Slovenia is brimming with fantastic restaurants, so much so that foodies—including locals and foreign visitors alike—never hesitate to travel a few extra kilometres to appease their taste buds with the most delightful foods in the country.
It’s even harder to choose with restaurants upping their quality and vying for the attention of gastronomic experts as Slovenia dons the title of European Region of Gastronomy for 2021.
To make the painstaking process of having to select which restaurant to go to easier for you, I’ve listed Slovenia’s 5 best restaurants. They were officially announced last Tuesday evening (May 7) during The Slovenia Restaurant Awards (TSRA) 2019. You can now be sure that you won’t be travelling around the country in vain.
I’ll begin with the top three national restaurants, and will also include other culinary establishments that were selected according to various categories marked by the four regions in Slovenia: 1) Alpine Slovenia, 2) Mediterranean and Karst Slovenia, 3) Thermal Pannonian Slovenia, and 4) Ljubljana and Central Slovenia.
1. Gostilna pri Lojzetu
Gostilna pri Lojzetu is set in the charming and romantic Zemono manor located on a wine-growing hill in Vipava Valley. It occupies first place among Slovenia’s three best restaurants, and also came first in the Mediterranean and Karst Slovenia category.
Head chef: Tomaž Kavčič
Address: Dvorec Zemono, 5271 Vipava
2. Hiša Franko
Hiša Franko is situated within the lush Soca Valley in a remote, yet breathtakingly alluring, part of northwest Slovenia, surrounded by the Julian Alps. Apart from winning second place among the three best Slovenian restaurants, it’s also first in the Alpine Slovenia category.
Head chef: Ana Roš
Address: Staro selo 1, 5222 Kobarid
3. Vila Podvin
This beautiful villa nestled within a tastefully restored 14th-century castle is surrounded by a tranquil and spacious garden. It can be found just outside the historical town of Radovlica.
Head chef: Uroš Štefelin
Address: Mošnje 1a, 4240 Radovljica
4. JB Restaurant
Managed by the world famous Slovenian chef Janez Bratovž, JB Restaurant in downtown Ljubljana offers Mediterranean cuisine with a healthy dose of global influences. It won best prize in the Ljubljana and Central Slovenia category.
Address: Miklošičeva cesta 19, 1000 Ljubljana
5. Hiša Denk
Strategically located between the Austrian Styria and Slovenian Styria wine routes in the northeast of Slovenia, this restaurant overlooks unspoiled nature marked by a lake and connecting wooden bridges that are congruent with Hiša Denk‘s larch facade. Furthermore, it’s the best in the Thermal Pannonian Slovenia category.
Chef: Gregor Vračko
Address: Zgornja Kungota 11a, 2201 Zgornja Kungota
Five other prizes were awarded during TSRA 2019:
- Best Hotel Restaurant: Restavracija Grad Otočec
- Best Newcomer: Domačija Belica
- Best Social Profile: Družina Bazilika, run by Jernej Zver and Maja Galuf, the brains behind the culinary blog JernejKitchen, who have become the best social culinary influencers
- Best Service Diners Club Exclusive Award: Restavracija Cubo
- The Vox populi prize for the restaurant with the highest number of online votes went to Hiša Franko
Taking place for the third year, the TSRA selects its winners via an expert panel (75% of all votes) of over 1000 chefs, gourmet associations, food experts, and sommeliers. The public makes up the other 25% of voters.
This year, 201 restaurants participated in the selection, and for the first time, some of the proceedings are being allocated to the Slovenia Young Chef Foundation. Evergreen Restaurant in Smlednik hosted this year’s awards ceremony.
View my photos below to get a small taste of the food and drink on offer at TSRA 2019. Some of the dishes were rather unique!