Ljubljana, the eEuropean place to be for foodies
Ljubljana is the capital of a country many would struggle to pinpoint on a map. Few can properly pronounce its name, fewer still can spell it. But none of this matters when you have all the right ingredients for a perfect city break.
Once the domain of the backpackers, Ljubljana, the political, economic and cultural centre of Slovenia, is quickly emerging as one of Europe’s must-do weekend destinations, and one of the main reasons is the new Slovenian cuisine.
Food in Ljubljana is thriving. Chefs are recreating and reinventing cuisines from all over the world with great success. Now, residents and visitors can eat pretty much whatever they like, whenever they want to.
Thankfully, the popularity growth in food from other nations is not at the expense of traditional Slovenian dishes. It’s still just as easy to find cream cakes, bureks and cured meats as it is to find Japanese fusion and froyo.
With so much culinary goodness on offer, you wouldn’t be blamed if you spend your entire trip visiting as many restaurants as you possibly can. Doing this though would get in the way of seeing Ljubljana’s beautiful sights and attractions. What you need instead is a way of sampling all of Ljubljana’s fresh and tasty treats in one sitting. If only there was a way to do this!
But there is! Every Friday (assuming the weather is good), throughout most of the year in Ljubljana’s Pogačarjev trg square, food and drink vendors throughout Ljubljana and across Slovenia congregate for Open Kitchen (or ‘Odprta Kuhna’ as the locals call it). This fabulously colourful and varied street food market in one of the city’s prettiest squares is sure to give any self-respecting food lover heart palpitations. It’s one of the jewels in Ljubljana’s crown and yet another reason why a visit to the city is so worthwhile.
You’d like like spend a wonderful couple of hours browsing the stalls, sampling some delicious food and drink and soaking up the atmosphere. We were joined by people of all ages, contentedly eating and chatting in small groups and enjoying the warm late spring sunshine.
On Fridays from mid-March to October, the Open Kitchen offers you an opportunity to meet Slovenian chefs, taste Slovenian and international dishes, and learn about different methods of food preparation, right there in front of you, on the market stalls.
The choice of food on offer is wide and varied, the market features around thirty different food providers, including modern restaurants, traditional gostilnas, tourist farms, and independent chefs wanting to promote their offerings. The cooking is done to the accompaniment of music and entertainment.
Slovenian cuisine is based on fresh locally sourced ingredients and reflects a wealth of regional diversity. For centuries it has been developing in the “gostilna” restaurants, traditional places to enjoy good food and wine in good company.
The contemporary approaches of today’s chefs have only refined and upgraded the old traditions, in Ljubljana, you will encounter contemporary variations of once popular dishes.
Influenced by centuries of Austro-Hungarian rule, as well as by neighboring countries Italy and Croatia, Slovenian cuisine nevertheless maintains its individuality. In the capital, Ljubljana, the restaurant scene flourishes with new and more exotic offerings opening all the time. From riverside cafes to a restaurant in a fairytale castle, here is our choice of the best restaurants to sample in this charming city.
Small yet extremely beautiful Ljubljana should be on the top of your weekend escape. In the capital, you will also experience a pleasant mixture of the original architectural landscape, a lot of which was designed by Otto Wagner’s student Jože Plečnik, and various green spaces that surround the city. You will definitely fall in love with it.