What to Eat and Drink in Croatia
Ahh, Croatia, one of my favorite destinations….food and drink, one of my favorite things to talk about! Guess what?! It’s all in one post! How exciting is that?! I want to give you a full in-depth look at everything you should eat and drink when you are in Croatia. Trust me, bring some stretchy pants because you will need them on this food tour of beautiful Croatia!
The one thing I loved about all of the food in Croatia was that it was all fresh. Everything I ate tasted as fresh as you can get and it was oh so good. I honestly felt like I was on a cleanse when I was there and as soon as I got back to the States the food just wasn’t as good.
Before we get started, let’s get acquainted with some of the dialogue that will help you on your food tour.
Hi → Bok → “Bock”
Please → Molim → ”Moh-lim”
Thank you→ Hvala→ “Hvah-lah”
Cheers!→ Zivjeli→ “Zheevyelee”
Beer→ Pivo→ “Pee-vho”
Wine→ Vino → “Vee-noh”
Water → Voda → “Voh-dah”
All of the food I had in Croatia was simply amazing, but there were definitely some dishes that stood out more than others. The following are definitely items you should try, but obviously eat whatever looks good to you while visiting. Eating local food is definitely one of the best ways to submerge yourself into the culture of a new country.
Shopska/ ”Greek” Salad
Oh my goodness! Greek salads are one of my favorite salads ever, but the ones I had while in Croatia were the absolute BEST I have ever had. The feta was so good, so rich and creamy and the vegetables were always so fresh. This is also such an easy dish to make! All that is in it is cucumber, tomato, red bell pepper, onion, olives, and feta. Then top it off with some red wine vinegar and lemon juice if you want. So easy, so yummy. I literally had at least one of these salads every single day on my trip.
Pršut, Kulen and Pag Cheese
Both Kulen and Pršut are the two premium dried meats of Croatia. They are normally served as an appetizer accompanied with Pag cheese and bread. Kulen is a spicy sausage so be prepared when trying it, while Pršut is ham normally made from the hind leg of a pig. Both are really good and have very different tastes to them. Pag cheese is a hard cheese that is made from sheep milk on the Croatian island of Pag. When all three of these come together, it makes for a wonderful appetizer.
There are always debates about which of these meats are better so when you visit make sure to try both and let me know what you think is best. All of these in combination are so yummy, but you have to watch yourself so that there is room left for the main course.
This is the most popular street food in Croatia, hands down, and for good reason. It is so easy to eat, and delicious. Again there are debates surrounding this food item, from which country actually invented it, to if it has to have meat in it to be considered a true Burek. One thing that seems to be consistent though is the layers of dough that are flaky and delicious. In Croatia you can find really anything inside of a Burek, from meat to cheese to fruit or even potatoes. Either way, this is the easiest food you can get on the street and enjoy while walking and exploring more.
This dish is very common and easy to eat. The dough and consistency is a little different from a Burek; it is crisper and more savory. Normally the filling is swiss chard and one of the best ones we found when in Croatia had feta in the filling as well. Again, this dish is one that you can order from a food cart and enjoy on your walking journey rather easily.
This was actually the first dish I had while in Croatia, so it has a special place in my heart, or err stomach. When I was going from restaurant to restaurant though I found that some of the places say different things for what type of meat this dish is made of, so I am going to be safe and say it is made of minced meat. There is a little bit of a spicy kick to it and it is served with a bread similar to pita bread, together with onions, sour cream, and ajvar. Ajvar is a sauce that is close to hummus in texture and made from red bell peppers and olive oil. This really is a great dish that I had more than once on my trip.
This is the longest dish to prepare in Croatia, or maybe even the world. Just kidding! But in all honesty, it took 4 hours from when we ordered it to when it was ready to be served at our table but well worth the wait. Peka or the “Under the bell” dish is made using a cripnja which is a bell-shaped lid that covers the pot filled with any meat you choose, vegetables, and potatoes. The dish is then cooked covered in hot coals for 4 hours before being served.
This is a lot of food, so when ordering it be prepared to eat and bring along good company for that 4-hour wait while it cooks. This was by far the best dinner I had in Croatia, not just because of the food, but because of the company. We had our dish on the charming island of Mljet right on the water, and the meat we chose was fish. Yum!
Risotto is on every menu in Croatia, from mushroom to shrimp you can find it anywhere. The must-try dish while in Croatia is the black risotto. The only thing with the black risotto is you must like seafood to enjoy it. Normally it is made with cuttlefish, calamari, and doused in cuttlefish ink to give it the black appearance. There is definitely a seafood taste to it which is why I caution those who don’t like seafood before giving it a go.
If you are a seafood lover, or not, you can find a risotto that you will love while visiting Croatia. Trust me, you can’t go wrong with this dish.
This dish is a favorite in Croatia and is basically a crepe pancake. I was surprised on our first night out and about there are stands and restaurants dedicated to just this dish. It is perfect for a dessert or a drunken late-night snack. There are also not so sweet versions of this dish that you can eat for lunch or dinner. My favorite Palačinke was in Hvar. It was a dessert one that was drizzled with chocolate.
Pasta with Truffles
Really just pasta and just truffles are two must eats in this country, but when you put them together, it is pure magic! There is nothing fancy that they need to do to make this dish spectacular, which is why I think it is amazing. Just cook some pasta, add some olive oil, and have some freshly grated truffles on top. There you go, the best dish of your life and it is oh so simple.
Seafood in Croatia is so fresh and exquisite that you must try it! I am really not a huge oyster fan, but Croatia changed my mind for sure. They were so yummy, fresh, and simple. I didn’t get the chance to visit Ston, this is where most people say the absolute best Oysters come from. When I go back to Croatia, I think I will book a tour of one of the oldest oyster farms in that area to see exactly what makes these ones the best.
This is a dish that you can find throughout Dubrovnik. The title on some menus is misleading, calling it Mac and Cheese, which it really is not even similar to, except for that fact that they are both pasta dishes. The dish normally uses a macaroni noodle, and the sauce is like a meaty marinara, but definitely a different flavor. You can find this dish being served year-round, but especially around the day of the patron saint of Dubrovnik, St. Blaise. Give it a try when you are in Dubrovnik!
On the island of Korčula, there were a lot of restaurants that had grilled squid as an option. While I saw it in other parts of Croatia, it was definitely more popular on Korčula. Luckily my friend Kyra ordered it and thank goodness she did! It was a great dish. After talking to some people from Croatia they told me that Korčula actually had the best BBQ squid, so Kyra ordered at the right time on the trip. Normally the dish is served with some potatoes and grilled squash. Worth a try when visiting Korčula.
Now that we have covered some food, what about drinking while in Croatia?! Well, I have you covered for that one as well!
Rakia is probably the most popular alcoholic drink throughout Croatia. It is a strong fruit brandy that can really be made out of anything, even non-fruits. I came home with a lot of different flavors, but my favorite is Orahovac, which is a walnut brandy. While this drink is served in a small glass, like a shot glass, you don’t take it all in one sip. Turn it into about 3 sips, and then order the next round.
If you can, try to find one that is homemade… the quality and flavor are so much better.
Ožujsko and Karlovačko were definitely the beers that I saw most frequently throughout the entire country. I tried both and they were good. You can find beer really anywhere you go in Croatia, and most people have one or two with their meals.
I drank more wine on this one trip then I have in my whole life I think. Wine just seems to be everywhere! There are also a lot of wineries on the islands we visited, so of course to be like a local we had to try them. I am certainly no wine expert, but at dinner, I would usually ask for a recommendation for whichever dish I was ordering and was always happy with it.
We did a tasting in Orebić and it was very good. I actually ended up purchasing a bottle of red wine because I liked it so much, and normally I am not a red wine drinker at all.
There is obviously so much more you can try, and that I will hopefully be able to go back and try while in Croatia, but from my experience, these are some items you must try while visiting. The people are nice, the food is fresh, and the alcohol is always flowing, so there is no doubt that it will be a good time. Let me know below what you tried while visiting, or what you are most excited for!