Travel is an amazing thing. It allows you to immerse yourself into new cultures in ways beyond what you can through reading or television. While media can be a great introduction to place, you cant get the real measure of a city without visiting it. You have to immerse yourself in the sights, the smells, and tastes of a place. I was, without a doubt, immersing myself in the taste of Zagreb. In my short time in Zagreb, I indulged in the best food Zagreb had to offer. First, I had chicken and truffle tortellini at Nokturno. Then, an amazing breakfast at Burek, and a lunch of ćevapi at Plac. Croatian food is without a doubt comfort food, and the parade of Croatian delicacies was not yet at an end. Next stop, La Štruk.
La Štruk is the go to place in Zagreb for štrukli. Really is THE place to go if you want to try this delicacy. While other restaurants serve štrukli, La Struk is one of the most highly rated and an extremely affordable štrukli restaurant. The restaurant is a lot like Burek. It is a small divey restaurant, not too far from the main square (Ban Jelačić Square), specializing in one, and only one, Croatian delicacy. La Štruk is all about štrukli. However, where Burek is an unquestionable dive. La Štruk is small, quaint and cute. It has about 7 or 8 tables max and has a very comforting homely feel to it.
Its walls are decorated with the ideal formula (2 štrukli to start your day + 3 for lunch + 2 for desert) and the traditional štrukli song.
What is Štrukli?
While most dishes I ate on this trip are common to Croatia or Balkan region as a whole, štrukli is a dish unique to Zagreb. Heck, štrukli is possibly the most Zagrebian dish there is. In 2007, the Croatian Ministry of Culture added štrukli to the list of Croatia’s intangible cultural heritage. But what is štrukli? Like most of the Croatian food I have had to this point, štrukli is comfort food. Its base is a combination of a special dough, similar to phyllo dough, and fresh cottage cheese. The base is then baked and covered with either a sweet or savory toppings.
La Štruk’s Menu
La Štruk’s menu consists of one dish prepared two different ways. You can order štrukli either cooked or baked with a topping until a crisp crust forms. The various toppings can be savory and well suited for a lunch or dinner or savory and be a great way to end your day. These toppings include salty cheese, sweet cheese, walnuts and honey, apple and cinnamon, blueberry, truffles, roasted pepper, and pumpkin seed pesto. They also offer seasonal toppings based on what toppings are in season.
Regardless of what štrukli you order, they will make it to order. So expect at least a 20 minute wait before eating.
La Štruk’s Food
Trust me La
is worth the wait. I ordered the truffle štrukli, because life is better with truffles. About 20-30 minutes after ordering they brought me a massive lasagna dish of piping hot and bubbly cheesy goodness. It was basically food porn. I had to take a video.
Seriously it an absolutely beautiful dish.
Every dish brought me home. I am not Croatian, I am have Italian roots. But for some reason this dish this felt like home to me. Maybe it is because Italian food and štrukli both have similar bases in strong bold flavors, and have a large focus on cheesy, creamy, rustic goodness. It is meals like this that make me wish I was my wife. There was a real sense of rustic whimsy to this dish. Stephanie is a whimsical dreamer who can capture the fantasy and perfect of a dish like this into words, while me, I am too matter of fact, but I will try my best Stephanie impression of my feelings!
Each bite of La Štruk’s štrukli will make you feel like you are at a rural Croatian dairy farm. The flavors of each ingredient come together in perfect harmony. The fresh cottage cheese (which is light-years different from American cottage cheese) hits you with its big rich flavors. All while the truffle brings the the umami flavor that adds the perfect rusted notes. All nestled in layers of warm dough. It is the perfect Croatian Lasagna. Oh well, I am no Stephanie, but I tried. Moral of the story is it was freaking awesome. If you find yourself in Zagreb you are missing out if you don’t give štrukli a try.
I have said this one (well like 4 times) and I will say it again, Croatia provides fine dining food at McDonald’s prices. The most expensive item on La Štruk’s menu is the Truffle štrukli which will run you 41kn (about $6 USD). Everything else is somewhere between 33m-39kn. So basically, any main dish (which is more than enough food) will run you somewhere between $4-$6. When you add a glass of wine or beer to it, you are looking at between $6-$9 for your entire meal. That is one hell of a good deal for the best štrukli in Zagreb.
La Štruk is THE place to go for štrukli. Zagreb’s cheesy doughy delicacy will conjure up those comfortable feelings of home.