With the release of the 2019 Croatia Michelin Guide, the country now claims five one-star restaurants.
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In early February, Michelin put its 2019 Guide for the Main Cities of Europe up for pre-order on Amazon, with an official release date of March 27. The book acts as a dining and hotel guide for people traveling in Europe, offering logistics advice, maps—and, of course, plenty of restaurant recommendations. This year’s edition saw three cities added—Reykjavik, Dubrovnik, and Zagreb—and with the latter two cities located in Croatia, it seemed to signify that the country’s dining scene was having a moment. Today, that theory was proven correct with Michelin’s release of the third Croatia Guide, which added two one-starred restaurants to the list.

“This selection shows the potential of the Croatian gastronomic scene, enriched by multiple influences; from Mediterranean tastes in Dalmatia, Italian influences in Istria and Slavic tastes from Zagreb to Slavonia, which together creates a unique culinary identity,” Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the MICHELIN Guides, said a statement.

Now, two one-starred restaurants might not sound like a big deal—but, last year, Croatia only had three starred restaurants in total (all one-star), so this addition almost doubles the country’s star count. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that Monte in Rovinj, the country’s first Michelin-starred restaurant, was the only Michelin-starred restaurant in the entire country, with Pelegrini in Šibenik and 360º in Dubrovnik joining its ranks in 2018. So with one starred restaraunt in the first guide, and two more restaurants added each in 2018 and 2019, Croatia's gastronomy scene is on the rise. Last year’s guide said the country was “improving fast,” and in the 2019 announcement, it confirmed that statement by saying the inspectors saw “a positive evolving trend,” with the restaurant food standard continuing to improve.

2019’s newly starred restaurants are Noel in Zagreb, and Draga di Lovrana, in Lovran. The guide referred to Noel as a “fashionable restaurant with soft lighting and trendy, internationally inspired furnishings, where guests can enjoy exciting, colorful cuisine;” Draga di Lovrana was highlighted for having a talented young chef, Deni Srdoč. There were also additions in the Bib Gourmand and Michelin Plate categories, for a grand total of seven new restaurants in the guide overall—and, since six out of seven of them are in Zagreb, the guide noted that the city is dynamic and “offer[s] diners diverse choices of cuisine with influences from the Mediterranean to Asia, and all using fresh market produce.” So if you’re heading to Croatia soon, don’t leave the country without spending some time in the capital.