People from Slovenian northern neighbour Austria come to Slovenia just for the food, cause with Subalpine, Italian, Hungarian and Balkan mixture most people will find something to their liking - unless they're strict vegetarians. Many say that the pizza here is as good or even better as in neighboring Italy.
Generally speaking, Slovenian food is heavy, meaty and plain. A typical three-course meal starts with a soup (juha), often just beef (goveja) or chicken (piščančja) broth with egg noodles (rezanci), and then a meat dish served with potatoes (krompir) and a vinegary fresh salad (solata). Fresh bread (kruh) is often served on the side and is uniformly delicious.
Common mains include cutlets (zrezek), sausage (klobasa) and goulash (golaž), all usually prepared from pork (svinjina), lamb (jagnjetina) and game (divjačina), but there is a large choice of fish (ribe) and seafood even further away from the coast. Popular Italian imports include all sorts of pasta (testenine), pizza (pica), ravioli (žlikrofi) and risotto (rižota). A major event in the countryside still today is the slaughtering of a pig from which many various products are made: blood sausage (krvavica), roasts (pečenka), stuffed tripe (polnjeni vampi), smoked sausage (prekajena salama), salami (salama), ham (šunka) and bacon (slanina). Recipes for the preparation of poultry (perutnina), especially turkey (puran), goose (gos), duck (raca) and capon (kopun), have been preserved for many centuries. Chicken (piščanec) is also common. Squid is fairly common and reasonably priced.
Uniquely Slovenian dishes are available, but you won't find them on every menu, so here are some to look out for:
- Kraški pršut - air-dried ham, similar to but not the same as Italian prosciutto
- štruklji - dumplings which Slovenians prepare in 70 different ways stuffed with sweet fillings, meat or vegetables
- žganci - a type of polenta
- žlikrofi - potato dumplings similar to gnocchi, specialty of the Idria region
- jota - a type of soup made of beans, sauerkraut, potatoes, bacon, spare ribs, and the main seasoning is garlic
- Some Slovenian desserts can also be found:
- potica - a type of nut roll for holiday occasions also prepared with the widest variety of fillings
- gibanica - a very heavy cakelike pastry of poppy seeds, walnuts, apples, raisins, cheese etc, topped with cream
Places To Eat
At the top of the food chain is the restavracija (restaurant), which could be a fancy restaurant with waiters and tablecloths or just a typical Chinese restaurant. More common in the countryside are the gostilna and gostišče, rustic inns serving hearty Slovene fare. Lunch sets (dnevno kosilo) cost around €7 for three courses (soup, salad and main) and are usually good value.
Fast food, invariably cheap, is served up in grills and snack bars known as okrepčevalnica, where trying to pronounce the name alone can cause indigestion. There is no real Slovenian fast food, but Slovenians have adopted Balkan grills like pleskavica (a spiced-up hamburger patty) and čevapčiči (spicy meatballs) and one of the more tasty, if not healthy, options is the Bosnian speciality burek, a large, flaky pastry stuffed with either meat (mesni), cheese (sirni) or apple (jabolčni), often sold for as little as €2. In recent years, many fast food places started making döner kebabs, and they are now among the most popular fast foods in Slovenia, and can be found virtually everywhere.
Click here for a list of Ljubljana restaurants, featuring Slovenian and other cuisines that have received favourable reviews.
Slovenia is not the easiest of places for a vegetarian, although even the smokiest inn can usually whip up a decent fresh salad (solata) and fried vegetables on request. Lacto-ovo vegetarians will have it easy in Slovenia, while strict vegans won't find more than a handful of vegan restaurants in the country (most of them in Ljubljana). It is wise to know that even the smallest store has its healthy food shelves with many non-animal alternatives. In the cities the Mediterranean chick-pea staple falafel and its cousin the vegiburger have made some inroads on fast-food menus. Many restaurants offer a "vegetarian plate", which includes potatoes, fresh or boiled vegetables and soya "steak".
In cities on the coast there is a paradise for meat-eaters. Local specialities are fish, squids, mussels and octopus.