Kavana Lav definitely looks too fancy for a list of ”hipster” and ”alternative” cafes, but if you are open to good old-school elegance, you shouldn’t miss this beautiful cafe on Upper town, just a few steps away from the Stone Gate, a popular touristic sight.
Kavana Lav, until recently called Galerija Lav and among locals still known under that name, is situated in a former palace and its highlight is a remarkable balcony with a lion sculpture (hence the name, because Lav means lion in Croatian). It’s not only a cafe, but also a gallery showcasing artworks of eminent contemporary Croatian artists, with a good measure and taste so that the space never feels too cluttered. It’s an interesting mix of classical, elegant furniture and modern, often intriguing art pieces.
It is almost never crowded, so I always recommend it to people who need a peaceful ambience for working or for an intimate conversation. The coffee, tea and wines are all top quality here, but the best treat is the cakes – always fresh, tasty and made of healthy ingredients. The balcony is small compared to the entire space, but for me it’s always worth trying to catch one of the few tables there and sip coffee by the lion while enjoying a scenic view to the oldest pharmacy in Zagreb, The Black Eagle Pharmacy, or K Crnom Orlu (where Dante’s great-grandson Nicolo Alighieri worked), and to the cobbled street with arcades leading up toward St. Mark Square.