These days, there's no shortage of falafel in Zagreb. Croatians have taken this humble Middle Eastern chickpea dish to their hearts, and it's fast becoming the vegan answer to cevapi. Whether you want it in a takeaway wrap or on an artisan platter, dressed in yoghurt or with humous on the side, here's where you'll find the best falafel in Zagreb.
RECOMMENDED: The best vegetarian restaurants in Zagreb
Zagreb’s hot new bistro cites so many international influences on its menu – Afghani, Himalayan/Nepalese, Spanish/Basque, Turkish – that you wonder if Divas isn’t spreading itself too thin. Not to worry. What arrives on your plate will be tasty, healthy and well presented, portions substantial enough to satisfy without weighing you down for the rest of the day. Fish eaters should opt for the tender tuna steak, served with melt-in-the-mouth creamy mashed potato, while veggies are best off with the generous falafel platter soaked in garlic yogurt.
Since opening in late 2015, Bistro 75 has carved itself a place in the heart of Zagreb's lunchtime rush. As such, it always has a buzz about it, with local office workers catching up over a saucy steak sandwich and coffee. There are always a few left-field treats to experiment with on the daily menu (prawn tacos, humous soup...) but always on offer are salads and two delicious types of falafel, with soups and stews offered in winter. Fresh-fruit juices or craft beers may accompany. The place tends to throng on warm evenings, when punters are drawn in by its terrace, decent music selection and superlative cocktails.
Currently the only Turkish restaurant in Zagreb, Lokma from Istanbul is a good-value diner at the quiet end of Tkalciceva. Kebabs and falafel - Turkey's most popular culinary exports - are the menu's main draws, but it also features the likes of sigara boregi - crispy pastry rolls filled with cheese or potato. Everything's made according to authentic Turkish recipes, and the result is perfectly spiced, very tasty food. It's cheap (you can get a meal for under 50 kunas) and it opens until midnight, making it the go-to fast food for late night revelers.
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 it's 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.
Hidden behind Kota, this smart bright bistro serves up dedicated vegan fare, with the accent on wok, noodle and pasta-based recipes, with tofu and falafel featuring in different guises. 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.
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. Falafel wraps stuffed with sauce and rainbow coloured salad and 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.
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, falafel, 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.
A mere handful of years old and already something of a Dubrovnik institution, classy vegetarian restaurant Nishta transplanted its winning formula to Zagreb in January 2014. Occupying a light-filled first floor room in an off-street courtyard, the restaurant sticks resolutely to its vegan mission, although the menu is so varied and flavoursome that non-vegans won’t feel as if their dining choices have been limited by eating here. Subtle use of Indian, Asian and Mexican spices provide the main courses with the requisite global culinary range. There’s a salad bar with lots of pulses and grains, and the healthy message even extends to the alcohol – organic wines from eastern Croatia, small-brewery beer from San Servolo in Istria.