Slovenian food, like the country itself, contains a wide variety in a very small package. Typical Slovenian food in the northern, more mountainous half of the country is hearty, filling fare heavily influenced by its neighbors, Italy and Austria. Slovenian foods in the southern half of the country are lighter and guided more by the culinary traditions of Croatia, Italy and the Istrian Peninsula.
If you find this helpful or informative, I have TONS of other content on Slovenia to check out when you are done:
- The Perfect Slovenia Itinerary for 3, 5, 7 or 10+ days
- What You Need to Know about Tourist Farms in Slovenia
- When to Visit Slovenia? Summer or Shoulder Season
Typical Features of Traditional Slovenian food
A notable feature of Slovenian food was the fact that much of it is made with fresh, local ingredients. Slovenia as a country is still deeply tied to its agricultural roots. This is evident in the number of gardens and small, household sized farms that we saw as we traversed the country.
Here in the United States, we call this kind of cuisine “farm to table” and we pay a premium for it. In Slovenia, simple, fresh, local food is just the norm.
The meals that we ate were rich in hearty fare. Soups were always a safe bet because broth is generally made fresh each morning. The meals were a little bread heavy, but the bread was generally made from scratch. Meats tended to be a little well done (a leftover from communist days when cuts of meat were very thin).
Salads are a little hard to come by in Slovenia. I had been trying to follow a low carb eating approach, but unfortunately that had to go right out the window during our trip (oh, darn.) Bread was prevalent at every meal, but it was usually homemade and delicious. Being a vegetarian in Slovenia might take additional planning, as vegetarian options on most menus that we saw were not evident.
This is my very favorite Slovenian guide book. If you are visiting Slovenia you MUST get this book. It was packed with insider tips about what to see and do and really gave me a good understanding of Slovenian culture.
Slovenian Food (What to Eat in Slovenia)
We tried as many Slovenian dishes during our trip as we could. Just like in any country, some were winners and some I could take or leave. Our kids even did pretty good at trying new foods in Slovenia, though they occasionally had to be bribed with treats after dinner for doing it.
Lake Bled Cream Cake: The Lake Bled Cream Cake is a MUST. Light, airy layers of sponge cake and cream are a perfect accompaniment to w brisk walk around Lake Bled. The Park Hotel is the original purveyor of this tasty treat, but you can get it from many cafes around the lake.
Home Made Soup: Homemade soup was served at just about every meal that we ate. We had two variations – beef noodle soup and mushroom soup. The beef noodle was a simple beef broth with noodles in it. We also tried a mushroom version which was served with fresh cream.
Ledena Cava: This had been specifically recommend to me in my very favorite Slovenian travel guide as something decadent that one really should try. Basically, this consists of hot coffee with cold ice cream in it…like an iced coffee but more dessert like.
Strulkji: These are cottage cheese filled dumplings that are boiled, then sliced and served.
Ravioli: I don’t know what the Slovenian word for these is, but they are basically little stuffed ravioli and they were really good. They are simpler than Italian ravioli, lacking a rich sauce in lieu of bacon cracklings, but they were hearty, stick to the bones filling.
Gibanica: What would this post be if I didn’t get to talk about any Slovenian desserts! The Gibanica was my favorite dessert that we ate in Slovenia. It is a layered cake made of walnuts, apples, cottage cheese, poppy seeds and raisins. It sounds like a lot of flavors, but they went together so very well.
Istrian Cuisine: Once we got down to the area around Piran, the whole culinary landscape changed. This was best characterized for us by an AMAZING meal eaten at a nice restaurant in a little village outside of Piran. The meal started out with delicate prosciutto hams and local cheeses, followed by truffle pasta (a local specialty). This was followed by meat and roasted vegetables that had been cooked over a fire. The back end of the meal consisted of homemade apple strudel. Local Slovenian wine and Grappa steeped with Rue made the whole meal very enjoyable.
Tips for Restaurants in Slovenia (How to Find the Best Slovenian Food)
Every country has its name for a simple, local, family friendly restaurant. In Slovenia, this is called the Gostlina. A Gostlina is a simple to mid range restaurant that serves traditional Slovenian food. Gostlina means “inn” or “pub” in Slovenian.
We ate at a number of these restaurants during our trip. They were generally welcoming of our children, though occasionally we were seated in a separate room from the main restaurant. I was fine with this – our kids are good, but still wiggly. The less I needed to worry about them disturbing other diners, the more I could enjoy my meal.
The food at the gostlinas was simple but well prepared and fresh. Prices in Slovenia for meals in restaurants are close to the rest of Europe, but the level of quality and the number of home made dishes made dining out in Slovenia a great value.
A word of caution about choosing a restaurant in Slovenia. While most of the Gostlinas that we ate at were authentic and served great fare, there were a few that seemed to specialize only in plentiful plates of deep fried and grilled meats and french fries and offered little in the means of what I thought of as authentic Slovenian cuisine. Look carefully at the menus and at reviews on Tripadvisor before making a choice if this is not what you are looking for.
Another tip – The very best meals that we ate were at the tourist farms that we stayed at during our stay. We enjoyed amazing, fresh from the farm breakfasts every morning. We were offered a few dinners during our farm stays which we eagerly took advantage of. These were truly amazing meals cooked from scratch for us. Because we were guests, the costs were also extremely reasonable.
Our Favorite Restaurants in Slovenia
We did get the opportunity to try quite a few different restaurants during our time in Slovenia. Here are some of our favorites:
Gostlina Sokl (Ljubljana)
My favorite Slovenia guidebook described Gostlina Sokol as touristy, but still very good. It is a place that locals also go to eat and to take visitors to the country. The menu offered an impressive variety of traditional Slovenian dishes. If you had time, it would be worth eating here more than once and share plates to try as many things as possible. This is a great place to start your Ljubljana food journey.
Gostlina Pevc (Ljubo)
This was a surprise find that we were really impressed with. We went driving down the valley from Solcava to explore and see what we could find. We came across Gostlina Pevc attached to a hostel.
The owners did not speak any English (I think they spoke Slovenian and German) but we got through ordering. While we waited for our food, the owners gave the kids old Yugoslavian coins to pick songs from the ancient looking juke box in the corner.
The food was home made and really of good quality. I had home made soup, the kids split a sausage and fries and husband got a really great rolled pasta covered in a cream sauce. This place was DEFINITELY worth a stop if you are in this part of Slovenia.
Fritolin Pri Cantini (Piran)
Fritolin Pri Cantini really is a MUST if you are visiting Piran. Piran prices are a little higher than the rest of Slovenia. I don’t know of any other restaurant in Piran that serves high quality sea food at budget prices.
The tables of the restaurant are located under a shaded arbor in a quiet square in Piran. If your kids are wiggly, there is some room for them to move about while you wait. You order your food at the window and take a number. You can order wine and drinks while you wait from the little bar next door, which shares the same tables.
The fish was EXCELLENT. It was well cooked and flavorful, and the prices were jaw droppingly low for the quality of fresh seafood offered.
Restaurant Na Burji (Dragonja)
Restaurant Na Burji was an unintended surprise. We were looking for another restaurant after dark. I thought that this sounded like the right place. It wasn’t.
We walked into the cutest little outdoor seating area, sheltered by ancient trees and surrounded by a little herb garden. The waiter came out and asked us if we wanted a set menu served family style. We said sure. What followed was truly one of the most amazing meals that we have ever experienced.
Istrian cuisine is different than the food in the rest of Slovenia. Heavy sauces are replaced by roasted meat and vegetables in delicate red wine sauces. Pasta is common and is closer to an Italian style pasta and is commonly served amazing truffle cream sauce. The meal ended with home made strudel.
Wine flowed freely and was accompanied by the most amazing herb steeped grappa (which I was told was a digestive tonic.) While the restaurant was quite a bit more expensive than the one we had been looking for, I am so happy that we ended up here and it was completely WORTH EVERY PENNY!
The Manzioli Wine Bar (Izola)
This lovely wine bar is on a quiet square in lovely, off the beaten path Izola Slovenia. The Manzioli wine bar was recommended to us as a great place to try the local orange wine. We enjoyed our wine while the kids ran about the square with enough room that they were not disturbing anyone with their antics.
We just enjoyed the wine, but I believe that they also serve desserts, sandwiches and other light foods. This is a really nice place to stop for a rest, and Izola Slovenia is worth a detour if you are in the area.
Wine and Spirits in Slovenia
We did a fair amount of imbibing locally made wine and spirits while in Slovenia. It started with a bottle of homemade blueberry schnapps. Homemade liqueurs are commonly sold in Slovenia at farms and gift/souvenir shops as well as the grocery store. Other liqueurs followed.
We also tried some locally made Slovenian wine. Many parts of Slovenia have ideal climates for growing grapes, but the country doesn’t produce enough above their own consumption to export, so most of the wines you can taste here are only available in Slovenia. Refosk is a variety of red table wine that we really enjoyed that seemed to be available just about everywhere.