There are few things better in this world than food. It’s the common thread that connects everybody on this planet, and there are an infinite number of variations to try. No matter how much food you eat, you can never try it all!
Food is also one of the best ways to experience a culture when you are exploring a new country. It gives you insight into a country’s traditions, economy and, of course, its people. Anthony Bourdain once said: “You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together.”
Croatia is no exception. Croatian cuisine is deeply rooted in the country’s history and traditions, and its unique ingredients and flavors are likely unlike anything you’ve ever tasted. Even better, it will help you understand the Croatian culture and way of life.
About Croatian Cuisine
In Croatia, traditional cuisines vary drastically from region to region. In more inland regions such as Croatia’s capital of Zagreb, the cuisine is more focused around meat, potatoes and cabbage. In contrast, the Dalmatian region along the coast is more Mediterranean-style, featuring more fish and seafood seasoned with olive oil, garlic and other spices.
Since the cuisines vary so much from region to region, many of the dishes found in Split wouldn’t be found at all inland. This is a shame, because the food in Split is incredible! The fish and seafood is all incredibly fresh, and the restaurants take great care to prepare quality food for their guests.
Here are a few of our favorite traditional dishes from Split:
- Squid Risotto or “Crni rizot”: This is one of the most popular traditional cuisines in Split. Squid Risotto is a black risotto dish turned black from squid ink. We would best describe the taste as risotto with a seafood twist. And yes, it will make your teeth black!
- Beef and gnocchi or “Pasticada s njokima”: This savory dish is very time-consuming to make. The beef must be marinated and braised over the course of a few days, and it is served with a warm potato gnocchi. Comfort food at its finest!
- Fish Soup: Many restaurants offer variations of fish soup as an appetizer, which can’t be missed. Cooked in a light olive oil based broth with spices like garlic and parsley, fish soup is the perfect appetizer to start your meal.
The Kuna or “HRK” is the currency used in Croatia, and at the time of this post 1 Croatian Kuna equals approximately 0.15 USD. When compared with restaurant prices in the United States, the food in Split is relatively comparable. It’s definitely not the city to travel to if you are looking for a bargain, since many of the restaurants are accustomed to tourists and charge a little more.
Credit cards are not widely accepted throughout Split, although most of the nicer restaurants do accept credit cards. For that reason, you should always try to keep Croatian currency in cash to avoid problems. We’ve found that there were multiple convenient currency exchange booths located in the main downtown area.
Here is an average of some of the prices that we encountered while trying different restaurants. Keep in mind that these are the prices for restaurants in the main downtown area, so if you are more on the outskirts of Split the prices may be a little cheaper.
- Cup of coffee: 10-20 HRK ($1.50 – $3.00 USD)
- Pastry/Baked good: 20-30 HRK ($3.00 – $4.50 USD)
- Mid-priced Restaurant Entree: 50-100 HRK ($8.00 – $15.00 USD)
Best Restaurants in Split, Croatia
Trattoria Tinel is the perfect restaurant to experience fine dining in Split. The restaurant is beautifully decorated and has lots of natural light from the flower-lined windows and patio.
We ordered the fish soup for an appetizer, and the pasticada s njokima for our entree. Both were very fresh and delicious, with new blends of seasoning and spices that we had never tried before. The meal was served with warm, fresh bread. It’s not a meal that we will soon be forgetting!
While the food was certainly delicious, our favorite part about Trattoria Tinel was the friendly service. Our waiter was more than happy to explain Croatian cuisine to us, including how to pronounce the names of each dish.
There are few places with better views of Split than Terraca Vidilica. Located at the top of a hill on the edge of Marjan Forest Park, the walk to this cafe is steep but worth it. Panoramic views of downtown Split and the Adriatic Sea make this a popular spot for locals and tourists alike.
We ordered a latte and an espresso, both of which were delicious. Terraca Vidilica also has a full menu if you are hungry from the steep climb! Note that credit cards are only accepted for bills over 200 HRK.
Konoba Fetivi is a must-visit for visitors who crave authentic Croatian food. This nautical themed restaurant unsurprisingly has some of the best seafood in all of Split. It’s also the restaurant where we finally got to try Crni rizot, or squid risotto!
Prices at Konoba Fetivi are definitely on the higher end, but it’s worth it for the fresh seafood that you’ll get to try. We loved absolutely everything we ordered.
If you are craving fresh pastries and delicious coffee, look no further than Goluzarije Bakery. It’s the perfect place to visit for an affordable breakfast and a taste of Split’s thriving cafe scene.
For food, we ordered an apple strudel and a ham and cheese croissant. Both were warm and fresh, the perfect way to start the day! The latte and Americano coffees were also great.
Be open minded when trying new dishes in Split. The foods were definitely unlike anything we had ever tasted, but many of the foods expanded our palettes. For example, I never would have thought I would enjoy squid ink, but Crni Rizot is one of my new favorite dishes!
Also, try to avoid the main promenade area when selecting a place to eat. If you are looking to try authentic cuisine, many of the places along the water won’t be what you are looking for. The best places are typically a few blocks inland and they are worth finding!
Lastly, don’t forget to watch our video trying out all these delicious Croatian foods! 🙂
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