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Ordering Food in Croatia

Seattle...
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Ordering Food in Croatia

Hello!

I'll be visiting Croatia for 2 months, and have just finished staying in Malaysia for 2 months. After travelling to Malaysia I quickly learned that, while English is widely spoken to at least some degree, ordering food at restaurants can be extremely challenging. For the first 3 weeks I was in Malaysia, I struggled to learn how to order what I wanted, and decipher the meanings of things on the menu. The places that have menus in English also tend to be the places I avoid, for both the quality of the food and the ease on my wallet. (I've developed a firm belief that the small local places have way better food for way less).

It was only after finally learning that Goreng means fried (everything's fried in Malaysia); nasi means rice; and Mee, Kuey Teow, Bihun, and Maggi are different types of noodles, that I was able to finally start ordering what I wanted. Even after being here for 2 months, I'm still wading my way through trying to figure out what the hell I'm about to order/how to order it.

Stuff like Seek Kabab as opposed to Rashmee Kabab that even the waiters most fluent in English can't describe the difference between (one was chicken and the other was meatballs) plagues me to this day. And when you ask what they recommend, to get an easy dish that isn't crazy, they just say they're not eating it, and so they don't know what you want.

I've found myself ordering dependable familiar dishes to avoid getting something I absolutely don't want to eat (hot and spicy soup broth with nothing else), and I missed out on a lot of great things because of this.

SO. To finally get to the point: Help me. Help me to enjoy the hell out of Croatia, and to decrypt the process of ordering food in Croatia. I'll be mostly eating at smaller cafes, and avoiding restaurants that have fixed menus. A lot of my experiences will be going to markets to get food and cook at home, but I would love to go out and eat at local cheap places as well.

How does one order? Is it all at once?

Do you go into the restaurant and sit down, or order up front and take your food to sit down? Or do you wait to be seated?

Do people usually just eat a single dish, or should I expect to order multiple courses?

Are there any consistent phrases to look for in the menu to know what I'm expecting? (stuff like soups/grilled/fried/salad etc)

What about names of consistent ingredients? (fish, beef, chicken, prosciutto, salami, PROSCIUTTO, cheese, spinach, basil, etc)

Lastly and most importantly, what are some dependable local Croatian dishes I can look for at restaurants that most places will have, and will be good. I know that everybody has different tastes, so mostly I'm looking for stuff that has a lot of cured meats, cheese, sandwiches, salad (I've heard that a common thing is salad with pag cheese?), etc. Light and fresh. Generally not much soup, though a good stew is always awesome.

Thank you so much for your time!!! I'm so excited to visit this beautiful country, and have been looking forward to it like nothing else!

zagreb
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1. Re: Ordering Food in Croatia

Hi,

I have found this great link which could be a good start, at least you can get a basic information about Croatian cuisine

http://www.croatia-expert.com/croatian-food/

Edited: 27 March 2014, 09:19
Brighton and Hove...
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for Trogir, Ciovo Island
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2. Re: Ordering Food in Croatia

Croatia isn't big on the set menu idea and it's only in the last couple of years that I've noticed it appearing in more touristy areas - possibly because people are frightened of what they are ordering. If you are in many areas, not just obviously touristy ones, then a lot of menus do appear in Croat and another language which is most commonly English. I commonly hear people ordering food in English which is clearly not their native language from Croatian waiters (many of whom speak 5 languages or so).

The majority of places are waiter service - even small bars. However, unless it's clearly very upmarket people tend to just go in and sit down rather than get seated. On the Adriatic coast the menus are structured in quite an Italian way (probably because the food is also very Italian in style) so you get hot and cold starters, first courses (which include risotto), second course etc. However, there is no pressure to have multiple courses, so between us we might have a mixed salad (often as the starter), a risotto dish and a grilled meat dish. It is also fine to share a pizza - no pressure to have one each.

Common cold starters are paski sir (the Pag cheese), pršut (prosciutto) and octopus salad (salata od hobotnice), and for hot its soup (juhe). Black (cuttlefish) risotto (crni rižot) and various seafood risottos. Ćevapčići are a grilled meat dish of minced pork and beef to be eaten with ajvar a bright red pepper sauce.

Potatoes are krumpir, and there is a vegetable called blitva (chard) - both are common.

It is occurring to me that this response could go on for a long time - I've not mentioned buzara (sauce common with , brodet (fish stew), peka (cooked under a bell lid) etc. Have you googled Croatian food as that will help?

Ely, Minnesota
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for Dubrovnik
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3. Re: Ordering Food in Croatia

Throughout Croatia you will find menus in many different languages and I don't recall seeing a menu without items in English along wth Croatian. So I don't think you are going to have much trouble with the menus and I also don't think we have encountered a waiter on the coast that didn't speak English to help you.

Sibenik, Croatia
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4. Re: Ordering Food in Croatia

In Croatia you will not have a problem with ordering food. We have mostly Mediterranean food ( not overly spicy). Sure to try, lamb on the spit (the national dish) and wine "Babic". Suppose that you are gona visit Sibenik (close to two national parks; Krka and Kornati archipelago). Restaurant "Pellegrini" is at the highest level in the city.

Yorkshire
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5. Re: Ordering Food in Croatia

Practically all restaurants we have visited in mainstream tourist resorts along the coast have menus in several languages. There is absolutely no problem ordering in any language and in our case chatting to the waiter or owner in English, though I have found using Croatian phrases for the please/thankyou/asking for the bill etc goes down well.

Edited: 27 March 2014, 15:45
Seattle...
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6. Re: Ordering Food in Croatia

Awesome! Sibenik is actually where we're going, and while pelligrini looks amazing, we will probably be doing our best to eat at small cafe as much as possible. More where people eat who actually live there :-)

Seattle...
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7. Re: Ordering Food in Croatia

Definitely spent tons of time googling all of the amazing food in Croatia. Mainly just drawing from my experience in Malaysia, I worried that a lot of the famous food wouldn't be seen on a menu at the small restaurants and cafe and it would depend more on knowing a couple good things to ask for, heh. I can't wait. Is there a name for salad with pag cheese? A good local place to get oysters in Sibenik?

Thank you!

UK
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for Istria, Rovinj, Pula
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8. Re: Ordering Food in Croatia

The type of eating places you're looking for are Konobars - they are the best places and are mainly family establishments that provide food they've grown in their gardens or sourced locally and fish caught locally the same day and not usually situated near tourist attractions.

Virginia
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9. Re: Ordering Food in Croatia

Check out the current issue of Saveur, which features an article about Croatian cuisine and focuses on the area just south of Sibenik.

Sydney
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for Croatia
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10. Re: Ordering Food in Croatia

The link that etizop posted is excellent. Read it carefully.

Things I think you should definitely try while on Dalmatian coast, are lamb on the spit. You will probably see it being cooked as you drive. If you do, stop and wait for it. It will be worth it.

Try prosciutto (prsut) . If you are lucky to be served good local prsut, I am sure that it will be better than any other you have tried before.

Peka is a must IMO.

Local fried Calamary is a delicacy. The problem is that you might be ordering local, but get imported, which is quite ordinary.

One word of warning. I find Croatian food rich and very salty in restaurants. Ask them not to salt it too much and to not put any vegeta into it.