Eating gluten free in Croatia while travelling in Europe was easier than expected. The people are quite direct and were sometimes put off by gluten free interrogation but once used to this and familiar with the suitable dishes, ordering gluten free food in Croatia was relatively straightforward. There is a lot of fresh fish available and risotto was a good fall back if unsure of other things on the menu.
Gluten free in Croatia
Gluten free is not a well known word in Croatia but you will find some gluten free products in the supermarkets and labelling is easily interpreted when you know what you are looking for.
Getting to know Croatian cuisine
Croatian cuisine is influenced by many of the surrounding European countries but the most obvious influence was the Mediterranean and Greek flavours along the Dalmatian coast. Other influences you will find in Croatia are Austrian and Hungarian with dishes such as goulash, schnitzel and strudel, most of which are must avoids for those eating gluten free.
Tips for eating out gluten free in Croatia
Many Croatian dishes are prepared with fresh ingredients and are naturally gluten free, as a result you will never be without an option when ordering at a restaurant. That said, below are some tips to help you along the way.
Explaining your gluten free dietary requirements in Croatia
- Gluten is not a well known word in Croatia let alone the phrase gluten free! Ensure you explain that you can't eat wheat or anything containing wheat (barley, rye and oats don't seem to be common in kitchens).
- Many waiters were unclear on the fact that rice and other flours were still okay, so it might be worth mentioning this.
- Some restaurants thought that dairy was a problem too so adjusted dishes to be without the cream sauce etc. If you can have dairy you may need to explain this to the staff.
- In Croatia the language is Croatian. Below are a few phrases that might help you to communicate your requirements. Also keep an eye out for our gluten free travelling translations in the near future.
Anything problematic with eating gluten free in Croatia?
- As you would at home always be wary of sauces, we found that if you notified the staff of your requirements they could usually list the ingredients for you.
- Bread is often served with a meal but normally in a separate bowl, ensure this is the case, otherwise specify your requirements.
- Desserts were often flour based so it is best to stay away from them.
Suggested gluten free meal options in Croatia
- Fresh salads.
- Fish, meat and poultry dishes (if a sauce is accompanying the dish be sure to check it is gluten free). The seafood is fresh and delicious, a highly recommended dish in Croatia.
- Risotto (a local delicacy is the squid ink risotto).
Croatia's tried and tested gluten free restaurants
Here is a list of restaurants in Croatia successfully dined at without incidence, deeming them Croatia's gluten free friendly restaurants!
- Agava Restaurant: Good for a long leisurely lunch or dinner, delicious freshly prepared food with great service.
- Adriatic: Perfect for a special dinner looking out over the Adriatic Sea the view is unbeatable, the food was enjoyable.
- Figa: Great lunch or light dinner stop in the old town; good fresh, simple food. One of the waiters had a brother with coeliac disease.
- Grego Levante: Nice slightly romantic spot for dinner in a tiny street of the old town, sit at the outside tables if possible.
- Chihauhua Mexican: Just outside the city walls, the tuna tacos (they served it all with gluten free corn chips for us) were delicious and it is rare to find none local cuisine that is gluten free friendly so it was great for a change after 6 days of Croatian food!
- Lucin Cantun: Served on small tapas style plates this is a great chance to try out some of the more traditional dishes you don't have the courage to order as mains. Located within the city walls the location is quaint.
- Dubravka: Over looking the ocean, the view is stunning and the Mediterranean breakfast (without the bread which comes on the side) is gluten free.
Tips for eating in gluten free in Croatia
In every place we stayed we made sure we had a kitchen, it makes gluten free breakfasts simple and if you tire of all the gluten free ingredient questioning you are able to prepare the odd meal yourself which is an absolute bonus in Croatia where there are gorgeous fresh food markets in all of the above destinations.
Reading labels in Croatia
A lot of gluten free brands are international and have English but also many other languages on them so most specifically gluten free products are often labelled as gluten free in English. Below are some words you may find useful when reading packaging that isn't clearly marked gluten free in English.
Gluten free breakfast options in Croatia
When you can't find yourself specific gluten free bread, cereal or breakfast substitutes here are some of the breakfast options we used
- scrambled eggs and bacon
- rice cakes with nutella or cheese
- fresh fruit salad with greek yoghurt and honey
We also found gluten free muesli in one of the bigger supermarkets, Konzum, see below.
Gluten free snacks in Croatia
With careful checking you should be able to find gluten free potato chips and chocolate bars. Fresh fruit, nuts and dried fruit were our usual fall back though, the fresh berries are too good to resist.
Supermarkets and gluten free in Croatia
The best supermarket for gluten free foods was Konzum, the larger stores had a dedicated gluten free section. It is the largest supermarket chain in Croatia so you shouldn't have a problem finding one. Thanks to one lovely reader, Hillary, we can also add that DM Drogerie has Schär products. Muller stores also have gluten free products but they are mixed with non gluten free items so read carefully. You can find both stores in most towns.
The lovely Hillary also mentioned that when staying on an island off Croatia she took her own pasta to a restaurant, which they cooked and served with their own pasta sauce. Brilliant!
If you have any tips to add or questions to ask please get in contact we are always looking to add to our guides to improve travelling gluten free for everyone. If you are looking for more gluten free travelling guides go here.