Attending Open Kitchen (Odprta Kuhna) was one of the highlights of all my time in Slovenia. In fact, it’s one of the top things I recommend, and I’ve already sent several people to visit.
What is Open Kitchen? The best high end food market I’ve ever attended, and I make it a point of attending food markets in nearly every city I visit.
Open Kitchen was developed in 2013 by the owner, Lior, who wanted to find a way to bring together the best of Slovenian food in one place.
But he didn’t want just any Slovenian food, he wanted the best Slovenian food has to offer. There are three criteria you must meet to apply for participation:
- Quality- You must be ranked among the best 100 restaurants in the country.
- Creativity– You must bring your concept to a high end street food event. No matter how gourmet or fine dining your restaurant, you must be able to create a dish that works well as street food.
- Uniqueness– no two stands can sell the same dish, a move Lior made to remove competition between restaurants.
The result is a gourmet street food market featuring many of the best foods I had in all of Slovenia. I put Open Kitchen on par with street food markets in Thailand, but this is gourmet food.
Lior was kind enough to give us a guided tour of Open Kitchen. Even though I’m sure he’s given this tour countless times, he was enthusiastic and genuinely excited lead us up and down the aisles.
First things first, Lior grabbed us each a drink. Open Kitchen not only sells food, but also feature craft beers, local wines, and cocktails.
As we walked from stall to stall, he pointed out and explained each dish, encouraging us to try anything we thought looked good. He stole us bites, samples and tastes from nearly every stall.
The wide variety of dishes is what really impressed me. We not only found classic Slovenian dishes, but also new versions or interpretations of the classics, and international dishes as well.
I was also impressed by how well Lior knew each of the stands and the details about each dish they served. He is obviously very involved in the vetting process.
All the vendors were happy to stop, talk with us, explain their dishes and offer samples.
Fortunately, we had come just after the lunch rush and were able to watch some of the dishes being made fresh again as we chatted with the chefs and learned about the process.
As much as we wanted to, it was impossible to try everything- over forty vendors were there that day. We watched as plates full of delicious just prepared food were passed to waiting customers.
It is difficult for me to tell you any one “must try” dish, because I can’t guarantee a stand will be there when you visit, but I will say that if you find a stand making whole roasted pigs with herbed potatoes
or the horse burger
go ahead and get in line. And yes, you read that correctly- horse burger. It’s actually delicious, trust me. Even the bacon was made from horse meat! I initially planned to only have a bite, just to say I had tried it. But even after all the other samples, I finished this huge burger!
If you’re not a meat eater, fear not- there’ are many options for you as well. Not only are there plenty of vegetarian dishes, but some stands even sell vegan and raw dishes.
I love food markets, and as I’ve mentioned, I’ve been to many around the world. So, when, when I say that Open Kitchen is the best high end food market I’ve ever been to, I don’t say that lightly. This is a must do for your time in Ljubljana!
Have I convinced you yet- would you visit Open Kitchen (Odprta Kuhna) during your time in Slovenia? Let me know in the comments section below.
Practical Information: Open Kitchen is opened every Friday, weather permitting, from mid-March to October in Pogačarjev Square from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., or 10 p.m during the summer months.
If possible, try to visit between the lunch and dinner rushes. Crowds can be huge and lines long when locals and tourists alike visit at these times.
For more information, you can visit Open Kitchen’s website by clicking here.