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Dubrovnik was the one city in Croatia that Alex and I put off visiting, not because we didn’t want to go but because of all the tourists. Everything we had read about Dubrovnik talks about how crazy busy it can be especially in the summer. So we didn’t go.
But then I had a chance to help Lisa, from The Wandering Lens, with a photography project in Dubrovnik in September and of course, I couldn’t say no. When I came back I was sold on Dubrovnik and knew that Alex had to visit too. So as we were leaving Croatia and heading into the Balkans, we made one last stop in Dubrovnik.
We only had the day there but we decided to make the most of it. So here is how to eat local in Dubrovnik in just 24 hours!
There are plenty of places to eat in Dubrovnik, however it is a town that is heavily touristed so it can be difficult to find a reasonable and non touristy place to eat. We were able to find two fantastic places while in Dubrovnik but I am sure there are more. For us, we look for places busy with locals. If the locals are eating there it is always a good sign!
If you are having trouble finding a place our next best advice is to look for a restaurant without a “greeter” or the people who try to coerce you into eating at their restaurant. No greeter is a sign that the restaurant doesn’t need to pull people off the streets to keep busy; they are busy off their own merits. Or at least that is what we generally have found! Also in Dubrovnik there are hundreds of tiny little alleyways within the walls; wander around these and try to get off the main thoroughfares to increase the chances of finding a great restaurant.
Open Everyday, 11:00-23:00
Now you may be shocked to see non Croatian cuisine on here but for us, after living in Croatia for two months, we decided to branch out and indulge in some Indian cuisine. Without having been to India, the food tasted as authentic as you could get baring certain limited ingredients. The chef is from India but has been living in Croatia for several years. There is a wide range of classic indian dishes including the channa masala and the chicken tikka masala which we ordered. Overall the meal was a perfect way to spice up a dreary day in Dubrovnik and a taste of something different!
Miha Pracata 8
Ok, raise your hand if you have seen Zane Lamprey’s “Three Sheets”. Well I can’t see you but I am hoping most of you have. If you haven’t please take your time to get acquainted with this wonderful show, especially the Croatia episode. I’ll wait…
So thanks to our undying love of this show, we knew we had to eat at Pupo while in Dubrovnik. It took us awhile to find it though because it has greatly expanded since “Three Sheets” which aired in 2007. While the restaurant has expanded and is in the center of town it still is of the highest quality and a family affair going back three generations. Their fresh fish selection is the very definition of fresh and they put forward dishes you don’t often see such as Alex’s calamari which was served in a plavic mali (red wine) sauce with vegetables. The staff are some of the friendliest wait staff we have encountered in Europe, I am looking at you Vladimir! Seriously, if you are looking for a family run, local and traditional restaurant serving some of the freshest cuisine in Dubrovnik you have to come here. 🙂
Dionysus Wine Pub
Ul. za Rokom 5
Dionysus Wine Pub was the perfect place for us to explore the local Croatian wine scene. Before we arrived in Dubrovnik we had spent a month in Pula in Istria and Alex was working at a winery there so we were really able to explore and get to know Istrian wines, however Dubrovnik and Dalmatia have totally different wines and soils so we knew we wanted to try at least some of these different options. We stumbled upon Dionysus Wine Pub which is located on a fairly main road with plenty of similar restaurants located on it but the Wine Pub stood out to us mainly because they were blasting awesome 70s and 80s rock music. I mean how can a wine bar be bad if they are playing rock music?
In addition to the awesome music they also had a wide range of Croatian wines from Dalmatia and beyond. They were more than happy to walk us through the wine list and bring tastings of different wines so we could pick the best one. While we were there we tried a Posip, a white wine that is usually grown on the island of Korcula in Dalmatia, a Dalmatia malvazija which was similar to the malvazija we were drinking in Istria, and perhaps the most famous wine from Dalmatia, the Dingac (which we had tried in Zagreb and loved!). Dingac is a red wine made from plavac mali grapes (the father of Zinfandel and Primitivo grapes) and is grown in Dingac, a southwestern facing slope of the Zabrada mountains between the small villages of Trstenik and Podobuče located on the Pelješac Peninsula. It is considered the best place in the world to grow plavac mali so if you love zinfandel you should definitely try Dingac.
*Dionysus Wine Pub also had food available if you get hungry drinking all that wine. I would suggest the traditional cevapi which are small little grilled sausages and were served with a potato onion gratin that I could easily eat every day!*
Soul Cafe and Rakija Bar
Uska ulica 3
Oh Soul Cafe, we are so happy we stumbled upon you! We found this awesome little cafe while searching for a place with wifi to get some work done before dinner. We thought “Sure, why not grab a coffee here?” and then we saw their rakija menu and all thoughts of coffee went out the window. If you haven’t tried Croatian rakija (a distilled alcohol made from grape skins, stems, etc…) then this is the place you need to try it. They have a wide variety of rakija including plum, honey, quince and mistletoe. Yes, mistletoe! It is amazing; I wish I could have it right now!
This is a perfect little cafe for a rakija before or after dinner. We actually ended up coming back here after dinner at Pupo and were joined by Vladimir after the restaurant closed. It was great to sit with him and Nicola (the bartender), have a few local rakija and beers and just chat. We talked about what it is like to live in such a touristy town and a multitude of other things. Sometimes it pays to visit in the off season!
The Bars Outside the City Walls
If you walk through the Old City of Dubrovnik and end up at the walls facing the sea you will notice that there are several spots where you can pop through the walls. These hidden little spots generally hide little bars, cafes and swimming spots like Buza Bar. If you have the chance, stop at one of these for a drink (or a swim) and admire the view. The drinks will probably be more expensive than the rest of town but it is worth it for the view. There are a few different bars and not all of them are open during off season but they are worth searching out!
The Old City of Dubrovnik is the highlight in terms of what to see when visiting here. The Old City is marvelously intact and you should just spend your day wandering around and soaking in all the old medieval history (and acting out any Game of Thrones fantasies you may have). Also there are some beautiful back alleys outside the city walls of Dubrovnik if you feel like hiking up them! If you have a lovely sunny day don’t forget to bring your swimsuit so you can just dive into the sea. There are many places where you can just hop in the water including Buza Bar and Fort St. John.
You can easily spend hours just walking around and taking photos as well. If you are into photography don’t forget to check out The Wandering Len’s Guide to the Best Photography Destinations in Dubrovnik.
The other thing we would highly suggest doing is walking the city walls. The city walls will give you an unique perspective on the city and the sea. It costs 100 Kuna but is well worth the price of admission. The dramatic views of the city and sea are something you will never forget and will help you appreciate this city even more.
So there you have it, a perfect way to drink and eat local in Dubrovnik in just 24 hours. While we wish we had more time to explore this absolutely stunning city we are glad that we were able to make it especially in the off season. Dubrovnik is a stunningly beautiful city and it is no wonder that hundreds of thousands of people visit this city every year. It is well worth a stop while you are in Croatia!
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