There’s a weird sense of magic hanging over this city, the kind of feeling that makes your fingertips lightly tingle. I’m not really sure what it is about this place but perhaps it has something to do with how the tight narrow alleyways of Dubrovnik’s Old Town are bursting at the seams, crammed full of hidden gems. From tiny rooftop orangeries, independent art galleries and romantic little hidey-holes, something intriguing and unexpected can be found at every turn.
There isn’t any doubt in my mind when I say that the Taj Mahal is one of these gems. With its bright turquoise chairs and white cotton runners the restaurant is easy to spot. But it’s reputation proceeds it. Recommended by both the Telegraph, LonelyPlanet and listed in the top 25 restaurants in Dubrovnik on TripAdvisor, the Taj Mahal is a clear winner.
And for good reason. It’s not just stunning to look at, it turns out a great atmosphere and, not to mention, great food.
With only six tables inside and barely double that amount out in the open there’s an air of exclusivity. Not the snobby turn-your-nose-up-at-the-peasants-kind, more the kind where you’ve made it, you’ve found your little slice of personal heaven. It’s warm, it’s welcoming and you’ll want to stay there all afternoon. Of course, their stout but energetic main waiter won’t let you. But you can always try.
Their number one starter has got to be the broccoli soup. And I’m not being bias just because it was mine. It really was delicious.
Broccoli doesn’t normally have a particularly prominent flavour but this soup was distinctive. Strong, salty and a wonderful, bright jade it came in this quaint metal bowl with a large basket of fluffy, Bosnian pita bread to dip in and dunk at your leisure.
The Cheerful Bosnian should get a look in as well. Especially if you’re pinning for a taste of traditional Bosnian cuisine. Meaty rump steak, punchy roast veg and melted cheese is wrapped in a thin sheaf of flaky pastry then baked and served up with a baked potato and zingy kaymak (a mix of thick cream and cottage cheese).
It comes in at 135 Kuna (£15.27) which is a little pricey but you’ll struggle to find room for desert after that so, in terms of portion size, it’s worth it.
One to maybe avoid is the chicken leg in orange and lemon marinade with new potatoes and sour cream. The marinade was just a little off balance. A bit too sweet and sour for my tastes.
The chicken was also an unappetising shape. I know that’s just an issue of aesthetic but it was off putting nonetheless.
If you’re not ready to leave just after the remains of your mains have been swept away and there’s not enough room for desert then a pot of tea for 30 Kuna (£ 3.39) will be your saving grace.
My jasmine tea was served in a little stone teapot and came with a chewy square of rose flavoured rahatlokum (turkish delight).
The sugar (although not needed) also came in this cute tiny copper pot. I loved it.
If ever you find yourself lost in the maze of Old Town Dubrovnik then set your compass North (not literally, of course) and navigate your way towards the Taj Mahal. It’s hearty, flavour packed food will ground you and set you back on the right path.
(It’s a little more pricey than the other restaurants we came across in Croatia but then again that is Old Town through and through.)
Ul. Nikole Gučetića 2, 20000, Dubrovnik, Croatia