In Istria, food is a love language.
Love goes through the stomach in the hundreds of restaurants scattered around the heart-shaped peninsula.
While exploring Istria, where should you grab a bite to eat?
We’ve handpicked the best restaurants in Istria for any budget. In this guide, you’ll find the best gastro experience for your wallet — from fine dining Michelin-awarded experiences to cosy, budget-friendly family restaurants that serve traditional Istrian food.
Which Food and Drinks to Try in Istria Restaurants
With every bite and sip of wine, you immerse yourself in the unique local culture and cuisine of Istria. What are some authentic foods and beverages you wouldn’t want to miss in Istria?
This culinary-rich region is well-known for:
- Boškarin ox
- Maneštra soup
Truffles are underground foodie treasures, mushrooms that take hours of scavenging in dense Istrian forests to uncover — even with expertly trained sniffer dogs. Istria is known for both black truffles and rare (seasonal) white truffles.
You’ll find them shaved on top of the pasta dish or Istrian cheese and even served in a lava cake. Regional chefs love experimenting with this local mushroom.
Mussels are the most common shellfish farmed in Istria. They’re at the heart of menus in local Istrian restaurants and taverns. More often than not, they’re the star of a simple, authentic dish known as mussels “na buzaru”.
Boškarin ox is a type of cattle native to Istria. The meat of these ancient cattle is served in Istrian restaurants as a special delicacy — alongside gnocchi or “fuži” pasta. Only selected restaurants are allowed to prepare boškarin ox.
Maneštra soup is a traditional stew that resembles Minestrone — an Italian soup packed with veggies and pasta. Recipes vary, but this filling soup generally consists of corn, pasta, pork ribs, carrots, celery, beans, parsnip, and other seasonal veggies.
Muscat is a sweet wine recognizable by its golden colour that comes in many varieties. This family of grapes is popular in Italy as well, but many muscat grapes are native to Istria. Virtually all restaurants in Istria have this locally-produced wine on offer.
Malvazija is a white wine known for its fruity taste and yellow/golden hue. While this is also the type of grape widespread in Italy, many bottles are filled with a variety of grapes that are bred only in Istrian vineyards.
Teranino is a type of liqueur that stems from Teran — red wine made in Istria. It’s known for its light and fruity taste. Drink this sweet liquor on its own or mix it in a cocktail.
Wines are best paired with authentic Mediterranean dishes you can try only in Istria. Where to eat while in Istria?
Best High-End Restaurants in Istria
We’ve curated the best of the best restaurants in Istria. These are the top places where you can revel in a creative twist on local dishes and unparalleled culinary artistry.
Treat yourself to these top-rated fine-dining experiences. You can also find some of them listed in the Michelin guide. Two of the restaurants in Istria have been awarded a Michelin star.
Agli Amici is a restaurant located in Rovinj, Istria. From the first year when it opened its doors, it was awarded the prestigious Michelin star for its innovative dishes using high-end local ingredients.
Have lunch on the restaurant terrace overlooking the historic old town and the nearby St.Catherine Island. Or dine inside this intimate and modern cube-shaped restaurant.
Renowned Italian chef, Chef Emanuele Scarello curates the menus. He imbues meals with creativity and meticulous attention to detail, which is the signature of Michelin-awarded restaurants.
The end result? Sophisticated traditional meals with a contemporary twist you can find only on the plates of the Agli Amici restaurant.
Experienced sommeliers handpick the wine list that is in perfect harmony with vegetable dishes that take you to Italy and back to Istria with every bite.
Some of the unique meals that you don’t want to miss in the restaurant include grilled beef with almonds, langoustine and spaghetti with sea herbs.
Monte is known as the first restaurant in Croatia to earn a prestigious Michelin star. This family-owned restaurant has been awarded the star year after year for its innovative cuisine and unmatched quality.
Nestled in the heart of the historical city of Rovinj and concealed in a stonewall courtyard, this high-end gourmet restaurant was once a tavern. Enjoy its romantic ambience bathed in soft light inside or on the terrace of the restaurant.
While designing the meals that are strongly tied to Rovinj, the chef recreates dishes that evoke his personal childhood memories of growing up in Istria.
Traditional Istrian food transcends gourmet, paired with an extensive list of top-rated local wines. From the exquisite selection of local ingredients to the warm hospitality, every aspect of running this restaurant is focused on quality.
Must-try dishes in this restaurant are the three colour-coded menus (red, blue, and green), each of them offering an innovative take on traditional tastes and aromas.
Cap Aureo is a restaurant that offers a high-end culinary and wine experience in Rovinj — from booking to dessert.
Found on the fifth floor of the luxury hotel Grand Park in Rovinj, the location offers the best overview of the seafront from the terrace or elegant modern interior. This place is at its most magical during sunset.
Here, Istrian cuisine takes the form of a sophisticated fine dining experience that takes you on a delectable culinary journey. Every dish tells its own story, with a distinct narrative of its own complex world of taste.
The dishes are accompanied by a highly curated list of wines that are made and bottled in Croatia. The waiters are well-versed in what pairs well with whatever courses you choose from the menu. They also know a lot about winery history and the overall Croatian wine market.
When dining in Cap Aureo, immerse yourself in carefully chosen courses curated by the talented chef.
Poreč is the home to a creative fine dining experience you can book in the restaurant Spinnaker .
It’s run by a Croatian chef, Goran Hrastovčak, who honed his cooking skills in a Michelin-awarded restaurant. The chef brings signature attention to detail and the innovative spirit of a Michelin-star restaurant on the menu of Spinnaker.
The ambience of the restaurant, which is located on the waterfront, is relaxing, whether you select the terrace or the cosy interior of this luxurious restaurant.
Take your time as you enjoy the unique presentation of creative meals that show their own take on traditional Croatian cuisine. Every dish is a piece of art that keeps you engaged, inspired and full.
The restaurant uses exclusively local ingredients such as Istrian truffles for its dishes. They’re also transparent about where each ingredient is sourced.
Enjoy the specially tailored menu that tells its own flavourful story. And the wide selection of wine that pairs well with any dish.
Zigante is a fine dining restaurant experience you can find in a small village at the heart of Istria called Livade.
The speciality of this restaurant is the local Istrian truffles. The restaurant was the first to offer exclusively truffle-based meal preparation in Croatia. Today, it’s one of the most well-known truffle restaurants in Croatia.
Also, the restaurant owner is known for discovering the record-breaking truffle in the steep Istrian forests. From 1999 to 2024, he held the Guinness World Record for the largest truffle weigh in in at 1.31 kg.
Its cosy, dimly lit Mediterranean interior and terrace make for a perfect romantic evening feast.
Istrian truffles are truly the star of this restaurant. The chef tops pasta, prosciutto, fish and meat with this iconic Istrian mushroom. Depending on the time of year you visit, you can try fresh truffles paired with locally-sourced seasonal ingredients.
Award-winning sommeliers and staff in the restaurant will suggest the best wine options that you can pair with the dish of your choice.
Best Budget Restaurants in Istria
The best restaurants in Istria don’t have to be expensive. You can still get a hearty Mediterranean meal in more budget-friendly eateries in Istria.
Because Istria has a high standard for food, even budget-friendly restaurant options feature dishes that are inspired by traditional cuisine and made using local, seasonal ingredients.
When it comes to more affordable alternatives, you’ll mostly find cosy taverns that are run by generations of Croatian families.
Here, we’ve selected the restaurants in Istria that offer you the best value for your money.
Konoba Buščina is a homey restaurant located near Umag, in a small village known as Buščine. Thirty years of experience and a longstanding tradition of cooking authentic Istrian meals translates to perfection served on every plate.
This tavern-like restaurant, with its rustic interior, offers a relaxing atmosphere ideal for families and groups of friends. The warm and cosy ambience of the restaurant prepares you for the authentic Istrian cuisine that is at the heart of the restaurant’s work.
The restaurant specialises in traditional Istrian food. Their unique menu is crafted with local fish and meat that come straight from local farms. The dishes are also enriched with locally sourced olive oil and Croatian wines.
Top picks to try while you dine in the restaurant are boškarin ox with gnocchi, Istrian truffle pasta and the ravioli with prosciutto.
If you’re feeling adventurous, your waiter will be more than happy to suggest dishes that are based on the freshest daily ingredients and what is in the season.
Konoba Nino (AKA Tavern Nino) is a small charming restaurant located in Novigrad, Istria. While it does require a bit of a drive out of town, it’s definitely worth it.
The stone walls and terrace hidden behind olive trees will make you feel as if you’ve found your foodie home away from home. The staff are known to be friendly and approachable, there for your needs and questions.
Quality meals are prepared in a traditional way and offered at budget-friendly prices. The food is homemade, and the menu offers a wide selection of hearty meals that are typically Croatian.
The restaurant offers plenty of tasty options, from inexpensive Mediterranean meals such as pasta to special treats.
For example, the tavern also prepares gourmet Istrian food, such as steak with Istrian truffles and a wide selection of wines that you can pair with your meal.
Konoba Vrh is another family-owned restaurant that offers a homely atmosphere and great food for less. Discover it in Buzet, Istria.
Placed far away from the city hustle and bustle, it’s a relaxing gourmet getaway. This calm tavern also features a dreamy garden that you can explore while you wait for your food.
The selection of dishes is truly wide. They prepare various types of pasta, vegetables, meat and fish. All of them are prepared in a traditional way with the occasional twist. Also, they feature seasonal ingredients that are native to Istria.
The tavern has plenty of cheap meals but also special offers. For instance, they’re one of the restaurants that are allowed to prepare authentic boškarin ox. Like many restaurants in the region, they have seasonal Istrian truffles on the menu.
A fine selection of wine suits the Mediterranean tastes you’re about to have prepared on your plate.
Tončić is a cosy tavern run by a family in Croatia. You’ll find it on the family farm that is placed in Oprtalj, Istria.
This restaurant is surrounded by nature and placed on the Istrian hilltops, which you can observe while dining on the terrace of the restaurant.
The interior features stone walls and showcases wines that are local to Croatia. Altogether, it creates a relaxing atmosphere far from the city.
Every meal is made with local ingredients, from farm to table. Every dish is a cosy home-cooked meal that will leave you full. Pair your dish with your choice of homemade family wine.
Here, you’ll also find many signature meals, drinks, and ingredients that Istria is best known for — such as truffles.
When you visit the tavern, try the homemade products that the family makes on their farm.
Salt & Pepper
Salt & Pepper is a restaurant nestled in Medulin. It offers the best value for your money if you’re a vegetarian or vegan.
Attentive and friendly staff walk you to your table. The walls inside of the restaurant are made of stone, contributing to the Mediterranean feel. You can also dine on the terrace under the shade and soak in the relaxing ambience.
From barbecue to versatile vegan options, the restaurant accommodates people with different dietary preferences.
Fresh food made using quality local ingredients is served on large platters that will leave the whole family satiated for a long time.
The restaurant offers plenty of comfort foods that are popular in the Balkan region as well as traditional Istrian meals.
Besides burgers and fries, they also offer healthy and light Mediterranean options.
Pair them with different drinking options on the menu — from beers, cocktails and an extensive wine list.
As in all restorations in Croatia, you can complete your dining experience with dessert.
Restaurants in Istria Leave You Satiated
Istria’s unique geographical position has made it ideal for growing truffles and grapes that you’ll find bottled in all sorts of Istrian wines offered on wine lists in restaurants.
Where to eat while you’re in Istria?
In our Istrian restaurant guide, we’ve revealed all the best restaurants in Istria where you can try typical Istrian drinks and meals and local specialities (such as boškarin ox and Istrian truffles) at different price points.
High-end restaurants in Istria are more about a gastronomic experience, immersing your senses in refined culinary artistry in a sophisticated environment. They turn fine dining into art exhibitions with every plate served.
Budget-friendly options are set in cosy taverns and family restaurants that have been cooking and perfecting traditional Istrian meals for decades. While they might be cheaper, they still offer local and authentic meals that are typical for this part of Croatia.
Whether you book a table in one of the Micheline star restaurants in Istria or go for a homey and warm family restaurant, you’ll never leave feeling hungry — for food, quality or that authentic Croatian dining experience.
HIGH END RESTAURANTS:
Salt & Pepper