A cute steep alley in the heart of Rijeka, the third largest city in Croatia and the capital of Primorje features a small oasis of enjoyment of taste called the Ćakula. This beautiful city hides a bunch of streets like this one but only one boasts Ćakula, a place where through food, one can get to know Rijeka and the surroundings and where the chef, Aunt Štefica, makes her delicacies in the way they have been made in this area for decades. There is only one problem: here, they also make phenomenal burgers, so at times you do not know whether you are in a fast food restaurant or in a konoba (tavern), but what is the most important – the atmosphere here is always at its height.
At Ćakula, everybody knows each other and everything is in an apple-pie order, so If you are here for the first time, the owner will not allow you to choose but will bring what he thinks is the best on that day. Everything is purchased at the market that morning, so you never know in advance what you'll get on the table, however, when you see Aunt Štefica you will be clear that everything will be fine and homemade. But it is important to keep in mind one thing – Ćakula is a daily story and does not work after 5:00 p.m., unless you have scheduled the visit previously.
For the start, we got a pure classic: fried sardines with potato salad. Although it sounds very simple, the dish was excellent, just as it was prepared in the 1970s. The small fish comes with steamed kale or potato salad, fresh, juicy, delicious, and perfectly fried without a drop of too much oil. With sardines we were recommended the wine of the house, Iločka graševina, which, although coming from the other end of Croatia matched excellently this classical seaside specialty that you can also find across the Adriatic.
The Ćakula konoba also offers other classical dishes of this region that are topical depending on the season, and in the winter, you can find bean stewed vegetables, beans, Istrian stew or jota on the menu... They do not strive for anything epochal, just for what has raised a number of generations of locals. Homemade gnocchi, liver in polenta with herbs, stewed vegetables in a hundred of ways, three to four dishes a day. On Fridays, fish, squids, all fresh from high quality suppliers and trusted butchers are on the table, according to the tradition in Croatia.
Hamburger with cheese and zucchini and Torpedo burger came as a main dish, with olive oil that comes from the island of Korčula. An excellent combination of sauces for which they are far renowned here, baked pears, truffles and smoked bacon close perfectly the burger in a fresh bun into a story that becomes complete when you find out that the greenery has been selected and seasoned with special care. Meat in the burger is excellent, juicy, fragrant, without unnecessary extras, only with selected local ingredients from trusted butchers from the vicinity of Rijeka. The wine of the house, Korlat Syrah 2016, matched perfectly the meat part of the menu.
For the end, the simplest pancakes with jam as a clear sign that you came here to eat at your grandmother’s and if it suits you, you will enjoy to the fullest at the Čakula. A very sweet place, it offers you the best way to get to know a city through the story of its classical specialties. Highly commendable.
Contact number: +385 91 595 8771
Working hours: 8 - 23 workdays; 8 - 00 weekends
Address: Ul. pod Voltun 15, 51000, Rijeka
Price range: 100-200kn