Best Restaurants in South Dalmatia
Augusta Insula - Lastovo
When sailing Croatia’s deep south, you’ll encounter the Lastovo archipelago, made up of some 44 islands, islets, and rocks, the largest of which is the island of Lastovo. While it can hardly be quantified as a big island, measuring only 9.8 km long and 5.8 km wide, it compensates for its size with breathtaking coves, untouched nature, bike trails, lookouts, 38 medieval stone churches, and its eponymous hilltop town in the northern part of the island. But best of all, Lastovo is home to Augusta Insula, one of Croatia's treasured gastronomy charms.
Situated in Zaklopatica Bay, Augusta Insula is a family-run institution that blends the secret flavors of Lastovo Island with the Mediterranean Sea. With a promise of Croatian food, homegrown vegetables, and the freshest fish caught that day, the restaurant owners endeavor to bring a unique culinary experience to all diners on their small island, especially one they may not expect being so far away from the rest of Croatia’s celebrated cuisine. Following the recipes of their ancestors, Augusta’s menu is primarily based on seafood, with lobster from the depths of Lastovo being one of their highly-recommended dishes. Other fresh fish and seafood, from dentex to scorpionfish and scampi, are prepared traditionally, grilled with olive oil, garlic, and a touch of lemon.
But fish specialties are just part of what makes Augusta Insula one of the best restaurants in South Dalmatia - because you can also pre-order Dalmatia’s most-loved barbecue dish here, too. Peka, how Dalmatians prepare fish or meat ‘under the bell’ and covered with hot coals, is an absolute must at Augustus - just make sure you order it in advance! No matter if you choose seafood or meat, Augusta complements their meals with the flavors of the island’s vineyards and their own wine - a dry Plavac Mali, which is best with fried fish, risottos, and meats, or the high-quality white Maraština (Rukatac), enhancing seafood and roast meats.
Konoba Maha – Korčula
“It all started with an old stone house and a donkey.” The Maha story begins on an inland Korčula hilltop, about 10 minutes from the more famous ancient town. Opened in 2003 by the Maha parents, the sons now run this culinary hotspot, though if you ask them, they never expected to build what Maha has become today.
Endeavoring to create something rustic that honors the existing island environment, brothers Ivan and Jakša have turned Maha into a culinary retreat wrapped in Korčula’s nature, resulting in one of the more unique dining spots you’ll encounter in Dalmatia, and even Croatia, too. Today, one of the best restaurants in South Dalmatia and a must-see on your Korčula sailing route, Maha crafts dishes thanks to local ingredients found in their garden or from local farmers, promising Dalmatian specialties taken to the next level with a modern spin. Peka is Maha’s trademark, which must be pre-ordered at least one day in advance to ensure it's crisp and tender when you arrive. Zrnovski makaruni is another traditional Korčula dish you’ll find on Maha’s menu, while steak tartare is revered as one of their most popular.
But it’s not all about the food at Maha. Because the restaurant’s surroundings abound in a variety of herbs and plants, the Maha brothers have used what is readily available to craft an exciting list of cocktails that can be paired with your dishes. Sage, mint, immortelle, and blackberry are just some of the ingredients in your drink, while those who prefer wine will be delighted with local white varieties Pošip and Grk.
Gastro Mare Kobaš - Ston
In order to really get to know Gastro Mare Kobaš, it’s essential to know about the life of owner Toni Ante Bjelančić. Namely, Toni grew up in Kobaš, a small village at the beginning of the Ston Bay on the Pelješac peninsula. Raised by a fisherman father, Toni grew up fishing and cooking his daily catch, ultimately bringing him to the Dubrovnik Catering School. His career then turned to the kitchens of cruise ships and discovering America with an 11-year stint in Philadelphia. Back on cruise ships he eventually met his Norwegian wife and opened the first Croatian restaurant in Norway. He was acclaimed as the best chef in the Scandinavian country time and time again, and even turned down a Michelin star to keep the authenticity of his restaurant! After the Homeland War, Toni returned to Croatia to build Gastro Mare next to his father's tavern in Kobaš. And the rest is history.
Gastro Mare is known for its unique take on Dalmatian standards. It uses the best from the Adriatic Sea to craft dishes you’d be more likely to find in swanky metropolitan cities, let alone a small Dalmatian bay with a dozen houses. The already vibrant and open-kitchen ambiance of Gastro Mare is further enhanced by a small eco garden that flourishes with tomatoes, peppers, and many Mediterranean herbs, all of which are used to prepare each dish, which is always seasonal and handpicked daily by Toni.
Whether you’re indulging in fresh tuna, famous Ston oysters (that are tempura fried), bonito sashimi, cuttlefish-stuffed ravioli, classic lobster spaghetti, truffle pasta, or roasted octopus, all dishes are accompanied by homemade focaccia bread, local olive oil, and an impressive wine list celebrating the prominent Pelješac wine region. Gastro Mare also often tempts locals with special menus and offers - and they even have a berth for your boat!
360 - Dubrovnik
Dubrovnik is already a pearl of the Adriatic thanks to its world-famous walls, UNESCO heritage, and breathtaking coastline, but we can’t forget that it is a culinary champion, too. This is primarily thanks to Michelin member 360, a fine-dining gem with a standout terrace that stretches along the city’s medieval walls and St. John’s fortress. And that’s without even mentioning its spectacular sea views.
But diners here get more than a killer setting - they get an unequaled edible experience thanks to the restaurant’s dinner-only policy, enhanced by two 5-course tasting menus or an a la carte menu roused by the flavors of Dubrovnik and the Mediterranean. While 360 specializes in local cuisine, Dubrovnik native and chef Marijo Curić takes the best techniques from esteemed French cooking, which he’s learned working in countless kitchens since he was 17. Honoring the classic methods taught in old French culinary schools, Curić revives Dubrovnik recipes to take on a more modern feel, playing with contrasts and textures while ensuring one local ingredient is always on display. From pan-seared pigeon to foie gras and sweetbreads, and slow-cooked pork neck to smoked sea bass, 360 has something for even the most demanding of gourmands.
Over 450 labels are included on 360’s impressive wine list, presented by five certified sommeliers. Diners thus enjoy the best wines from all major wine regions around the world, limited and rare labels, and an extensive list of indigenous varieties, from Malavazia to Plavac Mali and Debit, to name a few. In addition, Coravin technology allows 360 to serve around 70 wines by the glass!
Marijo Curić and 360 earned their Michelin star in 2018, which they have proudly worn ever since. Today, 360 boasts a team of 57 in both kitchen and service, which they’ve trained to be connoisseurs of high-end hospitality at one of the finest restaurants in South Dalmatia.