Despite its small size, Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana, and in particular its Old Town quarters, offers a surprisingly large array of restaurants, ice cream parlours, bars and cafes to suit any taste and budget. Here’s a quick guide of my favourites below, but feel free to leave your own suggestions below!
For Slovenian gourmet; Gostilna na Gradu – any simple Google search for Slovenian restaurants will bring up this restaurant, and with good reason. Situated in the courtyard of Ljubljana Castle, Gostilna na Gradu was opened in 2009 with a focus on cooking traditional Slovenian meals that are organic, and locally sourced. The result – hearty, flavourful meals washed down with an extensive wine list. The potatoes in the pan are some of the best you’ll have, and despite Gostilna na Gradu’s gourmet standards, the portion sizes and prices are good value.
For hipster cafe culture; TOZD – Here you will find Ljubljana’s hipster crowd jostling shoulders with families, dogs and couples on the weekends for a seat outside under the trees along the riverbank. Featuring bright furnishings reminiscent of the communist era, TOZD prides itself on serving health-conscious food and beverages in a fun manner, such as free ‘kinetically corrected’ water in glass beakers. The main attraction however, is its coffee, which they serve with a ‘cold-brew’ option that has a good caffeinated kick to it. The hot chocolate, which has a thick, almost custard-like consistency, is also a favourite.
For vegetarians; Namaste – Situated by the riverbank in the hub of the weekly antique and art markets, Namaste offers a good selection of vegetarian dishes in a country where meat is commonly eaten at every meal. Mains and vegetarian side dishes are reasonably priced, and the menu offers a good variety of options, including Indian street food snacks. The wine list too offers a good selection of regional Slovenian wines.
For tourists; Julija – With its chic, understated decor, Julija offers a delicious taster of Slovenian cuisine in the centre of the Old Town. The staff are friendly, the food is good quality with decent portion sizes, and the wine list in particular provides an excellent selection of crisp, white Slovenian varieties.
For pizza; Dvor pizzeria – Ljubljana is awash with places selling pizza, and while there are numerous venues touting their own versions, Dvor’s (enormous) offering is distinctly Italian home-cooking with a Slovenian influence. The restaurant has a slight sports-bar atmosphere, but its menu is as big as the pizzas themselves, with more than 200 varieties, and pizzas up to 50 centimetres in size!
For closing-hour sweet treats; Slaščičarna pri Vodnjaku – During the week many restaurants close early in Ljubljana compared to other capitals, which makes pri Vodnjaku all the more sweeter. This cafe/dessert shop serves a delicious array of ice cream and slices of cake, and with its excellent outdoor seating offering views of the Ljubljana castle and nearby music university, is an prime place to people-watch.