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Dalmatian Islands’ best food & drink

  • Dalmatia, Croatia

Last updated: 18 April, 2024

Seafood dominates – expect high-quality shellfish, and fresh fish barbecued and served whole, plus quality local wines. Classic Mediterranean flavours – tomatoes, parsley, garlic and rosemary – are often paired with fish.

Croatia’s Italian heritage is seen everywhere, with pizzerias and gelaterias in every town.

Don't miss

Don’t miss fresh oysters and mussels from Ston (on Peljesac) and rozata (a pudding similar to crème caramel), which is unique to Dubrovnik. Crni rizoto – black risotto made with squid ink, and mussels bouzzara (in a tomato sauce) are also local specialities.

Dalmatian ham is as salty and delicious as prosciutto; platters of ham, local cheese and olives is a popular starter. Fritule (deep-fried fritters) are a favourite sweet snack, sharp with lemon zest.

The islands are home to some excellent vineyards. The best whites are Posip from Korcula and Vugava from Vis, while the best reds are Plavac from Hvar and Vis. Also try locally produced rakija (a potent spirit, often flavoured with fruit or herbs).

Also see our round-up of traditional foods you must try in Croatia.

 

The dining scene

Traditional Dalmatian dishes are served in family-run konobas – rustic tavernas with exposed stone walls and wooden tables and benches.

Many konobas offer peka, a traditional dish – or rather cooking style – dating back millenia. The peka, a heavy domed cast-iron lid, is placed over a tray of food and then buried beneath glowing embers, to create a mini-oven.

At many konobas, you’ll see the outdoor kitchen, with the chef hard at work, arranging casserole dishes and peka lids over a wide hearth and smouldering wood (temperatures here can reach 70C). Dishes feature either octopus, monkfish, lamb, veal or vegetarian peka, using homegrown vegetables.

Who to go with: tour operators

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  • Dalmatia, Croatia

Vineyard in Dalmatia, Croatia, at the Adriatic coast.

Bucket List Experience

Dalmatian Islands Wine Region

Croatia has a long history of wine making, stretching back some 2,500 years, with many indigenous grape varieties still in use. (Croatia is also home to the oak forests that produce most of the oak casks favoured by wine producers across Europe).

Sprinkled throughout the islands are a number of excellent family-run vineyards open to the public during the summer. Tastings of the region’s truly excellent wines usually takes place in a stone cellar, where the wines are stored, often accompanied by platters of savoury nibbles.

If you’re lucky (and you often will be), the winemaker will be present to explain something about the winemaking process and the history of the vineyard.

Good for age: 18+

  • Vis, Dalmatia, Croatia

A cooking utensil dating back millennia, a peka is a heavy domed cast-iron lid, which is used to cover food, and then buried beneath glowing embers, to create a mini-oven.

In Vis’ fertile interior, in the sleepy village of Pliško Polje, Roki’s specialises in peka cooking, accompanied by homemade organic wine. There’s no better place in the region to try it.

At Roki’s, on arrival you’ll see the outdoor kitchen, with the chef hard at work, arranging casserole dishes and peka lids over a wide hearth and smouldering wood (temperatures here can reach 70°C). The menu features either octopus, monkfish, lamb, veal or vegetarian peka, using Roki’s homegrown vegetables.

Adult price: £15

Good for age: 18+

Duration: 2-3 hours

Logistics

Price: Free
Minimum age: 0
Age suitable: 18+
When: All year around
Duration: -

Getting there & doing it

Hvar Town is undoubtedly Dalmatia’s most happening island destination, having earned plenty of comparisons to Ibiza. In peak season (July-August), its lovely cobbled streets and trendy bars and restaurants are packed with glamorous suntanned visitors.

Korcula is worth a mention for its excellent agriturismo-style restaurants in the hill villages out of town, where everything is prepared from local seasonal produce. Vis is known for its authentic seafood restaurants and locally produced organic wine.

When to do it

Dinner is the main meal of the day, and usually eaten later in the evening – between 20.30-22.30. If you arrive at a restaurant before then, it will generally be tourists who are eating.