The Rise of Zagreb as a Gourmet Destination

Paul Bradbury

Michelin Star Restaurant Noel - Photo by Delicious Zagreb
Michelin Star Restaurant Noel - Photo by Delicious Zagreb

February 29, 2024 – Whisper it quietly, but the rise of Zagreb as a gourmet destination is attracting international attention.

When I first moved to Croatia back in 2003, one of the few major disappointments was the international food scene. It is hard to imagine now, but the only ‘exotic’ food to be found in Zagreb was a poor Indian and an even poorer Chinese. Sushi or Thai were a distant dream.

How times change! Not only has the range of international food options increased, but so too has the excellence of the local food scene, from street food to fine dining, and Noel became the first restaurant in the capital to get the coveted Michelin Star a few years ago.

The rise in prominence of the wine bar and wine and food pairings have made the local menus infinitely more interesting, but it is the explosion of international food options, as well as food festivals which have made life in Zagreb even more agreeable than it already was.

And, as often happens in a destination where things are changing quickly, just walking through your daily routine can lead to new discoveries, as I discovered a new Nepalese street food place in the underpass by the train station last night.

Now there is seemingly a sushi bar on every street corner, and Zagreb even had its first Asian food festival last summer, the latest in a string of food festivals which are helping put the city on the gourmet map. The recent opening of steak house Marble in Novi Zagreb, all 495m2 of it, was the latest statement of a city’s culinary credentials.

Photo Marble Steakhouse

Speaking of maps, it can be hard to keep up with all the changes and to find out the full offer, and so the launch of Delicious Zagreb is a timely addition to the Zagreb information scene. The comprehensive portal introduces itself as follows:

Delicious Zagreb is an online guide to Zagreb’s bars, cafes, bistros, and restaurants worthy of your attention. It will help you find one that fits your preferences. Every place on our website has been reviewed by professional chefs, sommeliers, restaurant owners, and bartenders. Delicious covers the most creative, exciting, and traditionally good places. If you need a foodie guide for an authentic gastronomic journey in Zagreb – try Delicious – online gastro guide for all citizens and visitors of Zagreb.

It almost feels like discovering a great new restaurant just be discovering the website. I particularly like the search function, where you can search for the options by cuisine. A great addition to Zagreb life. This follows the Zagreb Gault & Millau guide which was first published a few years ago – check out the top 12 recommended restaurants here.

All this progress is not going unnoticed internationally, and Zagreb’s inclusion in the Fine Dining Lovers top 10 best global 2024 destinations for food lovers is the latest endorsement of the rise of Zagreb as a foodie scene. This is what they had to say:

Having flown under the radar for many years, Zagreb, and Croatia in general, is due to realise its potential as a destination for food lovers next year. The country offers so much, from the ominous, sweeping Dalmatian mountains, to glorious Istria and the stunning coastline dotted with islands, and Zagreb presents the perfect location to launch a food tour. The city itself has a certain charm, with brutalist Yugoslavia-era architecture and a quaint old town quarter that chimes with history. Outstanding restaurants in the city include Noel, where you can find a high-quality, very well-executed tasting menu. Take a trip to wine producing region Plešivica, and dine at Korak for sustainable, exquisitely cooked cuisine.

You can read the full article here.


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