In Croatia, and especially in Dalmatia, konoba is a special place and much more than a restaurant that offers food and drinks. This is proven by many Croatian songs that sing about this holy place that glorifies the past way of life. Konoba is a place where respect for human work, the art of creation, and the art of living are expressed.
For Croats, konoba represents a refuge. In other words, for them, it is the place they always return to, where they go when they are happy and sad, or when fjaka grips them. (Fjaka, Croatian state of min, can best be described as the „sweetness of doing nothing“ or being in a „day-dreamy state“.)
What is konoba?
The food you get there is traditional and simple, but delicious, and smells of the mentioned past times when it took great human effort to get the meal to the table. As for drinks, the heart of every good konoba is wine. In that place, the transformation from grape juice into wine takes place, and the smells of freshly opened barrels can be felt between the walls. Stone, cold walls and wooden furniture are the trademarks of konoba.
What was the tradition of konoba in the past?
Konoba was a part of the house, usually the basement or ground floor, where food, drinks, and various tools were kept. So, in its beginnings, konoba was tied to human work and not to the enjoyment of eating and drinking. However, at one time people started to gather there quite spontaneously.
After the working day, fishermen, farmers, and other heavy workers were coming there to talk and drink a glass of wine. Over the years, konoba entered the heart of Dalmatian culture and tradition and became a place of great importance for local people. For them, it was a place that glorified their hard work.
What is the difference between a restaurant and konoba?
The differences between a restaurant and konoba are not always clearly visible, and the reason is that both have changed over the years.
Konobe are often smaller facilities than restaurants, and have a rustic atmosphere. Although there are restaurants with these characteristics, formality is more often associated with restaurants.
What is food in konobas compared to food in restaurants?
When it comes to food, restaurants usually have a larger menu. Although there are also modern versions of konoba where you can order pizza, konobas are still places that offer traditional food, such as fish, dishes prepared under the oven, and lamb.
Where to find a good konoba?
You will rarely find konoba in the center of a large town. Konoba is always is located in rural areas or along the coast and is known for the traditional preparation of dishes made from fresh local ingredients.
Top 5 konobas we recommend you to visit in Dalmatia
If you have no idea where to start, we have prepared 5 konobas that you can not miss with.
Konoba Trapula, Sali
Konoba Trapula is located on the island of Dugi Otok, in the town of Sali, known for its thousand-year-old fishing. Hidden in a small alley, this tavern offers fish dishes of high quality. Of course, you can also find meat dishes and desserts on the menu. What guests especially praise about this tavern is the friendly staff and its affordable prices.
If you are sailing the sea of Northern Dalmatia and want to hide somewhere and have a good lunch, this is the perfect place because it is only a few minutes' walk from the city harbor.
This konoba boasts a high 4.5 rating on Tripadvisor and a lot of positive comments: “ It was so good, tomato soup and the fish. We ate brancin and tuna steak, dont know which was better... if we visit sali again, we'll visit Trapula for sure.“
Konoba Dvor, Primošten
Sailing from Šibenik towards the south, it is impossible not to notice the beautiful small peninsula with a unique shape, Primošten. Konoba Dvor is located right in the heart of that small town. At the very entrance, you will be delighted by the pleasant but also distinctive ambiance typical of the Mediterranean. And so is the menu. Fresh fish prepared in a simple, local, but delicious way is something you should try. And what is a fish dish without a glass of good wine? Almost nothing. This is known in the Dvor, so they only offer selected wines.
If you are moored in the D-Marin Mandalina Marina in Šibenik, do not miss the opportunity to sail to Primošten, 11 nautical miles away.
„Pure hedonism!!!! Everything was perfect: food, drinks, service, ambient, music... Definitely the best restaurant in Primošten and we tried many. A few steps above all the rest. Highly recommended!“ - is just one of the many positive comments on Tripadvisor
Konoba Luviji Rooftop, Hvar
The island of Hvar is a very popular destination on sailing routes, and the Luviji Rooftop konoba(43°10`21`` N 16°26`36``E) is located in its old core, not far from St. Stephen's Cathedral. The first thing that will delight you is the wonderful view, and it will seem as if you have the whole of Hvar in the palm of your hand. The menu is based on traditional Hvar dishes that almost every Hvar family eats at their table, but presented in a more modern way. Among these dishes, the specialty of the konoba stands out: gregada served in a pot. When we consider that the Bracanović family has been engaged in viticulture for decades, it is not surprising that they offer a wide range of quality wines. In fact, they started their catering tradition by selling wine. All the vineyards are located on the island, and is there anything more beautiful than drinking the wine of the climate you have arrived in?
The quality of this place is proven by numerous positive comments on Tripadvisor: „Super friendly staff and excellent food! All very fresh. Nice setting. Highly recommended! Don't forget to try the "rakija.““
Marijina konoba, Mljet
When they bring you the menu of this konoba you'll see that it's actually just one page, and that's exactly the hint that you're in a good place. Although small, the menu of Marija's konoba includes everything, from goat cheese and prosciutto to anchovies, oysters, risotto, fish, octopus, lobster, ramsteak, steak, kid, and pork. This konoba was visited by the legendary Bon Vox in 2006, and this family, which has owned the konoba for decades and turned it into a real family business, is extremely proud of that.
This place is a paradise for sailors. Located in a protected and secluded bay with an incredibly clean sea and untouched nature, this konoba is often a stopover for everyone sailing on their way to Dubrovnik. Located 21 nautical miles from ACI Marina Dubrovnik, this place is perfect for a day excursion.
Marija's konoba on Tripadvisor is rated with a high rating of 4.5 and all comments are positive: „The best experience with beautiful view and amazing food. Professional staff and definitely a place to go when in Mljet.“
Konoba Galijun, Dubrovnik
The Galijun konoba is located in the suburbs of Dubrovnik, in a quiet bay through which the sea slightly infiltrates into the hinterland of the city all the way to the ACI marina. The breathtaking view from the terrace and the serenity of the Mediterranean place are the perfect choice to anchor your body and mind, even for a short while. On the menu, as befits a place like this, there are authentic Mediterranean fish dishes served in a way that even Michelin-starred restaurants would not be ashamed of. Konoba also offers a variety of cocktails that fit perfectly into the chill vibe of this place.
Scrolling through the comments for konoba Galijun on Tripadvisor, we found out that this place is perfect for dinner with a loved one. A cosy terrace, pleasant, quiet music, excellent food, and a cold cocktail are all that you need for a romantic date.
However, it is impossible to say that you have truly experienced Croatia if you have not been in konoba. But don't worry; for this task, you don't need to be an adventure traveler but a tourist. We assume that it will not be difficult for you to eat native Croatian food, drink local wine, and try to identify with Croats and their state of mind.