Croatia's coast is well known for stunning visitors with its range of fresh seafoods and the country's continental areas offer up premium lamb, veal, beef and wild meats like boar and deer. Spectacular dishes such as pašticada, čobanac, peka and ražanj use such meats and many of these come with no small amount of theatre attached. Pity the poor vegetarian and vegan in your holiday group who, a decade or so ago, might have been restricted to a two-week diet of pizza, burek and grilled vegetables. Things are a lot better these days and the capital city of Zagreb is leading the way in its vegetarian options. Here are the best vege lunches and dinners to try in Zagreb and where to try them. Whether you're vegetarian or not, some of this simply must be sampled!
RECOMMENDED: Vegetarian restaurants in Zagreb
The best vegetarian food to try in Zagreb
One of the cosiest locales in the, Konoba Didov san is one of the few restaurants granted license to inhabit Zagreb's oldest cobbled streets, those behind St Mark's Church and the Croatian Parliament in the Upper Town. They specialise in food from the Dalmatian hinterland, but actually offer the premium foods from artisan producers nationwide. Soparnik is a speciality of the Dalmatian hinterland and you will not try a more delicious, authentically Croatian dish. Thin, floppy pastry, packed full of flavour with garlic and wilted blitva (chard) leaves, even on a mixed platter containing meats, this is often the star of the show.
It's a tough pick between the brilliant falafels and the wok or pasta dishes in this city centre vegetarian restaurant. But their makroplates, which change daily and come accompanied by soup of the day, are a brilliant choice for lunch. Colourful and well balanced, it's rare to eat a lunch so delicious that also puts a spring in your step for the rest of the day.
Vegetarian food is standard cuisine across much of India and this authentically Indian restaurant excels in such dishes. Naturally, they have vegetarian curries as mains and, hooray, they are cheaper than your carnivores options. But, pick of the bunch has to be their vege starters. Tandoor grilled mushrooms (pictured) are marinated in herbs and spices, then stuffed with spinach and cheese. Mozzarella broccoli tandoor is similarly well spiced, the chunky pieces of each offering a wonderful contrast in flavours and textures, the broccoli cooked perfectly.
This tiny vegetarian restaurant three tram stops east of the main square is an oasis for those looking for something besides mixed-grill platters. It's difficult to recommend just one dish here as their menu changes every day, but their raw food meals are prepared with such care, so well balanced in flavours and textures, that you probably wouldn't even know you're eating uncooked foods.
The Palace Hotel Zagreb is situated right in the heart of the city, overlooking Zagreb's beautiful parks, Tomislavac, Strossmayer trg and Zrinjevac and is the oldest professional hotel in town. A hundred years ago they were serving the upper echelons of Austro-Hungarian society in their bistro and you still feel that air of grandeur when dropping by for a drink in the bar or for something to eat. Štrukli, a pastry and cheese dish that comes either boiled or baked, holds pride of place at the top of authentically Zagreb dishes and, if you want to try the best, you can do so here.
Fast food done healthy is the offer at this outlet in the heart of town. 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 are also worth trying.
A solid choice for vegetarians, Gajbica is a fast food restaurant with a cheap, cheerful and mostly meat-free menu. Dishes change daily and Gajbica never loses its enthusiasm for making new veggie sandwiches and deliciously gooey vegan cakes - a far cry from the usual dry, dairy-free vegan desserts. If you're wanting a vegetarian salad though, this is perhaps the city's best place to get one. Inventively constructed and super fresh, you won't want to stop eating.