Due to Zagreb’s proximity to the coast (under two hours at the closest point), fresh Adriatic fish fills up the city’s marketplaces—and restaurants—daily. There are seafood restaurants in the other large inland towns too, though the offerings might be a bit less varied. Each inland region has its own delicious specialties, with many focused on roasted or fried meats accompanied by fresh salad and vegetable side dishes. For example, Zagorje is famous for duck with mlinci, while the Plitvice Lakes area is known for meaty dishes with wild game.
The influence of Austria to the northwest and Hungary to the northeast is evident in the form of hearty soups and stews like varivo (a thick broth with vegetables) and gulaš (the Croatian version of Hungarian goulash). Many restaurants also serve Italian-influenced pasta and pizza with added Croatian twists like Istrian truffles or Slavonian sausage. Other options include Turkish-influenced grilled meats such as ćevapi (seasoned minced meat links, often served with raw onions and pepper relish called ajvar), which are often lower in price than more elaborate main courses. Don’t miss out on rich appetizers and desserts either. Doubling as both are the Zagorje region’s famous zagorski štrukli (cheese dumplings)—served either baked or boiled, and salty or sweet. Međimurska gibanica (a triple-layer apple, sweet cheese, and poppyseed cake) is a must-try in Međimurje. Chocolate-, jam-, and sweet-cheese–filled palačinke (crepes) are on nearly every menu in the region too. If you head to Varaždin or a smaller town, prices will drop somewhat.