Konoba Rafaelo Zadar best Steak Zadar Steak Croatia

We spent ten days in Zadar in the high season of August 2009 and stayed in a tourist apartment near the Borik area. There were several restaurants nearby, but the one we visited more than once was Konoba* Rafaelo, at Ulica Kneza Trpimira 50, Tel +385 23 33 53 49, near the Uskok sailing club.

All of the seating was outside, on a spacious well shaded terrace surrounded by plant boxes and overgrowing in places with vines. Some tables were rustic wooden ones with benches next to them, some were more conventional restaurant ones covered with tablecloths. The atmosphere was lively but not rowdy and the customers were a mixture of foreign and Croats, with a mixture of families and couples.

There was nothing special about the ambience but it was pleasant enough and I appreciated large-surface, heavy tables, chairs and benches which limited potential damage caused by children.

Rafaelo offers a variety of food, including a selection of pastas and some seafood, but its speciality seemed to be all kinds of grilled meats. The open charcoal fire and girdles used for the cooking were visible, located very near the door to the inside section (which, clearly due to the heat, was completely empty of guests and with a couple of tables only but needed to be passed on the way to the loos).

On our two visits (both in the evening) we had grilled chicken, two kinds of beefsteaks, pork kebab, and pleskavica (mixed pork and beef, spicy burger present in every eatery we have ever visited in Croatia, from fast food places to proper restaurants). All were fresh and well cooked: only slightly charred, reasonably tender and altogether very tasty.

A defining characteristic of Rafaelo’s meats seemed to be the truly humongous portion sizes: the beef steaks were generous enough, although not huge (perhaps around 250-300 g), but the other types of meat came in portions easily enough for two people: my daughter’s chicken consisted of two boned breasts, the pleskavica took most of the (large) plate, and the kebab was in fact two kebabs, each easily enough for a generous meal.

All grilled meats came with chips, which also came in extremely generous portions and were crisp and greasy, somewhere half way between thin French Fries and fat rustic chips.

We also had salads (nothing special and not particularly huge, but adequate), grilled vegetables (ditto) and mushroom sauce (huge portion of creamy, mild and rather tasty, but a little bit bland concoction) as well as some chocolate pudding: a wonderfully rich, dark, sticky brownie base topped with silky, dark chocolate butter cream.

The prices at Rafaelo were pretty reasonable: our meals (which would comfortably feed 4 adults) cost around 40-45 euros each, including water, beer or house wine.

All in all, a straightforward food for fans of all things grilled and recommended for a straightforward meat-fast.

*”Konoba” is a Croatian word denoting an inn or tavern, a somehow more casual eating place than a restaurant.

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