For the past 13 years, Kaja Sajovic has worked as a journalist for RTV Slovenia. Besides foreign policy, she now also specialises in culinary art and is the editor of the culinary-travel section at the national RTV website. She is also a co-author of brand new Slovenian gastronomic strategy and famous Slovenian chef Ana Roš’s first monography, written for Phaidon New York. A silent lady with a sharp tongue, an avid traveler and a big gourmand, she tells us where she loves to eat and drink in Ljubljana. This is just a glimpse – discover more about her and other restaurants, bars and shops in Ljubljana in our foodie e-guide!
What does Ljubljana mean to you?
I have lived in Ljubljana my entire life. During this time, Ljubljana has undoubtedly changed a lot, especially in the last decade. However, it still seems to be lagging behind some trends. We still lack more trendy, ingredients-focused bistros and simple restaurants focusing on Slovenian traditions. There is still a lot of room for more cool restaurants, (natural) wine bars, sourdough bakeries, small artisanal shops, craft brew pubs and cocktail bars managed by worldly people who actually travel, drink and eat, not just those who are looking for somewhere to deposit their money. Chefs need more depth, as well as the service staff .
What about the good stuff – there has to be some, no?
Absolutely. Ljubljana food scene has made a huge step forward, particularly in the past five years. In the field of high-end cuisine we have Igor Jagodic from Strelec, Janez Bratovž from JB and Jorg Zupan from Atelje. Atelje is showcasing Zupan’s exceptional, modern, fresh, cosmopolitan cuisine (he has done a few stages abroad), but still needs more consistency. Ljubljana was also finally swept by the bistro trend: Monstera has contributed a lot, followed by Luda. At the moment probably the best one is Tabar where they master small plates (chef Jakob Pintar was our San Pellegrino young chef finalist this year) and have by far the best and most adventurous wine list in town. The potential for quality bistros and wine bars that offer small plates/snacks is huge.
How does Ljubljana culinary scene compare to the rest of the world?
You can find enough quality restaurants for one weekend, but then you slowly run out of them. I never understood why Slovenians are afraid to really showcase their assets like excellent pumpkin seed oil, olive oil, štruklji, bear meat … instead they prefer to open another pizza place.
Where do you like to hang out in Ljubljana?
My happy place is Tabar. I am a fan of natural wines, so their wine list always speaks to me, and I like their food which is relatively original and daring. I also like to have lunch at Monstera. When it comes to coffee or a glass of whisky, I swear by Kinodvor, perhaps because I am a film buff and it’s pretty close to my work. I like to have dinner at Luda (good food, great wine list but poor service) or quick sushi/miso soup lunch at Sushimama. On special occasions I eat at Atelje, or Čompa if I crave for really good meat. For horse meat Krušič is the way to go. For authentic Slovenian food, I head to Gostilna Mihovec outside Ljubljana and order liver. And for cocktails and speakeasy atmosphere Kolibri.
How could you spend a weekend in Ljubljana?
If money isn’t an obstacle, absolutely head over to Skaručna which is probably the best display of Slovenian cuisine, along with a show their flamboyant chef Slavko Žagar Jr. puts on. For a higher, classical culinary experience book a table at Strelec, and for those who prefer a bolder, more youthful high-end specialties visit Grič, Tabar, Atelje or Monstera. For meat lovers, your place is Čompa. For burger and beer it has to be Pop’s Place, and wine-lovers should stop by Movia Bar or Tabar. Another option is to grab some sourdough bread at the bakery Osem, some quality Italian delicacies at Dobrote.si, and then find a space by the Ljubljanica river for a picnic. On Friday, it’s time for Open Kitchen which is a nice display of the culinary abundance and wine Ljubljana has to offer.
Thanks for reading!
If you crave some more delicious experiences, come join our food tours! Or buy our super informative, mobile-friendly and helpful foodie e-guide. Also, if you need help with your travel planning to Ljubljana and/or Slovenia, do not hesitate to contact us as we do also offer these services. Cheers from the yummy side of the Alps!