In popular Dubrovnik, restaurant prices tend to be higher than in many other cities in Croatia. But those willing to spend a little more can enjoy meals of international quality — Dubrovnik just earned its first Michelin star — in wonderfully atmospheric settings. The seafood is especially delicious.
In addition to the restaurants below, I also very much enjoyed our dinners at Villa Dubrovnik’s Italian-Mediterranean Restaurant Pjerin and Villa Orsula's Peruvian-Adriadic Victoria Restaurant & Lounge Bar. Both have patios with sublime views of the sea and old Dubrovnik.
Formal Nautika may be old news, having opened in 2002, but it should still be on the list for any gourmand visiting the city. The interior of the mansion-like restaurant is pretty, and its terrace has unforgettable views of the rocky cove between the Bokar bastion and the Lovrijenac fortress. My reservation guaranteed me an ideal table on the terrace’s edge, one of the most romantic spots in the entire city. Rather than the culinary fireworks of Restaurant 360° (below), Nautika serves more-classic dishes that are simply exquisite. I relished a course of flawless prawns atop rich polenta with goat cheese cream and almond flakes; superb veal tenderloin with Malvasija wine sauce, truffle jus and minted pea mousse; and a dessert of mille-feuille with orange-mascarpone cream and Prošek (sweet wine) gelée. Gracious sommelier Vinko Fornažar masterfully paired local wines with each dish. Some pooh-pooh Nautika as being old-fashioned and overpriced, but I loved every minute of my meal.
Brsalje 3. Tel. (385) 20-442-526
In the center of the walled city, Proto has outdoor seating on its pedestrian-only street, but the shady roof terrace is a far more attractive place to dine. It feels like the deck of a large yacht, as befits Proto’s seafood-focused menu (meat dishes are also available). My smoked-tuna appetizer with arugula, capers and sun-dried tomatoes tasted bright and well-balanced, and my main course of tapenade-crusted sea bass with purées of carrots and peas was impeccably fresh and flaky. Some refined and citrusy Grgić Pošip paired beautifully.
Proto Fish Restaurant
Široka 1. Tel. (385) 20-323-234
Dubrovnik’s most stylish restaurant earned a Michelin star shortly before I dined there. Alas, its unique terrace on the ramparts above the old port had not yet opened. Fortunately, the interior space was attractive, and the food made me forget about the lack of a view. It’s possible to order à la carte, but I opted for the Retrospective tasting menu, featuring modern takes on Croatian classics (an even more contemporary tasting menu was also available). A buttery carrot course proved surprisingly delightful, as did a dish of tender sous-vide octopus tentacles with sweet glazed fennel, a deep fish reduction and delicate ravioli filled with lime cream. I also appreciated chef Marijo Curić’s interpretation of Dalmatia’s classic sea bass with boiled potatoes and Swiss chard. Add in highly professional service and a huge selection of wines by the glass, and it’s easy to see why 360° has earned such praise.
Svetog Dominika BB. Tel. (385) 20-322-222
A parking lot stands between this seafood restaurant and the view, making it wise to avoid the sidewalk tables. The industrial-chic second floor is much nicer, with floor-to-ceiling glass windows affording views of the terrace and the walls of Dubrovnik beyond. Lunch started with an irresistible bread service, including fresh cornbread and black bread spiked with cuttlefish ink and herbs. The swordfish carpaccio — topped with a fresh orange sauce and olive oil — melted in my mouth, and delicious homemade pljukanci pasta (like elongated gnocchi) came with shrimp, scallops, a langoustine and surprisingly thick slices of black truffle, all in a rich shrimp bisque-like sauce.
Uz Posat 1. Tel. (385) 20-421-194
The most casual of the restaurants I tried in Dubrovnik, Stara Loza is in the Prijeko Palace hotel on the north side of the old center. The roof terrace was unfortunately still closed when I dined here, but the sidewalk tables provided some fun people-watching. I had a simple and satisfying lunch of crunchy vegetable tempura with red bell pepper cream and mint mayonnaise, and a perfectly fresh medium-rare tuna steak with zucchini, mangold (chard), capers and samphire.
Restaurant Stara Loza
Prijeko 22. Tel. (385) 20-321-145