Good food is more often than not the crowning jewel of my holiday. A holiday without good food has no chance of making my list of top destinations. My apologies to Cambodia, Venezuela and Belgium, you just didn’t make the cut. But Dubrovnik … well, you surprised me.
Almost as important as good food, is having a variety of good food. Travelling to Salzburg for a weekend I’d happily eat Hungarian food for the whole trip, but anything longer and I am going to start craving some Thai food, some French or even just a juicy American burger. That is not always easy to find when travelling to anything other than a big city. I have been spoilt rotten with food choice in every place I have ever lived. Sushi, burritos, Thai red curry, falafel … just writing this is making my stomach jump for joy. So I was pleasantly surprised at what the small city of Dubrovnik had to offer. It was delicious.
For traditional Croatian cuisine, go to Kopun. It was mouth-wateringly good. Croatia is not exactly world famous for its food, but Kopun shows off the best that the country has to offer. I had the capon in porcini mushroom sauce. It was delectable. There are not enough words to truly describe how tender and tasty the capon was and the gnocchi with mushroom sauce completed the dish perfectly. I also got to try the grilled tuna steak. I am not the biggest fan of tuna but that was the best tuna steak I have ever had. To add to the amazing meal, the restaurant had a great atmosphere. It is peacefully situated across from the St Ignatius Church. They have a wonderful outside seating area that is perfect for a warm spring evening.
For a broader Mediterranean menu, go to Dubravka 1836. Though not the same quality as Kopun, it was one of my favourite restaurants. The pasta was average so I would stick to the meat and fish dishes. The Mussels Buzara style with tomato sauce was delicious. I liked them so much I went back to the restaurant and enjoyed them for a second time. They also had some of the best apple cake I have ever tasted. The best way to describe it is as a scrumptious cross between apple pie and apple crumble. If the food at Dubravka 1836 sounds less than enticing to you, go for the cocktails. They have an extensive list and they are very good. My personal favourite was the BBC. An ingenious mixture of Baileys, banana, coconut syrup, cream and pineapple juice, the cocktail ended up tasting more like an alcoholic milkshake. The restaurant must also be rated five stars for location. Right outside Pile Gate, it has a beautiful view over the ocean as well as the city walls. They have an atmospheric outdoor terrace but they also have additional seating outside which is more casual. You can easily enjoy the view while just having a coffee or a cocktail. And if the wind picks up, they are armed with heat lamps and blankets!
For an alternative way to enjoy the amazing seafood on offer, Dubrovnik has an amazing sushi bar. That might be a bit of a surprise but trust me. Sushi fanatic that I am I can attest to its quality. Bota is tucked away down a side street with a view of the Cathedral. For sushi lovers, it is not to be missed. My favourites were the tiger roll and the spicy tuna roll. Bota was superior to most of the sushi restaurants I have been to in the States and across Europe. Granted I have unfortunately yet to visit Japan, but with places like Bota, I don’t feel an urgent need to experience genuine Japanese sushi. For the less adventurous, Oliva does the best pizza in the city. Not quite up to scratch with pizza parlours in Italy, but it is undoubtedly very good and less expensive than the seafood and Mediterranean restaurants lining the streets of Dubrovnik.
To finish, and perhaps most importantly, you must know where to find the best ice cream. Dubrovnik can get very hot and while water is essential, so is ice cream. The best is Dolce Vita. Hidden down a side street off the Stradun it is easily missed. Unlike the ice cream stores on the Stradun, Dolce Vita’s ice cream is smooth, creamy and rich. To make matters better, it also happens to be the cheapest. At eight kuna (about $1.20) a scoop, it is a sin not to try as many flavours as possible. They don’t have too many flavours but they rotate them so that there is a slightly different variety every time you visit. Peanut was my personal favourite.
Dubrovnik is crammed with restaurants and it is not always easy to sus out the gems from the less appetizing tourist tempting traps. After reading this, if you are unlucky enough to get caught in the tourist snares and have bad food in Dubrovnik, then I hate to say it but you only have yourself to blame. These are the best of the best.
Top: Kopun Restaurant
Above: Bota Oyster and Sushi Bar