I arrived in Zagreb on an overcast Sunday. The streets were bare and hardly anything was open. That’s when I saw it, a sign reading California Burrito. California what? This must be a mistake? I’m in Croatia!
I followed the signs through an alley and found the Zagrebian burrito bar, California Burrito. It was a Sunday, so it was closed but I made a mental note to return and check it out. Tuesday I returned after a fairly stressful visa appointment. I needed something that looked, smelled and tasted familiar.
I’m always suspicious of Mexican food abroad. It’s disappointing when you see something on a menu that looks and sounds familiar but is anything but familiar once you sink your teeth into it. I had no such disappointment at California Burrito. Everything was as it should be… and it was delicious.
California Burritos in Croatia
I was pleasantly surprised at California Burrito. It’s a burrito bar with all the fixings from home. It’s not just the food though, the ambiance is right as well. It’s colourful, plays American hits and serves Negra Modelo. This place is legit.
I had the pleasure of getting to sit down with the founder of California Burrito, Ivan Brkić, and ask what inspired him to start this Chipotle-esque burrito bar in Croatia’s capital.
So tell me about California Burrito. Where did the idea come from?
The theme of the restaurant is California because everybody likes California. I wanted the restaurant to have a positive vibe and I wanted to give people good food and a story. That’s why I have all of the pictures of California. It has a bit of a patio and friends and family feel. I wanted to promote good food and a way of life. I majored in finance but that’s not a fun job; in fact, it’s boring crunching numbers and doing paperwork. I had this idea from my time in California and it just wouldn’t leave me alone.
I opened California Burrito in February 2013. Croatian people know burritos from the movies. California is all burgers, the beach and burritos in the movies. The time was right because of the economic crisis and the food was a good value. In Zagreb there is upscale dining and dive bars, but nothing in between. This was the missing link between the food in Zagreb. We’ve received pretty much only positive feedback.
What about the ingredients? Do you have to import anything or are the ingredients readily available?
We can find pretty much anything here. The avocados aren’t always easy to get and we substitute Gouda for the cheese, but it melts nicely. The beer, we have the imports Corona and Negra Modelo. Croatia imports Negra Modelo but they don’t promote it much. It’s a great beer.
What does your clientele look like? Do you have a lot of American expats that hang around?
About 70% of our customers are repeat, we have a lot of regulars. There is also a community of Americans though which is broken up into two groups – those that work in the embassy and those who are in town visiting.
Visit California Burrito… in Croatia!
Good food, good people and good times. The prices are affordable and there’s something for everyone on the menu, including vegetarians! When you next find yourself in Zagreb I suggest you drop in, say ‘hi’ and relax with a beer and burrito – outside if the weather permits. You’ll be glad you did, particularly if you’re an American expat seeking some comfort food. It was a lovely and unexpected surprise to stumble upon in Zagreb. I’m so happy I did.
Location & Hours
Location | Masarykova 11 Zagreb, Croatia
Hours | Monday – Saturday, 10:00-22:00