What to Eat and Drink in Croatia
Posted on 07/17/2017
Over the course of the last few years, Croatia has truly had its coming out party, as this Adriatic nation full of sun-bleached towns, rugged mountains and island paradises has become beloved by North Americans.
It’s not just the beaches and ancient sites that are impressing us, though, as the unique food and drink has also left an impression on travelers, too.
Here are a few Croatian culinary delights to try on your next trip and where to find them.
Like many other countries in the Balkans, Croatia serves up this delicious street food snack in spades. Flaky phyllo pastry is pressed into layers with other savory fillings (usually minced meat, cheese or vegetables) and then baked in a large round pan. Hungry customers are then served a large slice of the burek ‘pie’ wrapped up in paper and which is often accompanied with a tangy yogurt drink.
Pag Cheese (Paski Sir)
Croatia may not be the first destination that comes to mind when you think of top-class dairy products, but pag cheese, with its sharp and salty flavor, is the crown jewel of Croatia’s cheese board. Although it’s produced on the island of Pag, it is available in any good deli or restaurant around the country.
Pag is best enjoyed as part of a meat and cheese platter along with a chilled glass of the country’s own locally-produced Chardonnay.
Black Seafood Risotto (Crni Rizot)
Crni rizot is popular in restaurants along the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia, and although the jet-black appearance isn’t for everyone, many travelers end up being pleasantly surprised. Pieces of cuttlefish and squid are cooked with the rice, and then the black ink is added right before serving to give it a rich color and texture.
While it's hard to pinpoint one place that serves the best version of this dish, you’re almost guaranteed to get a good version at most seafood restaurants in Dubrovnik, Split, or anywhere else along the coast.
Beef Stew (Pašticada)
Another dish favored by those on the Dalmatian Coast, pašticada is a slow-cooked stew that owes its rich, decadent sauce to a combination of red wine and prunes. The meat is marinated for several hours before cooking, and then the five-hour simmer time gives it its trademark tenderness. The stew is served with gnocchi (or a similar homemade pasta).
Head to Konoba Hvaranin if you’re visiting Split; they have been hand-making their gnocchi and stew in their family-run taverna for years.
The most widely-available draught and bottled beers in Croatia are pale lagers, produced by the country’s two biggest breweries in the country: Karlovacko and Ozujsko. Both of these brands also have their own ‘radlers’ (shandy), mixed with lemon, lime and grapefruit, which are perfect beach companions on sunny Croatian days.
Fruit Brandy (Rakija)
Croatians drink rakija as an aperitif, a palate cleanser or even just down it as shots when they are toasting with friends. It is lovingly referred to as ‘aqua vitae’ because of its supposed medicinal properties.
Although the strong, slightly astringent taste may not be to everyone’s liking, you should at least graciously accept a shot if offered, (and as friendly as the locals are, chances are it will be offered).