What People Say

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.


Austin, Texas

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.


Southbury, Connecticut

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!

Liz S

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