Wondering where to eat in Ljubljana? Check out my Ljubljana food guide below (map included)
for the best and most popular restaurants in the Slovene capital.
Ljubljana has earned a huge reputation as a premium destination for food and drink. Why is the Slovene capital so special when it comes to food?
Authenticity is what gives Ljubljana’s cuisine an edge over that of other food destinations. Chefs here tend to favour locally sourced ingredients. They’re naturally gifted at taking traditional Slovenian recipes and turning them into food dishes that are modern, varied, and of course extremely enjoyable to eat. Most of the restaurants you see below are purveyors or promoters of using locally sourced ingredients. You may have heard of ‘zero kilometre food’ or ‘zero kilometre cooking’.
Read about my Dinner in the Dark Ljubljana experience.
Eating in Ljubljana
Ljubljana has a never ending choice of restaurants, so you’ll never fall short of places to eat here. I’ve compiled a guide to the best restaurants in town, according to my personal opinion, research that I’ve done, and other food lovers’ suggestions.
Last year, I posted about the best restaurants in Ljubljana according to 13 categories (from fine dining establishments and cosy bistros, to hip pizzerias and burger joints) as selected by locals for the Ljubljana In Your Pocket Best Restaurant Poll 2019. This time around, I’ve gathered all the popular Ljubljana eating hotpots that have kept cropping up in the past year and the first month of this year, and cemented them all here in this post. I’ve also put them in a map, which you’ll find at the bottom of this page.
So far, I’ve been to a few of these restaurants. But I’m looking forward to more heavenly food this year. 🙂 Let’s dig in!
Strelec Restaurant at Ljubljana Castle
Ever since I first ate at Strelec Restaurant in 2013, this food sanctuary and its chef Igor Jagodic‘s dishes have held a very special place in my food memory. I’ll never forget those juicy pieces of deer meat ensconced in pastry (venison wellington) accompanied by chervil root purée, chervil scallops, and black walnut sauce. And the playful combination of tastes in all the dishes we had… unforgettable.
Set aside a few hours for this one. Make your way to the top of Ljubljana Castle, indulge in one of Strelec’s tasting menus, and enjoy your culinary adventure as you look out over Ljubljana.
This restaurant’s got nothing to do with the Scotch whisky that may come to mind when you hear its name. JB stands for ‘Janez Bratovž’, world-famous chef and one of the best in Slovenia. And he’s a master chef at this Ljubljana gourmet institution.
I’ve had the pleasure of eating Janez’s culinary masterpieces at a couple of top food and wine events around Slovenia (most recently at the 25th Anniversary Celebration of the Slovenian Sommelier Society‘s membership in ASI, held at Zemono Castle in Vipava Valley). But I’ve yet to sit and enjoy his food within his own restaurant on Miklošičeva Street (not too far from the main train station). Janez’s artistic flair is something you’ll want to witness in person.
This restaurant is also considered to be an architectural gem, as it’s designed by Ljubljana’s famous architect Jože Plečnik. Yes, JB Restaurant is calling for a very imminent visit! Soon, soon.
Atelje Restaurant & Bar
“Simple, but refined”. Atelje certainly lives up to its slogan. Within the same building block as the Grand Hotel Union, Jorg Zupan and his team serve local and seasonal food, making 90% of their products in-house. At times, they take inspiration from old traditional Slovenian recipes, while on other occasions they go for a different approach.
TaBar Slovenian Tapas & Wine Bar
TaBar offers cold and warm tapas the Slovenian way in a relaxed atmosphere. Creative and daring eats sit alongside a wine list with predominantly ecological wines.
The man who runs the place, Jakob Pintar—who by the way won the title of Gault & Millau Slovenia Most Promising Young Chef, succeeds in surprising his guests every time they visit.
Expect to eat anything from a palette of dried meat products from Arkade Cigoj Tourist Farm (upper Vipava Valley), or a selection of cheeses made by Orešnik, Zidarič, and Hiša Franko. Those are the cold tapas. The warm ones: dry aged beef, rooster, calf brain… Or should I say expect the unexpected?
Ecology is the magic word here. Chef Bine Volčič is one of the first Slovenian chefs to establish the concept of the so-called ‘zero waste cuisine‘. And he really does take it seriously.
He turns edible parts of plants and meat that are usually thrown away into something so delicious, you’ll never guess these ingredients are usually thrown to the wayside. Monstera is another one of my ‘top restaurants to visit’.
Čompa Restaurant (Steakhouse)
Certainly a favourite of mine (and that of many other meat lovers out there I’m sure), Čompa is where you’ll enjoy a hearty slab of meat, be it beef, horse, or Mangalitsa pork. The smell of grilled meat is captivating even on the street outside. It’s such a joy to enter the cosy, rustic restaurant and tuck into the succulent, perfectly cooked meat. Just be sure to book your table at least a week in advance!
Mesarstvo in Kuhinja Krušič
Speaking of horse meat, Krušič is THE go-to spot for this distinct and exotic Slovene meat specialty. This family-run butcher shop is Slovenia’s top provider of horse meat from where you can buy local, fresh, raw cuts. Or better still order your meal, have it cooked, and eat it on site at their cosy restaurant.
Their horse burger is certainly one to write home about. For starters, the potato bun is made with horse fat instead of butter, so it has this special taste to it. The burger patty is 100% Slovene horse meat, and they use horse ham instead of bacon. As I write this, I’m thinking of going back there to get another!
(Photos: Bazilika Bistro)
This family bistro has been popular ever since it opened in 2012. It’s worth noting that the Gault & Millau Ljubljana guide has confirmed Bazilika’s trendy disposition by naming it ‘Best POP Restaurant for 2020‘. (Gault & Millau’s POP selection showcases trendy and accessible restaurants, bars, and bistros where experience and concept play a central role.)
Darja Končarevič, the woman behind Bazilika, ensures that every dish that’s served is healthy and fresh. Whatever’s on your plate comes from local providers, farmers, and markets sourced that same day.
Bazilika specialises in homemade soups, sweet and savoury pies, salads, and smoothies. In addition to the four Bazilika bistros—all in Ljubljana centre, Darja has also opened a salad bar called Bife, which you should definitely try out if you want an interesting take on salads.
Raw Pasta – Pasta Fresca Bar
How about some pasta? Here‘s where you need to be to satisfy your fresh Italian pasta cravings.
Opened just last October (2019) by Erika and Maxx from Italy, this Pasta Fresca Bar on Trubarjeva Street has already become a favourite among pasta lovers. These two Italian chefs have a preference for local ingredients, making their dough from organic flour, water, and eggs.
You can feast on pasta in a multitude of shapes and colours. Spirals (fusilli), short twists (casarecce), ribbon-shaped (reginette), narrow tubes (maccheroni), ravioli filled with ricotta, spinach, butter, and sage and topped with edible flowers… Their sauces are also exquisite.
Gostilna pri Trubarjevi Mami
Another relatively new restaurant to grace Ljubljana’s culinary scene is Gostilna pri Trubarjevi Mami. The menu has been co-created by Mojmir Šiftar, Most Promising Slovenian Young Chef 2019 (awarded by Gault & Millau), and head chef at Evergreen.
Traditional Slovene dishes include goulash comprising Slovenian game, grilled lamb with homegrown beets, sausages, pork tripe with buckwheat, and sauerkraut, to name a few.
Visit Altrokè for a quick snack, lunch, or long dinner and soak up the quaint and cosy old town Ljubljana atmosphere. The food, which is mainly traditional fare from the coast of Istria, comes with a wide choice of wines, a lot of which are served by the glass. Their house wine is also pretty good. It’s made by the owner Matjaž Čok of the winemaking Čok family.
Shall we have another glass of the house wine? Of course, ‘altro che’!
Gault & Millau Slovenia (and Ljubljana) 2020
The Gault & Millau international culinary guide book came to Slovenia and Ljubljana only last November (launched during November Gourmet Ljubljana). Oh and by the way, Michelin will soon shine its stars on Slovenia. (The first Michelin guide book for Slovenia is launching this March).
Ljubljana also has its own dedicated Gault & Millau guide. Some of the places I mention above are in it (Strelec, JB, Atelje, TaBar, Monstera, Čompa, Bazilika, and Altrokè). But I’ll emphasise that I didn’t choose the restaurants above simply because the guide says they’re top-notch. They’re also top favourites among the locals and food lovers in general, including myself.
Enjoy Your Meal (Dober Tek)!
I really hope you’ve enjoyed reading about the restaurants and inspiring dishes they have to offer. More importantly, I’m sure you’ll be having a great time trying them out for yourself.
One last thing before I go: I’d really love to hear about your food adventures in Ljubljana. So please do share your experiences or recommendations in the ‘Comments’ below. And if you’re coming over and would like specific advice on where to eat and drink in Ljubljana, feel free to contact me via Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or email.
Dober tek! Enjoy your meal/s! 🍽️