This ultimate guide to Zagreb restaurants covers it all: from top-level, splash-out fine dining to street food, traditional wholesome to high-end international, European bistro to east-west fusion. Get stuck in.
Recommended restaurants in Zagreb
Something of a cult among Zagreb carnivores on account of its delicious gourmet burgers (try the 200g cheeseburger for 36kn), Rougemarin also serves top-notch bistro fare with a small menu of light but delectable meals strong on fish and healthy foods. Three-course set lunches with drink are well worth the 100kn outlay. Boutique Croatian wine, craft beers, and a small outdoor terrace provide further inducements to visit; located amid residential blocks just south of the Radnička cesta business district, it’s not exactly central.
Bistro Apetit offers superb standards of food, wine and service. One key to its success is the location, hidden in a hedged garden on a tranquil residential street, just a short walk north of the city's Gradec old quarter. The cooking mixes the best of Croatian/Adriatic cuisine with the contemporary European mainstream, chef's, Goran Kočiš, recepies. At 70kn-90kn for a starter and 120kn-160kn for a main, Bistro Apetit is by no means beyond the average pocket, and there are always some truly outstanding dishes on the seasonally-changing menu. And the desserts are truly heavenly.
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.
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 fine-dining option attracts a well-heeled crowd to the Oris House of Architects. Its sleek interior an attraction in itself, Voncimer deals in experimental European gastronomy with a Ukranian slant. The restaurant majors in small, perfectly crafted dishes like the sesame seared filet of tuna with pears poached in white wine, or the Varenyky (Ukrainian ravioli) with rabbit ragu. Dishes are perfectly paired with a wine list spanning local vineyards and artisan wineries. Leave room for dessert - the dark chocolate lava cake with gorgonzola, basil ice cream and walnut praline is outstanding. Voncimer is still finding its feet in Zagreb's ever-busier gastronomy scene, but will surely win over more followers as continues to lead the way in high-level dining.
Further proof of Zagreb’s ongoing outbreak of bistro fever is provided by Mundoaka, a cramped but highly enjoyable spot just round the corner from the main square. It advertises itself as a ‘street food’ establishment but offers sit-down fare of the highest order, with an imaginative and globe-spanning menu that takes in ribs, deluxe pulled-pork sandwiches, raw tuna with ginger and a host of other lip-smacking ideas. Soups, bruschettas and cheese platters will more than satisfy the snackers; the prospect of freshly made cakes and muffins may well keep you rooted to your table for one more course. The choice of wines and craft beers admirably complements the food. It’s a busy place and you may end up perching on a stool or sharing a table; there is outdoor seating at the pedestrianised end of Petrinjska in spring and summer.
A fairly new addition to Zagreb’s growing bistro scene, the small, superbly located Fajn succeeds on many levels. Occupying a lovely spot in the pedestrianised old town – just off the tourist thoroughfare between St. Marko church and Museum of Broken Relationships – it's exterior facade is blink-and-you'll-miss-it unassuming, with a small sign and a printout of the daily menu on the door. Here, the focus on quality over quantity means a limited menu of affordably creative cuisine, based on the daily catch at the fishmongers or butchers in nearby Dolac market. The result is sensationally good. From the small open kitchen, protégés of celebrity chef Dina Galvagno put the recipes of the day to the test. The menu features starters like risottos, daily soups or a cheese board with prosciutto and Croatian favourites for 70kn. There’s usually two or three mains: sea bream in almond crust with cauliflower cream and roasted beetroot; for the meatheads, pink slabs of steak or rabbit goulash, hovering around the 90kn mark. The owner is English speaking, and quick to offer up smart suggestions from the Croatian wine-list. The low-key soundtrack of jazz and classical makes a hospitable hum, and the seven-cover size ensures an intimate, polished experience. It’s deservedly popular, booking recommended on weekends.
Korčula is as traditional as it gets. This fish restaurant on the corner of Teslina and Preradovićeva was here long before the trendy bars set up around it. The kitchen turns out high-quality versions of seafood standards, tuna fillets or grilled squid with blitva, as well as a few specialities worth trying, in particular a succulent baked octopus with potatoes (120kn). There are scallops, breaded frogs' legs and grouper or John Dory priced by the kilo. The black risotto (crni rižot) is as good as you'll get anywhere in town. Decent, well priced bottled of Dingač and Pošip (180kn) highlight an excellent wine selection (literally dozens of reds and whites) of similarly Dalmatian provenance.
Opened towards the end of 2015, Bistro 75 is still finding its way in Zagreb’s ever busier bistro/snack scene. A prime location helps, in the heart of the city’s bar quarter and not two minutes’ walk from the main square. At Bistro 75, food is at its best at lunchtimes, when locals tuck into the signature pulled-pork sandwiches, complemented by fat chips drizzled with zingy barbecue sauce. If this sounds like a diet-busting recipe for a sleepy afternoon, there are salads and three different 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.
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.