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Zagreb: I stay in a hotel with a restaurant certified for celiacs

This is the last trip I made, in May 2022! I had the opportunity to go back (for work) to Serbia and Croatia. The last time I had seen Djurica was during my trip to Greece. From Thessaloniki we went with Nikos to Serbia to see a customer. This was a totally unexpected trip. It came as a result of a client’s request for me to visit them urgently to discuss their project in detail. I would use this trip to organize visits to other customers and, at the first stop, to discover new gluten-free restaurants in Zagreb.

This time I was flying with Lufthansa and, based on the experience of previous trips, I did not expect them to have anything gluten-free during either flight. I was flying from Barcelona to Munich and, from there, to Zagreb. And so it was. Also, when I asked the flight attendant if they had anything gluten-free, I got the feeling that she didn’t quite know what I was talking about. When I looked at the menu, I saw that there was an option.

I think the worst thing about these trips is having to get up early. I woke up at 4:30 am to have time to prepare the sandwiches. Having to do it with gluten-free bread, the fresher the sandwiches are, the better they will taste when I eat them…

Shortly after landing in Zagreb, I met Djurica in the airport hall and we went straight to the first visit. I would have preferred to go to the hotel, but you can’t always choose this kind of comfort when you travel for work….

I was also looking forward to going to the hotel because, as I had understood, their restaurant was certified by the celiac association, I was very curious to see what they had to offer!

Although I had only a few days to prepare for this trip, I must admit that the Zagreb Tourist Office responded very quickly. In fact, I found this hotel thanks to them. They also shared a list of “gluten-free friendly” restaurants that I copy here in case they are of interest to you. Please note that this is only the list shared by the Tourism office. They insisted that most of them are not certified “gluten-free”. I also ask you to keep in mind that I did not have time to eat at these places. I am only sharing the information I received:

–        Kata Brunch Bar.

–        Zrno Bio Bistro.

–        Vegehop.

–        Vinodol.

–        Dubravkin Put.

–        Vis à Vis by Vincek.

–        Gajbica.

Click on the image to access the form

After a few hours, we finally arrived at the hotel. I was staying at the Esplanade Hotel in Zagreb, it’s a great hotel! Besides, I met some of the Iron Maiden staff in the lobby and there was also a rehearsing for the Miss Croatia contest, which was also being held there. It couldn’t have been better!

I had chosen this hotel because – according to the Zagreb Tourist Office – it is the first hotel in Croatia certified gluten-free. After leaving everything in the room, I met Djurica again in the hotel lobby to go to dinner together.

We were having dinner at a bit of an odd time, as it was 5pm, but I would have to get used to it. On trips with them, we usually have breakfast and dinner early. No time for lunch…

The hotel has two restaurants. “Le Bistro” and the “Zinfandel’s”. I asked the hotel concierge for advice and at the mention of “gluten free” he said I’d better go to the “Zinfandel’s”. There we went! The weather was perfect. Nice temperature, closer to summer than spring. We decided to eat on the terrace.

I enjoyed so much in that restaurant! Eating with the peace of mind that they are certified is an added bonus. Upon arriving at the restaurant I informed the waiter about my celiac condition. I did not use the gluten-free travel card in Croatian because being certified I thought it would not be necessary.

After a short while, they brought me a small dish of butter with garlic and spices that was delicious. Of course, it came with freshly toasted gluten-free bread. I think it was Schär Pan Carré.

Then we had a small tapa  (courtesy of the chef) of goat cheese with pistachio and balsamic oil bubbles, which was delicious!

By now I was really enjoying it and we hadn’t even started eating. Plus, all accompanied with a glass of white wine and the tranquility that that terrace offered. Awesome!

Finally the main course arrived. The truth is that I was quite hungry because I had eaten little during the day. I had doubts between the risotto and the American striploin.

Finally I decided for the American striploin. It was served with beetroot and toasted pine nuts, impressive!  The pine nuts gave it a very interesting flavor in combination with the beetroot and the meat, which was just right cooked. Wow! My mouth is watering just thinking about how good it was…

Problem was that after that meat with pine nuts, I was still hungry!

Although Djurica didn’t want to eat more, I did go for dessert. Despite there were fewer celiac-friendly options for dessert – but I only needed one! And they had the perfect option – the one with chocolate!

It was a good end to the lunch-snack-dinner we had just had.

We sat down for a while and, around 7 pm, Djurica left for his hotel. It was still early for me to go to the room. As I had been sitting all day, I felt like taking a walk through the center of Zagreb. I wanted to take advantage of that spring evening with such a nice temperature.

I went upstairs to change into more comfortable clothes and go for a walk. I went to the station and then through a huge park to the central square. I was glad to see that the Boban Restoran (which I had gone to the first time I went to Zagreb) was still open. I still remember the pot of meat, potatoes and vegetables I ate that day. And of the gluten-free pasta dish the day after.

After a while, I did one of my favorite things to do when traveling alone. I sat in the central square and watched. I like to look at everything. The people, the buildings, the cars and streetcars, it’s very relaxing! Plus, I try to imagine who that person is and it’s quite distracting.

The clock arrived to 10pm very fast! I was starting to feel tired. It had been a very intense day with very little sleep. It didn’t take me long to go to sleep. The next day, after breakfast, we would go to Osijek.

BY CLICKING ON THE MAP OF GLUTEN FREE RESTAURANTS YOU FILL SEE ALL RESTAURANTS WE DESCRIBED IN THIS POST LOCATED IN THE MAP OF GLUTEN-FREE PLACES:

AND HERE WE LEAVE THE CELIAC TRAVEL CARD IN CROATIAN:

P.S.: Please keep in mind that in this blog I share my trips, anecdotes and experiences about gluten free travel around the world. It is possible that, in any of my trips, I go to some restaurant not trained by the associations where the risk of being contaminated with gluten exists. I kindly ask you to also take into account that the list of references can change. Please, always double check before eating in the restaurants we recommend. Thank you very much!

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Me llamo Santi y actualmente vivo en la provincia de Barcelona. En 2001, me diagnosticaron de enfermedad celíaca… ¡por fin! Además, soy intolerante a la lactosa, la alergia al pescado me mata, ¡literalmente!, y también algunas frutas... Viajar sin gluten se ha convertido en mi mayor hobby y creé Gluten Free Adventures por esta razón. Desde los 8 años, he viajado y vivido en distintos países… ¡aquí comparto mis experiencias viajando para descubrir restaurantes sin gluten, pastelerías sin gluten y heladerías sin gluten por todo el mundo! ¡Espero que os gusten nuestros viajes sin gluten!