The Best Restaurants In Slovenia

Blessed by its enviable geographic location and a long history of culinary excellence, the Ljubljana food scene is exciting at all price points.

Drawing inspiration from nearby Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, restaurants in Ljubljana take advantage of local products. We’re talking about artisan meats like prosciutto and pork, incredible fruits and vegetables including some of the world’s best wild mushrooms and uber-fresh seafood from the Adriatic.

In Ljubljana, seasoned chefs cook traditional Slovenian food with a modern twist and younger chefs are returning to Slovenia’s capital city armed with fresh ideas acquired in some of the best kitchens in Europe and beyond. The result is a blending of traditional flavors and modern techniques at the best Ljubljana restaurants.

 

Why Visit Ljubljana

The fairytale city of Ljubljana has a lot to offer travelers. Upon our arrival, we immediately identified essential Ljubljana food experiences as well as cultural destinations like the Ljubljana Castle, the National Gallery, the Gallery of Modern Arts and the Museum of Illusions. We enjoyed exploring the city’s architecture, designed by architect Jožef Plečnik, as well as its riverside cafe culture.

When you visit, we recommend that you head into the center of town, wander past the dragons and breathe the atmosphere around the compact but genius, neoclassicist triple bridge. There’s nothing quite like it. Plečnik’s architecture may not be as grandiose as Gaudi’s in Barcelona but, in some ways, Plečnik’s simplicity and functionality make his designs more special.

 

Ljubljana Food Guide

Restavracija JB » Visit Ljubljana

A modern take on Slovenian food, this cold corn soup at Monstera Bistro included exotic flavors like coconut milk and lemongrass. An ideal base for exploring Slovenia and its food, Ljubljana has a surprising number of restaurants for a city of its relatively small size. The challenge in this city isn’t finding good spots to eat; rather, it’s narrowing down the choices. Read on to find out our picks for the best places to eat in Ljubljana.

JB Restaurant

After meeting legendary Chef Janez Bratovž at Ljubljana’s weekly Open Kitchen (see below), we had no qualms about accepting his generous invitation to stop by JB Restaurant to try a plate or two. Little did we know, by plate or two he meant an epic six-course meal that would serve as a touchstone for our Ljubljana dining experiences.

Recognized by San Pellegrino and helmed by Bratovž, the stately JB Restaurant occupies a 1920’s Plečnik designed, Secessionist-style building. The vaulted ceiling, white tablecloth dining room is a bit formal for our tastes but Bratovž’s food would taste good in any setting.

Each dish during our meal was a revelation as well as a snapshot of the cross-current of cultures that make the food in Slovenia so special. Bratovž’s Adriatic tuna stuffed with seaweed and ginger cream and young fried green onions celebrated Slovenia’s proximity to the sea while his ricotta and pistachio ravioli stuffed with meat sauce, licorice foam, foie gras and pear gelee defined the rooster-shaped nation with its convergence of earthy, peasant-style recipes and luxurious epicurean flavors.

Other highlights included Slovenian Mangalitsa Pork Crackling with egg yolk and two creams. With this dish, Bratovž brought dramatic culinary prowess directly to the table when he personally poured sizzling hot pork cracklings along with their molten fat over the dish to cook the egg.

Gostišče Grič

Chef Luka Kosir runs Gostisce Gric with quiet humility and impressive kitchen skills. He posed for this photo during our lunch. Considering that we previously deemed lunch at Gostišče Grič to be our best meal of the year – not just in Ljubljana but in the three continents we traversed during the year – it’s fair to say that we approve of this restaurant located 20 kilometers from Ljubljana. We get that Gostišče Grič isn’t officially in Ljubljana, but it’s so close that Chef Luka Kosir is a key participant at Ljubljana’s Open Kitchen (see below). Solidifying the Ljubljana connection, Kosir worked at JB Restaurant (see above) when he was a young chef.
Kosic prepared this eggplant dish with fermented beans, truffle sour cream and black garlic. With its silky texture, it was like no eggplant we’ve eaten before or since.

Košic exclusively cooks with products that he grows in the restaurant’s gardens, forages in the forest or procures from local farmers. The only exception is the seafood which he sources from the Adriatic Sea. But where Košic really shines is with his culinary artistry. During our leisurely lunch, he transformed each plate into a work of art that almost looked too beautiful to eat and tasted even better.

As we sat in the restaurant’s simple dining room with a rustic design and cozy decor, Košic’s sister served us a cavalcade of dishes that knocked us off our feet. (Yes, Gostišče Grič is a family affair. ) Though we opted to share a tasting menu with seven plates, we now wish we had tried even more. Our imaginations soar when we think about the possibilities.

 

Modern Bistros

Ljubljana Food Guide - The Best Ljubljana Restaurants | 2foodtrippers

Bistros in Ljubljana push the envelope like this beef tartare with burrata and anchovies at Luda Restaurant. Exciting. There’s no better word to describe the modern Ljubljana bistros where cutting-edge chefs are eschewing traditional restaurants for small spaces where they can flex their culinary muscles on a daily basis. Reminding us of the Le Fooding movement that we first experienced in Lyon, these young chefs are taking Slovenian food to the next level in casual venues that are affordable for most diners. Eat at the following restaurants to experience some of Slovenia’s finest modern cuisine

Luda Restaurant

This plate of red risotto with beetroot and blackberries is a prime example of their Luda Restaurant’s approach to modern dining. We hustled to get into Luda Restaurant after Chef Luka Kosir personally recommended the bistro to us during our meal at Gostišče Grič (see above). At Luda, Chefs Urška Dvoraček and Luka Narobe take advantage of the restaurant’s close proximity to the Central Market by serving a seasonal menu based on the best available products on that day

Our dinner was a series of hits starting with a colorful salad featuring watermelon, ricotta cheese and walnuts to beef tartare with burrata, anchovies and brioche. Add vibrantly red risotto with beetroot and blackberries to the mix and the result is some of the tastiest and most beautiful food in Ljubljana for the price. Luda offers both three and five and course menus. Both are a tremendous value.

Monstera Bistro

Teriyaki ramped up the flavor of this roasted pork belly while celeriac, broccoli and carrots added color and crunch. Chef Bine Volčič achieved culinary fame as a celebrity chef on Slovenian TV before he opened Monstera Bistro in 2016. His restaurant’s open kitchen serves as a lab space where Volčič can experiment with hyper-local, seasonal ingredients, taking them beyond traditional boundaries. We experienced this during our lunch at tiny Monstera with satisfying dishes like foie gras with raspberry chutney and roasted beef cheeks.

Locals and tourists line up for a chance to eat the trendy bistro’s Ljubljana Breakfast as well as for multi-course meals offered at both lunch and dinner. With meatless options for vegetarians, organic wine and craft beer, Monstera is a fine, chef-driven option for food in Ljubljana and Volčič is one of the culinary scene’s finest standard bearers.

 

Traditional Slovenian Food in Ljubljana

Moji Štruklji Slovenije | Daily fresh traditional Slovenian štruklji and stews | Ljubljana – Wolt

Potica is one of the many traditional foods that we enjoyed in Slovenia. Though small in size, Slovenia has an impressive diversity of food options ranging from slow-cooked savory dishes to sugary sweet desserts featuring the country’s agricultural bounty. Štruklji, dough stuffed with fillings like cottage cheese, apple and walnuts, may be the most famous traditional Slovenian food, but the options are endless from rolled potica cakes to kranjska (the Slovenian version of smoked sausage.)

If these dishes don’t ring a bell, visit Ljubljana for a culinary crash course at the following restaurants:

Moji Štruklji Slovenije

Moji Struklji Slovenje serves traditional Slovenian food with an emphasis on struklji. With a name that literally translates to My Dumplings of Slovenia, it’s no surprise that Moji Štruklji Slovenije serves štruklji, Slovenia’s most popular comfort food. Common sense would lead one to assume that the restaurant serves the iconic Slovenian classic with traditional flavors like cottage cheese and apple. But that assumption is only half correct.

The creative team at Moji Štruklji Slovenije takes the simple štruklji to new mind-blowing levels with over 20 flavors on offer at any time. Beyond three dough options, Moji Štruklji Slovenije serves an array of freshly prepared savory, fruity, chocolate and gourmet štruklji variations in addition to traditional štruklji. After tasting several, we recommend the version with dark chocolate, orange cream, juicy oranges and melted dark chocolate.

Klobasarna

What do you get when you add one sandwich, one roll, one bowl of soup and two glasses of Slovenian wine? The correct answer is lunch for two at Klobasarna. If štruklji is the most famous traditional Slovenian food, then Kransjska Klobasa may very well take the second spot. With that in mind, it only makes sense to try this savory sausage specialty at the aptly named Klobasarna in the center of town. Soup and wine are optional at the casual eatery.

Slovenska Hiša – Figovec

Cook Eat Slovenia’s Spela Vodovc advises that Slovenska Hiša – Figovec is the best restaurant in Ljubljana for traditional Slovenian food. We posed the question of where to find the best restaurant for traditional Slovenian food in Ljubljana to Špela Vodovc, local food expert and operator of Cook Eat Slovenia. Without hesitation, Vodovc responded with just one restaurant name: Slovenska Hiša – Figovec.

Open since 2017 in a historic Ljubljana inn, the restaurant serves a variety of Slovenian food and wine favorites including options for vegetarians. We have now added this restaurant to the top of our dining list for when we return to Ljubljana.

 

Ljubljana Cheap Eats

Hood Burger

As in the rest of Europe, hamburgers are quite the rage in Ljubljana. Ljubljana has plenty of options for travelers on a budget as well as for those in the mood for a casual meal. From kabobs to burgers and even pizza, we found many dining options that didn’t break the bank. Our favorites were the city’s burger selection that we found to be far superior to those we ate in Zagreb and other Central and Eastern European cities. These are our recommended Ljubljana cheap eats options:

Hood Burger

Hood Burger’s big and juicy Le Brie Hamburger is quite a mouthful. We headed straight to Ljubljana’s original burger joint to satisfy our fast food cravings for burgers, fries and coleslaw. We returned a few days later with our Canadian vlogger friend Chris Rudder in tow and he agreed. Since we had been eating mediocre burgers in Europe for so long, we needed a fellow North American to verify our opinions. Open since 2012, Hood Burger prepares American-style burgers to order using Slovenian ingredients like organic beef from grass-fed cows and Belaroasa potatoes grown on a Dolenjska farm, but their secret weapon may be the homemade potato buns reminiscent of our beloved Martin’s Potato Rolls back home. In addition to the Classic Burger, popular burgers include the La Brie with mushrooms arugula and Brie cheese and the Jake ‘n’ Jay, a Smashburger with two patties and cheddar cheese.

Pop’s Place

Pop’s place is a great spot to chill with burgers and beer in the center of Ljubljana. Although we initially visited Pop’s Place to try their hamburgers (no surprise there!), we stayed for the casual eatery’s extensive craft beer menu. Sure, we enjoyed scarfing down the burger bar’s loaded Original California Classic burger with its custom beef blend, secret sauce, aged cheddar cheers and garnishes.

However, finding Põhjala beer on the menu was a true treat. We originally discovered the excellent Estonian craft beer during our trip to Tallinn and were thrilled to drink Põhjala’s brews one more time in Ljubljana.

Ek Bistro

We ate this shakshuka at Ek Bistro. Serving one of the most popular brunches in Ljubljana, Ek Bistro has a global menu featuring Israeli Shakshuka and French pastries. After walking by Ek every day during our visit to Ljubljana, we finally squeezed our way into the chic restaurant for brunch so we could eat the aforementioned Shakshuka with tomato and pepper sauce, poached eggs, sour cream and coriander. We also ordered the special Smoked Royale with smoked salmon, poached eggs, hollandaise sauce and matcha for “research purposes”. In all honesty, the shakshuka could have been spicier, but Ek is a good brunch option with seats available both in their modern, stylish, exposed brick dining space and their outdoor dining area overlooking a quiet stretch of the Ljubjanica river.

 

Gelateria Romantika

Gelateria Romantika serves traditional Italian gelato in its Ljubljana storefront location. Although Gelateria Romanitika serves an array of traditional gelato flavors like chocolate and pistachio, the boutique gelateria shines with flavors that incorporate Slovenian food classics like potica cake and pumpkin seed oil. Taking the concept of thinking global and acting local, this popular gelateria prepares Italian style gelato with ingredients from countries as varied as Tahiti and Madagascar as well as milk from local dairy farms. The results are positive as evidenced by the number of locals and travelers who line up for cones every night of the week.

 

Ljubljana Markets & Specialty Stores

Zagreb farmers' markets: A photo journal | Booking.com
Tomatoes abound at the Ljubljana Central Market right in the center of the city.

Ljubljana has a surprisingly diverse food culture that dates back thousands of years and reflects the cuisine from former rulers like the Romans, Slavs and Hungarians. Some of the surprises hit you in the face like horse meat and milk vending machines, while others are more subtle like the city’s focus on both food quality and conservation.

These are our favorite markets and specialty stores for experiencing Ljubljana’s food culture in intimate settings surrounded by locals.

Written by