Hello! As you may already know, David and I recently returned from a sailing holiday to Croatia's Dalmatian Coast. Our week-long sailing trip was bookended by two days in the port cities of Trogir and Dubrovnik.
Before we visit any new destination, I always wonder what the cuisine will be like. I can't help but be excited by the opportunity to try new dishes and treats. Since I'm gluten-free, having information about cuisine in a new place also plays a role in trip-planning. Before we arrived in Croatia, I wondered what I would be able to eat and if I should bring any gluten-free products with me from home.
Our trip was split into different types of dining—on board our catamaran and out at restaurants. This variety gave me a pretty good view of the gluten-free options that exist in Croatia.
Let me start by talking about eating gluten-free aboard our sailboat.
Gluten-free at Sea
As we mentioned in another post, we opted to do a sailing package that included a hostess. Our hostess was completely in charge of grocery shopping and cooking for us when we were aboard the boat. This meant that we had to let her know of any food allergies or intolerances ahead of time.
When we first sent her our list of issues, our hostess admitted to us that she felt quite overwhelmed. Between the six of us there were quite a few allergies including ones to vegetables, fish, and gluten. Fish and veggies being a large part of Croatian cuisine, she was concerned she wouldn't have anything to cook for us. This did not turn out to the case at all.
We explained that the allergic amongst us were very used to skipping over certain offerings. Every meal did not need to meet everyone's dietary needs. We could pick and choose what we could eat. This, apparently, was a huge relief. She also informed us that gluten-free pasta, bread, and other snacks were readily available in larger grocery stores, so I didn't lack for anything the entire time I was on the boat. Nor did I have to bring any food from London.
Our hostess was able to stock up on gluten-free products before we set sail from Trogir—a large port city near Split—and the supply lasted me the whole week. I even had extra to bring home to London with me. Most of the recipes our hostess prepared for us could be made gluten-free with relative ease and she was very kind about it. The supermarkets that offered gluten-free products included a chain called Konzum and another called Tommy.
She swapped out the spinach linguine she served one day for gluten-free spaghetti, found gluten-free crepe mix (which was delicious), and focused on naturally gluten-free desserts like ice cream and fruit. Breakfast included gluten-free bread, fruit, yogurt, cured meats, and sometimes even the aforementioned crepes.
From what I experienced, it is not at all difficult to find gluten-free products at stores in medium to large cities in Croatia. Smaller port towns did not have as much selection so I wouldn't count on them, but even in smaller towns I did see gluten-free products in shops.
Croatia has a wide variety of local wine and also quite a few options for cider—all gluten-free—so I really didn't go without in any way.
Restaurants and cafés
Again, it depended on the town, but finding gluten-free options in Croatian restaurants wasn't too difficult anywhere on our trip. Fortunately, Croatian cuisine isn't heavy on gluten to begin with. With the exception of pasta and pizza—which are both quite popular—I was able to eat most of the typical menu offerings.
These include fish and meat dishes with vegetables, risotto (unlike many risottos, traditional Croatian risotto doesn't contain gluten), and other naturally gluten-free choices. Most servers also understood the word "gluten," as the word is the same in Croatian.
Steer clear of pizzerias (I only saw one gluten-free pizza my whole time in Croatia) and, sadly, bakeries and you'll be just fine.
There were a few restaurants that actually advertised gluten-free options. These included:
This is an exceptional pizzeria recommended to us by someone at our Airbnb. While unexceptional from the street, this restaurant's doors lead to a hidden terraced area. When we stopped to check the menu, we didn't notice any gluten-free offerings.
The restaurant's focus on pizza and pasta had me marginally concerned but, when we asked, the owner said that they offered homemade gluten-free pasta. I ordered this in a carbonara and it was delicious—one of my favorite meals from the trip.
If you're looking for breakfast in Trogir, stop at Dionis for a gluten-free croissant. While significantly more expensive than the regular option, the croissant was oven-fresh and very soft with an apricot filling. I had to send my first one back as it was way overcooked but the second one was delicious!
Bona Fide (Dubrovnik)
After a week of exclusively Croatian cuisine, we were excited to try something a bit different by the weekend. We spent our last day in Croatia wandering around Dubrovnik on a hot and sunny day. For lunch, we stopped at Bona Fide, an Italian-Mexican fusion restaurant that advertised gluten-free options. Neither the gluten-free tacos nor the margaritas disappointed. The shady sidewalk seating was a great place to dine on a hot day in the city, too!
Kavana Hum (Komiza)
Komiza is a smaller port town but it has a lot of restauarants. My mother-in-law and I actually ventured into almost all of these as we explored the city one afternoon. Very few of them had gluten-free options. Ironically, the restaurant closest to our boat had a special gluten-free menu (the only one I saw in Croatia).
This included manacotti, ravioli, and a couple more options—although they were out of ravioli the day we went. My manacotti was not spectacular but it was definitely nice to be able to order something that I knew was gluten-free!
The covered terrace seating was also very nice on a breezy evening.