There is a lot to say about Dalmatian cuisine. While some may find it quite unimaginative and straightforward, lacking the spice, color, and kick of other international cuisines, others may argue that these uncomplicated ingredients found locally create some of the best dishes in the Mediterranean - especially when you consider some of these tried and true techniques are traced back to Greek civilization.
Dalmatia is applauded by Croatian chefs thanks to the luxury of local ingredients found just outside their doorstep, from olive trees, figs, and rosemary bushes to homegrown veggies and the tasty fruits of the Adriatic Sea.
Some restaurants have found a way to utilize these ingredients to transform straightforward recipes into superior specialties, revamping the handwritten cookbooks their grandmothers wrote generations ago to serve you the best of what the region can offer today.
And when looking at the best restaurants in Central Dalmatia, it’s impossible not to visit the ones you’ll uncover with us below.
Franka in Trogir
The kitchen & wine concept of Trogir newcomer Franka has upgraded the town’s culinary scene since its opening in 2021. Owners and spouses Dajana and Damir Civadelić have created a small menu with around 20 dishes designed thanks to Dalmatian tradition and modern trends. As a result, diners can enjoy a unique selection when munching in the quaint Franka courtyard of only 50 seats, like beetroot & truffle risotto or eggplant carpaccio, as well as plates inspired by Diana's grandmother. However, the daily menu depends solely on what is fresh that day, and if there isn’t cuttlefish at the fish market, you better believe they won’t be serving black risotto. Franka’s Mediterranean menu is further enhanced by refreshing cocktails and a wine list that honors Croatia's best wines, which have helped cement Franka’s spot as one of the must-try restaurants in Central Dalmatia.
Dvor in Split
Dvor quickly rose to culinary fame in Split after its opening in 2013, and it’s not just because of its standout sea view venue. With tables intimately set in a century-old garden (or ‘dvor’, hint hint), this restaurant faces the islands of Brač and Šolta with spanning Adriatic views that make you forget you’re in Croatia’s second-largest city after all. Dvor has always been praised for its culinary prowess, but it is also recently run by one of the best Croatian chefs, Hrvoje Zirojević, the former frontman of Palmižana seafood lounge Laganini and Gault & Millau Croatia chef of the year in 2019. This Michelin-recommended locale is applauded for its modern Dalmatian recipes that focus on seasonal ingredients and Croatian wines. Tuna cannelloni is one of Zirojević’s specialties, while meticulously crafted tasting menus offer diners a taste of Dvor’s favorite flavors. Dvor is not only one of the best restaurants in Central Dalmatia, but it is a foolproof spot in Split for a romantic outing or if you need somewhere to impress your foodie friends.
Štorija in Split
Initially opened by one of Croatia’s celebrity chefs Ivan Pažanin, Štorija brought a new kind of fine dining to the heart of Split famous waterfront promenade, offering visitors an extraordinary culinary outing you’ll be hard-pressed to miss on your Split sailing route. Štorija is a cut above the rest for many reasons. However, if we factor in that it is set in the 1700-year-old walls of Diocletian’s Palace, with authentic stone encompassing its royal guests who comfortably dine atop cushy cerulean chairs with dimly lit chandeliers hanging from the original palace arches, it’s not hard to see why. And we haven’t even gotten to the food. Štorija’s Mediterranean menu promises uncompromising quality, carefully selected ingredients, and traditional recipes that celebrate local cuisine with a modern touch. Delicately plated dishes include the restaurant’s standout stars like homemade pasta with truffles, black cuttlefish risotto, monkfish with Dalmatian prosciutto, an excellent selection of Adriatic fish, and premium meats. And all this is topped with an extensive selection of wines and a superior sommelier experience. At the same time, the service is attentive, detail-oriented, and promises that guests leave with a story to remember.
Kopačina on Brač Island
Konoba Kopačina is another family-run island institution with over 35 years of honoring Brač island’s celebrated culinary delicacies. The Jugović family opened Konoba Kopačina in Donji Humac, a village better known for its stonemasonry traditions than cuisine. However, this family has ensured they’ve put Brač’s one-of-a-kind recipes on Dalmatia’s gastronomic map and further established Kopačina as one of the most authentic restaurants in Central Dalmatia today. An absolute staple of Brač island cuisine is lamb, and especially vitalac, or lamb offal which traces back to the first contact between Greek civilization and the inhabitants of Brač. While this intestine-wrapped and roasted delicacy may be difficult for some to stomach (no pun intended), Kopačina has a world of other flavors for diners to enjoy. Like the wildly popular lamb on a spit or peka prepared lamb, veal, or octopus, and even a selection of fresh fish and seafood on the grill. In addition to freshly-baked peka bread from the restaurant’s bread oven, Kopačina boasts other not-to-miss island specialties like the walnut-heavy hrapačuša cake (don’t try to pronounce it, but definitely eat it), young cheese in sugar, and a variety of local sheep cheeses!
The Fisherman’s House - Sv. Klement (Pakleni Islands near Hvar)
It all started when the Matijević family founded a small boarding house on Sv. Klement, part of the Pakleni Islands archipelago near Hvar. Welcoming the first foreigners over 50 years ago, this family’s tradition of fishers and farmers runs deep on this island, with its third generation running The Fisherman’s House today. The family affair is led by Tonči, who treats all guests like one of his own, endeavoring to demonstrate their farm-to-table fairytale with biologically cultivated fruits and veggies and mornings spent fishing for the freshest Adriatic catch. From the breathtaking canopied terrace that overlooks the family’s thriving vineyard and vegetable farm, diners can indulge in the house specialty ‘brodetto à la Tonči’, a hearty fish stew with tomatoes, onions, and wine, and the guest’s choice of conger eel, red scorpionfish, langoustines, or lobster. And that’s just part of it. Dalmatian recipes are king at The Fisherman’s House. Hvar’s famous gregada is prepared over an open fire by Tonči himself, and fish is grilled over the vineyard’s vine embers, dressed with homemade olive oil. Locally sourced and self-picked, all dishes are accompanied by homemade Bogdanuša and Vugava wines, making this one of the leading restaurants in Central Dalmatia today.
Pojoda in Vis
Located in the old part of Vis town, Pojoda is another family gem that permeates through the Kut area thanks to its fragrant citrus garden. Gourmand and head chef Zoran Brajčić has designed a menu that pays tribute to indigenous fish specialties like shark in wine, fish and squid stews, octopus meatballs, and recipes specific to Vis that use beans, lentils, orzo, fish, squid, and chickpeas. Most famous on the island is ‘pašta fažol na brujet,’ or pasta and beans brodetto, and the even more popular lobster brodetto, served classically in a shiny metal dish that tops the center of the table. With 60 seats indoors and 80 seats under the orange-shaded terrace, Pojoda pairs dishes with local wines to complete the fish-filled experience.
Bako in Komiža
Decorated with stone walls, fishing nets, and lanterns, Bako gives diners an insight into yesteryear and Komiža’s vibrant fishing heritage. Dalmatian specialties are at the heart of Bako’s culinary philosophy, though Komiža has a few even more unique recipes up its sleeve, like lobster stew and fish-broth-based dishes adorned with homemade olive oil. Yellowtail cooked with capers, laurel and rosemary is one of Bako’s more memorable choices, while octopus cooked in homemade wine is the best for those with a more decadent palate. But what really sets Bako apart from the rest is the owner’s hydro archaeological collection of 58 amphoras, glass bottles, ceramics, anchors, bronze bells, and more which is over 30 years in the making. One Corinthian type A amphora traces back to the 5th century B.C., while it boasts one of Croatia’s most extensive collections of lead anchor bars!
Choosing the best restaurants in Central Dalmatia is anything but easy, but if you make your way to even one of these on your next Croatian sailing holiday, you can consider it a win!