Food in Slovenia
People from Slovenia’s northern neighbor Austria visit Slovenia just for the food; with a combination of Subalpine, Italian, Hungarian, and Balkan cuisine, most people will find something to their taste – unless they are staunch vegetarians. Many say that the pizza here is as excellent as, if not better than, that of neighboring Italy.
Slovenian cuisine is often thick, beefy, and bland. A traditional three-course dinner begins with a soup (juha), which is usually simply beef (goveja) or chicken (pianja) broth with egg noodles (rezanci), followed by a meat dish served with potatoes (krompir) and a vinegary fresh salad (solata). Fresh bread (kruh) is often provided on the side and is always excellent.
Cutlets (zrezek), sausage (klobasa), and goulash (gola) are popular main courses, all made from pig (svinjina), lamb (jagnjetina), and game (divjaina), but there is also a wide variety of fish (ribe) and shellfish available farther inland. Pasta (testenine), pizza (pica), ravioli (ravioli), and risotto (riota) are all popular Italian imports. The killing of a pig, from which many different products are produced, is still a significant occasion in the countryside today: blood sausage (krvavica), roasts (peenka), stuffed tripe (polnjeni vampi), smoked sausage (prekajena salama), salami (salama), ham (unka), and bacon (slanina). For millennia, recipes for the cooking of poultry (perutnina), particularly turkey (puran), goose (gos), duck (raca), and capon (kopun), have been recorded. Chicken (pianec) is also popular. Squid is widely available and cheaply priced.
Slovenian cuisine are accessible, but they are not on every menu, so here are a few to watch out for:
- Kraški pršut is an air-dried ham that is similar to but not the same as Italian prosciutto.
- štruklji – dumplings prepared in 70 various ways by Slovenians and filled with sweet ingredients, meat, or vegetables.
- žganci – a type of polenta (ajdovi žganci are made of buckwheat)
- žlikrofi – Idrija area specialty: potato dumplings akin to gnocchi
- jota – a kind of soup prepared with beans, sauerkraut, potatoes, bacon, and spare ribs, with garlic as the primary flavor.
Slovenian sweets are also available:
- potica – a kind of nut roll made for special events and available with a broad range of fillings
- prekmurska gibanica – a dense cake-like pastry made with poppy seeds, walnuts, apples, raisins, cheese, and other ingredients
Places to eat
The restavracija (restaurant) is at the top of the food chain, which may be a luxury restaurant with servers and tablecloths or a typical Chinese eatery. The gostilna and gostie, rustic inns offering substantial Slovene cuisine, are more prevalent in the countryside. Lunch sets (dnevno kosilo) typically cost about €7 for three courses (soup, salad, and main dish), and the generous servings are generally well worth the low price.
Fast food is almost always inexpensive, oily, and (more often than not) bad. It’s better to avoid the local hamburger mutation known as okrepevalnica, which is offered at grills and snack bars. There is no such thing as Slovenian fast food, but greasy Balkan grills such as pleskavica (a spiced-up hamburger patty) and evapii (spicy meatballs) are ubiquitous, but one of the more tasty if not necessarily healthy options is the Bosnian speciality burek, a large, flaky pastry stuffed with either meat (mesni), cheese (sirni), or apple (jabolni), often sold for as little Many fast food restaurants began producing döner kebabs in recent years, and they are currently among Slovenia’s most popular fast meals. In Slovenia, it’s rare to find a poor kebab, and they’re available in a variety of locations throughout the country.
Slovenia isn’t the greatest place to go if you’re a vegetarian, but even the smokiest inn can generally whip up a good fresh salad (solata) and fried veggies on request. Lacto-ovo vegetarians will have an easy time in Slovenia, but hardcore vegans will only find a few vegan eateries (most of them in Ljubljana). It’s a good idea to know that even the tiniest grocery shop offers healthy food shelves with plenty of non-animal options. The Mediterranean chick-pea staple falafel and its cousin, the vegiburger, have made inroads on fast-food menus in cities. Many restaurants provide a “vegetarian plate” with potatoes, raw or cooked veggies, and soya “steak.”
Pescetarians and seafood lovers will find heaven in coastal towns. Local delicacies include salmon, squid, mussels, and octopus.
Drinks in Slovenia
All bases are covered for beverages in true Slovene fashion, and you can buy extremely excellent Slovenian beers, wines, and spirits. Tap water is usually safe to drink.
Coffee and tea
Coffee (kava) in Slovenia generally refers to an espresso, and cafés (kavarna) are popular, with a basic cup costing €1.00-€1.50. Coffee with milk (kava z mlekom) or whipped cream may also be ordered (kava s smetano). Coffee culture is prevalent in Slovenia, and it is common to observe Slovenes with friends sitting in the same café for hours on end. Expect Turkish coffee when invited to someone’s house for a cup of coffee. Tea (aj) is much less common, and when they do drink it (mainly in the winter), Slovenes prefer fruit-flavored and herbal teas over a simple black cup. On request, tea is provided with honey and lemon.
Beer (pivo) is the most common alcoholic beverage, with the major brands being Lako and Union. Adam Ravbar beer is of high quality and is generally difficult to obtain outside of their tiny brewery (located in Domale, a village approximately 10 kilometers north of Ljubljana). In a bar, a bottle or jug will set you back €2.50. (pivnica). For 0.5L, request veliko (big) and malo (little). Try the “Union Radler Grapefruit,” a delicious combination of beer and grapefruit juice.
Slovenian wine (vino) may be very excellent, despite what you would assume if you’ve ever tasted an exported overly sweet Riesling – like in Germany, they reserve the finest stuff for themselves. In general, the Gorika brda area provides the finest reds and drier whites (in a more Italian/French style), while the Tajerska region produces the best semi-dry to sweet whites, which appeal to a German/Austrian taste. Teran, an extremely dry red from the Kras area, and Cviek, a red so dry and light it’s practically a rosé, are two more local specialties worth trying. Wine is often priced and ordered by the decilitre (deci, pronounced “de-tsee”), with a deci costing about €1 and a standard glass holding around two deci.
Ganje or (colloquially) nops, a Slovene brandy similar to Hungarian palinka, may be made from virtually any fruit. Medeno ganje, commonly known as medica, has been honey-sweetened. Vodka is popular in most Slavic countries, particularly among the younger population.