Things to eat in Zagreb
Zagreb cuisine is steeped in various influences. Everything here is mixed and intermingled, in line with what histrory has served teh city over the centuries. In the first place, you can feel here some Central European influences: Austrian and Hungarian, but there are also plenty of more oriental accents from Türkiye, and naturally fish and seafood – as is appropriate for a country with an impressive coastline.
Eat slowly and celebrate every meal. This philosophy is followed across Croatia, so they stick with it also in the capital although life here is a bit faster than elsewhere in the country. This is why forget about street food or eating on the hoof, except perhaps for some bakery products. On the other hand, there are plenty of various eating venues, and you will easily find something for yourself.
For little hunger, as a snack or an appetiser before the main course, have a board of local cheeses and cold meats – they will be excellent with white wine. Try also some of Zagreb's typical delicacies, e.g. zagorski štrukli, composed of layers of dough filled with cottage cheese, sour cream and eggs, and then rolled and baked. They can be served sweet or dry, as an appetiser, a dessert, an addition to a soup or even a standalone snack.
On the Zagreb table
If you are a meat lover, you must have a traditional Vienna schnitzel, known locally as bečka šnicla. Kotlovina is a dish made from chunks of various meats, sausages and vegetables stewed slowly with an addition of wine in a metal pot, preferably on open fire. It is a typical "one pot" stew. In winter, local tables are dominated by sausages prepared in various styles, and often pork knuckle with cabbage. Popular dishes in the autumn-winter season include also warming soups with large amounts of beans. The proximity of Hungary and historic relations with Budapest have contributed to the popularity of goulash and paprikash. Traditional and very simple dishes, they are served in a sophisticated and very elegant way in many restaurants. In bars that have barbecue dishes on the menu, you can have meats, sausages and, naturally, some minced meat classics: ćevapčići, šiš ćevap and pljeskavica. Add some lepinja or chips with a dash of ajwar and you will feel that you are in the Balkans right away.
What to have with coffee?
For you lunch coffee (if you are not full to the brim yet!), have a strudel with apples, cheese or cherries, local bučnica with grated pumpkin mixed with cream, or a very creamy jelačić šnite cake with some nuts and chocolate. Since Zagreb has been affected by various cultures, the menu includes also the Vienna Sacher cake and a typical Balkan sweet baclava. Starting from late summer, throughout autumn and winter, you can have various Zagreb and north Croatian delicacies made from edible chestnuts, a unique and valued gift of local forests.
Land of wine, beer and rakija
Don't worry if you are a beer lover. Although Croatia is associated mainly with the wine culture, thanks to the Austrian and also Czech and Bavarian influences you can still have a glass of good beer in Zagreb. It is said that a brewery operated in the city as early as the 18th century. Popular local drinks include various rakijas made mainly from honey, nuts, quince, cherries, plums or pears.
Recreating the flavours
If you wish to recreate Zagreb cuisine yourself (either on site or at home), you must visit the excellently stocked Dolac market, where you can do some good food shopping. They have virtually everything there, and you will be amazed by the multitude of colours and aromas. Fresh fish, meat, cheeses, oils and olive oils, honeys, jams, alcoholic beverages, ajwar and other pastes, beautifully presented vegetables, fruits, local products from other regions of Croatia, sometimes even handicraft − everything is at your fingertips, tempting you to buy.
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