There were 9 of us at the dinner party and what a fantastic dinner party it was. Marija and Zlatko were perfect hosts and we felt like friends around for a evening of good food and conversation. The food was amazing. Beautifully prepared and so fresh, the nicest we had had since arriving in Europe 3 weeks earlier. We were also given the chance to try some home made cherry and walnut liqueurs- so good. We had a mix of fresh salads, homemade cheeses, bread, prosciutto and salamis which were all lovely and a dish of anchovies which I thought I would not enjoy but to my surprise they were lovely, it is all in the way they are prepared. Of course the starters were the lead up to the main dish which was the Peka prepared the traditional way with burning coals on top of a huge covered metal dish . Zlatko was the one who changed the coals and stirred the dish and each time he opened the lid the aroma was amazing. Conversation flowed freely as did the wine and then we were treated to the cooked lamb and potatoes of the Peka dish. Hard to describe how good this was. Meat so tender, crispy potatoes, fantastic sauce in the pot that was ladled out on our plates rich with herbs and pot juices. Just when we thought we couldn’t eat anymore the most delightful plum strudel was served and a plate of the best tasting watermelon. What a fantastic night it was. As we waddled down the steps we said goodbye to a great fun night out. Make sure when you are in Dubrovnik you don’t miss out on enjoying this wonderful night with Marija and Zlatko.
Marija and Zlatko were such gracious, warm hosts, the food and wine was so delicious and abundant, and their back yard was so cozy and green, that we quickly forgot that we were half way around the world and that it was raining. Foodies everywhere speak the same language - traditional ways of cooking, where to get the freshest, most seasonal ingredients, including in this case local olive oil, wine, and salt.
We met their children as they came in from school and sports practice. The evening felt like dinner with friends. As for the food, everything was local, homemade, traditional, and delicious. "Dinner with locals" is a wonderful experience in every way - we highly recommend it to anyone who is visiting beautiful Dubrovnik.
Deb and Syd Sewall
The previous comments on this site are so "on-the-mark" that there's no reason to repeat what has already been so eloquently said by others. Let us just add that no matter how terrific the food we ate, the warmth of our hosts was even more so. Within minutes of meeting Marija and Zlatko, we already felt like family. We didn't feel like guests, we felt like long-lost relatives. And when Zlatko's daughter arrived, and later their son, the family feeling was even stronger.
So despite their business' name "Eat with Locals," dining with Marija and Zlatko should more accurately be called "Eat with your Dubrovnik family." You'll go for the food (which as everyone else has commented is incredibly good), but you'll leave with new relatives.
Eric & Nancy Garen
Los Angeles, California
My husband and I were welcomed into Marija and Vlatko’s home for a traditional Croatian dinner. They made us feel like we were at home! We started with homemade cherry and walnut liqueur. It was fabulous. Marija made delightful snacks for us to try. Then the Peka which was cooking for hours in cast iron over a flame turned out to be fabulous. Something we have never had anywhere else. There was very fresh Salad, wonderful potatoes, assorted fresh cheese and meats, fresh asparagus picked that day, and home made amazing bread!!!! The desert was the best desert I have had. The food was fabulous. The people were both warm and charming. I would highly recommend reserving a night of true Croatian culture. It was a night we will never forget. So authentically cheerful with the hugest form of hospitality. Don’t even think about it! Go before they are booked up! You can’t come to Dubrovnik without being fed by Marija and Zlatko!!!
Mary and Bill
Everywhere I travel, I make it a point to seek out where the locals are and how they live – how else are you ever going to truly experience a city’s culture through food, drink and people? This trip to Dubrovnik was no different, other than the fact that Marija and Zlatko are at the top of the charts! I could write a short – or long :] – story diving into every intricacy of the night and highlight every moment with the utmost detail to captivate not only your interest, but your imagination and salivary glands. My two brothers, father, uncle and I had the absolute pleasure of spending our first evening with these two beautiful people. Start to finish was an absolute pleasure with the perfect combination of food, drink, conversation and laughter. I would love to dive into the simple yet deliciousness of the freshly dried figs, home infused liqueurs, local wines, cheeses, meats and oils, or the traditional fire cooked main course followed by decadent sweets, but to completely understand how great Marija and Zlatko and their mission is, you need to experience it for yourself. I whole heartedly believe that you cannot visit Dubrovnik, let along Croatia, without spending an evening at their humble abode. I am happy to have found such great people in such a beautiful place and I cannot wait until my return to spend another evening with my newfound friends. Until next time. Cheers!
Wyatt Earp :] and Family
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien
And that is exactly how dinner at Marija and Zlatko’s home started and ended.
It was my first time in Dubrovnik and won’t be my last after this food journey at Marija and Zlatko’s home. At the first holler of “Come on Up” by Zlatko at the top of the stairwell, I knew I was in for some no non-sense local experience. The climb up the few steps from street level was a precursor of more gym sessions I probably needed to do after a very generous and sumptuous dinner that evening.
I was welcomed very warmly by Marija who immediately made me feel like I’ve meet a long lost sister. The first drink I had was a homemade on the sweet-side wine that was delicious and refreshing at the same time. My glass was never left empty that night.
I was immediately introduced to other guest diners that evening – people from all over the Unites States, Canada and Asia. It was a cozy party of 8 guests that was just, to my mind, the right size for an experience such as this.
As Zlatko focused on ensuring that the Peka was going to be beautifully done, we were spoiled with choices of out-of-this world decadent appetizers ranging from homemade cheese, succulent local tomatoes, locally-grown olives & grapes, family-made prosciutto, backyard-grown figs – a balanced overload to the senses, I must say.
As I sat under trellises of grapevines which hung above our dining table in Marija’s garden, I thoroughly enjoyed the international company, conversations and cultural exchanges. What better way to learn!
The highlight of the evening was the Peka dish. A traditional Croation dish of meats (veal, beef, etc.) and vegetables cooked inside a metal tray with a bell-like cover and cooked over an open fire. When Zlatko opened the cover, the aroma of the dish overcame my senses. I was in heaven! But the aroma was just the start, the texter of the meat was so soft and tender that I did not need any knife to cut through it. The flavour was beyond description. You just need to experience it for yourself. The portions were generous and there was more than enough to go around! Marija poured various other types of wines to accompany personal wine-pairing preferences. Maybe out of sated bliss, the image of Scarlette o’Hara came to mind as she said – ‘… and I’ll never be hungry again.”
And just as I thought I could not possibly eat another bite, Marija tempts (and we succumb) us with her homemade Tiramisu. One bite and I was definitely in heaven! I will not ruin the experience for you by even trying to describe you. You just have to try it yourself!
Eat at the Home of Marija & Zlatko Papak – only then can you say that you’ve had a good trip to Dubrovnik
I was traveling solo in Dubrovnik and decided to book this experience for my birthday dinner. At first, I was a little nervous about spending my birthday dinner with complete strangers but Marija made me feel like part of the family. I ate the best food, drank too much of her homemade cherry liquor and wine, made friends, danced, and laughed until there were tears in my eyes. I’m still dreaming of the food I ate. It was the best meal I’ve had in a very long time. Also, remember to save room for dessert! You cannot skip this, I’ve traveled a lot and this has been one of my favorite experiences. I can’t wait to go back to Dubrovnik just so I can have dinner at Marija’s house again.
We had the pleasure of having dinner with Marija Papak and family while in Dubrovnik. It was arranged by Jay Way Travel. The food was amazing. We enjoyed hearing about local customs and dining on Peka and enjoying some great Croatian wine. The conversation was lively and we were delighted with all the wonderful food.
Our Croatia trip could not have started any better, as we had our first meal in Marija and Zlata’s back yard.
Hamo met us on the street nearby to guide us to the place we were about to spend a very enjoyable evening at. Marija first served us rakia while we waited for the remainder of our group to arrive (delayed flight in). Marija infuses her own walnut, cherry, rose and herbal rakia and pours your first serving along with the explanation to feel at home and pour the rest on your own and as much as you’d like. Along side the rakia were candied nuts, dried figs, and my favorite- amazing candied bitter orange rinds. Zlata explained the peka process while we gathered around with wine in hand. The process requires 3 flips of the peka pan, which leaves bountiful time for unwinding and chatting.
Fresh homemade bread, still warm, was torn from the loaf and paired with carved off-the-leg, home smoked prosciutto.
Next, we sat at the table and picked away at/devoured 3 types of cheeses, olives, prosciutto and more.
The wine flowed as we chatted with Marija, Zlata and Hamo. We got to know one another and they taught us about Dubrovnik and Croatia.
The peka was amazing- fall off the bone veal, lamb and crispy herb infused potatoes. A true labor of love and tasted so.
There was more rakia, more wine, and more laughs. Marija’s very friendly daughter joined us for a late bite when she got home from a traditional dance class.
While my friend and I were discussing that we should get going in order to give them some of their night, Marija said, “We haven’t had dessert yet”. Not thinking we could eat a bite more, we were served an amazingly light and fluffy custard/meringue type dish. We all found room for it ?
We gave our hugs and thanks and knew the rest of the trip had a lot to live up to after night one.
Although the food was spectacular, the ability to feel so comfortable and like family in a brand new-to-us country was so amazing. It was wonderful to have them all drink and eat alongside us at the picnic table decorated with red checkered print and aromatic rosemary sprigs, under a fresh greenery canopy and right next to the garden.
All were so helpful with answering our questions and giving us recommendations on restaurants that served fresh/quality/local ingredients. Marija even ordered and infused local olive oil and salt for us to purchase later on in the trip! It was the best!!!
We were so honored to be the first guests outside of family, friends and National Geographic. I have no doubt they will soon have more requests than they can handle. I hope some day I can go back to Dubrovnik and do it all over again!
My three young adults (ages 21, 19 and 17) joined me at an evening dinner at Maria’s home, and it was absolutely superb! We so enjoyed the food — cooked with love, with care and with tremendous concern for teaching about the many traditional foods that can be found in the villages and the farms of this country. We were also joined by a couple who were travelling from the U.K,, so in addition to meeting Maria’s husband and family, we had a lively conversation under the grape vines in her back yard. It was excellent, worth every penny that it costs, and I would not hesitate to inform readers that if you skip this, you are skipping the gem of our trip. Delicious, social, entertaining and appropriate for any and all!
Toronto, Ontario, Canada