With all the eating we’ve done during our travel to the Balkans, I was 100% certain I would be gaining weight at tremendous speed, faster than I ever have in my life—and I was right (secretly hoped not). In 11 consecutive days, we visited at least two restaurants a day and were served with appetizing meals complete with a starter, a heavy main course, and yummy dessert. We could have waved a white flag, out of fullness, each time. In any case, we thank Mulan Travel Service Corp. for having done a great job in selecting restaurants with a sophisticated edge serving up delicious food that’s pretty hard not to love. In this post, I’m sharing the 12 best restaurants we tried in the Balkans (Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina). 🙂
Where to Eat: 12 Best Restaurants We Tried in the Balkans
1. Vila Prešeren
Veslaska Promenada 14 SI-4260 Bled, Slovenia
+386 4 5752510
A sensational place for a contemporary, light cuisine with a touch of the Mediterranean, Vila Prešeren’s à la carte restaurant offers salad platters, risottos, pastas, fish and meat dishes, grilled dishes and desserts accompanied with top-quality wines from the best Slovenian and foreign wine cellars. We had amuse bouche, risotto with octopus, shrimps, and parmesan lollipop, beef tagliata made with creamy potatoes with tartufata and cabernet reduction, and the famous Bled cream cake. Overall, Vila Prešeren can be seen as a civilized oasis where refined fare are served by warm and considerate waitstaff.
2. Restaurant Bevanda
Zert ul. 8, 51410, Opatija, Croatia
+385 51 493888
Restaurant Bevanda is one of those places that’s perfect for a tough-to-please crowd. The restaurant’s distinct interior design looks contemporary and multi-functional. Facilities can accommodate both private and business events. Focused on pure and discernible food aromas, dishes were as classic as the decor. We had risotto with mussels and Kvarner scampi and prawns, sea bass fillet grilled chard on the Diamatian way, and millefoglie with forest fruit. If you’re missing the white-tablecloth dining rooms of days past, this restaurant in a resort in Opatija must be something you’ll fancy.
3. Restaurant Foša
Ul. kraija Dmitra Zvonimira 2, 23420, Zadar
+385 23 314421
A Mediterranean restaurant in Zadar, Foša presented to us dishes that walked the line between approachable and elegant. Dinner started with the cold trio (octopus carpaccio, fresh fish carpaccio, daimatian bruschetta), followed with a fillet of sea bass with aromatic herbs gratin, oven-baked, and potatoes sauteed in olive oil, and ended wonderfully with chocolate lava cake. Ambiance was lovely, especially at nighttime. This is a space that works for both special-occasion meals and a casual drop-in.
4. Seoska kuća Čilipi
Bistrače 2, 20213, Čilipi, Croatia
+385 20 771 163
Seoska kuća Čilipi in Croatia is located in a rural area about an hour from Dubrovnik. All of the food and wine served at the farmhouse were grown by them. Meat lovers will be glad to savor their first-rate grilled meat (sausages, chicken and pork), while style-conscious diners will appreciate the rustic setting the most. This restaurant delivered an unforgettable meal for us. Wine made some of us feel “happier” than normal, if you know what I mean. 😛 Red and white wine were best paired with homemade cheese, prosciutto, and olives.
5. Restaurant Adriatic Grašo
Uvala Baluni 21000 Split, Croatia
+385 (0) 21 398560
Restaurant Adriatic Grašo is my favorite among all the restaurants in this list. 🙂 The spectacular view can’t be beat. Located on Sustipan cliff at the foot of Marjan hill (10 minutes walk from the city center of Split), this spot is known for the terrific way it handles seafood. Our appetizer, Couver Sea Fantasty, was no exception. It comprised of six different “swimmingly fresh” carpaccios on a bed of fresh salad. Scampi Cream Soup was also prepared simply and beautifully. For mains, we had white fish, calamari, and grilled scampi. Exquisite cooking and ambiance to burn define this date-night nexus. The mood was quite intimate and classy.
6. Restaurant Galion
Suranj bb, Kotor Municipality 85330, Montenegro
+382 32 325054
Galion in Montenegro is a must for seafood lovers. Their kitchen does its magic well. We enjoyed a parade of cold adriatic seafood and fish delicacies, satisfying squid ink risotto with sepia and crispy parmesan chips, and lemon cream with crispy meringue and tart crumble. There was a whole lot of wow from the combo of all these seemingly disparate flavors adorned with the Mediterranean soul. For its interior, Galion features aquatic flourishes and wooden tones enhancing an already sleek dining experience that is unmistakably high end–yet worth every penny.
7. Restaurant Proto
Siroka ul. 1, 20000, Duborvnik, Croatia
+385 20 323 234
Dinner at Proto Fish Restaurant was a grand affair, full of the kind that characterizes Croatian fine dining. Every mouthful proved to be a rewarding adventure. For starters, we had Adriatic salad with scampi, melon, and avocado and fisherman’s soup en tasse. The star of our meal was the Gratinated Lobster Tail “Ponta Ostra” (risotto with wild rice, truffles and mushrooms), and hazelnut parfait for dessert absolutely hit the spot. Brilliance doesn’t come cheap, and even though a turn in this dining room might be the most expensive thing, it’s worth splashing out for a meal here any time of day.
8. Restaurant Poklisar
Ribarnica ul. 1, 20000, Duborvnik, Croatia
+385 20 322 176
When a salad just won’t do, getting to the meat of the matter with heaping platters of protein is always a nice move. At Restaurant Poklisar where dishes have a great depth of flavor, we had mussels buzzara, a delectable serving of visually striking tenderloin (insanely good), and ended with sweet panna cotta for dessert. The flavors were comforting; it will only take a few bites to see why this restaurant has so many regulars. Along with its enticing old European atmosphere, Poklisar has exemplary servers who stayed on their toes to ensure diners leave vowing to visit again. Trivia: In Dubrovnik dialect, the name Poklisar translates to ‘’an ambassador.’’ Truly, they’re an ambassador of good taste and remarkable moments.
9. Marco’s Bar and Food
Ul. Korčulanskog statuta 1214, 20260, Korčula, Croatia
+385 98 275701
It’s not often that you get to travel to a restaurant by boat. We did at Marco’s Bar and Food, a welcoming wine bar and tavern situated at one of the best Korčula Old Town locations, right at the beautiful Trg Antuna and Stjepana Radica square. This place served one of the best food we tasted during our tour: soup, homemade pasta with lobster, and mascarpone cream with cookie crumble and wild berry coulis. Enlivened with modern presentation for great style and flair, the pasta with lobster was the most indulgent. A few bites, and you’ll realize the chef’s works of art taste as good as it looked.
10. Restaurant Bota Šare
Marina Drzica 1, Ston, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia
+385 20 754 482
In an area with a dearth of good dining options in Dubrovnik, Restaurant Bota Šare is one that’s satisfying. Can you believe that two old dusty books with recipes found in the basement of the owner’s home were actually the foundation of all recipes for Bota Šare’s dishes? Their chefs find inspiration in those books to master their culinary art. As a first-timer here, it’s best to try the signature platters. Both the Mixed Bota Platter (daimatian smoked ham, cheese, fish pate, tuna salad, shellfish salad fish carpaccio, marinated fish, seafood risotto) and the Bota Mixed Fish Platter (tuna broshette, white fish file, grilled calamari, bread crumbed mussels, fried smelts with vegetables) were well-executed. The luscious combination of ingredients in each platter won’t just take you to a different block; it will knock you out of this world! For a sweet ending, we had cream caramel. Oh, it was divine!
11. Restaurant Gallo
Ul. Andrije Hebranga 34, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia
+385 1 4814014
If you are looking for true continental and coastal Croatian cuisine, Gallo is the place. It’s only a few minutes of walking distance from Zagreb’s greatest cultural assets (the National Theatre, Mimara Museum, University Library, and Academy of Arts and Science). With the homey and classic ambiance, we felt like queens even though we weren’t dressed for the evening. Fish soup set the right mood for a decent meal. The seafood pasta though wasn’t cooked adequately, just south of al dente.
12. Restaurant Oxbo Steak (Restaurant of Hotel DoubleTree by Hilton)
Ul. Grada Vukovara 269A, 10000, Zagreb, Croatia
+385 1 6001 914
The “too much of a good thing can be wonderful” philosophy seems to be the general premise at Restaurant Oxbo Steak. Our dining experience here can be summed up with the in-love emoji. The food was pretty solid, bordering on mind-blowing in terms of taste and character. Much to my delight, I can still vividly remember nodding while eating, as a sign of approval. The carrot and ginger soup tasted healthy and indulgent, and the Istrian Ravioli with black truffles, cream, and proschiutto was hearty and perfectly seasoned. As for the main, their strip loin steak with vegetable puree on the side and orange and brandy demi glace was decadent. Finishing the bourbon chocolate cake and raspberry sorbet was not a problem. It was so good! We didn’t have to battle over who gets what, because everyone got his/her own share of these marvelous entrees. ♥
All photos were taken using Fujifilm XT2 + 14mm lens.