Dalmatian coast and island restaurant recommendations while sailing in Croatia or,
in other words: why OPG means no GMO!
How to find hidden gems on the Croatian coast and islands for fine dining or trying local specialities?
Croatia is a culturally wealthy destination ideal for those who enjoy authentic travel experiences. The unspoiled coastline has a crystal-clear sea and natural spectacles full of history and heritage. The gorgeous blue of the Adriatic Sea, the picturesque Dalmatian Coast, peaceful countryside, and excellent beaches are just a few reasons to see Croatia rise as one of Europe's most popular travel destinations. Croatia was once a hidden gem of European travel for yacht charter holidays and sailing vacations that has multiplied in popularity as a must-see destination over recent years. But visitors always have one particular highlight of a Croatian trip amongst its beauty:
We believe that recommending a particular restaurant is highly "slippery" terrain. Usually, with a skippered yacht charter, if you are on a boat with a hired skipper, they will undoubtedly have some hidden cards in their pocket to know the best secret spots for dining or eating on the island or along the coastline. But, if you are the licensed skipper yourself and it's your first time in Croatia, and you don't have too much experience in Croatian cuisine, well, then using restaurants directly in the ports is the only possibility you mostly have if you are not cooking your meals aboard. In ports, restaurants and taverns can be excellent with fresh wild fish, lobster and superb a la carte meat platter choices. Still, you will unlikely find a Dalmatian peka there or something similar that must be pre-ordered and prepared a day in advance.
Therefore, regarding restaurant recommendations, we would not take that route in public (website blog or social media) because even skippers do not do that until they know their guests onboard better and their affinities better. Very few "public" recommendations can be obtained from the skippers/captains because, to avoid upset restaurant owners, on the other hand, a piece of "bad" advice is an absolute disaster due to different tastes and people.
But as promised in the title of this post, we will give you a hint and some help to find the right location. Suppose you are looking for local dalmatian cuisine specialities like Dalmatian Peka, meat, or seafood. In that case, you should aim for the hinterlands on the coast or the hills on the islands in typical "KONOBA" tavern types of restaurants in Dalmatia.
OPG is a term that stands for "Obiteljsko poljoprivredno gospodarstvo," which translates to a "family farm." An OPG is an agricultural business of the same household or family members. They produce their handmade smoked ham, cheese, wine, grappa, fruits, and vegetables and have farm animals specific to the landscape and region. This layout will guarantee the quality of the products; no GMOs and plates are served in the Konoba. We understand that for you to get there, you will mostly need to take a taxi in the port of your anchorage, a minivan, or a similar shuttle if your crew is more considerable than four people. The reason is that the OPG location is always a hidden spot in the hinterlands of the coast or the hills of the island with its own farm and garden. Still, you will pay for the transportation to get you there.
Hint: find a cab driver that speaks good English or German and ask him for a local tip. He will be happy to get you there as he will agree with you for a return journey. It doesn't necessarily mean a higher price as the restaurant owners mostly have good cooperation with local taxis. However, the result will be the same: the meal will probably be cheaper than in the port on the main promenade.
Again, Tripadvisor is an excellent indicator of quality, and you can see the location of the Konoba or tavern on the map.
There, you will find if the Konoba owners organize a shuttle for you, if you need to pre-book your table and food, you will find phone numbers where you can reserve your table and peka a day in advance, or at least that morning for the evening.
You can use Facebook to find out about some excellent restaurants. They might be reviews on Facebook, followed by images and map directions to the location. In addition, some taverns and Konobas are following social media trends that you can take advantage of. Facebook and Instagram are frequently used social media in Croatia; even google maps and business locations with hundreds of reviews and added images by the user are trustworthy and should be considered.
Some hints: Hvar, Brac, Vis, and other inhabited islands have hidden KONOBA's in the hills; it is up to YOU to choose which one you are going after. But in general, on the islands, aim for the hills!
Where to try Dalmatian Pasticada?
Croatia has a specifically distinguished local tradition named marenda. If you want to try Dalmatian Pasticada, look out for restaurants in the hinterlands of the coastline of the city suburb offering early lunches. In some regions, it's also called GABLEC (continental parts of Croatia) or UŽINA. It's a standing expectation for working Croatians that many restaurants and eateries have a cheap but hearty lunch or early meal. So, it is an affordable place to eat in Croatia, and you get a typical traditional Dalmatian Cuisine food plate. Many restaurants will offer this dish—usually as a stew or a warm meal based on locally sourced produce. The meals cost no more than 5-8 Euro per person together with a drink and seasoned salad, and in some restaurants, serving "marenda" will be stopped after lunch.