As a gateway to Western and Central Europe, Zagreb’s cultural diversity, is reflected in the city’s numerous museums, art galleries and cultural events, as well as in the abundant culinary spots. The Croatian capital’s gastronomic panorama is developing at a great pace, offering national and international tastes at every turn. Our previous list of top cultural restaurants in Zagreb is revitalised with some new excellent venues.
OXBO Urban Bar & Grill
OXBO Urban Bar & Grill is a modern steak-house presenting premium United States steak to Zagreb’s culinary scene. Located in the Double Tree Hilton, the venue is laidback with a sleek touch and trendy urban design. An excellent team works in the spectacular open kitchen, preparing delectable American tastes with some Croatian influences. The rich variety of steaks, soulful sauces and side dishes leave no guest deprived of options. If you’re not craving meat, the restaurant also offers excellent risotto and pasta dishes. Before departing, leave some room for the chocolate mud cakewith vanilla sauce, or pumpkin pie.Don’t miss the Black Angus steak OXBO thEATer either, held on each Wednesday.
OXBO Urban Bar & Grill, Ulica grada Vukovara 269A, Zagreb, Croatia, +385 1 6001 914
A little hidden gem that requires guests to climb 39 stairs to enter, Agava is located in the heart of the city but off the beaten track, ensuring a real departure from an ordinary day. The restaurant, led by owner and chef Belizar Miloš, opened in 2005 and has received warm feedback ever since. The atmoshpere is casual with a vintage touch, and the dining experience and food is of the highest quality. The Mediterranean-inspired kitchen serves such delectable and creative dishes as beef consommé, lamb chops with pepper confit and cipolline glazed in aceto balsamico, or mouthwatering Croatian traditional tastes, such as the fuži with black truffles, or the Hvarska pogača. Come by on a winter’s evening and enjoy a candle-lit romantic dinner, or come in summer and experience the stunning terrace setting, with views over historic Tklaciceva Street.
Agava, Ulica Ivana Tkalčića 39, Zagreb, Croatia, +385 1 4829 826
Chateau des Jardins
If locals say this is the best, then surely it is: Chateau des Jardins is known for the best pizza in town. Though the name would promise French cuisine, don’t be misled. Just follow the sign to this much-praised pizza house. Featuring a wide variety of pizzas in a cosy atmosphere, designed with a tasteful décor, Chateau des Jardins is a laid-back venue with a strict focus on pizza specialties, something that they do the best. What is the secret behind their unbeatable success? Tasty dough, fresh local ingredients and a soulful thin but perfectly crunchy pizza that any Italian trattoria would justly endorse. The light, oven-baked pizza, with abundant flavours and generous portions attracts many people and rightly so, proving that even a classic pizza can be extraordinary and tempting.
Chateau des Jardins, Ulica Ivana Tkalčića 73, Zagreb, Croatia, +385 1 5586 350
A sophisticated restaurant just a few steps from Zagreb’s old city, Dubravkin Put is nestled in the Tuškanac woods and features exquisite Mediterranean dishes. Being the most-renowned seafood restaurant in town, it serves as an excellent destination for a relaxed romantic dinner, a quick business lunch, or an easy night out with family. Though the interior is chic and classy with its spacious area, wooden furniture and abstract art on the walls, Dubravkin Put still offers a warm atmosphere. As they say, ‘cooking combines love, sacrifice and creativity’, thus choose any dishes from the tasting or special seafood menus – the passion for flavour and innovation is apparent in each dish. The seabass withfoie grasandmonkfish in black olive paste are just two of the choices that can be enjoyed with a perfectly matched glass of wine, chosen from the collection of over 600 outstanding bottles.
Dubravkin Put, Dubravkin put 2, Zagreb, Croatia, +385 1 4834 975
Elixir – Raw Food Club
If you’re seeking somewhere curious and unusual, then Elixír is the place to try: a vegan raw-food restaurant that serves dishes using organic and fresh ingredients, prepared in a special way (not heated above 45 degrees Celsius) to maintain the full enzymes, minerals and vitamins. Guests can enjoy such creative elements as edible flowers, vegan sushi and filled mushrooms. Elixír paved the way for healthy eating, by bringing innovation and freshness to Zagreb’s culinary scene. Located in the heart of the city in a former apartment, the milieu is clean and modern with beautiful views of the city’s famous cathedral. Opened in 2011 by husband and wife Drako and Lena, the restaurant is famed for its excellent hospitality. Elixir is a unique culinary experience in an exquisite venue, where reservations are highly recommended.
Elixir – Raw Food Club, Ribnjak 8, Zagreb, Croatia, +385 911641485
Ivica i Marica
Growing from a tiny pastry shop, Ivica i Marica (‘Hansel & Gretel’ in Croatian) today stands for a quality brand known for its health-conscious supplies. Continuing the successful pastry shop while creating an adjoining restaurant, Ivica i Marica is the city’s best-known health-food venue. While the pastry shop entertains kids and adults with a fairytale-like milieu, with biscuit corners and a wide range of healthy tastes for sweet-toothed guests, the restaurant displays a more rustic and traditional style, with waiters wearing Croatian costumes. Both premises use only natural ingredients, such as brown sugar and wholegrain flour, and leave out anything artificial. The restaurant creates delectable dishes from the local market’s freshest ingredients, and makes homemade bread and pasta creations. The restaurant serves excellent soups, organic beef, veal, and other traditional Croatian dishes, while the fig licorice, kremsnita and baklava are to die for.
Ivica i Marica, Ulica Ivana Tkalčića 70, Zagreb, Croatia, +385 4828999
Pod Zidom coffee, food & wine bar
As its name suggests, Pod Zidom is located on a small street called Pod Zidom, just behind Zagreb’s main square. Its name also indicates that it is a coffee and wine bar with less emphasis on grandiose dishes. Pod Zidom is a new gem in the city and is a popular destination for petit hunger guests, who seek to enjoy the house’s creative cocktail selection, and the over 30 types of first-rate local wines on offer. Though not a foodie venue in its full sense, the place makes sure to offer some delicious tapas, made from the freshest ingredients from local markets. This modern and cosy venue with indoor and outdoor seating is the perfect place to spend some time relaxing. Enjoy how the city’s modern-day vibe fuses with the old surroundings. On weekends there is live hip music to entertain the senses.
Pod Zidom coffee, food & wine bar, Pod Zidom 5, Zagreb, Croatia, +385 98 669 690
Located at the foot of the Medvednica hills, in the suburbs of Zagreb, Stari Puntijar is an historical eatery, whose unique game meat cuisine is worth a visit. Though situated outside of the heart of the city, it is still easily accessible for anyone wishing to enjoy ancient tastes, some of which date back to the 17th century. Originally operated as a small tavern, Stari Puntijar has been a family-owned restaurant for over 170 years, and clearly marks its provenance in the country. The setting is inspired by history and hunting, perfectly matching the kitchen’s aspirations. The deer dishes and apple desserts are among the must-try dishes, but pick any of the samples and the old flavours and modern techniques will play tricks on the senses. When visiting, don’t miss the restaurant’s special library, displaying the family’s collection of antique culinary, herb, and cook books.
Stari Puntijar, Gračanska cesta 65, Zagreb, Croatia, +385 1 4675 500
Located secretly by the Kamenita vrata gate, Trilogija echoes medieval times with its natural setting and vaulted brick ceilings and walls. On entering the venue, it turns out to be a warm and cosy place, where waiters are impeccably attentive, and passionate about their jobs and serving guests. Since the menu changes daily, in line with the local market’s daily supplies, guests will enjoy creative and brilliant dishes, while never needing to order the same thing twice. The venue is divided into two sections: a casual wine bar, where an excellent selection of wines, whiskeys and cognacs can be enjoyed, and the restaurant, fulfilling the needs of hungry guests. A Croatian-hearted kitchen that serves traditional soups, mouthwatering octopus salad, fried cheese, and risotto plates, all from the freshest ingredients in town, Trilogija is one of the most popular venues in Zagreb.
Trilogjia, Kamenita 5, Zagreb, Croatia, +385 1 4851394
This high-end fine dining restaurant is located in a prestigious location: the Art Deco-style Esplanade Hotel that was built for the Orient Express in 1925. Zinfandel’s interior is chic and elegant, with high ceilings and sparkly chandeliers. The glamorous atmosphere is softened by the attentive service and the live piano music in the background. The restaurant, which has a lovely terrace area as well, features an excellent European fusion menu, featuring dishes such as sweet corn soup, roasted scallops, mouthwatering duck, or fresh fish specialties – offerings change with the seasons. An award-winning venue with outstanding breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, and with a terrific wine collection introduced by the country’s first sommelier, Zinfandel’s is all about class.
Zinfandel’s, Mihanovićeva ulica 1, Zagreb, Croatia, +385 1 4566 666
By Virag Gulyas