I’ve already waxed poetic about Ljubljana’s cool culture and the gay-friendliness of the city, but I haven’t shared about one of the city’s most surprising aspects for me: the food. Living in Germany, my taste buds have perhaps acclimated to a less-than-stellar cuisine, so when I travel I’m always eager to sample local cuisine. In Ljubljana I was lucky to be there during their first Taste Ljubljana event — the launch of a cookbook of local foods and an evening market with different food vendors providing free food samples. I also had the good fortune of meeting up with the guys from Luxury Slovenia who provided me with countless food recommendations — as well as a special behind-the-scenes peek into one of Ljubljana’s most popular restaurants.
What were my favorite foods in Ljubljana? Well, to be honest—I didn’t have a bad meal in the city. But there were a few stand-outs.
International Street Food at the Open Kitchen
Every local Ljubljana resident (Ljubljanians?!) I met recommended the weekly Friday market, Odprta Kuhna. Even when I wasn’t asking for food recommendations, they’d still find a way to suggest it. Every Friday afternoon the market square turns into a maze of street food vendors. They sold everything from Asian noodles to fried chicken. With the great weather and the nearby cafes offering up their tables, this was obviously the place to be. I obviously went for the fried chicken drumsticks, called “flying žganci” in Ljubljana. They were once a popular food for the working class in Slovenia, but it seems several local chefs and restaurants have adapted the recipe and turned the classic dish into a culinary speciality.
Pelicon Summer Ale on a Craft Beer Tour
I’ve taken a handful of food tours in Europe (in fact, I’m quite adept at promoting them as one of the best ways to see a city!), but in Ljubljana I decided to try something a bit different: a craft beer tour. The tour included four stops at four different bars. At each one we sampled one of Slovenia’s many local brews (and a small appetizer). My favorite beer was the Pelicon Summer Ale from the Pelicon Brewery. If you’re lucky enough to visit Ljubljana during the summer, keep your eyes out for this beer! Beer in Slovenia is taken relatively seriously. The city even hosts an annual beer festival each June!
In the Kitchen at JB Restaurant
Thanks to a very special opportunity arranged by Luxury Slovenia, I was able to visit JB Restaurant and sample some of Chef Janez Bratovż’s signature dishes. My favorite item off the menu was his most famous dish: ravioli with pistachio, foie gras, goat cheese and covered in a cream sauce. The tasting also included other dishes popular in Slovenia including polenta and
Slovenian Tapas at TaBar
I visited this restaurant on my very first afternoon in Ljubljana. I spotted it on a side street and their sign out front promising local tapas and local wine. It’s a trendy bar & restaurant, but their menu offered a huge variety of Slovenian food. And with the small portions (at a relatively hefty price, though), it was a great way to sample the best of many local delicacies. This is where I discovered prosciutto is a Slovenian specialty (I guess being so close to Italy has rubbed off on the cuisine!) but oxtail, sea bass and sausage are all other great local foods. Plus the wine wasn’t bad either ;)
Local Cuisine at Gostilna Na Gradu
Perhaps my most favorite meal in Ljubljana, however, was the one I had at Gostilna Na Gradu. And a bonus: it was also the most scenic! Located on the grounds of the Ljubljana castle, this friendly restaurant was luxurious without feeling pretentious. Much of the menu is determined entirely by the local ingredients available form the nearby food market. The sampler appetizer plate with some pâtés was one of my favorites — the flavors were rich without being heavy. I also enjoyed a sandwich they made but that wasn’t on the menu; it was a daily special from some of the ingredients they’d picked up that day in the market.
Prosciutto at Gostilna As
Many of the restaurants I visited in Ljubljana had prosciutto dishes on the menu but the appetizer plate I had at the trendy Restaurant As was one of the best. Before visiting Slovenia, I had little clue how strong their cuisine was, but with their location along the sea and between the Alps has definitely made the country a hotbed for some of Europe’s best cuisines. It would seem Ljubljana has hand-picked the best foods from around Europe and adopted them as their own! And I was so happy to have found prosciutto in Ljubljana. This restaurant had an eclectic international menu with delicious salads and pastas, but the prosciutto stands out. The atmosphere in the restaurant (and its rooftop terrace) make it a super cool place to enjoy an aperitivo and light meal in the evening.
Looking for more information about Ljubljana? Read my complete travel guide for more tips and recommendations. Please note that while my visit to Ljubljana was in partnership with Visit Ljubljana and The Travel Mob, all opinions here are my own.