Author: Boris Štromar
This is not just an ordinary pub review in an article ‘XY things you must see in Zagreb’. It’s actually a tale of growing up that hit me hard last Friday, on the 20th anniversary of the Pinta Pub. I was fresh out of high school when I first came to Pinta, right after it had opened. I was wandering through the city with friends and found a small courtyard at the bottom end of Radićeva Street, only 50 meters from the main square. We walked through the arched passage into the Pinta’s courtyard, and suddenly the noise and time stopped. We entered a pub with a massive wooden bar, stools and tables, all handmade by Zagreb’s famous woodworker Ivan Robert Kopriva, and instantly fell in love. From the first moment, Pinta became my shelter; I found my friends for life there, my significant others, and made a lot of memories. From that moment, whenever I enter my favorite pub, I feel different than anywhere else. Pinta is completely opposite of all modern bars in the city center – it offers history, tradition and great beer to all guests or visitors sightseeing.
The magic of Pinta
My high school was (and still is) in the Upper Town, and we sure visited a lot of bars back then, but when I first came to Pinta, that was it. Well, actually, I didn’t know it then, but I kept coming back… For twenty years. Now I know exactly why – it’s away from the crowded streets, you can sit outside without people bumping into you, or you can meditate at the bar. You can talk to someone, or you don’t have to. It’s a perfect place to get away from it all for a while. And right in the very heart of Zagreb!
Oh, of course, it’s a pub, so they serve beer :) It’s one of the rare pubs that have Tomislav on tap, a double malted dark beer, the strongest made in Croatia. I love to go for a pint after buying groceries at Dolac market, to get away from the crowd, and for a bit of a rest, because I’m always on foot. It’s a great way to start a day in Pinta. You’ll find local elders still talking about World War Two, along with local photographers sending photos of celebrities to their editors. I also go there when I’m feeling down, to see familiar faces, and have a quick chat. It’s more than just a pub; it’s a home away from home. And the prices are acceptable, not as high as in the posh bars in the center.
I the 20 years I have been going there, I cried, I laughed, I took photos, I drank too much, I fell in love, and finished relationships. I even took quick naps. Of course, I met new friends with whom I watched and screamed when the Croatian national football team finished third in 1998 FIFA World Cup. Sometimes we just sat in silence with our thoughts, waiting for time to pass. And no, I’m not going to tell you about that tequila party when I woke up on a bus, my friend in his bathroom and the other friend… Well, he found some company.
The Present Tense
My daughter Una also likes to go to Pinta. They have her favourite strawberry juice, and sometimes she likes to sit on a high stool. Once we were on a short trip to Istra, and she asked me if we could find “a Pinta”, because she was tired and wanted something to drink – she thought “Pinta” was actually a word for a bar! When bartenders Hrvoje and Domagoj see the two of us coming in, they don’t even ask anymore what we will have, they just bring us a pint of Tomislav and a strawberry juice. She turned eight last Friday, exactly on Pinta’s 20th anniversary!
So I made a few photos of the 20th anniversary party that day, to create more unforgettable memories. All the locals were there, we laughed, hugged and kissed. It was like a family reunion. Unfortunately, a few family members weren’t there, as my dear friend Svjetlana, but I almost fell on the floor when I saw the two former bartenders coming in. Two legends of the pub (they are the ones hugging a weird bearded guy with a silly smile on photos. That’s me – and that beer in my hand is my friend’s).
My advice for tourists
So, on your way to the Upper town, take a detour and sit with us for a while. There is also a hostel in the very same courtyard, so consider booking a bed there. Or have your haircut done in one of the best hair salons in Zagreb, right across the entrance to the pub. Or don’t. Because we would like to hear where you are from and why you came to Zagreb. Skip your errands, and take your time – come to Pinta, and tell us what you are looking for, what you like the most, who made you happy or who made you cry. We will help you with local advice; show you where you can eat quality food for less money. And don’t forget to tell us where your Pinta is, so we can come and visit! See you guys, you know where to find me.