Updated: Nov 10, 2020
International cuisine has a long tradition in the Croatian capital Zagreb. From early Central European fusions, marking the historical connections of Zagreb with Hungary, Austria, and Czech lands, to the ever-present influence of Italian restaurants, local population always had a readiness to visit these places. International restaurants were mostly opened by Croats who lived abroad, and more seldom was it for foreigners to come to Zagreb and run a business. Later, this started to change. More and more Bosnian, Serbian and Macedonian places sprung up, followed by a very few Chinese and French restaurants during the Communist times. After Croatia gained independence, a variety of different international tastes could be savoured in Zagreb.
This is a small token of appreciation for those gastronomy places. We are continuously adding new restaurants on our list, always interested in hearing a story of people who run them and how they adjusted to local tastes and desires.
Many danced merrily to the songs of the music group Cubismo. Latin American sounds are not only Cuban, because Ricardo Luque from Venezuela is well known to the Croatian public. Similar rhythms can be heard in the small but warm space of the Arepera Maracay diner in the very centre of Zagreb. This is the only place in Croatia where you can taste indigenous Venezuelan flavours; how could one not, when Ricardo's whole family works here, his wife Sanja, daughters Isadora and Lucia, and son Jorge, who is also the main chef, and is helped by his younger son Armando, who is still a high school student. Read more: Tastes of Venezuela in Arepera Maracay
Just a few steps away from the central Zagreb square, in cobbled Radićeva Street, you may find a fascinating Spanish place! Mrs Marčela Kolman enchants every visitor. Dressed all in black she seems as if she had just arrived from the Spanish Meseta and brought all the best out of this Iberian country. Mio Corazon is really a small corner of Spain in the heart of Zagreb and its outside look makes guests look just to enter fast into this place. By entering this tapas bar, at the same time, we become part of the Spanish heart and soul that Marčela brought with herself after years spent in Barcelona, and is running this place together with business partner Marta Mužar. Read more: Mio Corazon - Heart of Spain
Did you ever participate in a Kotthu fast-eating contest? If you had not been to Curry Bowl then you probably did not, and you do not even know what the Kotthu is at all. It is favourite street food on Sri Lanka, whose base is chopped bread with vegetables (onion, garlic, ginger, chilli, carrots, cabbage) with eggs or meat and spices. Everything is poured and mixed and served with a hot sauce. Bread - called roti - is similar to Indian chapati, or thin bread, which is common to the entire Indian subcontinent. Kotthu is made from the godhamba roti, and the spices offered to the Croatian palate are mild, hot, spicy and "you-are-not-normal" hot. The sweat runs in the streams while across the table sits smiling Clement Senaratne, who together with his brother Brian and wife Tamara runs the only restaurant in Croatia offering Sri Lankan meals. Read more: Curry Bowl - Intense Food of Sri Lanka
Until very recently, it was a privilege in Croatia to visit an international restaurant, which is not Chinese or Italian. Meanwhile, there have been many restaurants with various national cuisines and fusions, but rarely can be found an "exotic" one. Although it is often dangerous to proclaim something exotic, because the tastes and smells of some kitchens can be very familiar to the domestic palate, most Croatians would say that they did not meet African cuisine. Of course, the notion of African cuisine is the same idea of European or Latin American cuisine. The description is merely geographic and above all unfair to the vast African continent.