What People Say About Dubrovnik Eat With Locals 

On my recent trip to Croatia, I and my friend wanted to eat peka. We intended to have it in a restaurant, but my Airbnb host recommended that we have the dish in a setting where we could experience the food in a domestic context, have other traditional food and drinks alongside the meal, and get the chance to talk about Croatian culture and cuisine with our hosts. Dubrovnik Food tours owner, Hamo Ovcina, efficiently and cheerfully made this cultural immersion possible the next day after I reached out to him by email, and thus enabled me to have one of the highlights of my trip.

When we arrived at the meeting point at 8, we were promptly greeted by Marija Papak, who warmly welcomed us to her home and introduced us to her husband Zlatco, and later, her children. Marija has been gaining international attention, having been featured in National Geographic Traveler and the Wall Street Journal, and the experience we had shows how deserving she is of this exposure. We began the meal with local wines and liqueurs, one of the most memorable of which was rakija, a brandy made and infused by Marija herself with cherries. Zlatko showed us jars in production on the terrace, carefully marked by date of production. Alongside the wine were nuts, figs, and candied orange peel, also prepared by Marija.

While Zlatco finished the peka over the hot coals (roasting takes a few hours) Marija served cheeses of different ages, thinly sliced Dalmatian prosciutto (Pršut ), begetables both fresh and picked and her own home-made bread, accompanied by infused olive oil. This was all delicious, and it was difficult not stop eating it, but I had to remember to leave room for the main dish and dessert to follow!

The peka came next, and it was amazing—veal and lamb perfectly seasoned and roasted over a bed of potatoes, which absorbed the juices of the meal and were flavorful. This was definitely worth the wait. And finally, the dessert came, a cheese or cream pastry from around Zagreb, I believe; probably the best Croatian dessert I ate over my ten days visit.

I must here say that the excellent food was only made better by the very excellent company of the Papak family, who were all friendly, conversational and kind, answering all the questions we asked of them and also curious about our lives and experiences. This is the kind of cultural exchange that the best of tourism is based on, and a very memorable 3 – 4 hours. It is definitely worth the money we paid, and I say that as someone who regularly goes on food tours when I travel.

Peter B 

I was so excited to book this tour as many tours do not take or overcharge solo travelers. Dining at Marija and Zltako’s home was the highlight of my trip. I would not have remembered Croatia the same was if it wasn’t for this amazing family. They are comfortable, hospitable and fun! I was joined by another travelling couple and we ate until we couldn’t eat anymore. Everything was super fresh and home made, for example the one day old cheese we had. It was also my first time trying the cherry liquor which was also made by Marija. We watched the Croatia soccer match was sipped on wine until about 11PM when we headed out. Marija and Zlatko really enjoy company and there was no feeling of rush or “restaurant feel”. Seems like just a nice dinner with a few friends.  Mahsa S Toronto, Ontario, Canada


This was the highlight of our trip to Dubrovnik. We loved every minute of it! It was such a unique experience and Marija and Zlatco are so genuinely kind and so happy to have you at their home. 

We started with trying their homemade cherry and walnut liquors – and grappa, of course!

Then we had candied orange peels and figs – then a large charcuterie board with prosciutto and many local cheeses and salami – and grapes from right over our heads – they grow them! Marija also makes homemade bread which is probably the best bread I’ve ever had. I couldn’t stop eating it! 

We also had bacon wrapped plums which were definitely a highlight. And then came the pica which was absolutely phenomenal- they roasted lamb and potatoes and spices over coals in their backyard for three hours! I am still thinking about that dish weeks later. 

We thought we were done and we were so full – and then Marija gave us homemade pastries with apples and raisins in them and they were to die for! 

On top of the phenomenal food, the homemade red wine was flowing all night – we never had empty glasses!

In addition to the unbelievable food and drinks – we also had so many fascinating conversations about Croatia and the war and their beliefs. Marija shared many things about her family – and we even got to meet her kids! We stayed very late and they continued to have so many conversations and fun things to say. 

We also did some dancing and laughed more than I thought possible! 

It was amazing – every single second of this. I can’t recommend it enough!!

Kerry Leary

Had a local dinner of Peka prepared by Marija and her husband at their home. Food was delicious, hospitality was wonderful, and a grand time was had by our group of 9. Don’t miss this opportunity while you are visiting beautiful Dubrovnik.  jlc1525 Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Marija, Zlatko and their family treated us to the most wonderful evening. It started with a hearty welcome and small glasses of cherry, walnut and other assorted Grappa. This truly was a family affair with Marija and Zlatko’s two children, his brother and sister in law and some cousins in attendance. A couple from New York joined in as the other ‘customers’. Marija was clearly the head chef, the primary host and family matriarch. Her husband Zlatko, in accordance with universal traditions stemming back to early man, tended the fire, poured the drinks and declared in good humor that the primary topics of discussion for the night should be “sex and sports”. 

Marija and Zlatko are a good team and expertly prepared the Peka dish which consisted of local lamb and veal, potatoes, and minimal but fresh spices. The Peka process involves heating a brick surface with a fire, placing a covered pan with the meat and potatoes on the surface and covering with hot coals. Cooking time was two hours but it zipped by with much conversation and other food. The appetizer plate was a charcuterie assembly of local cured meats and cheeses as well as olives, tomatoes and home made bread. Absolutely delicious. Notwithstanding the different cooking methods and wonderful unique local food, I was struck by how similar the affair was to a western backyard family barbeque. We were made to feel like members of the family. Thanks go to Marija and Zlatko for creating the wonderful food and atmosphere. 

dpmqc Edmonton

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