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In the early spring, oysters are at their finest and this certainly enhances the culinary offering of Dubrovnik. Thousands of some of the finest oysters in the world are brought into the city from Mali Ston and other oyster producing villages. Besides this, the clear and calm sea produces a shellfish horn of plenty, comparable with the best the Atlantic ocean has to offer. This cornucopia means that seafood is a dominant influence in Dubrovnik; diners can take advantage of the fantastic array of fish available within the Old Town and along the harbour.
The finest of these establishments are noted below, but there is much to be said for following your nose and looking around. However, in the case of Atlas Club Nautika, located just outside the Pile Gate, booking is essential. The restaurant offers unparalleled views of Lovrijenac and Bokar fortresses on beautiful stone stepped terraces the colour of warm sand, laid with starched white tablecloths, polished silver and precious crystal glassware. Named by ‘Conde Nast Traveller’ as one of the most romantic restaurants in the world (request the sea view tables Nos. 30-38 on the Penatur Terrace or Nos. 56, 57 or 64 on Lovrijenac for incredible atmosphere and the floodlit fortress lights reflected over the ocean) where the creation of delicious dishes such as freshly caught lobster from the Dalmatian Island of Vis and other delicacies seem beautiful in their simplicity. Housed in the former Maritime School, the restaurant harks back to the heady years when Dubrovnik was a Republic. Worth a visit if only for the view, but happily the food lives up to the beauty which surrounds this old building; sticking with traditional combinations and eschewing nouvelle cuisine for the finest of Mediterranean style fare. From this romantic, luxurious and nautical spot, a short walk leads you to the Old Town itself and at its heart is Proto, established in 1886 and a favourite of visiting celebrities and politicians. The restaurant specialises in fish; during the summer the terraces are packed and reservations essential. Some of the dishes offered are prepared according to the traditional recipes of local fishermen, and Proto prides itself on having entertained Edward VII and Wallis Simpson in the 1930s. The food has a light fresh touch and offers diners a great place for a long leisurely lunch, either on one of the terraces (a charming idea and perfect during summer) or in the more formal dining room. Tables can be requested when booking. There are also a number of traditional meat dishes available and a fine selection of both international and local wines. Make sure that you head down here at least once.