One of the pleasures of a sailing holiday: discovering small cafés, cool bars and romantic restaurants with your very own boat. Croatia is one of our absolute favourite sailing destinations – and not just because of its amazing beaches and fantastic old cities. Croatia’s food culture is as diverse as the country itself and there are lots of exciting local delicacies for you to discover. Get excited for your next sailing adventure on the Adriatic Sea with our guide to Croatian cuisine.
You won’t find a huge selection of breakfast dishes in Croatian cafés, but never mind: the best breakfast will always be found on board, surrounded by sunshine and the sea. Buy your fresh fruit and pastries at one of the many markets (tržnica) and bakeries (pekara).
If you’re looking for a more savoury breakfast, try meat delicacies like ćevapi (grilled minced meat sausage), ražnijići (shish kebab) or pljeskavica (minced meat patty).
Lunch is the most important meal in Croatia and it is eaten quite late in the day. Because of this, there is a great selection of brunch snacks (marende on the coast, gableci inland) between 10.30 and midday. These are mostly traditional seafood and meat dishes that are served in smaller portions – perfect for an affordable midday meal.
Croatian cuisine is so diverse because it is influenced by two distinct culinary cultures: the seafood heavy cuisine of the Mediterranean and the heavier fare of Central Europe. Because of Croatia’s varied historical and geographical roots, you will find an amazing range of seafood and meat dishes, savoury soups, cheeses, cold meats as well as local spirits and wines.
Any proper Croatian starter menu will begin with pršut, a fantastic home-cured ham. Be sure to compliment this with paški sir, a famous local cheese from the island Pag. Another local delicacy is kulen, a lovely spicy sausage.
Meat lovers will love Croatia. In sheep-herding regions like Cres, Rab, Zadar and Split, for example, you will find whole sheep being roasted over open fires as a speciality. In Dalmatia, on the other hand, you should not miss out on pašticada, a popular main dish of beef cooked with wine and prunes.
Croatia’s coast has an unbelievable range of seafood dishes on offer. Favourite starters include salata od hobotnice (octopus salad) and the exquisite salata od jastoga (lobster bites with olive oil and herbs). Fresh fish will mostly be grilled and priced according to weight, with the best fish costing around 300-400Kn per kilo.
We highly recommend kovač (John Dory), list (sole), brancin (sea bass), orada (gilt-head sea bream) and škrpina (scorpion fish). Seafood dishes are mostly served with potatoes, garlic and blitva, a vegetable that is similar to spinach and local to Dalmatia.
Croatia is not necessarily known for its vegetarian cuisine, but most menus will have a reasonable selection of vegetarian starters and main dishes to choose from. Popular choices include, for example, mushroom omelette and fried, breaded cheese.
Italian-inspired pizzerias are a great option – here you will find pizzas with fresh vegetables and a selection of pastas with a variety of vegetarian sauces. If you can’t find anything among the main dishes, you can always construct an exciting main course from the good selection of vegetarian starters and side dishes.
“Ja sam vegeterijanac” (vegeterijanka is the female form) means „I am vegetarian“. “Imate li nešto bez mesa?” means „Do you have anything without meat?“.
Typical desserts in Croatian restaurants will include sladoled (ice cream), torta (cake) and palačinke (pancakes), which you can order with jam, chocolate sauce or walnuts. If you’re in Dubrovnik, don’t miss out on rožata, the local version of crème caramel.
Drinks are mostly enjoyed in the lovely kavanas, or Cafés. These are comfy and spacious, with lots of outside seating areas for balmy summer evenings. Here you will find a full range of alcoholic beverages, as well as pastries and ice cream. Be sure to try all of the local Croatian wines: Istria is known for its very dry white Malvazija and the fantastic reds Teran and Refošk. Dalmatia also has great red wines to offer, such as Babić und Plavac mali, one of Croatia’s best and most expensive wines.
Don’t miss out on the tasty local aperitifs, like pelinkovac (a spirit similar to Jägermeister) a borovnica (a blueberry liqueur).
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