Best bargain restaurants in Zagreb
The affordable restaurant scene in Zagreb, including cheap bistros, street food, diners and fast foods, has shown to be very unstable. A fair share of such bargain eateries has closed down this year, proving that preparing cheap and quality dishes is very, very difficult. Bistro 75, Divas and Kralj kobasica (King of Sausages) are among many places that went out of business due to their low prices not turning a profit, as well as not being able to attract potential customers who could afford higher prices. Still, there are many cheap restaurants on the market, but they offer such poor selection of good food that it is not even worth mentioning them in this article, which is aiming to highlight the best of the Zagreb culinary scene.
Unfortunately, inexpensive but excellent restaurants are hard to find seeing that there are very few places, where you can have a decent and delicious meal for the maximum price of 60 kunas. The following list was compiled by the gourmands at Plava Kamenica website and does not include hamburger joints, grill bars and pizzerias, as these belong to separate category.
1. Oranž Streets at Ilica 7/ Preobraženskog 2
Photo: Oranž bistro & wine bar Facebook
Oranž Streets, whose renowned prize-winning chef Jeffrey Vella has Michelin star-worthy skills, is a not a typical example of a low-priced eatery seeing that this ambitious street food joint is offering superb dishes whose prices often go over our budget limit. But Oranž Streets menu also features simple and traditional dishes such as bean stew with dried meat for 40 kunas, which makes this little bistro/wine bar a great example of an accessible yet sophisticated restaurant and which goes to show how top chefs can go about making popular delicious yet affordable dishes.
2. Bistro Šalša Kostelska 11
Photo: Bistro Šalša Facebook
Some five years ago, Dobra hrana magazine has sung praises for this bistro located in Trešnjevka, which we [Plava Kamenica] have unfairly ignored. However, a few days ago, one of Plava Kamenica’s associates, after having had lunch at Šalša, was so delighted and impressed that he immediately called us. He paid compliments to the high-quality of food, great value for money and simple concept, which includes a daily menu that is served by 3 pm along with the main menu featuring various popular street foods such as burgers, wraps and falafels. Their Friday daily menu consisted of sardines in cornflour, musky octopus goulash and spaghetti with anchovies, each costing between thirty and forty kunas.
3. Duck Fast Bistro, Teslina 17
Photo: Duck Fast Bistro Facebook
Duck’s concept is so good that even guests who think that Duck’s food isn’t particularly good, eat there on a regular basis. Owner of one small respectable Zagreb bistro, admitted of having eaten there six or seven times over the last month or so, even though he didn’t pay many compliments to their cooking. Well, what is the catch then? Duck is so perfectly designed and conceived that it’s hard for guests not to keep coming back. For example, on Friday they offered tuna patties for 45 kunas. If we add a glass of Matoševica or Krauthaker wine for some twenty kunas, the guest can have a decent lunch with a high-quality wine, specially made for Duck, for around 10 euros only. Duck is a very well conceived product which is dominating its genre.
4. Budweiser, Heinzelova 17
Photo: Pivnica Budweiser Facebook
Budweiser offers only grilled meat, but which is among the best in Zagreb, served with large and mostly fresh salads. Lately, we’ve seen improvements which we are happy to welcome, both in ways the food is prepared and in the growing selection of meals on the menu, having added wild game meals such as venison and wild boar.
5. Sri Lankan Curry Bowl, Tkalčićeva 44
Photo: Curry Bowl Facebook
Admittedly, the Curry Bowl is somewhat of a rip-off place, the author of Plava Kamenica article claims, where they might try to convince you that they do not have a working POS device but which will suddenly start working the minute you say you do not have enough cash. Also, sometimes you don’t know what you’re going to get in a curry; the beef you have actually ordered, the remains of the beef or some unidentified meat. Nevertheless, the preparation of curry and other traditional Srilankan dishes at the Curry Bowl is very much authentic and worth the risk of visiting this unusual place.
6. Umami, Skalinska 3
Photo: Umami Facebook
Umami is a decent oriental fast food with a solid selection of beer, located in a lovely narrow street that connects Tkalčićeva and Dolac, surrounded by some of the worst Zagreb fast-food places. Umami is, in fact, a somewhat more decent and more expensive eastern version of the McDonald’s. Gyoza dumplings are very good, while more complicated meals should be avoided as they may be bit too complicated even for the staff to prepare.
Translated from Plava Kamenica