different vibe in the daytime compared to the evening, and in the summertime compared to the winter. But it is always welcoming. Daytimes in summer you'll sit under umbrellas, which at night are removed, allowing you to relax under lengths of exposed lightbulbs. This minimal approach, working in combination with the multitude of plants that surround you, instills a wonderful ambiance, creating an extremely pretty space inside what is effectively a dull, concrete and office-lined courtyard.Downstairs, the bar can be crowded year round, especially on weekend nights and special events. The restaurant is also popular, with advance booking being advisable, although you never feel cramped in when seated upstairs like you sometimes might if downstairs in the bubbly bar.Thin based pizzas (50-80 kuna) are made very quickly and with an authentic approach; ingredients, such as cheese and incredible bacon, are used lightly, but they are of an extremely high quality. The scattering of a few fresh basil leave

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Delicija Libanesi
Delicija Libanesi
© Delicija Libanesi

Delicija Libanesi

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Lebanese Zagreb

If you're looking for high-quality, great value Lebanese food, Delicija Libanesi is a safe bet. Located amid Radnička cesta business district, this extravagantly decorated, Middle-Eastern influenced restaurant provides a warm contrast to its cold, glassy architectural surroundings. You'll find all the classic Lebanese mezze dishes here, so its a welcome retreat for vegetarians, although the Croatian menu also caters to meatier appetites. The whole experience is an embellished by the traditional hospitality of its Lebanese owners, and there’s a programme of evening entertainment on Saturday nights - including belly-dancing.

Green Point
Green Point
© Green Point

Green Point

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Street food Zagreb

Vegetarianism has been slow to catch on in many corners of this meat-crazed country, but progressive-minded Zagreb is beginning to buck the trend. This snack bar diagonally opposite noted hipster-hangout Kino Europa is arguably the capital’s leading exponent of fast food with a healthy-living bent. Burgers made from tofu, seitan and hemp (the latter is more mind-blowing in term of taste than you might immediately think) are the big sellers, although the salads, Asian-spiced wok dishes and cups of soup (including excellent recent menu addition Russian borscht) are well worth trying. And if you can’t get enough of the hemp, it also features as an ingredient in Green Point’s long list of excellent shakes.

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Pri Zvoncu
Pri Zvoncu
© Pri Zvoncu

Pri Zvoncu

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Croatian Zagreb

There's something reassuring about walking into a restaurant to see that none of the waiters are under 30. You're almost as likely to be as happy eating as they are to work there. It's an all the more assuring sight at Pri Zvoncu, located 2km south of the city centre. From the outside, it looks like a ramshackle collection of rural outbuildings. Don't be fooled; this excellent restaurant is a local favourite. Inside, a large seasonal courtyard is shaded by trees which inhabit and surround. Despite its popularity, there's a relaxed feel, helped by an absence of intrusive music. Parents with university age children, birthday get-togethers, dressed-up dates or reconvening friends, everyone smiles and talks as they eat or wait here, confident in its 20-year reputation. The food is exceptional for a grill restaurant. A reasonably priced lunch menu, which alternates daily, offers grah (beans), tripe with bacon, stuffed peppers, sarma (stuffed cabbage) and simple stews to lunching business folk for 40-50 kuna. The pricier a la carte menu offers octopus salad, homemade ravioli or kulen, a lean, paprika-rich pork sausage from Slavonia. Of the mains, there are fish options, but this place majors in grilled meats. Mixed sharing platters including the house special Plata Zvonac, a bulging mound of meat for two, are priced between 140-220 kuna. Menus at the restaurant are in English, but sadly the website is not. No worries; waiter Darko, the most recently acquired member of staff (he

Tvornica pljeskavica Kosta

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Balkan Zagreb

Occupying an incongruously village-like hut on the corner of a main road junction, this eight-table grill-house has acquired cult dining status in a remarkably short time. 'Kosta's Pljeskavica Factory' specialises in the grilled minced-meat patties of the title, serving the plain ground-beef version, pljeskavice spiced up with hot peppers, pljeskavice specked with nuggets of cheese, rounding out the menu with a small selection of other grilled-meat dishes. Owner Kosta is a native of the grilled-meat heartlands of southern Serbia, from where he imports his kajmak – the deliciously buttery, cheesy cream that makes the obligatory side order. Despite being somewhat hard to locate (the signboard of the last restaurant to occupy this spot, Flanjka, is still displayed at the gate), Kosta's is already extraordinarily popular, and you might have to wait for a table – or even reserve by telephone – to avoid the pangs of culinary disappointment.

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Fianona

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Pizza Zagreb

A modestly-priced pizzeria on the outer 'surbs of the city centre, Fionana offers quality pizza with an accent on Croatian ingredients. Local favourites include kulen sausage, slatherings of sour cream and sizzling chunks of steak. It’s enough to make an Italian blush, but purists will not be disappointed as Fianona also offers a range of decent Italic dishes. The interior - minimal, yet unpretentious is an upmarket shrine to the traditional trattoria, and reflects the simple pleasures of the food and wine on offer.

Zrno Bio Bistro

5 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Vegan Zagreb

Hidden behind Kota, this smart bright bistro serves up dedicated vegan fare, with the accent on wok, noodle and pasta-based recipes. Ingredients are sourced from a local organic farm. There’s a reasonable choice of desserts and the courtyard setting provides something of a calming oasis in this busy downtown neighbourhood. 

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Cro K.
Cro K.
© Cro K.

Cro. K

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Korean Zagreb

The only Korean restaurant in Zagreb, Cro. K is a solid, if unexciting, choice. In a grubby corner behind the main square, facing the entrance to the lower part of the market, its location leaves a bit to be desired, and its canteen-style interior lacks atmosphere. That said, if you're after an authentic Korean meal, you'll find it here - the kimchi has been approved by many a Korean tourist, and the broad menu has plenty to suit both meat-eaters and veggies. 

WAVES cafe 2015
WAVES cafe 2015
© Luka Mjeda

Waves Denim Bar

Restaurants Fusion Lower Town

A grotto-like interior beneath bare-brick vaults, this is an unexpectedly intimate spot, set slightly apart from the cafe-crawling bottlenecks of Tkalčićeva and Cvijetni trg. There’s a denim theme behind the decor, with a strange but compelling blue tapestry behind the bar, blue-topped tables and blue-upholstered stools. The people at Waves are serious about their wines, and a food menu featuring soups, pastas and salads makes this a solid choice for lunch.

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Šalša

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Bistros Zagreb

A low-rise suburban street in Trešnjevka is an unlikely location for one of Zagreb’s cult new bistros, but it’s well worth venturing out here to see what all the fuss is about. Occupying a rather unprepossessing pair of grey first-floor rooms, Šalša chalks up its daily menu – together with a small list of well-chosen wines – on a huge wall-to-wall blackboard; there’s usually a pasta dish, a stew and something seriously meaty to choose from. Šalša’s burgers are legendary, and connoisseur-friendly beers such as Kozel and San Servolo provide additional reason to linger.

Boban
Boban
© Boban

Boban

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Mediterranean Split

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.

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La Struk
La Struk
© La Struk

La Štruk

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Croatian Upper Town

The doughy parcels known as štrukli constitute one of the trademarks of north-Croatian cuisine, and it was only a matter of time before they got their own dedicated restaurant. Štrukli come either boiled or baked; cheese štrukli are usually eaten as a savoury dish, although sweet versions with jam are also popular. At La Štruk you get a choice between several varieties: although the classic cheese edition occupies centre stage, they also conduct regular experiments (cheese and nettle štrukli; cheese and paprika štrukli) to demonstrate just how much potential the basic štrukli concept actually has. La Štruk’s sweet štrukli with walnuts and honey, or apple and cinnamon, are quite simply divine. 

Bistro Fotić

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Bistros Zagreb

Housed in an extension of the Foto Club Zagreb café, this imaginative new leap into Zagreb's growing bistro culture goes for the keep-things-simple approach, with a small menu of 5-6 mains (at least one risotto, at least one stew, at least one grilled meat dish with nothing over 60kn), all of which are prepared and presented with a bit of style. Fotić offers a slightly better choice of desserts than some other bistro places - it's worth popping in to see what's on the cake stand. There's a small street-side terrace, and the bright front dining room with theatrical birdcages and huge butterflies hanging from the ceiling provides an understated dose of cuteness.

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Vegehop

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Vegan Zagreb

This tiny vegetarian restaurant three tram stops east of the main square is an oasis for those looking for something besides mixed-grill platters. There are delicious vegetarian and vegan daily menus – soup, salad, vegetables and grains – in the 55kn-60kn range. You can also order à-la-carte dishes: pastas, veggie burgers, smoked tofu lasagne. Pancakes for dessert are made with healthy wholemeal flour. Fresh-squeezed juices are a good way to detox after a night of revelry.

Magazinska Klet Pri staroj smokvi
Magazinska Klet Pri staroj smokvi
Magazinska Klet Pri staroj smokvi

Magazinska Klet Pri staroj smokvi

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Croatian Out of the Centre

There are three Magazinska Klets in Zagreb. The small, smoky original is west of the city centre. In Novi Zagreb it's aimed at blue-collar locals, so is marginally cheaper. The largest is situated immediately behind Autobusni Kolodvor, the main bus station. They've done a remarkable job in placing a courtyard here, sheltered from its unpolished surroundings. Two sides are made up by purpose-built structures which house the extra seating required in winter. But in summer, families, workers and casually dressed friends eat outside. Another facade holds a partially open-air grill, where smiling chefs prepare meats and roast huge rows of red peppers for salads. The menus at all three are similar; small plates, like tapas (only more generous), at lunch, with an all fish line up on Friday. Available all day and every day are fantastic grilled meat feasts and stews, like Teleči Repovi, veal tails cooked for ten hours in a fiery sauce of chilli, onions, paprika and garlic. Another similarity the three restaurants share is the staff. Many are Serbian, almost all here from Leskovac. It's worth turning up an hour early for your bus in order to eat at this moderately priced restaurant.

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Juice Box
Juice Box
© Juice Box

Juice Box

Shopping Delis Lower Town

This is a misleadingly simple name for what is actually an Aladdin’s cave of the good things in life, from organic fruit and veg to fair-trade coffee, soya beans, olive and other vegetable oils, and crunchy crisps made out of apple, pineapple and other healthy things. Freshly made fruit and vegetable juices are the star attraction, with Juice Box’s own-recipe cocktails sold in picnic-ready bottles. Also on sale are locally made pastas flavoured with nettle or hemp, cooking ingredients that you can’t get anywhere else, such as ghee and, perhaps uniquely for Zagreb, healthy Vau Torte biscuits for dogs

Pri Zvoncu
Pri Zvoncu
© Pri Zvoncu

Pri Zvoncu

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Croatian Zagreb

There's something reassuring about walking into a restaurant to see that none of the waiters are under 30. You're almost as likely to be as happy eating as they are to work there. It's an all the more assuring sight at Pri Zvoncu, located 2km south of the city centre. From the outside, it looks like a ramshackle collection of rural outbuildings. Don't be fooled; this excellent restaurant is a local favourite. Inside, a large seasonal courtyard is shaded by trees which inhabit and surround. Despite its popularity, there's a relaxed feel, helped by an absence of intrusive music. Parents with university age children, birthday get-togethers, dressed-up dates or reconvening friends, everyone smiles and talks as they eat or wait here, confident in its 20-year reputation. The food is exceptional for a grill restaurant. A reasonably priced lunch menu, which alternates daily, offers grah (beans), tripe with bacon, stuffed peppers, sarma (stuffed cabbage) and simple stews to lunching business folk for 40-50 kuna. The pricier a la carte menu offers octopus salad, homemade ravioli or kulen, a lean, paprika-rich pork sausage from Slavonia. Of the mains, there are fish options, but this place majors in grilled meats. Mixed sharing platters including the house special Plata Zvonac, a bulging mound of meat for two, are priced between 140-220 kuna. Menus at the restaurant are in English, but sadly the website is not. No worries; waiter Darko, the most recently acquired member of staff (he

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Pivnica Mlinarica
Pivnica Mlinarica
© Pivnica Mlinaric

Mlinarica

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Balkan Zagreb

This popular community eaterie in the direction of Sljeme is within easy reach of the city centre. Two playgrounds keep the kids entertained while the grown-ups tuck into steaks, chops and grills or the house special of spit-roasted meats. If you feel like pushing the boat out, there's krvavice, blood sausage. Unless you go mad on the decent selection of draught beers, you can't spend more than 150kn a head.

Gostionica Purger

2 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Croatian Zagreb

Almost halfway between the main square and the train station, this is a classic Zagreb restaurant of once state-owned ilk. The food is sturdy and the dishes traditional. In the no-frills, three-room dining interior, you can expect classics such as sarma (sauerkraut stuffed with minced meat), lamb, veal and seafood. Purger, by the way, is local slang for someone born and bred in Zagreb.

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Asia Restaurant

3 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Chinese Zagreb

This family-run Chinese restaurant opened back in 1990, two decades before 'world food' had made any kind of impact in Zagreb. So, they must be doing something right. You won't have the most elaborate meal of your life here, but you'll find plenty of simple, tasty Chinese classics like sweet and sour chicken and spring rolls. The restaurant itself is large and quite opulent, making it a good choice for sprawling family get-togethers. 

Pizzeria Kariola
Pizzeria Kariola
© Pizzeria Kariola

Pizzeria Karijola

4 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Italian Zagreb

The first Pizzeria Karijola opened was on the island of Vis, named after the barrow porters used to ferry tourists' luggage. The hard-working owners made a point of using less salt and yeast, and fresher ingredients, most notably rocket, and success in Dalmatia soon followed. They then set up here in the capital, using the same formula only with more quality wines. The result is the best pizzeria in town, deservedly popular, handily located just over Savska near the Student Centre. There's a new branch of Kariola at Vlaška 63, one floor up from the equally esteemed Mali Bar bistro.  

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