Traveling internationally can be intimidating for so many reasons. Finding food you can eat is critical, especially when you're working around food allergies and sensitivities. We're also very COVID aware and prefer not to eat inside restaurants. Figuring out how and what to eat is always at the top of our minds wherever we go. We knew Croatia has amazing food, but how do we find it?
We were hungry as soon as we arrived from the ferry and it was early. We scrambled around the neighborhood trying to find something familiar. Luckily there is pizza at nearly every turn, so our first meal here was a margarita pizza + prosciutto, carried out. It was such a welcome find and helped us settle in quickly.
Our Airbnb is very centrally located near Diocletian's palace, so shopping is easy. There are two markets on this block (Tommy and Studenac), two more across the street (another Tommy and a Conzum), and two more up the hill (yet another Tommy and a Ribola). And a fresh market across the street that has local vendors daily in the mornings (fruits/veg/nuts, butchers, fresh local cheese and oils, etc). And two fresh bakeries literally right outside our door. Did I mention shopping is easy?
The closest Tommy is really more of a convenience store. They have some fresh fruit/veg but far more soda, crisps/snacks, beer, etc. They also carry a limited selection of baking goods, but our Airbnb doesn't have an oven.
The Studenac is my go-to market for most things. They have a small but mighty selection of fruit/veg, packaged meat, cheeses, limited fresh meat, canned produce like tomatoes and beans, lots of bottled drinks from mineral water to Coca Cola. They have a huge selection of orange soda, from Fanta to Orangina to an unfamiliar one called Pipi that is delicious.
We set out to make chili one day as comfort food, but we couldn't find chili powder. Studenac has a great selection of paprika, salt, oregano, pepper, etc but no chili powder. This led us up the hill to the bigger Tommy which is quite a large store. Not only did they have chili powder, they also had turmeric and a dedicated fresh meat cooler where we can get ground beef/turkey, etc. They also carry one brand of peanut butter (beside multiple brands of hazelnut spread), which we knew is more of an American thing so it was nice to find. The chili was excellent and reminded us of home.
Besides cooking, it's hard to miss the many food couriers jetting around on bicycles and motor scooters with warming bags. We use a service called Wolt for those times we want to eat from restaurants. They have been very similar to DoorDash in the US (and Deliveroo in the UK) but with better service. They only deliver within a small radius because again, it's mostly by bicycle. You see Wolt bikers with their big square warm bags everywhere.
There's another service we see frequently called Glovo but we haven't been able to finish signing up with them because text messages to our voip phones have been somewhat flaky. They work for some services, not for others. Glovo is one that hasn't worked and we haven't found a way to sign up without it.
As for what we eat from local restaurants, there is so much good food. Delicious pasta: carbonara, Bolognese, veal lasagna or risotto, etc etc. Amazing meat dishes like pašticada, kebabs, roast chicken, slow cooked veal, etc etc. Fresh mozzarella and tomatoes for caprese. Prosciutto, ham, bacon. Breakfast is frequently ham and cheese filled croissants from the bakery downstairs, but they also have amazing fruit pastries, doughnuts, sausage baked in bread, pizza by the slice, and feta-filled burek (flaky pastry).
Each day is a new adventure. We love the freshness of everything. Rather than driving 20 minutes to a store to stock up for a week, forcing us to plan ahead, we can easily visit the market every day or two to buy things fresh. We can make decisions based on how we feel that day and know that the ingredients will be fresh. Do we have 50 brands of everything like a super Walmart? No, but I haven't missed that at all. Not at all.