Croatian food is delicious, but after some time, your taste buds are bound to crave something different.
If you were in Dubrovnik ten years ago, you would have been disappointed by your options. The locals can be very stubborn, and tend to stick to “traditional,” known and tested options.
When Dubrovnik’s first vegetarian restaurant opened its doors, it got a lot of laughs thanks to its name: “Nishta,” or “Nothing.” After all, many locals considered a meal without meat to be “nothing!” Nishta became a hit, and is popular for both lunch and dinner. When it comes to international options, there still isn’t a huge selection, but you’ll still a decent number of satisfying places to stop by considering the city’s size.
One of the city’s first international restaurants was Taj Mahal. Although the name says “India,” it’s actually a Bosnian restaurant. Why Taj Mahal? To be honest, we’re still not sure. Edin and Edina, a young couple from Bosnia, wanted to share their passion for their homeland’s cuisine, and opened this restaurant in 2004. Although Bosnia is a short distance away as the crow flies, its strong Ottoman influences contrast with Dalmatia’s Mediterranean fare. To the (nearly) landlocked Bosnians, fish is “nothing,” so most of their meals include meat, but this restaurant still offers plenty of alternatives.
Even if you’re just looking for a snack, you can stop by for one of its burek pies, or a cup of strong Turkish coffee and a dessert (the sweets are 200% sugar, but they’re worthwhile, especially the syrup-drenched hurmasica!) This restaurant has two convenient locations, one in the heart of the Old Town and another on the terrace of Hotel Lero, a 15-minute walk from the Old Town.
Bota Šare Oyster & Sushi Bar
This was the first fusion restaurant in Dubrovnik. Back in 2009, the owner Pero visited relatives in the US. One night, they took him out for sushi, and it was love at first sight. Pero’s family was long involved in gastronomy, and he figured that Dalmatia has amazing fresh fish and seafood, so why not create a Croatian take non sushi? The result is this lovely Dalmatian sushi restaurant in the heart of the city.
Bota Šare gets its ingredients from the Ston area, famed for its oysters and mussels, most of which come from farms owned by the owner’s relatives and their friends. Even if you’re not a fan of utterly fresh oysters, you should still try their tempura oysters. They also have an excellent collection of local wines, which pair well with their sushi rolls.
Brothers Vedran and Darko spent a lot of time traveling Asia, soaking up what it has to offer. Vedran stuck around, opening his own restaurant in China. Two years later, he decided to come home, and bring back Asian flavors. The result was Azur, a fusion restaurant offering Mediterranean food with an Asian twist.
Located in the city center, but still tucked away from the crowds, Azur offers some unusual combinations, but as Vedran says, the restaurant is more fun dining than fine dining! Don’t be surprised if they start to run out of things on the menu – Azur uses ingredients that arrive fresh daily, and doesn’t use anything frozen!
Shizuku / Trinity
If we’re talking about Asian cuisine, it would be a shame not to mention the city’s first Japanese restaurant. Yoshihiro and his wife worked in Malta for a few years. After falling in love with Dubrovnik, they packed their bags, and founded Shizuku, which became popular among locals. In addition to Japanese food, you can find a good selection of Japanese drinks, including beer, wine, and sake.
Flush with success, they opened a sister restaurant Trinity Oriental Fusion Lounge. As the name implies, Trinity offers a fusion of three cuisines: Thai, Japanese, and Chinese, so you can find sushi, Pad Thai, Chinese noodles, and green and red curries. Both restaurants are located in the Lapad area, so if you’re looking for quieter area to have a meal, you’re in luck.
Alright, one more Asian place – Bonto Korean Restaurant. The menu may be small, but you’ll hardly be disappointed at its selection, from Poke sushi to famous Korean barbecue dishes. Located in Lapad Bay, you can work off your meal afterwards with a walk along the beautiful promenade around the corner.
Even just over the Adriatic from Italy, finding a good pizza can be a real challenge in Croatia. The locals love to pile on toppings, but picky eaters like me like it simple – as Italians do. Recently, Dubrovnik got a new pizza place and trust me, it’s the city’s best.
Papillon is located in Lapad, in a more business-like area. You don’t need a spectacular view when you have such tasty, distracting beauty on your plate. This is an area where locals like to hang out, and after your meal, walk around and have a beer at one of the bars around the corner.
Republic / Guloso
Looking for some comfort food or a quick bite? Then a burger is a good option! Although Dubrovnik hardly lacks burger joints, Fast Food Republic and Food Bar Guloso offer more creative selections. Black buns, octopus burgers, goat cheese, and olive marmalade are just some of the things you’ll find on their menus. Both places are located in the Old Town, and make great starts to the night, or a good way to end a day of exploration.