Dubrovnik dining has improved exponentially in recent years. The influx of tourists has added variety to the menus of Dubrovnik restaurants even if the prices have climbed steeply. Dubrovnik chefs are increasingly willing to experiment with more exotic dishes from Mexican to fusion concoctions.
The staple of traditional Dubrovnik cuisine is expertly prepared fish and seafood, usually grilled with a sprinkling of parsley and garlic. Demand sometimes outstrips supply, necessitating the substitution of frozen fillets or shellfish. When in doubt, ask.
The basic style of Dubrovnik cuisine is Mediterranean. The emphasis is on olive oil, not butter. Polenta is a popular side dish and most dishes are liberally seasoned with parsley and garlic. With strong historic links to Italy, it's unsurprising that pasta and risotto is served in nearly every restaurant. Pizza is another favorite, usually toasted up in wood-fired ovens.
Here's what to look for on Dubrovnik menus:
Ston was once a part of the Dubrovnik Republic and bequeathed the city this scrumptious dessert in which pie dough is baked with layers of rum-soaked pasta, interspersed with a filling of chocolate, almonds, walnuts, sugar, lemon rind and spices.
Traditionally served during the Feast of St Blaise at the beginning of February, this hearty stew of smoked mutton, smoked ham, potatoes and blanched cabbage leaves is guaranteed to warm the bones.
Juha od leće s čevčegom (kostriječ) (Lentil soup with spiny sow thistle)
Lentils and weeds? Yes actually, and this dish is deliciously vegan. Sow thistle is a nutritious plant in the dandelion family that is cooked up with carrots, onion, garlic and tomato pulp into a thick soup.
Salata od pipuna i račića s koprom (Melon, shrimp and dill salad)
Fresh Adriatic shrimp, melon of any kind, cucumber, dill, lemon and olive oil is a refreshing summer treat.
You've had flan or creme caramel? Rozata is Dubrovnik's version of the dessert classic. The essential ingredient is Rozalin or rose liqueur.
Sporchi Macaroni (Dirty Macaroni)
Also a big favorite on the feast day of St Blaise, the tubular macaroni is served with a hearty meat sauce topped with shredded sheep or goat cheese.
Because of its tourist business, prices are higher in Dubrovnik than elsewhere but you can still get a plate of pasta that often makes a light meal for 70 to 80Kn. There is usually no minimum order so don't be embarrassed about ordering only one dish.
Fish and seafood is expensive, running from 300 to 400Kn a kg; an average serving is 250-300g. Calamari is cheaper. The price of grilled fish varies little from one restaurant to another. It's the quality of fish that counts, not the quality of the restaurant.
Fixed-price menus are a rarity although some places offer special, cheaper lunch menus. If you'd like to eat well on a budget, it pays to make lunch your main meal.
Vegetarians are no longer relegated to pizza and pasta. As Dubrovnik becomes increasingly cosmopolitan, chefs are learning to cater to a vegetarian clientele. Many menus now propose vegetarian dishes based upon local and seasonal vegetables. Blitva is a staple. If you don't see a vegetarian alternative, don't hesitate to ask!
Dining in Dubrovnik is relatively casual, especially at lunch. At dinner, a jacket and tie is in order only at the most top-end restaurants. Smart-casual is fine at mid-level restaurants and, as for pizza places, well, don't come in a bathing suit. The locals tend to be casual but fashionable dressers so you'll feel more comfortable not wearing sneakers (trainers) when dining out at night.
Most restaurants open from noon to midnight and serve all day. Top-end restaurants will often confine themselves to a lunch and dinner service only.
Tipping: It's considered polite to "round up" the bill and but leave more of a tip for larger bills.
Credit Cards: Accepted everywhere
Cover Charge: Often 10% and must be mentioned somewhere on the menu.
Reservations: Generally necessary for upscale establishments at the height of the summer season.
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