Hearty Slovak cuisine, with its emphasis on meat and potatoes, is not well represented in world cuisine. So take the opportunity to try some authentic dishes while you’re here. Pork and dumplings and bryndzové halušky, gnocchi-style potato, should convince you this is a cuisine worth exploring. Here are ten restaurants in Bratislava to help you do just that.
Tucked in a quiet courtyard off Michalská gate is Prašná Bašta, an elegant, low-key restaurant loved by locals. For years, this was a meeting place of artists and writers, and that avant-garde spirit is still palpable. Both Slovak and international flavors grace the menu. Prašná Bašta does a number of lighter dishes well, like salads and fish, but for indulgence try the traditional fried cheese served with chips. Live jazz and classical music is often played, while the outdoor terrace offers one of the best vistas in the city.
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Modrá Hviezda not only has a cozy location under Bratislava Castle, it also offers a solid range of Slovak dishes, and even shares a bit about their history on the menu. The brick-lined, candlelit cellars are a mix of rustic and romantic, while the brighter front room is pure Slovak country style, with garlic and chili peppers hanging from the ceiling. A summertime bonus is the lovely terrace with views down to the Danube. While the menu features many delicacies, the baked duck with red cabbage and potato pancakes or the roasted rabbit with mushrooms are especially worth recommending.
This could be your most beautiful dining experience in Bratislava. While the dishes are certainly well-prepared and beautifully presented, the Tempus Fugit experience will be highlighted by dining in one of the three beautiful spaces: a 15th-century vault, a covered atrium or the balcony. You will find some Slovak dishes on the menu but the cuisine is more French with a touch of Asian. Special detail paid to the quality and freshness of the ingredients, and the wide variety of the chef’s regional tastes make this an intriguing restaurant.
The PRO.Laika restaurant and photo gallery has a good menu and creative vision. The owners have decorated their restaurant with large-format ‘real’ photographs, not digital prints, which they supplement with exhibitions, screenings and discussions on photography. The food menu is fairly international with everything from English breakfast to penne pomodoro on offer. If you don’t want a big meal then stop here for coffee and cake mid-afternoon.
Located right next to Bratislava castle, Restaurant Hrad’s best assets are its terrace offering unparalleled views over the whole city and the opportunity to escape the summertime crush of castle visitors. Hrad is perfect for an afternoon break in the summer, to enjoy a cold beer, fresh Slovak wine or freshly squeezed lemonade. If you want to eat then Slovak specialties such as duck or beef stew are the usual choices, but the menu extends to more international options, including hamburgers and pasta.
1st Slovak Pub is somewhat touristy, but it’s a fun place to go for a few Slovak beers, a small snack, and a loud, jolly atmosphere. The restaurant’s 14 rooms each represent a different period of history with original decorations and furniture, making 1st Slovak Pub a kind of time-capsule. Most weeknights there’s traditional, live accordion music too, and the Slovak cuisine prepared here is basic, but fresh, with ingredients sourced from a local farm. Try the bryndzové halušky or čiernohorský bravčový rezeň, a pork schnitzel with cheese.
The atmospheric city brewery is one of the best places to try a Slovak beer, with an interior of dark tables, brewing vats and arched ceilings to go with a menu of home-brewed specialties: lagers and wheat beers. Chase down with other Slovak drinks such as slivovica, a spirit most often made from plums, although apricot, juniper and other flavorings can be sampled too. The brewery also serves up cold and warm appetizers; traditional favorites include pivný syr (beer cheese), utopenec s feferónkami, cibuľkou a s cesnakom (pickled sausage with peppers, onion and garlic) as well as tatársky biftek (steak tartar).
Slovaks love their soup, so it is hardly surprising to find a restaurant dedicated to this warm and filling delicacy. A perfect lunch stop, Soupa Bistro cooks up generous bowls of steaming soup and buzzing ambience in the charming, country-themed dining room. Four different soups are offered daily, both traditional and inventive, international ones from chefs who truly love their tasty liquid lunches and a bit of kitchen experimentation.