2 Sv. Roka
Korčula Town , Korčula
Tel: 385 20 711 253
The oldest family-run restaurant in Korčula is still a place where locals gather at shellacked picnic tables to devour mussels dripping with oil, garlic, parsley, and white wine. A high-ceilinged, open-air dining room located inside a 200-year-old stone building within the city walls, Adio Mare has stuck to its beliefs even as the lines outside grow increasingly long: no reservations, fair prices, and delectable food.
Dinner nightly: 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Tel: 385 20 442 526
It looks worryingly touristique, but this place in the renovated 19th-century Nautical Academy has been reliable for years. Three big terraces overlook the harbor in the shadow of the Bokar and Lovrijenac fortresses. Though meat dishes are plentiful, stick with the fish, which, unsurprisingly given the setting, is what they do best. Standouts include shrimp in a sweet-and-salty lemon sauce served with carrot-stuffed black ravioli, and baked Adriatic gilt-head breama fish known as "dorade royale" on that other riviera.
Korčula Town , Korčula
Tel: 385 20 711 055
This Korčula sweet shop brims with candies, local wines, and liqueurs. The cookies, though, merit many returns. Try a klasun, filled with walnut cream; a handful of amaretti, made with almonds, eggs, sugar, orange, lemon, and rose brandy; or some cukarini, sweet biscuits traditionally dipped in wine. But you need to arrive early or you'll wind up waiting: Owner Smiljana Matijaca seemingly cooks nonstop, but still manages to sell out by midday and then reopens at night after baking another batch.
Closed Saturday. Open 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Boškovićeva ulica 5 (near Sponza Palace)
Tel: 385 20 331 911
Among a thousand rustic local joints in the middle of the Old Town is this ocher-walled room with bentwood chairs, a quainter and better choice than your average Prijeko Street tourist trap. Order platters of prsut (a cured, smoked ham) and cheeses; try livanjski, a cow's-milk number from Livno, and the sheep's-milk paski from the island of Pag, then the red seafood risotto with mussels, prawns, and squid. If you're in a rush, grab something from the takeout sandwich bar.
Beneath the city walls, follow sign from the cathedral
Tel: 385 20 323 633
This sweet traditional-style restaurant was opened in 2000 by the young chef-owners Pero and Tonka Braicevic and has been gathering fans ever since—as long as they can find it. Each meal starts with an aperitif of Tonka's grandmother's wicked bittersweet homemade brandy. If you can't make a menu decision, ask for the Ekvinocijo Plate—a selection of whatever fishes were caught that morning, grilled, with cabbage and potato.
Tel: 385 91 896 7509
The unwieldy wrap sandwiches and fruit smoothies at Fresh are ideal when you need a break after several days of the same-old seafood dishes and the ubiquitous (and usually not very good) pizzas and pastas. The café, just off the Stradun strip, is also a daytime draw for its free Wi-Fi; at night it becomes a happening bar serving yards of beer and suggestively named cocktails (try the Nice Peaches).
34 Vladimira Nazora
Vis Town , Vis
Tel: 385 21 711 755
Vis, 28 miles into the Adriatic from the nearest coast, feels more secluded than its sister islands. Kaliopa echoes this sensibility: Hidden in a garden next to an old villa by the sea, it isn't a place you're likely to stumble upon. The owner, Goran Pecarevic, doesn't like crowds, either; in fact, he says his goal is to get smaller and smaller until he's serving only himself. Metaphysical puzzles aside, the food is delicious. Order a bottle of island-made red Plavac Mali, and start with smoked-fish soup or risotto with mussels and shrimp; next tuck into the tuna carpaccio slathered in domestic olive oil and sprinkled with capers. With only 50 seats outside, reservations are essential.
Dinner nightly: 5 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Gunduliceva poljana 8
Tel: 385 20 323 682
Shoppers from Gundulic Square's daily vegetable market gather at Kamenice's outdoor tables for uncomplicated fare such as raw oysters (kamenice means oyster), steamed mussels, tiny whole fried fish drizzled with lemon juice, and icy mugs of Karlovacko beer. The wait staff can be surly, but the prices are much kinder.
Tel: 385 21 647 707
You know the food is good when the mix of customers includes white-dusted workmen from Brač's stone quarries and rich yachties who venture off the boat to look for this place on the road between Supetar and Bol. What's the attraction? The lamb: Brač has little grass, so its sheep feed on herbs such as sage and rosemary, dusted with sea salt. When cooked on the spit, those herbal flavors luxuriate with the meat's juices. The veal here is also scrumptious, slow-roasted under a peka, a traditional bell-like cover that acts as a primitive convection oven to keep the meat moist. The indoor dining room has a cafeteria feel, so move to the terrace, with its views of rolling, rocky hills.
Lunch and dinner daily: 10 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Tel: 385 21 486 675
You can get a decent meal at the traditional, touristic restaurants in Split's Old Town. But Labirint, hidden on a narrow lane past Trg Gaje Bulata across from Old Town's bustling Marmontova Street, is where the locals go. Labirint's raison d'être is beef, serving arguably the region's best steaks. Our pick: the 23-ounce T-bone served with grilled vegetables and potato croquettes, a great antidote to all the fish you've been eating.
Open daily noon to midnight.
Tel: 385 20 324 750
This seafood place in the old port serves the usual dishesmany in the traditional big black potsand very well done they are, too. What's different here is that you'll usually find as many locals as tourists lounging away the time at the dark wood bar beneath the nondescript dining room. The only concession to decor is an assortment of farmhouse dressers, wrought-iron lamps, and some ropes of fake ivy. Refreshing.
1 Petar Hektorovića
Hvar Town , Hvar
Tel: 385 21 741 400
Italians love Hvar, and they especially love Luna—one of the few places on the island that might be described as glam. Owner Tomislav Rudan understands that visitors want a break from the standard fare and rustic ambience, so he serves dishes such as smoked salmon, shrimp gazpacho, and beef tenderloin with a truffle cream and mushroom sauce—a welcome break from picking tiny bones out of your teeth (fish in Croatia is rarely filleted). Located in the center of town, the restaurant has a dining room with a swirl of quirky paintings and a moon-shaped rooftop terrace. You'll hear a babble of languages and see many of the same good-looking folks at Carpe Diem later that night.
Closed November to March. Lunch and dinner.
Pupnat , Korčula
Tel: 385 20 717 109
Pupnat is a small village in Korčula's hills, but make the 15-minute drive from Korčula Town for what might be your crowning meal in Dalmatia. The operative word here is homemade: Everything from cured meats to pasta to cheese comes from the family's land. After enjoying a huge appetizer plate loaded with eggplant pâté, liver pâté, pancetta, sausage, goat cheese, and wild capers, move on to the goat-cheese ravioli, and finish off with pastries and juniper or rosemary sorbet. Be sure to check out the smokehouse, hanging with dozens of legs of pršut. A bottle of herb rakija —Croatian grappa—sits on each table along with a clutch of other liqueurs (mandarin, wild cherry, apricot, fig, rose petal, carob). Best assign a designated driver.
10 Kraj Svete Marije
Tel: 385 91 405 6666
Savvy globe trekkers know that to find a good seafood restaurant you head for the local fish market. Split's market is worth a wander, with its singing, haggling, and bantering Croats selling lobsters, eels, and squid ink. While Nostromo isn't quite on the water itself, it attracts Split's upper echelon in an wood-bedecked dining room in the fish market that feels like a yacht's galley. The chefs know to leave well enough alone, using a minimum of spices and sauces to let the flavor of the fish come through. Start with a plate of local oysters before diving into the Nostromo plate, which includes sautéed shrimp, squid, mussels, scallops, and clams tossed with olive oil and parsley.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily: 6 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Od tabakarije 1
Tel: 385 20 414 183
Situated on a quiet cove just outside the Pile Gate, Orhan is a less-expensive alternative to the nearby Atlas Club Nautika. Morning coffee is served on a large awning-shaded terrace that overlooks the water, but dinner is the main event: If the heaping fish platter—grilled sea bass, squid, orhan steaks (like a bluefish), and steamed mussels—sounds too ambitious for your appetite, try the slow-roasted veal or the squid-ink risotto.
8 Don Cvjetka Marasovića
Vis Town , Vis
Tel: 385 21 711 575
Tucked away in an alley in the neighborhood of Kut, Pojoda is renowned for its full-bodied interpretations of ancient recipes. Our recommendation: the brodetto, a traditional stew made with tomatoes, wine, olive oil, monkfish, and lobster. Why is it so good? We don't know: When we asked owner and head chef Zoran Brajčić for the recipe, he said, "Nobody can imitate the dish. Even if you know the ingredients, how can you know how big my pinch is? I've got big hands." Couple the brodetto with a bottle of local Vugava white wine.
Lunch and dinner daily: 12 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Široka ulica 1 (at Vara)
Tel: 385 20 323 234
Run by the Atlas Club Nautika people, this is a reliable, reasonable fish specialist in the Old Town, offering a break from schmaltzy decor—an open room with a wooden cathedral ceiling leads to a sunny enclosed terrace.
Hvar Town , Hvar
Tel: 385 21 74 28 50
The owners of the increasing number of impossibly expensive yachts bobbing just off Hvar are lured onto land by this spot in Groda, Hvar town's oldest neighborhood. It's not the simple interior of wooden tables that does it, brightened as it is by the paintings of one of the owners. It's the soup, called gregada, so thick you need a fork and spoon to eat it. Originally a poor man's dish using boiled whitefish, potatoes, onions, and wine, here it's classed up with John Dory and sea bass. As often as not, when customers order something besides the gregada, they'll change their minds when a bubbling bowl wafts by, leaking the smell of garlic and wine.
Open daily: 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. No lunch on Sunday.
Tel: 385 91 383 5160
Situated in an idyllic bay, Robinson is about a 30-minute walk along the beach east of Hvar Town's main harbor (after leaving the sidewalk near Pokonji dol Bay, continue on an easy path until you reach Mekićevica Bay). When you arrive—look for a weathered wood sign shaped like a fish—ask the owner, Domagoj Vekić, what's available that day. Chances are he will rattle off a round of delectable choices such as octopus salad, spit-roasted shrimp covered with cheese and served with eggplant, marinated sardines, and fish stew made with tomatoes and garlic. If your choice is the catch of the day, Domagoj will clean the fish from a stone perch above the water and take it back to his kitchen hut to grill. Guests relax on the bleached-white stone beach until lunch is ready. Afterwards, take a dip in the impossibly clear waters. Because the restaurant is open odd days, it's best to call ahead before making the trek down the beach.
Lunch only: 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Tel: 385 20 412 910
Right by the Hilton near the western entrance to the Old Town, the family-owned Sesame Tovjerna offers classic Dalmatian dishes in a series of picturesque settings. Order plates of cheeses and local smoked ham, osso buco with dill, chicken with rosemary and olives, or mixed fresh shellfish while admiring the view from the palazzo-floored beamed terraceor choose the ivy-covered courtyard or the barrel-vaulted dining room lined with framed prints. The 200-year-old stone house surrounded by orange trees is famous around here, so call ahead. There are also four clean, simple bedrooms overlooking the garden on the first floorwhich, at a top rate of around $115, qualifies Sesame as one of the best lodging bargains in town.