What and where to eat in Bratislava?
Hungry? No problem, Bratislava nowadays offers a wide range of options, for vegetarians as well as for heavy flesheaters, although this might have not been the case a decade ago. Restaurants, fast-foods, bistros or local eateries - this all can be found in the Bratislava city centre as well as - definitely preferred by some - in the suburbs.
If avoiding McDonalds and searching for local stuff, you should first put the question in a more specific way - do I search for a Slovak food or specifically Bratislavian? Generally, traditional Slovakian dishes are considered those, which used to be typical rather in the more rural, especially Northern regions of the country, but today are available and popular in Bratislava too!
First of all, just after you finish your garlic soup in the loaf of bread, you should not miss the one on the very top of the list - “bryndzové halušky”, in fact untranslatable to English, but let’s call it dumplings (or better gnocchi?) with sheep cheese and bacon or scabs.
Indeed, very farm food for hardworking men. Foreigners often tend to like it at the beginning, but are often unable to finish, so we recommend sharing a plate! On the other hand, if you like it a lot, you can try its relative - pirohy. A very typical Central and Eastern European dish, known in Poland or Russia as pierogi. Both are offered in numerous restaurants, however, usually not in the classy ones. If choosing just one place to try it, our pick would be Viecha u Sedliaka - get ready to meet mostly locals here and the waiters might not speak English. 🙂 Note: do not confuse pirohy with pirôžky (literary “little pirohy”) - these ones are available as a “fast-food” just a few meters further - and nowhere else!
The cuisine in Bratislava is not purely Slovakian though. The proximity to Vienna as well as to Budapest caused a lot of influences. Wiener Schnitzel might be therefore considered to be a typical Bratislavian dish too, the same like Hungarian goulash.
We can say that most restaurants in Bratislava serve these typical Central European dishes, even if they might not describe themselves as such. Get ready also for a wide range of pork or chicken meals. Try one of them during the daily menu time (usually between 11am - 1pm) and you will be surprised what portions (soup + main dish) you get for a bargain. Great tips for local eateries are to be found at mpba.sk.
One of the most common dishes since the past regime is the fried cheese (“vyprážaný syr”), often offered as an option during the daily menu too.
The most common version is edam, but popular is also Encián (camembert-like cheese) and sometimes, more rarely offered smoked sheep cheese. Usually offered with French fries and tartar sauce. In the cheapy old-school restaurants or eateries this might be the only vegetarian dish - often with ham! Yes, this is not a joke, it is often in the “non-meat menu” together with dumplings with bacon 😀
The Burger culture did not miss Bratislava either. The list of places would be endless, so let’s mention at least some of them with the best reputation: Roxor, Quinsboro or BeAbout. Find more about the restaurants in Bratislava at welcometobratislava.eu.
Since the communism regime Bratislava has a significant Vietnamese minority. Asian bistros are therefore fairly spread too, while Japanese sushi is rather a new trend.
The market hall from the 1980’s could be easily for some the highlight - no, no, do not expect Michelin restaurants here, but the most local atmosphere you can imagine. In some way it is a complete opposite to the famous historical market hall in Budapest with overpriced touristy prices. You can come here with us during our Working Class Food Tour and we pick for you the must-eat snacks.
Written by: Peter Chrenka
Images by: Peter Chrenka