The Best Restaurants in Istria, Croatia

Dive into the culinary delights of Istria when you dine at one of the top restaurants in the region
Dive into the culinary delights of Istria when you dine at one of the top restaurants in the region | © Tom Irvine / Alamy Stock Photo
Rich Francis

The gastronomic scene in Istria features earthy tavernas set high in the misty Učka Mountains, agri-tourist bistros and chic fine-dining establishments. The cuisine ranges from Italian pastas, wood-fired pizzas, earthy Croatian cattle meats, oodles of award-winning brtonigla wines and more truffles than you can shake a stick at. Here are the best places to eat in Istria.

Explore this lesser-visited region by hiring a boat with SamBoat. Alternatively, book a week-long sailing holiday around Istria with Dream Yacht Charter.

1. Konoba Kali, for seafood with a view in Medveja

Restaurant, Croatian

Nestled below the looming limestone peaks of the Učka range – and just a stone’s throw from the white beaches and crystalline Adriatic Sea around Medveja – you’ll find Konoba Kali, offering up traditional Liburnian cuisine. House specialties include hand-folded seafood ravioli and flame-grilled Istrian beef steak. If you want to come for dinner, make a reservation in advance as it can get busy. Ask for a table on the terrace, which boasts sweeping views of the Adriatic and the verdant coastline of northern Istria.

2. Konoba Buščina, for traditional dishes in Umag

Restaurant, European

Halfway between rustic Istrian taverna and gourmet fine-dining establishment, this homely restaurant in the extreme northern reaches of the peninsula has long been hailed for its dedication to seasonal, local produce. That means a wealth of authentic Croatian flavours throughout the year, with specials that range from home-cured hams and Adriatic cuttlefish, to Istrian olive oils and — Buščina’s trademark — boškarin ox meat, which only a few kitchens in Istria are licensed to prepare professionally.

3. Monte, for a high-end meal in Rovinj

Restaurant, Croatian, Fast Food, Street Food, Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-free

Tables and chairs set for dining at Monte, with a stone walled terrace and blinds halfway down
Courtesy of Monte
Unquestionably one of the most cutting-edge establishments in all of Istria, Monte is perched amidst the old town of Rovinj, in the shadow of the magnificent Basilica of Saint Euphemia. Here, the kitchen’s pièce de résistance comes in the form of a five-course degustation selection, all made with ingredients sourced straight from the local farmer’s market. The flavours are a creative reworking of traditional Istrian seafood and meat classics, with Mediterranean mussels in sea foam rubbing shoulders with cauliflower ragout. There are also a whole range of reds and whites on offer, selected largely from the greater Alps-Adriatic-Danube region.

5. Agroturizam Tončić, for rustic fare in Oprtalj

Cottages

Surrounded by the sweeping fields and dramatic mountains of the Ćićarija region, this rustic taverna bills itself as providing agri-tourist gastronomy, dedicated to taking farm-to-table cuisine to new heights. Everything that’s plated up at Tončić is homegrown around the restaurant itself, or sourced from local producers in northern Istria. With such a remote setting, the restaurant can be a little tricky to find – but once you’re there, expect homely service, knowledgeable food recommendations and an authentically Croatian culinary experience from beginning to end.

6. Konoba Mondo, for authentic cuisine in Motovun

Restaurant, Mediterranean, European

The exterior of Konoba Mondo, with teal shutters and whitewashed walls, and cosy seating inside
Courtesy of Konoba Mondo
Set just below the medieval town of Motovun, this lovely little restaurant is hailed for its ability to mix Italian classics with trademark flavours from the greater Istria region – truffles in particular. Choose between dishes like beef carpaccio with truffle shavings, home-made shrimp gnocci and squid linguini. While the location may not boast the same sweeping views of central Istria that other restaurants in Motovun enjoy, Konoba Mondo does have a charming al fresco terrace that’s perfect for people-watching as the crowds pass beneath the town’s impressive gateway.

7. San Rocco, for Italian flavours in Brtonigla

Hotel

Chairs and tables with wine glasses and candles in San Rocco, with warm lighting and a wood beam ceiling
Courtesy of Gourmet Restaurant San Rocco
While perhaps better known as one of the most popular boutique hotels in Istria, San Rocco also boasts a fantastic fine-dining bistro that’s dedicated to mastering regional staples from both Italy and northern Croatia. Expect home-made pasta, Roman pizza, more than a dousing of local olive oil, flame-grilled Istrian beef and an abundance of truffles. San Rocco’s gourmet cuisine pairs up neatly with the verdant gardens of the hotel; enjoy your meal outside while watching the sun turn crimson red.

8. Restaurant Zigante, for truffle fans in Livade

Restaurant, European

Black chairs around tables set for dining in Restaurant Zigante, with exposed brick walls and a wood beam ceiling
Courtesy of Zigante

Truffles, truffles and more truffles adorn the menu at this gourmet establishment in the sleepy town of Livade, where you can try a seasonal offering of Mediterranean foods inspired entirely by this most definitive of Istrian ingredients. In fact, Zigante is owned by the man who once held the Guinness World Record for the largest white truffle find, which was discovered in the Istrian hills around Buje back in 1999 (before he was topped by an Italian in 2014). There are pastas, seafood dishes, local meats and even classic American steaks to enjoy, along with a selection of non-truffle dishes and vegetarian meals.

Taste your way around Istria by renting a yacht through SamBoat – no experience necessary – or hire a vessel for the week with Dream Yacht Charter.

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