Croatian cuisine is famously meat-heavy, but that doesn't mean veggies will go hungry in the capital. A small crop of eateries are providing wholesome, delicious and cheap alternatives to meat - making limp tomato and lettuce salads a thing of the past. Do you agree with the choices? Use the comments box below or tweet or Facebook your suggestions.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
A solid choice for vegetarians, Gajbica is a fast food restaurant with a cheap, cheerful and mostly meat-free menu. Dishes change daily, but Gajbica majors in inventive salads, veggie sandwiches and deliciously gooey vegan cakes - a far cry from the usual dry, dairy-free vegan desserts. They also operate as a small grocers - you'll find fresh fruit and veg for sale, alongside health food ingredients and colourful pressed juices.