Top Croatian food you have to try

written by Helen Ochyra
updated 9/20/2021
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Why go to Croatia ? The unspoiled coastline? The ancient walled cities? The Game of Thrones' locations ? Or is it the Croatian food?

Croatian food might be an afterthought. After all the country isn't known for its cooking. Is it?

In fact this Adriatic superstar has a larder-full of fresh produce. It focuses on traditional techniques. And low impact, local sourcing is big here. So what do they eat in Croatia? Here’s our pick of top food experiences. Tuck in, and find out why Croatian food could be your next big thing. The information in this article is taken from The Rough Guide to Croatia, your essential guide for visiting Croatia.

1. Pag cheese, from herb strewn island of Pag

Paški sir is a hard sheep's cheese from the island of Pag. It tastes of fresh sage dusted with sea salt crystal. As tangy as parmesan. As piquant as mature cheddar. But with a flavour all of its own. A flavour which comes from sheep eating Pag's wild herbs.

Pag's linked to the mainland by a bridge at its southern end. The Jadrolinija ferries run from Prizna to the island's far north. And most cheese producers are based in Kolan town. There are also a couple of simple cheese shops here too. And the Gligora cheese factory does tasting tours.

Stay at Boutique Villa Revelin in Pag. The restaurant specialises in traditional Croatian cooking.

Pag Cheese, one of the Croatian food heroes © Natalia Bratslavsky/Shutterstock

2. Truffles, or tartufi, as they say in Croatia

Truffle turns ordinary food into delicious decadence. And you only need a little for a substantial, earthy kick. Just a dusting of white truffle on pasta. Or a shaving of black truffle on scrambled eggs.

Istria in northern Croatia is one of the world’s finest truffle hunting grounds. Both black and white truffles are found here. Mainly under oak trees in Motovun forest on the river Mirna. Black are hunted in winter and spring. Autumn is hunting season for white truffles.

Go hunting with Zigante Tartufi. He once bagged the world's biggest truffle, 1.31kg. Then have lunch at his restaurant. Every dish, from steak to ice cream, is truffle laced.

A new crop of Croatian truffles was found near Zadar in 2014. They're slightly less pungent than the northerners. And served with local seafood at Restaurant Kaštel in Zadar.

Prefer to leave planning and booking to experts? Have a look at some sample itineraries. Both Complete Croatia or Croatia Itineraries offer inspiration. All Tailor Made Tours can be modified together with your local expert, then booked for a stress-free holiday. Click 'Modify this itinerary' to contact a local Croatia expert.

Black truffles, the most decadent of Croatia food © Albert Donsky/Shutterstock

3. Grk wine pairs perfectly with Croatian food

Grk wine is bone dry and acidic. With a taste so tart it demands the freshest shellfish. And it's definitely a wine worth travelling for.

And you'll need to travel. Grk is only produced by a handful of vineyards. And only near Lumbarda on Korčula. Native Grk grapes thrive in the sandy island soil here. Catch a ferry from Split, Dubrovnik or Orebić and go see (and taste).

Only a few hundred thousand bottles of Grk are made each year. And the majority get snapped up by local hotels. A great excuse to stay at Lešić Dimitri Palace in Korčula. This 17th century Bishop’s palace is now a hotel and restaurant. Start with a glass of Bire vineyard’s standard Grk. Then try Grk Defora. It's aged sur lies (on the lees) for a yeasty flavour.

Or let experts guide you on an historic food and wine tour of Dubrovnik.

4. Beef stew, a true Croatia food tradition

Beef stew should be thick not runny. So dark it’s hard to tell meat from sauce. And so hearty, one bowl makes a meal.

Pašticada is all of these things. This meaty stew takes hours, or days, to prepare. And it's the pride of every Croatian cook. Spend Christmas Day in Croatia and you'll likely eat pašticada. But no family will reveal their own recipe. There's always beef (generally silverside). And most often onions, wine and prunes.

Pašticada can be found all over the country. However, it originates in Dalmatia. So one of the best places to try it is Split. Head to a waterfront restaurant. Then order pašticada with gnocchi and a glass of red wine.

Think about staying at Riva Palace in the historic heart of Split.

Pašticada © Shutterstock

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5. Oysters to turn you into a Croatian oyster lover

Love oysters? You'll love Ston. Don't like the idea of oysters at all? Give them a go here. We reckon these Adriatic treasures will convert you. They're some of the best oysters you’ll find anywhere.

Oyster have been cultivated in Ston's waters since Roman times. Today, drive to the Pelješac peninsula southern end. You can see oyster beds just offshore.

Stop in Mali Ston for lunch on the waterfront. Or head to quieter Blaževo and take a boat trip to the oyster beds.

For immersive guided gourmet tours try our tailor made trips in Croatia.

What do they eat in Croatia? Fresh oysters from Ston © canvaspix/Shutterstock

Ready for a trip to Croatia? Check out the snapshot Rough Guide to Croatia. Read more about the best time to go to Croatia, the best places to visit and best things to do in Croatia. For inspiration use the Croatia Itineraries from The Rough Guide to Croatia and our local travel experts. A bit more hands on, learn about getting there, getting around the country and where to stay once you are there. And don't forget to buy travel insurance before you go.

We may earn commission when you click on links in this article, but this does not influence our editorial standards - we only recommend services that we genuinely believe will enhance your travel experiences.

Travel advice for Croatia

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written by Helen Ochyra
updated 9/20/2021
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Helen Ochyra is a Scotland-obsessed freelance travel writer and author of the critically acclaimed Scottish travel book "Scotland Beyond the Bagpipes", a Times Travel “book of the week” and one of Wanderlust’s “best travel books of 2020”. Helen specialises in British travel and is currently studying towards a Masters in British Studies at the University of the Highlands and Islands. Helen's work has recently appeared in the Times, the Telegraph and Grazia among many others. She lives in London with her husband and two young daughters. Follow her @helenochyra on Twitter and Instagram.

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