Zagreb Burgers to Remember

Hamburgers… Love them or not, but you've had at least one in your life, right? They've always been here in one form or another, and they're here to stay.

Frankly, a few years ago burgers in Zagreb had a bad reputation and they were certainly not your first choice for a fast food bite. You would put them in one of two categories: generic multinational fast food chain item or old-fashioned oversized minced meat mixture from an obscure food kiosk or a greasy spoon joint. Every normal person would opt for čevapčići or a kebab istead. Then, some four years ago, everything changed when a young and ambitious chef by the name of Marin Medak opened his little artisan burger place and presented us the most delicious burger Zagreb had seen in a while. No compromises, the best ground beef, top-quality fresh ingredients, everything made to perfection. Marin’s kiosk involved in today’s Rougemarin bistro, and gourmet burgers, especially daily specials, are still one of the favourites on their menu.

“One of Rougemarin’s crations, made by the pioneer of Zagreb’s burger scene.” Image credit: Rougemarin

Soon the new trend was born. Result? Apart from several newly opened specialized burger places, almost every meat-oriented restaurant in Zagreb, including high-end places, has some sort of a gourmet hamburger on offer. The bar was set high and competition is big, which is all good for born-again burger lovers. So, what can we point out in this burger abundance of Zagreb’s? The second to ride this new burger wave after Rougemarin was Papa’s American bar, nicely located in the shade of Tuškanac. The name says it all, American-style burgers and fries are their niche. For a while, Zagreb’s best hidden secret were burgers looking like modern sculptures found in a great little lunch restaurant in Trešnjevka neighbourhood, Bistro Šalša, but only on their casual evening menu. Another little place with a cult following is the Rocket Burger in the bustling Tkalčićeva Street, easily overlooked among flashy bars and tourist restaurants around it. Many ex-pats gather here because the owners come from Canada, which means real diner-style burgers and other classics like onion rings, chicken wings, American pancakes. It’s important to stress the fact that they make everything themselves, from buns to special sauces. Luckily, many others now also follow in their steps.

“Gourmet burger from Šalša: muscat squash, pumpkin seed oil, button mushrooms and red coral lettuce.” Image credit: Bistro Šalša

Yellow Submarine in downtown Frankopanska Street put a lot of effort into design and marketing, so they attract a lot of the younger, hip crowd. But it’s not all just pretty packaging, they are known for local, organic ingredients and creative recipes. The burger that really put Zagreb on the world burger map is made in Burgeraj in Preradovićeva. When Lovin Trends web guide put it on their list of “21 Burgers In European Cities You Have To Try Before You Die”, it meant a small step for mankind, but a huge step for Zagreb burger aficionados. This cozy 80’s-style burger diner is also the first to pair their bites with an excellent selection of American craft beers. Even the foodies’ favourite Mali bar, bistro managed by Croatian celebrity chef Ana Ugarković, joined the craze. One of their trademark dishes are mini burgers, changing according to seasons.

“Mali bar’s famous mini burgers.” Image credit: Mali bar

Of course, there are many more places and it’s hard to recommend only a handful, but consider this your ABC of burger tasting in Zagreb. Whether you’re a loyal burger fan, or just in need of a filling simple snack while roaming the city streets, the time is ripe, because Zagreb’s hamburgers have never been in better shape.

Header image credit: “Burgeraj’s burger, supposedly one of the must-eat ones in the whole of Europe.” Taste of Croatia

Author: Taste of Croatia