Bratislava, the capital city of Slovakia, is famous for its old center. Aside from being steeped in history, it is also the obvious place to head for if you feel like eating out. But, while the old town is by no means short of great restaurants, it is worth venturing across the Danube to the Nové Mesto (New Town), as it’s here that some of the city’s best food is to be found. Here’s a list of 10 places to look out for.
Located near the top of Kamzik Tower, the aptly-named Altitude has got to be one of the most exciting restaurants in the city. Its circular dining room affords stunning panoramic views, and not just over Bratislava, on a clear day you can see bits of both Austria and Hungary too. But tear your eyes away from the window because the food demands your full attention. Delicious and beautifully presented, Altitude’s dishes aren’t particularly traditional, but they are made from local, seasonal ingredients. Try the pumpkin risotto with goat’s cheese and zucchini, or the grilled pheasant breast with truffle oil and roasted chestnuts.
New to Nové Mesto is MOLO, a charming restaurant on the edge of Lake Kuchajda. The dining room is large and glass-walled and there’s a lovely terrace overhanging the water. On the menu, traditional Slovakian dishes share space with more international fare, beef fillet, pistachio-crusted pork tenderloin and they even do a mean teriyaki. Porcini grow wild all over Slovakia, so if you visit MOLO during autumn get the mushroom risotto, it is delicious, and is a fraction of the price it would be anywhere else.
Nowadays it seems as if every big city has at least one sushi bar, and while Bratislava is no exception, Nové Mesto’s Geisha is still something special. You won’t find conveyor belts or neon signs here, just a cozy, understated little space with 16 tables and photos of Tokyo adorning the walls. Staff are friendly, attentive and really know their stuff. The mix ‘n’ match menu features an extensive range of sushi, from California rolls to sashimi. Laid-back and welcoming, it’s worth getting out of the center for.
More of a pub than a restaurant, Klepáč gets a mention for its idyllic setting and hearty, home-style food. Situated by a river in a 200-year-old former mill-house, this place has been a focal point for the local community for some time, hosting everything from birthday parties to Easter feasts. Outside the venue, the day’s specials are advertised on a blackboard. One thing on which you can always rely is lokše, a sort of potato pancake typically served rolled up with jam on the inside and poppy seeds sprinkled over the top. It is delicious.
Locals rave about Estremo, a classy little Italian place that specializes in homemade pasta. Its owners make an effort to source traditional ingredients and put them together authentically. The results are hard to fault. San Daniele ham with melon, smoked tuna with roasted peppers, and that’s just for starters. Mains include venison cooked in port and salmon with potato-chestnut puree and vanilla sauce, all at very reasonable prices. The dining room is bright and modern, lots of white leather and stainless steel. On the right as you enter, the restaurant’s wine selection is on display trophy-style in a glass case.
At the more traditional end of the Nové Mesto restaurant spectrum, is Schoppa. Perched on top of a hill and half-surrounded by forest, the view it commands over Bratislava’s center is the only thing to remind you that you’re still in a city. Inside, there’s a great big stone fireplace and lots of exposed wooden beams. All manner of classic Slovakian dishes are available, but the one thing everyone ought to try is bryndzové halušky.These are little potato dumplings coated in bryndza, an incredible-tasting sheep cheese that is ubiquitous in Slovakia but pretty much impossible to find anywhere else. Schoppa is great all year round but is particularly nice in the summer.
By and large, Slovakian cuisine is a meaty affair, but that doesn’t mean that every last person is a carnivore. There are a handful of vegetarian-friendly restaurants in Bratislava and Nové Mesto’s Bemba goes that bit further, championing both veganism and the raw food movement. Even if you can’t get enough of bryndzové halušky, it’s worth visiting Bemba at least once. Not only does the food look gorgeous, it’s also delicious and hearty enough to rival what traditional restaurants in the area have to offer. Try the lentil pancakes or the tasty beetroot and horseradish salad. Or, if you’re craving something sweet, there’s coconut mint roulade and an ever-changing choice of cake.
If you feel like indulging, Brick is definitely the place to do it, as its name suggests, this is a restaurant that offers good, solid meals. More American than Slovakian in style, Brick specializes in vast steaks and towering burgers. Plus fries. Lots of fries. Spread along one wall is a fully-stocked bar, but really there’s only one beverage to accompany this sort of food, ice-cold draught beer, something that Slovakia, being right next door to the Czech Republic, doesn’t get nearly enough credit for. Adjoining the restaurant is a casino named the Golden Brick.
For a modestly-priced fine-dining experience, try Stroodel. Like nearby Schoppa, the restaurant sits atop a hill and has greenery all around it. The food is more towards the traditional end of things, with generous portions plated up Michelin-star-style. Stroodel excels at lavish buffets and if the weather is warm, the chefs will fire up the outdoor grill. Dishes on offer vary from season to season, but it’s not unusual to find pigeon or even wild boar on the menu. A really family-friendly place, with high ceilings and lots of room to stretch out.
Tucked away in Polus City Center, the main shopping mall in Nové Mesto, is Fit. Airy and laid-back with a stripped-down design, this is a pleasant place to unwind and eat light, especially if you’ve just spent a few days working your way through the area’s other fine restaurants. Hefty salads of fresh vegetables and lean meat take up most of the menu, but there are omelets and toasted sandwiches to be had too. A table by the window is a prime spot for people-watching the main street below.