One of the many adventures of travelling abroad to a new country is that you’d get to sample the food and how it’s authentically made vs eating in a restaurant back home which serves the same cuisine. Sure, it can be pretty good in your own city too, popping into a cafe down the street from your office or home and ordering up your favourite dish. I don’t think I’ve ever come across any Slovak cuisine before in my entire life of living in Malaysia and I was absolutely looking forward to eating my way through Bratislava.
On our very first day of arriving in Bratislava, I made it a point to sample the local everyday food that’s served in the pub near our hotel. A hole in the wall fuss-free pub called Divny Janko that serves up reasonably priced fried meats & potatoes. It’s also rated amongst the top 50 restaurants in the city.
We sat down and took a good long look at the menu and decided to go with an order of chicken schnitzel & Smažený sýr, not really sure how to pronounce that but i’ll stick with fried cheese. The staff were pleasant and told us that our order will be right out in no time.
The food served was absolutely massive, and 1 main dish could easily be shared among 2 people. We left a huge portion behind as we struggled to finish up what we ordered. I’d give this place a 4/5. Decent food with humongous portions.
Next up is a restaurant that our tour guide recommended us to go try called the Bratislava Flagship Restaurant. Right after our walking tour ended we were famished and headed right in to get some lunch. On Tripadvisor it’s also rated among the top 50 restaurants in the city, which is a good sign.
It was like taking a step back in time when we stepped in as the decor had a rather cool medieval vibe. We sat down and took the advice of our tour guide and ordered a Kofola drink to start. It’s a sort of carbonated cola drink which is the principal rival of Pepsi & Coke in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Not too bad, but I don’t think it will be overthrowing PepsiCo anytime soon.
We decided to go local this time and ordered a goulash, a plate of sausages with sauerkraut & some pierogi which is a sort of dumpling filled with bacon and sheep cheese. Safe to say, the dumpling was my least favourite food I’ve tried in a very long time, but that’s just my personal preference. The platter of homemade sausages & soup on the other hand was divine.
Another random spot we came across during our night out in the city was a burger store that we got lured into by the scent of burgers wafting through the air. If you’re around the old town and in search of a quick bite, this is your place to go. The special burger with candied bacon by Regal Burger was flavoursome & juicy. They pride themselves on sourcing local beef, which is antibiotic & hormone free. The buns are also baked fresh daily and there’s the added option of having them gluten free. You can find them on Tripadvisor by clicking here.
The only time that I made reservations during our time in Bratislava was for a restaurant called Modrá Hviezda. With a Tripadvisor rating as one of the top 25 eateries in the city, I wasn’t going to chance it by showing up only to be turned away.
It’s located around the compounds of the Bratislava Castle which in all honesty took us such a long time to find. Google Maps weren’t all that helpful due to the many small roads that branch out around this area and I presumed this place was only reachable on foot, due to the very narrow alleyways and the lack of cars around the restaurant.
The meal we had was probably the best thing I ate in Bratislava. Walnut crusted pork chops for the win. I’d give this place a 9.5/10. If you like chunky slabs of meat for your mains, this is your go to place. Definitely recommended.
Now moving on to desserts. With an extremely insatiable appetite for things on the sweeter side, I did some research and everything seemed to point to a magical place called Zeppelin cafe. With a number 1 rating on Tripadvisor for the coffee & tea category, you know you’re in for a treat when you get your cake & coffee fix in this charming establishment.
So on a fine evening we decided to head over and experience it for ourselves. Upon arriving in the store, the most friendly and gracious lady named Iveta welcomed us in and showed us around the store. It felt like a wonderland where cakes & pastries were made by fairies. She gave us her top recommendations and ultimate favourites. In the end we settled for a slice of Krémeš alongside an apple and plum cake. Needless to say, it was such a treat. I’ve never had such cakes before and they were delectable.
While we waited for our cappuccinos to arrive, we chatted with Iveta and mentioned that it was our first time in Slovakia and we were loving our time in the charming city so far and all it has to offer, and in 5 minutes she came back with a cheat sheet written on a take away paper bag for commonly used phrases in Slovak.
It’s the little things that happen during your travels where it leaves a deep everlasting impression on you, and for my time in Bratislava, this was it. Not only was she kind and helpful, but she also took her time to make us tourists feel welcome in her beautiful city by teaching us how to communicate with the locals. If there was a rating higher than 10/10 this place deserves it.
One last bonus place I just have to mention would actually be a credit to Iveta from the Zeppelin cafe. She mentioned that if I was looking for the best ice cream/gelato in town I would need to make my way to Luculus Ice Saloon. During my 4 days in Bratislava, I made a stop at this store 3 days in a row. It was that good. Do yourself a favour and treat yourself to some well deserved ice cream after a full day of exploring the beautiful city of Bratislava.
Bratislava is such a brilliant city that surprised me in so many ways, from the beautiful architecture all around to the humble and friendly people you’d meet. Don’t think twice and just plan a trip here, you won’t regret it.