Table of Contents
- Ljubljana Food Guide
- Top Ljubljana Restaurants
- Modern Bistros
- Traditional Slovenian Food in Ljubljana
- Ljubljana Cheap Eats
- Ljubljana Markets & Specialty Stores
- Ljubljana Coffee Shops
- Ljubljana Bars
- Things To Do in Ljubljana
- Plan Your Ljubljana Stay
- Hungry for More in Ljubljana?
- Pin It for Later
- About the Authors
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Blessed by its enviable geographic location and a long history of culinary excellence, the Ljubljana food scene is exciting at all price points.
Drawing inspiration from nearby Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, restaurants in Ljubljana take advantage of local products. We’re talking about artisan meats like prosciutto and pork, incredible fruits and vegetables including some of the world’s best wild mushrooms and uber-fresh seafood from the Adriatic.
In Ljubljana, seasoned chefs cook traditional Slovenian food with a modern twist and younger chefs are returning to Slovenia’s capital city armed with fresh ideas acquired in some of the best kitchens in Europe and beyond. The result is a blending of traditional flavors and modern techniques at the best Ljubljana restaurants.
Why Visit Ljubljana
The fairytale city of Ljubljana has a lot to offer travelers. Upon our arrival, we immediately identified Ljubljana food experiences as well as cultural destinations like the Ljubljana Castle, the National Gallery, the Gallery of Modern Arts and the Museum of Illusions. We enjoyed exploring the city’s architecture, designed by architect Jožef Plečnik, as well as its riverside cafe culture.
When you visit, we recommend that you head into the center of town, wander past the dragons and breathe the atmosphere around the compact but genius, neoclassicist triple bridge. There’s nothing quite like it. Plečnik’s architecture may not be as grandiose as Gaudi’s in Barcelona but, in some ways, Plečnik’s simplicity and functionality make his designs more special.
Ljubljana is the kind of city where tourists can find activities all day and night. It’s also the kind of city where a traveler can spend hours wandering through the cobblestoned streets or chilling by the Ljubljanica River with a coffee, beer or glass of wine.
FYI – we fit into the second category (and a little of the first after doing the second).
Ljubljana Food Guide
An ideal base for exploring Slovenia and its food, Ljubljana has a surprising number of restaurants for a city of its relatively small size. The challenge in this city isn’t finding good spots to eat; rather, it’s narrowing down the choices.
Read on to find out our picks for the best places to eat in Ljubljana.
Top Ljubljana Restaurants
Although the experts at Michelin are slowly dipping their toes into the Ljubljana dining scene, the finest Ljubljana restaurants are serving food comparable to starred restaurants in Europe’s other capital cities. In Ljubljana, though, the finest restaurants offer unique experiences, none more so than Strelec Restaurant and Gostilna Na Gradu, both of which are situated inside the Ljubljana Castle.
As a bonus, a meal at a top Ljubljana restaurant costs less than comparable meals in cities like Paris, Prague and Vienna. With this value proposition in mind, we recommend the following two restaurants for those who want to experience some of the best Ljubljana fine dining experiences:
After meeting legendary Chef Janez Bratovž at Ljubljana’s weekly Open Kitchen (see below), we had no qualms about accepting his generous invitation to stop by JB Restaurant to try a plate or two. Little did we know, by plate or two he meant an epic six-course meal that would serve as a touchstone for our Ljubljana dining experiences.
Recognized by San Pellegrino and helmed by Bratovž, the stately JB Restaurant occupies a 1920’s Plečnik designed, Secessionist-style building. The vaulted ceiling, white tablecloth dining room is a bit formal for our tastes but Bratovž’s food would taste good in any setting.
Each dish during our meal was a revelation as well as a snapshot of the cross-current of cultures that make the food in Slovenia so special.
Bratovž’s Adriatic tuna stuffed with seaweed and ginger cream and young fried green onions celebrated Slovenia’s proximity to the sea while his ricotta and pistachio ravioli stuffed with meat sauce, licorice foam, foie gras and pear gelee defined the rooster-shaped nation with its convergence of earthy, peasant-style recipes and luxurious epicurean flavors.
Other highlights included Slovenian Mangalitsa Pork Crackling with egg yolk and two creams. With this dish, Bratovž brought dramatic culinary prowess directly to the table when he personally poured sizzling hot pork cracklings along with their molten fat over the dish to cook the egg.
JB Restaurant is located at Miklošičeva cesta 19, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Considering that we previously deemed lunch at Gostišče Grič to be our best meal of the year – not just in Ljubljana but in the three continents we traversed during the year – it’s fair to say that we approve of this restaurant located 20 kilometers from Ljubljana.
We get that Gostišče Grič isn’t officially in Ljubljana, but it’s so close that Chef Luka Kosir is a key participant at Ljubljana’s Open Kitchen (see below). Solidifying the Ljubljana connection, Kosir worked at JB Restaurant (see above) when he was a young chef.
Košic exclusively cooks with products that he grows in the restaurant’s gardens, forages in the forest or procures from local farmers. The only exception is the seafood which he sources from the Adriatic Sea.
But where Košic really shines is with his culinary artistry. During our leisurely lunch, he transformed each plate into a work of art that almost looked too beautiful to eat and tasted even better.
As we sat in the restaurant’s simple dining room with a rustic design and cozy decor, Košic’s sister served us a cavalcade of dishes that knocked us off our feet. Yes, Gostišče Grič is a family affair.
Though we opted to share a tasting menu with seven plates, we now wish we had tried even more. Our imaginations soar when we think about the possibilities.
Gostišče Grič is located at Šentjošt nad Horjulom 24d, 1354 Horjul, Slovenia.
Exciting. There’s no better word to describe the modern Ljubljana bistros where cutting-edge chefs are eschewing traditional restaurants for small spaces where they can flex their culinary muscles on a daily basis.
Reminding us of the Le Fooding movement that we first experienced in Lyon, these young chefs are taking Slovenian food to the next level in casual venues that are affordable for most diners. Eat at the following restaurants to experience some of Slovenia’s finest modern cuisine:
We hustled to get into Luda Restaurant after Chef Luka Kosir personally recommended the bistro to us during our meal at Gostišče Grič (see above). At Luda, Chefs Urška Dvoraček and Luka Narobe take advantage of the restaurant’s close proximity to the Central Market by serving a seasonal menu based on the best available products on that day
Our dinner was a series of hits starting with a colorful salad featuring watermelon, ricotta cheese and walnuts to beef tartare with burrata, anchovies and brioche. Add vibrantly red risotto with beetroot and blackberries to the mix and the result is some of the tastiest and most beautiful food in Ljubljana for the price.
Luda offers both three and five and course menus. Both are a tremendous value.
Luda Restaurant is located at Poljanska cesta 11, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Chef Bine Volčič achieved culinary fame as a celebrity chef on Slovenian TV before he opened Monstera Bistro in 2016.
His restaurant’s open kitchen serves as a lab space where Volčič can experiment with hyper-local, seasonal ingredients, taking them beyond traditional boundaries. We experienced this during our lunch at tiny Monstera with satisfying dishes like foie gras with raspberry chutney and roasted beef cheeks.
Locals and tourists line up for a chance to eat the trendy bistro’s Ljubljana Breakfast as well as for multi-course meals offered at both lunch and dinner. With meatless options for vegetarians, organic wine and craft beer, Monstera is a fine, chef-driven option for food in Ljubljana and Volčič is one of the culinary scene’s finest standard bearers.
Monstera Bistro is located at Gosposka ulica 9, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Serving one of the most popular brunches in Ljubljana, Ek Bistro has a global menu featuring Israeli Shakshuka and French pastries.
After walking by Ek every day during our visit to Ljubljana, we finally squeezed our way into the chic restaurant for brunch so we could eat the aforementioned Shakshuka with tomato and pepper sauce, poached eggs, sour cream and coriander. We also ordered the special Smoked Royale with smoked salmon, poached eggs, hollandaise sauce and matcha for “research purposes”.
In all honesty, the shakshuka could have been spicier, but Ek is a good brunch option with seats available both in their modern, stylish, exposed brick dining space and their outdoor dining area overlooking a quiet stretch of the Ljubjanica river.
Ek Bistro is located at Petkovškovo nabrežje 65, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Traditional Slovenian Food in Ljubljana
Though small in size, Slovenia has an impressive diversity of food options ranging from slow-cooked savory dishes to sugary sweet desserts featuring the country’s agricultural bounty. Štruklji, dough stuffed with fillings like cottage cheese, apple and walnuts, may be the most famous traditional Slovenian food, but the options are endless from rolled potica cakes to kranjska (the Slovenian version of smoked sausage.)
If these dishes don’t ring a bell, visit Ljubljana for a culinary crash course at the following restaurants:
Moji Štruklji Slovenije
With a name that literally translates to My Dumplings of Slovenia, it’s no surprise that Moji Štruklji Slovenije serves štruklji, Slovenia’s most popular comfort food. Common sense would lead one to assume that the restaurant serves the iconic Slovenian classic with traditional flavors like cottage cheese and apple. But that assumption is only half correct.
The creative team at Moji Štruklji Slovenije takes the simple štruklji to new mind-blowing levels with over 20 flavors on offer at any time. Beyond three dough options, Moji Štruklji Slovenije serves an array of freshly prepared savory, fruity, chocolate and gourmet štruklji variations in addition to traditional štruklji.
After tasting several, we recommend the version with dark chocolate, orange cream, juicy oranges and melted dark chocolate.
Moji Štruklji Slovenije is located at Adamič-Lundrovo nabrežje 1, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.
If štruklji is the most famous traditional Slovenian food, then Kransjska Klobasa may very well take the second spot. With that in mind, it only makes sense to try this savory sausage specialty at the aptly named Klobasarna in the center of town. Soup and wine are optional at the casual eatery.
Klobasarna is located at Ciril-Metodov trg 15, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Slovenska Hiša – Figovec
We posed the question of where to find the best restaurant for traditional Slovenian food in Ljubljana to Špela Vodovc, local food expert and operator of Cook Eat Slovenia. Without hesitation, Vodovc responded with just one restaurant name: Slovenska Hiša – Figovec.
Open since 2017 in a historic Ljubljana inn, the restaurant serves a variety of Slovenian food and wine favorites including options for vegetarians. We have now added this restaurant to the top of our dining list for when we return to Ljubljana.
Slovenska Hiša – Figovec is located at Gosposvetska cesta 1, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Ljubljana Cheap Eats
Ljubljana has plenty of options for travelers on a budget as well as for those in the mood for a casual meal. From kabobs to burgers and even pizza, we found many dining options that didn’t break the bank.
Our favorites were the city’s burger selection that we found to be far superior to those we ate in Zagreb and other Central and Eastern European cities. These are our recommended Ljubljana cheap eats options:
We headed straight to Ljubljana’s original burger joint to satisfy our fast food cravings for burgers, fries and coleslaw. We returned a few days later with our Canadian vlogger friend Chris Rudder in tow and he agreed. Since we had been eating mediocre burgers in Europe for so long, we needed a fellow North American to verify our opinions.
Open since 2012, Hood Burger prepares American-style burgers to order using Slovenian ingredients like organic beef from grass-fed cows and Belaroasa potatoes grown on a Dolenjska farm. However, the secret weapon may be homemade potato buns reminiscent of our beloved Martin’s Potato Rolls back home.
In addition to the Classic Burger, popular burgers include the La Brie with mushrooms arugula and Brie cheese and the Jake ‘n’ Jay, a Smashburger with two patties and cheddar cheese.
Hood Burger has multiple locations in Ljubljana. We ate at the Nazorjeva ulica 4, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia location twice.
Although we initially visited Pop’s Place to try their hamburgers (no surprise there!), we stayed for the casual eatery’s extensive craft beer menu. Sure, we enjoyed scarfing down the burger bar’s loaded Original California Classic burger with its custom beef blend, secret sauce, aged cheddar cheers and garnishes.
However, finding Põhjala beer on the menu was a true treat. We originally discovered the excellent Estonian craft beer during our trip to Tallinn and were thrilled to drink Põhjala’s brews again in Ljubljana.
Pop’s Place is located at Cankarjevo nabrežje 3, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Although Gelateria Romanitika serves an array of traditional gelato flavors like chocolate and pistachio, the boutique gelateria shines with flavors that incorporate Slovenian food classics like potica cake and pumpkin seed oil.
Taking the concept of thinking global and acting local, this popular gelateria prepares Italian style gelato with ingredients from countries as varied as Tahiti and Madagascar as well as milk from local dairy farms.
The results are positive as evidenced by the number of locals and travelers who line up for cones every night of the week.
Gelateria Romantika is located at Dvorni trg 1, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Ljubljana Markets & Specialty Stores
Ljubljana has a surprisingly diverse food culture that dates back thousands of years and reflects the cuisine from former rulers like the Romans, Slavs and Hungarians. Some of the surprises hit you in the face like horse meat and milk vending machines, while others are more subtle like the city’s focus on both food quality and conservation.
These are our favorite markets and specialty stores for experiencing Ljubljana’s food culture in intimate settings surrounded by locals.
Ljubljana’s Central Market is busy every day of the week except for Sunday when it’s closed. Locals come with recyclable shopping bags to purchase local, seasonal produce, fish, meat and grains to use to cook daily meals and often linger over lunch purchased from on-site vendors.
Beyond the outside stalls, the Central Market has an indoor section where fishmongers and butchers sell their wares. This is where we purchased prosciutto and polenta to recreate one of the dishes we learned to cook during our Cook Eat Slovenia cooking class.
Though busy on the weekdays, the Central Market hits its stride on Saturdays. This is when organic farmers come out in full force and are joined by vendors selling Slovenian handicrafts.
We met Jože Krmelj, an artisan trained in Austria but 100% Slovenian, on a rainy Saturday at the market and were tempted to buy one of his unique knives to accompany the Japanese knife we had previously purchased in Tokyo. Sanity ruled and we instead left the market with a handcrafted pear cutting board that Krmelj generously gifted to us during our lively conversation.
Central Market is located at Adamič-Lundrovo nabrežje 6, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Open Kitchen (Odprta Kuhna)
Every Friday (weather permitting) from March to November, Pogacarjev Trg next to the Central Market comes alive with locals and tourists of all ages who convene on the square with one singular goal – to eat as many small plates as possible at Lior Kovacahy’s weekly Open Kitchen event.
Prepared by the country’s top chefs and sold at affordable prices, these plates represent a cornucopia of Slovenian food specialties as well as global offerings more typically eaten in faraway countries.
Open Kitchen is located at Pogačarjev trg, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.
We discovered Pekarna Osem while drinking cappuccinos at Črno Zrno (see below) right across the street. The enticing aromas drifted over to us and drew us inside the tiny artisan bread bakery like flies to sugar.
We couldn’t resist trying baker Andrej Gerželj’s baguettes on the spot and returned to buy more later in the week. Easily winning the award for the best baguettes in Ljubljana, Pekarna Osem sells eight types of bread each day until each sells out one by one.
Ironically, Pekarna Osem literally translates to Bakery Eight. Then again, maybe it’s not ironic after all.
Pekarna Osem is located at Gornji trg 10, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.
A visit to Ljubljana would be incomplete without exploring the lush Slovenian countryside. If that’s not possible, a trip to Dobrote Dolenjske is the best next thing.
This specialty shop sells over 300 culinary products from the Posavska wine region. Though its Slovenia’s smallest wine region, Posavska produces 10 million liters of wine each year as well as cheese, meat, honey and liqueurs – all for sale in this Ljubljana shop.
Dobrote Dolenjske is located at Mestni trg 17, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Ljubljana Coffee Shops
The Ljubljana coffee scene failed to impress us at first. We weren’t so into the traditional cafes found that were serving Italian blends with a side of attitude, and we assumed that Ljubljana didn’t have a third wave coffee scene.
Once we stumbled into Črno Zrno the city was a brighter place. As it turns out, Ljubljana has several excellent coffee shops hiding in plain sight. These are our favorites:
It’s no coincidence that Črno Zrno sports both a sleek design and excellent coffee – owner Alex Niño Ruiz is a native of Colombia with a background in architecture. He brings his Colombian heritage and eye for design to Črno Zrno, a cool coffee cafe whose name translates to Black Bean.
Ruiz exclusively sells locally roasted Colombian coffee drinks at Ljubljana’s ultimate third wave coffee shop. He also sells beans like the Florida beans he ground for us to brew in our Airbnb apartment with a Turkish coffee pot. Though small in size, Črno Zrno is a big player in the burgeoning Ljubljana coffee scene.
Črno Zrno is located at Gornji trg 17, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Bucking the trend of mediocre museum cafes, Stow is a modern coffee shop that serves single-origin coffee drinks as well as tempting baked goods and alcoholic beverages. Don’t hold its museum location against Stow – baristas here use modern coffee technology and sleek equipment from the likes of La Morzocca and Chemex to deliver coffee worth a break.
Stow is located at Gosposka ulica 15, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.
As it turns out, Ljubljana has not one but two excellent museum cafes, the second being Kavarna Moderna in the Museum of Modern Art next to Tivoli Park. We enjoyed chilling on the upper level of the cafe’s mod space while sipping cappuccinos. The cafe also serves a range of desserts including ice cream in the summer.
Kavarna Moderna is located at Cankarjeva cesta 15, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Appealing for its artistic design and riverside locale, TOZD serves a solid selection of drinks including third wave coffee made with beans roasted by Escobar, a Slovenian roastery. With a funky Australian vibe, TOZD is a great to spot to drink the cafe’s signature cold brew in the summer or a hot drink in the winter.
TOZD is located at 1000, Gallusovo nabrežje 27, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Originally started in Russia but now also operating in the UK, Ukraine, Mongolia and Slovenia, Ziferblat charges by the minute instead of by the drink or snack. During our visits, the cost was €3 per hour (maxed daily at €7) for all the coffee and cookies we could ingest.
Ziferblat was located at Vegova ulica 8, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia. It is now permanently closed.
Beyond coffee, Ljubljana has a cafe culture that serves copious amounts of Slovenian wine and local craft beer. If you’re not sure where to drink, we recommend the following watering holes:
We noticed Cafe Čokl at the base of the funicular when we visited the Ljubljana Castle during our wine tour and made a mental note to return. We’re glad we did since the hip cafe goes beyond the norm with its selection of fair trade coffee and craft beer.
Though we enjoyed drinking cappuccinos on the cafe’s well-positioned terrace, we actually preferred sitting inside while drinking local HumanFish beer straight from the tap during our second visit.
Cafe Čokl is located at Krekov trg 8, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Located in Ljubljana’s historic City Hall building, Movia sells and serves an impressive selection of wine from its vineyards in Slovenia’s Primorska region. Part wine store and part wine bar, Movia provides a great introduction to Slovenian wine varietals like Malvazia, Krebula and Tehran. The food’s good too.
Movia is located at Mestni trg 2, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Wine bar Šuklje
A surprise rainstorm kept us at Šuklje longer than we expected. No worries – the rain gave us an excuse to share an afternoon bottle of Bagueri Chardonnay from Goriška Brda in Slovenia’s Littoral region near the Italian border – not that we needed an excuse to enjoy great wine in the wine bar’s elegant setting.
Wine bar Šuklje is located at 10, Breg, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Things To Do in Ljubljana
We enjoyed strolling around the fairytale city of Ljubljana when we weren’t eating and drinking. For more adventurous visitors, here are some ideas of additional Ljubljana activities:
- Traverse the city on a Guided Walking Tour with a Funicular Ride to Ljubljana Castle.
- Explore the city via a Three-Hour Bike Tour.
- Spend your night on a Pub Crawl.
- Take a day trip to Lake Bled.
- Celebrate the holidays with a tour of the Festive Decorations.
Plan Your Ljubljana Stay
Once you finalize your accommodations, click here to arrange car service from the Ljubljana airport.
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About the Authors
Daryl & Mindi Hirsch
Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.