Charming Ljubljana has eateries for every type of foodie out there. In Your Pocket Ljubljana has revealed this year’s best restaurants in the city, as voted by locals.
Ljubljana has become a true heaven for food lovers, with its culinary scene gaining an extra momentum over the past few years. More and more restaurants—including fine dining establishments and cosy bistros, to hip pizzerias and burger joints—are opening their doors to discerning foodies.
There’s also no shortage of vegetarian or vegan options, as well as fast-food spots. In other words, this city has eateries for every type of foodie that exists. And for those who want to venture slightly out of Ljubljana, there are some star places that are also certainly unmissable.
Read more: Ljubljana Restaurants to Eat at in 2020
True to Tradition
No matter how cosmopolitan a city can get, Slovenia always remains true to its traditional cuisine. This is evident in the number of restaurants serving authentic Slovene fare. And it’s not only in the rural areas of the country, but also in Ljubljana’s city centre.
Luckily, so far, you can still come across many eating establishments in the city that are not touristy. I will reveal Ljubljana’s most popular restaurants (among locals and foreigners alike) serving Slovene cuisine in a later post.
Ljubljana: Of International Food Fame
Ljubljana has a prominent spot on the world’s culinary map, not only because of its outstanding restaurants and cuisine, but also because of the food events that it hosts: Restaurant Week (known by the Slovenes as ‘Teden Restavracij’) that happens twice yearly, and Odprta Kuhna (every Friday from late March to late October), to name just a couple.
In Your Pocket’s Ljubljana City Guide edition has been running its ‘Restaurant Poll’ for almost ten years now, with the results serving as a good guide for all foodies, locals, and tourists alike. This year, the guide has expanded the competition to a whopping 13 categories, a testament to the expansive variety of food venues available in this culinary city.
To ensure that all food-lovers could have a say in choosing their favourite restaurants, the city guide’s editorial team narrowed down the long list of eateries to shortlists of finalists, leaving the final decision to its readers and the public at large.
I’m happy to showcase below the 13 finalists for the Best Restaurants in Ljubljana for 2019 according to each category. These include both Slovenian and international cuisine. I’m also throwing in a couple of interesting comments from some of the chefs and restaurateurs about their signature dishes. Let’s get started!
Best Fine Dining Restaurant in Ljubljana
Restavracija Cubo is the finalist for the ‘Best Fine Dining Restaurant in Ljubljana’ category. Successful from day one, Cubo has maintained its high level of quality along the years.
Its owner and creative leader Boštjan Trstenjak keeps adding new dishes to his menu, yet the ingredients remain delicious. As new dishes are created, new wines are put onto the wine list, which is dominated by reds.
“Red wines are the most popular here at Cubo, particularly Jakončič’s Red Carolina and our house wine CUBO Rdeče—made and bottled exclusively for us by the famous Slovenian winery Movia,” says Boštjan.
I asked Boštjan what comes to his guests’ minds when they think of his restaurant. “Cubo is famous for its desserts, which our customers love to pair with some really good dessert wines that we offer,” he replied.
Where does Chef Borut Pugelj get his inspiration from? “Borut’s dishes are inspired from Italy and the Mediterrranean.”
Restaurant Cubo is also the winner of this year’s Best Service Diners Club Exclusive Award.
Best Slovenian Restaurant in Ljubljana
And the winner is… Slovenska Hiša – Figovec! This restaurant has earned its many stars for appealing to all sorts of clientele, be they students, travellers, or more demanding foodies. It’s a down-to-earth establishment with something for everyone.
More ‘Slovene’ than its sister restaurant Slovenska Hiša (on the Cankar Embankment of the Ljubljanica river), Figovec serves up authentic, local dishes to appease the appetite of both meat-lovers and vegetarians. It’s also equipped with an impressive range of Slovene wines from all over the country.
Best Cosy Bistro in Ljubljana
With a bit of a difficult name to digest, Gostilnica 5-6kg is something special. Their position as first in the ‘Cosy Bistro’ category proves that it’s still extremely popular among its clientele.
Offering high-quality Slovenian dishes in the quiet, older part of town, Barbara Repe and her team prepare simple dishes that never disappoint. Gostilnica 5-6kg is known for its signature roasted milk-fed piglet.
Regarding the rest of the menu, Barbara comments that she’s always attentive “to serve dishes that taste like food made by the mothers of the past with a touch of freshness and imagination. In short: food made with love.”
Best Restaurant for Business Lunch in Ljubljana
Situated beside a stream in the suburb of Vič, Ošterija Pr’ Noni is an elegant restaurant with a cosy maritime theme. Patrons can enjoy a delightful lunch on its terrace and garden overlooking Mali Graben creek.
Like many other eateries, Pr’ Noni offers early light lunches (‘malica’ in Slovene). But also provides full-blown evening a’ la carte, and weekend lunches.
Specialiasing in Slovene and Mediterranean cuisine, this restaurant’s signature dishes are octopus salad, white fish in curry sauce, baccala, and ginger soup with a king prawn. Their meat offer includes homemade pâté, smoked duck breast, and beef steak a’ la Luka Gourmet with sun dried tomatoes in balsamic sauce.
The almond cake with pear, and mango cream with passion fruit jelly are two of their most beloved desserts.
Best Balkan Restaurant in Ljubljana
This one goes to Gostilna Čad, located behind Tivoli Park right below Rožnik Hill. Known for its Balkan cuisine, it serves grilled dishes such as the Serbian ‘pljeskavica’ burger served on Balkan-style clotted cream known as ‘kajmak’, sausage-shaped ‘ćevapčići’, and Serbian ‘ražnjići’ pork kebabs.
Guests can eat in the pleasant tree-shaded garden, or within the restaurant’s rustic interior.
Best Pizzeria in Ljubljana
When I asked Barbara Zimic, the director at Verace, about how they feel on having been chosen as the best in the pizza category, she replied: “We’re so happy that the locals have voted Verace as their first choice for the second time in a row. We started what you could call a pizza revolution in Slovenia. Since we opened in 2016 as the first pizzeria to offer Neapolitan-style pizzas, many new pizzerias sprung open. By means of our skill, knowledge, and use of prime ingredients, we’ve transformed pizza from a mere fast food into a gourmet dish .”
“Our Neapolitan pizza is true to its origins. We use a special recipe that we developed with the revered Giovanni Santarpia, one of Italy’s best pizzaiolos.”Barbara Zimic, director at Verace
Verace uses top-notch ingredients, the majority of which they import from the best producers in and around Naples. If you’re a cheese fan, you’ll definitely fall in love with their burrata cheese starter. And for desserts? Their tiramisu and pizza dolce are massive hits.
For a true taste of traditional Naples, there’s the pizza fritta—traditionally filled with mozzarella Fior di Latte, cooked ham, tomato and ricotta.
Best Burger in Ljubljana
Gourmet burgers have become something of a phenomenon in Ljubljana in the past few years, a trend that has seen numerous burger joints opening up here and there.
Ljubljana’s most popular this year is Lars & Sven Burgers, which prides itself on sourcing organic ingredients from local butchers and nearby farms.
Its most popular burgers are probably Sven Burger and Blackadder. The first contains crispy bacon and onions caramelised with beer and balsamic vinegar. The second is with Australian Angus beef, crispy Istrian pancetta, fig sauce, and mature English cheddar.
Best Vegetarian or Vegan Restaurant in Ljubljana
This is the fourth time in a row that Bazilika Bistro has won the title of Best Vegetarian or Vegan Restaurant in Ljubljana. It’s considered the city’s go-to spot for anything fresh, healthy and organic.
Whatever they put in their assortment of sandwiches, sweet and savoury pies, salads, soups, smoothies, and other vegetarian and vegan-friendly treats are sourced from local farmers and markets.
(Photos: Bazilika Bistro)
What can Bazilika Bistro offer to customers that varies from the usual? A homey feeling, carefully selected ingredients, and food made from scratch. “Our food is familiar yet special, we don’t complicate, we do things with soul and inspiration. Bazilika was born out of a love for cooking, food and socialising.
“We feel there is hardly anything better than setting a bowl of home-made soup or a piece of freshly baked quiche on your plate,” expresses Darja, the creative soul behind the bistro.
Best World Cuisine Restaurant in Ljubljana
Cantina Mexicana is located in Ljubljana’s most thriving passageway (Knafljev Prehod) that’s brimming with bars and restaurants. The food in this brightly-coloured, quirky restaurant is classic Mexican American fusion.
But it’s not just about the food. According to In Your Pocket Ljubljana, this Mexican restaurant is “Fun on two floors, positively aglow with bright colours, strange sculptures, grass growing on the ceiling and some nice lighting tricks behind the long ground-floor bar.”
Best Asian Restaurant in Ljubljana
Sushimama is the first and, for a long time, only Japanese restaurant to have opened in Slovenia. With an extensive menu featuring Japanese favourites, you can find exceptional miso soups with tofu or even crab, shrimp, and wakame (green seaweed). Then there are noodle soups, a wide choice of rice and noodle-based dishes, plus sushi of course.
Best Breakfast Spot in Ljubljana
Is it a coincidence that Le Petit Café is situated on Trg francoske revolucije (French Revolution Square)? This cosy corner is famous for its coffees, natural juices, and classic French breakfast bites. Nothing Slovenian about the food here. But who could say “no” to freshly-baked croissants, Croque Madames, and Croques Monsieurs?
Best Fast Food in Ljubljana
Have you ever wondered who serves the best burek in Ljubjana? Burek Olimpija may not impress with its humble, tiny takeaway kiosk, but it definitely serves the best Serbian-style burek in town.
Situated at Bavarski Dvor (an area within the city centre named after a hotel that once stood there), this place has become something of an institution in Ljubljana.
Best Restaurant Around Ljubljana
Set against the beautiful backdrop of the Kamnik-Savinian Alps, Dvor Jezeršek is the epitome of Slovene cuisine. Donning the title ‘Taste Slovenia – Culinary Centre’, this restaurant excels at putting a modern touch to traditional Slovenian food.
Here ends this list of Ljubljana’s Best Restaurants for 2019. So now, I’ll take the opportunity to wish you a great time eating away around the city. I needn’t doubt that you will have many fabulous moments as you indulge in its dishes. Lepo se imejte (have a good time) and dober tek (bon appétit) to all!