Regarded as the pearl of the Adriatic sea, Split is Croatia’s second largest city after its capital Zagreb. Buzzing with Old World tradition, yet also exuding a smattering of modernity, this spot also attracts visitors with its cuisine. Here are the top 10 places to dine.
Set in a historic 1900s villa tucked away in the winding backstreets of Split’s Old Town, Perivoj welcomes patrons into its art-deco surroundings where award-winning chefs serve up a menu of typically Croatian dishes. However, it is the selection of desserts and cakes that really make this joint a treat – in particular, you can’t go wrong with the Slatko o’ medulla, a to-die-for almond and citrus cake. Occupy a seat in one of the city’s oldest pleasure gardens and satisfy your sweet tooth by one of the tranquil fountains.
Adorned with bright floor-to-ceiling windows and exposed brick walls, Zinfadel Food & Wine is a contemporary joint in the city center. Pair your choice of more than 100 bottled Croatian and international wines with a large selection of tapas and cold platters. All ingredients are locally sourced and ever-changing, making for a exceptional Dalmatian culinary experience with each visit. Venture by for lunch to sample dishes such as roasted Adriatic octopus salad, oxtail ravioli or ricotta-stuffed calamari, or reserve a table for the evening for options such as braised veal tongue, saffron risotto and file mignon with sweet potato. For those looking for a full Dalmatian experience, the five-course tasting menu will do the trick.
Konoba Matejuska can be found occupying the ground of an old Dalmatian house that was built in the 19th century. Exuding a rustic ambience, the cozy, family-run restaurant specializes in top-notch seafood at no-fuss prices by the weight. Come early or reserve as there are only five or six tables squeezed into the below street-level dining room. The black risotto is a speciality here so consider your options carefully when confronted by the delicious menu of local dishes and refreshing wines.
Located a stone’s throw away from the coastal path going right down to Bačvice Beach, restaurant Dvor is a charming cafe and restaurant with beautiful views over the sea and a tranquil outdoor garden. The contemporary Dalmatian menu has a light Mediterranean flair and features delicious offerings of fresh fish, succulent steaks and poultry, all cooked to perfection on the open grill overlooking the seating area. Enjoy the stunning location and soak up the atmosphere with a selection of Croatian wines to complete your meal.
In a country that prides itself on its seafood and cured meats, it is often difficult to find an establishment that specialize solely in vegetarian and vegan dishes. Thankfully, Restaurant Makrovega is one of them. Open since 2003, its aim has been to improve healthy eating and to promote plant-based nutrition through the use of organic grains, legumes and fresh vegetables. Sample a delicious selection of soups, pies, stews, pastas and salads, while keeping an eye on the rotating menu according to the chef’s personal tastes. Take note; smoking and drinking alcohol is prohibited here.
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For those nearing the end of their budget, but who still want to experience the best of Croatian cuisine, Buffet Fife is the place to go. Located in the upcoming Veli Varos neighborhood, historically known for its fishermen, this Split institution offers a true local experience of indifferent service, loud kitchen staff, crowded table sharing and, of course, cheap wine. There are daily specials on offer here, anything ranging from chicken hot pot or black cuttlefish risotto to fried sardines and lamb meatballs with boiled potatoes. Whatever you choose, everything is delicious and sourced from the freshest ingredients.
Prepare to walk up several flights of stairs through the Old Town to reach the palazzo where Apetit is situated within the walls of a 15th-century Papalićeva palace. Thankfully the effort will pay off once you take a glance at the menu of Dalmatian meat and fish dishes, all prepared to the highest quality with an eclectic twist of creativity. Exceptional gastronomy has been served on this spot for the past 700 years and these days, the restaurant continues to be devoted to culinary excellence. Opt for dishes such as octopus carpaccio, beef fillets in Istrian truffle sauce, zucchini risotto or the selection of freshly caught fish – the fish platter for two is a stellar choice if you’re eager to sample the fruits of the sea. If nothing else, simply pop by to have a peek at the interior of the restaurant which is adorned with beautiful, medieval stonework and an array of stunning oil paintings.
Bar, Restaurant, Mediterranean, European, Wine, $$$
Uje Oil Bar is an elegant tapas-style restaurant situated right in the heart of Split, opened a few years ago by local olive oil retailers and delicatessen specialists. With a passionate focus on the very best of Mediterranean cuisine, a meal in the restaurant’s friendly farmhouse kitchen is the perfect companion to any Croatian dining experience. The menu changes according to what is seasonally available. However, you can always dunk your crispy hunks of bread into aromatic olive oils, as well as sample local soups, cold cuts, marinated fish and filling pulse dishes. Just make sure you leave enough space for the divine desserts on offer.
Konoba Varoš has been a long-standing favorite among locals for decades who flock to this unpretentious restaurant to dine on its speciality – fried calamari served with garlic mayonnaise. Alongside this, patrons come to enjoy a variety of cold and hot dishes, many of which are prepared to fit along with the Dalmatian tradition of cooking under a baking lid. Alternatively, play it safe with local options such as black risotto, shrimp tagliatelle and fish choices of gilthead bream, sea bass, monkfish and tuna. Just don’t forget the wine.
Considering its geographical vicinity to Italy just over the Adriatic sea, it’s no wonder that Croatia has its fair share of pizzerias sprinkled throughout the country. Out of many, Pizzeria Galija is probably one of the best in Split, made obvious by the number of locals who frequent this joint on a regular basis. Located right in the center of town, this pizza institution welcomes guests into its 1980s-style interior, comprising dark wooden seating and porcelain tile artwork. Alternatively, pick a spot on one of the benches outside to get your fill of open wood-fired pizzas in the fresh air. Considering the portion-sizes and the exceptional tastes, this no-frills joint will be worth every single one of your pennies.