The Best Restaurant Finds of our Croatian Beach Holiday
When booking this year’s trip to Croatia – this year’s because I haven’t been able to stop going back ever since my first visit to Podgora in 2008 – I used my previous experiences to narrow down the factors most important to me. I was looking for a location that was:
Close to the water (as in 200 m or less)
A local favourite rather than touristy
Perfect for doing day trips
Close to Split
All of these requirements were easily fulfilled by staying in Stobrec.
A small town next to the bigger city, Split, we found a cozy apartment a few minutes from the sea, allowing us to pop back to pick up midday snacks and drinks. The crystal clear water near where we stayed is bordered by rocks and a concrete pathway rather than a pebbled beach, but this just means the perfect diving ledges and a bit more privacy than being on the town’s main beach. A twenty-minute bus ride from central Split, we were also only a 45-minute bike ride from Split’s gorgeous Bene beach—a perfect day trip that rewards you with both a beautiful beach and a great lunch at Lucica Spinut. We also love going to the movies in Croatia, since everything is subtitled rather than dubbed, and there is a new Cineplexx where two tickets, a drink, and popcorn cost about €12. While I was never able to peel myself away from the beach to go shopping, the two huge malls would normally be an attraction to me as well.
The Stobrec jumping rock
The restaurant Bota is an Adriatic sushi place we found on our last trip to the area, when we stayed at another amazing Airbnb in Jesenice.It was also one of the main reasons I wanted to be close to Split.
In a central courtyard in Split, the restaurant is next to the Goli+Bosi design hostel, with its De Belly restaurant and bar, making it perfect for people watching when your eyes aren’t closed in bliss. Starting off with some locally harvested oysters, we ordered a bottle of the house white, and a selection of their rolls. Their spicy tuna roll and Agemaki fantasy roll were favourites on both of our visits this time (yes, we went twice—I insisted). While Bota doesn’t claim to offer authentic Japanese sushi, they do their own version very, very well. Bota was busy both when we visited on Saturday and on Wednesday, so reservations are recommended.
The view from Bota– not pictured: the waitress playing Nirvana’s first album (to our delight)
For something a bit more typical of the area, we spent our first night out in Stobrec at Konoba Nikola, a TripAdvisor find (ranked #1 in Stobrec).
The reviews were fantastic, and many recommended letting Nikola, the owner, surprise you with a taste of everything. We took him up on this offer, along with a bottle of his house white. What followed was six courses of delicious local treats: we started with tuna carpaccio, were then given a mussel in tomato sauce and a mushroom-risotto stuffed clam, a grilled tiger prawn and langoustine, the lightest breaded calamari accompanied by grilled squid with a homemade mustard-mayonnaise, and finally, two kinds of white fish filet on grilled vegetables and spinach with a balsamic reduction. Then, we topped off the delicious indulgence with a crepe filled with chocolate, vanilla ice cream, strawberries, and what I think were ground almonds. Any one of the courses would have made a delicious meal on its own, but getting to taste each one was a fantastic introduction to the local flavours. Konoba Nikola is definitely worth a visit.
Having thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of our time in Stobrec, we spent our last night at Kasa Grill and Bar.
I couldn’t resist taking a bite before taking a photo
From the moment we arrived, I was set to enjoy this spot: the outside seating in front of the restaurant has a lovely atmosphere, and a more modern aesthetic than the other restaurants in Stobrec. The service was also exceptional—everyone we met in Stobrec or Split was friendly, but our waiter at Kasa went above and beyond to be friendly and informative, and recommended a (very reasonable) local white wine from PZ Svirce to pair with our meal. We started with a Dalmatian salad of fresh local ham, fresh local olives, fresh local cheese, and fresh local tomatoes. Basically, just put “fresh and local” in front of everything I mention from this place. For our main courses, both of us had the tuna steak with green beans, Swiss chard, and potatoes. I ordered mine medium rare, while R asked for blue rare: having tasted both, I would recommend the latter. The tuna melted in your mouth, and with the garlicky butter of the Swiss chard (referred to in Croatia as “Mangold”) and potatoes, it was one of the best fish dishes I have ever eaten. The reviews on TripAdvisor say the same. If you’re in the area, do not skip this place, which also does breakfast and desserts, though we didn’t get to try either this time—too full from the tuna to eat the crepes I so desperately wanted.