What do the locals eat and where- ZAGREB

February 3, 2023 by
Marino Bebić

Zagreb’s cuisine is so diverse, and one thing is certain – the people in Zagreb are true gourmets! Throughout Croatia, various people, conquerors, and empires have left their mark in creating the cuisine of that area. It’s the same with Zagreb! Geographically, Zagreb is a part of northern Croatia, so heavy and fat food has always been popular in this area. Let's see.... 

What to eat in Zagreb?
Let’s start with the appetiser or starter. Immediately, the symbol of Zagreb sticks out – sour cream and cottage cheese mixed together. Each salesperson on Dolac Market has their own cream to cheese ratio, mixed in front of the buyers’ eyes. This delicious mixture is often eaten with dry-cured ham, a sprinkle of horseradish and some home-made scones. The second symbol of Zagreb are for sure štrukli. A meal you must not skip, and let’s not forget that štrukli are on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list! Štrukli are made from hand-pulled pastry filled with a mixture of cottage cheese, sour cream, and eggs. The pastry is then cooked or baked in sweet cream, depends on what you like. Don’t get confused when you see this recipe in the sweet section, as many people throw in some sugar into the mixture, making it a fantastic dessert. Let’s not forget to mention the iconic ajngemahtec, a hearty chicken stew. You can probably see from the name itself that this is originally an Austrian dish. It is a chicken stew with a lot of root vegetables, peas, chicken, and entrails and we can’t forget the gnocchi. 

Moving on to a more serious matter, you will surely not be disappointed by the main course. Depending on which part of the year you are in Zagreb, various seasonal foods and dishes come to the fore. Let’s start with one of the symbols of this area: there is no traditional Sunday lunch without turkey with mlinci. You’ve heard of turkey, but have you ever heard of mlinci? Well, mlinci is a traditional type of pasta from northern Croatia. It is covered in boiling water for a few minutes, and then topped off in the oven, together with the grease from the turkey. If you’re not a turkey fan, then pork will not disappoint either. The pig is the animal king in northern Croatia, and you must try buncek, especially during the winter. Buncek is dried and then slow-cooked pork shin. As a side dish, sour cabbage is usually served. Due to its accessibility through ages, cabbage has always been a fan-favorite among the locals, most usually served sour, but other combinations are also popular. You can also try wrapping a minced meat, rice, and spices mixture in it, and you will get the queen of main dishes – sarma. And if you fill a “Wiener schnitzel” with ham and cheese, you will get the “Zagreb schnitzel”! It would take us too long to list all the amazing traditional dishes of Zagreb, but if you have some spare time, our Zagreb food tour will make sure that you don’t miss a single taste of Zagreb! 

In Zagreb you will firstly satisfy your sweet tooth with home-made štrukli, and the stuffing depends on the season of the year. The most popular always seem to be the apple or cheese štrukli which can be found all-year round. However, during the summer you will enjoy the cherry or plum stuffing and fall and winter are reserved for pumpkin or blueberries. Here we also have the sweet štukli from the beginning of our story, pancakes with various home-made jams, the creamy kremšnita, or should we say cream pie, origination from a small town about 30 kilometers outside Zagreb…
Croatia’s wine scene has been soaring in the last few years. The best champagnes in this part of Europe are from a small place called Pleševica, just 30 kilometers from Zagreb. Even the white and red wines are no longer made by amateurs but are on a world level. The wines from this area are known for a slightly higher acidity level, so gemišt, white wine mixed with sparkling water has traditionally been a symbol of these parts. Whether you are in Zagreb for a single day or a longer time, don’t miss out on these quality local wines. If you want to explore Zagreb’s wine scene a little further, be sure not to miss our Zagreb Surroundings Wine Tour!

Where can you eat true Zagreb food?
Stari Fijaker, Mesnička street 6, Zagreb
They have been serving food here since 1848 and are proud to say that everything in their kitchen is home-made. Don’t miss out on fantastic sarma, buncek and sour cabbage during the winter, and make sure to catch the štrukli and turkey with mlinci which are being served all year round. One of the best things to hear from one of our associates it that they get all their food fresh from the market. The ambience of this old Zagreb inn and its staff elevate the whole experience. 

Kod Pere, Cvjetka Rubetića Street 25, Zagreb
If you’re ever in Zagreb during spring or summer, the beautiful terrace at this restaurant is where you want to spend your afternoon! The cuisine – home-made! You just can’t miss these local classics done in a traditional way. We recommend starting your lunch like a true local – by having a portion of chicken soup ajgenmahtec, which truly is amazing. Continue with Zagreb classics and save some room for home-made sweet štrukli. You won’t regret it! 

Purger, Petrinjska street 33, Zagreb
There is an iconic inn right in the heart of Zagreb. Purger is the local word for someone who has lived in Zagreb for generations, and this is the place where you will find these locals, especially during the week. This inn is famous for its bountiful portions of traditional cuisine, all at affordable prices. Do not miss out on the sarma, stuffed peppers, various stews, and other Zagreb classics. 

Ficlek, Pod zidom street 5, Zagreb
When a restaurant is located just 20 meters from the main market, the origin and the freshness of the food is out of the question. This restaurant is relatively new to the scene, but the team behind it serves amazing local dishes. You will undoubtedly enjoy a marvelous Zagreb steak, fried chicken and štrukli here. Make sure not to skip their cold cuts as a starter which come from small producers from the local market. What a spectacular way to start out you journey across Croatia! 

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Marino Bebić February 3, 2023
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