Recommended restaurants in Zagreb
Mutating from a wine bar that did smart lunches to one of the city’s leading gastro-bistros, Pod Zidom marched straight into the 2019 edition of the Michelin Guide and is now pretty much a must-visit when it comes to contemporary Croatian cooking. A lot of the credit goes to head chef Jurica Jantolek and his desire to investigate the creative possibilities of traditional food, retaining the local ingredients but throwing out any formulaic attitudes to their preparation. The menu certainly has an old-school local look about it at first glance, with oxtail, black sausages, duck breast and buncek (pork hock) vying for attention alongside modish bistro-u-like regulars like beef cheeks and white fish. Old recipes are dusted off and given a new look – their cream of parsnip soup (42Kn) is a farmhouse favourite transformed into silky, luxuriant perfection - comfort food, but not quite as you know it. The meat from the oxtail (75Kn) is shredded then placed in okra pods, garnished with tangy al-dente brussels sprouts. Pod Zidom’s take on traditional Central-European dessert šnenokle (whipped egg whites flavoured with vanilla; 42Kn) is an absolute revelation, an eloquent reminder that creative desserts are just as important as everything else on the menu. Best way to sample Pod Zidom’s culinary approach is to opt for the three or four-course daily lunches (165-190), composed according to what they picked up that morning at Dolac. The bistro-wine bar informality of the place is well-mai
Trilogija sits just above the Stone Gate. Cobblestones lead from the door and inside. Tables sit on individual landings under vaulted, brick ceilings. The cosy dining room includes a bar area where folks can snack on a steak-and-cheese sandwich with caramelised onions (60kn). The idea is that even if you're in a hurry you can still enjoy a quality feed and glass of wine. More time lets you sample wonderful natural ingredients. Daily specials change per artistic mood and supplies on hand; mains run from 75kn to 145kn. Entrée examples include sea bass in lobster sauce and beefsteak in port wine. As well, you won’t regret the black tiger shrimp risotto with mango and spinach. For dessert, try the ravioli with sweet walnut filling.
Bistro Apetit offers superb standards of food, wine and service – standards imposed by Austrian chef and owner Christian Cabalier, previously of Vienna’s Cantinetta Antinori.
If there is such a thing as contemporary Croatian cuisine then one of the best places to find it is NAV, the new venture of owner-chef Tvrtko Šakota. Previously seen brandishing the spoons at much-talked-about Mundoaka and Xató, Šakota has built an impressive reputation, not only for being an outstandingly creative chef, but also as a leading devotee of locally reared, high-quality produce. A nine-table upstairs room with no interior-design fripperies and no outdoor terrace, NAV is an intimate and welcoming space in which to focus on some of the capital’s most glorious food. The gravelly murmour of Bruce Springsteen, who seems to be on permanent rotation in the background, is the only sensory distraction. There’s a semi-open kitchen behind glass walls which, with four or more people busying themselves inside, is a constant source of interest. Šakota occasionally pops out of his glass box to greet new arrivals – the restaurant has only been open since January 2019 but already has a devoted body of regulars. Pretty much everything we saw on the (seasonally changing) menu displayed a high degree of imagination and a high level of intricacy in preparation, kicking off with the cream-cheese profiterole that came as an (unbilled) amuse-bouche. The appetizer tells you straight away that NAV is all about attention to detail – not just from the people preparing the food, but from those sitting down to eat it too. Aptly illustrating NAV’s dedication to the reinvention of tradition wa
Rougemarin 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.
Mano 2 specialises in high-level dining, with parallel themes to its sister restaurant Mano: exquisitely cooked meat and seafood in a modern, unashamedly trendy dining room.
Agava offers a professional and cosmopolitan approach to dining. The menu features starters such as mushroom carpaccio at 45kn; a good choice of pastas and risottos from 70kn, and a dozen or so mains.
Zinfandel's is an outstanding spot which transfers the elegance of Art Deco hotel, the Esplanade, built for the Orient Express back in 1925, to the dining room. Beneath the chandeliers, a pianist strokes the keys for a room overlooking the Oleander terrace.
This might be one of the cosiest locales in Zagreb – on a narrow passage among the cobbled streets behind St Mark's Church and the Croatian Parliament in the Upper Town. But even as quaint as this is, the food matches it.
Noel is sizzling hot restaurant dedicated to the flux of contemporary trends in gastro-cooking. Portions here are small but well garnished; extravagant diners can opt for the taster menu.
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.
A modern interpretation of a French brasserie, the dishes are small but remarkably well-crafted, and the food plays to local strengths – there’s plenty of Adriatic fish-dishes, locally sourced meat and an excellent cheese and tapas selection. Inside, it’s an uber-cool suede and dark leather affair, with a backlit bar serving princely cocktails. Unsurprisingly, it doesn't come cheap - mains are priced 100-200kn, but food this satisfying is worth the splash-out. Boasting an opportune spot on Tkalčićeva (previously home to Takenoko) the location is hard to beat.
Carpaccio delivers stylish Italian-themed dining in a wonderfully convenient bang-in-the centre location. There are plenty of vegetarian options among the risottos and pastas, and substantial steaks and veal cutlets among the meaty mains.
Occupying an oft-overlooked street corner just off the main square, Time is one of the trendiest restaurants in town. The extensive Asian-inspired fusion menu covers all the usual dishes, from ramen and Teriyaki to tuna carpaccio and a Thai green, but what really stands out is how the restaurant fuses sizzlingly fresh Adriatic ingredients with its familiar cast of eastern dishes. Much of what is chucked into your pan comes from nearby Dolac market; succulently tender lamb hails from Pag island and seafood is sourced from the coast. Quality fusion classics are served with presentational flourishes – and aren’t eye-wateringly expensive either. The interior would have you believe otherwise, what with its pricey lacquered furniture and low-key lighting, evoking a cocktail bar you might come across in Mayfair.
Hidden behind Kota, this smart bright bistro serves up dedicated vegan fare, with the accent on wok, noodle and pasta-based recipes.
Located in a wooded dell between the Upper Town and the Tuškanac woods, it features a cool minimalist interior full of dark-brown furniture tones and low-key lighting. Seafood remains the kitchen's strong point, and both the baked fish and a 12-course tasting menu are well worth the splash-out
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.
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.
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.
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.
Located in Zagreb's hilly northern suburbs, the famly-run Tač strikes the right balance between traditional home cooking and high-quality cuisine.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Posh but relaxed, Gallo offers seasonal and organic Mediterranean cuisine in a quiet courtyard set apart from the busy traffic of Hebrangova.
If you enjoy high-quality food served briskly in informal surroundings, then Lari i Penati (named after a pair of Roman household gods) will be the kind of place you'll find it difficult to stay away from.
Tekka attracts a sharp-suited clientele, and has cultivated the elegant decor and uber-attentive staff to go with it. It’s neither central or cheap, but as one of Croatia’s best sushi restaurants, it’s worth the pilgrimage.
Named after its owner, local football hero Zvonimir Boban, this popular two-storey operation is set just off Jelačić. Upstairs is a café, downstairs a (mainly Italian) restaurant.
The first sushi restaurant in Croatia, Takenoko is still one of the very few Asian restaurants in town worth experimenting with – and although it will set you back a wad of kunas it is usually well worth it.
Mali Bar serves up exquisite lunches and inventive nibble food in an informal, five-table dining room. Main courses change daily.
Well prepared Central European fare at moderate prices attracts a mixed bag of local and overseas patrons. The service is swift and the cuisine heavy on meat.
Bustling, busy but also moderately smart, Apetit City is intended for lunching city folk as well as more romantically inclined evening diners.
Far from just a hotel restaurant, the DoubleTree's Oxbo eatery is an increasingly important dining and socialising hub for the business and residential community grouped around the fast-developing Radnička cesta strip.
Kerempuh has a reputation for being an informal neighbourhood restaurant which also cultivates foodie culture. It has served as something of a proving ground for culinary celebrities in recent years, with both TV chef Ana Ugarković and rising star Dino Galvagno doing stints in the kitchen.
The submariners pride themselves on making thick, succulent burgers from organic local beef, garnished with local škripavac cheese and veggies.
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.
Though called an Italian restaurant in local tourist brochures, Mano is actually a high-end steakhouse fit to bring your best girl to for an anniversary dinner or the business associate you're trying to impress.
Beneath the Old Pharmacy pub and named after farming tools, Mašklin i Lata brings a bit of the sea to the heart of the city. It's got the traditional feel just right.
Devoted entirely to eggs, this outlet has already proved popular with Zagreb’s Saturday morning crowd, with a world-spanning selection of egg dishes – there’s perfectly poached Eggs Benedict, omelets, Shakshuka; whatever way you like yours, Eggspress have it cracked.
The grande dame of Zagreb restaurants attracts old money and new jet set, munching and mingling in the two high-ceilinged wooden-clad halls in a suburb below Sljeme.
Quiet, relaxed, and moderately formal without being too forced, Primošten is one of one of Zagreb's best south-of-the-centre venues for a leisurely taste of Adriatic cuisine.
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 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.