Slovenia's traditional dining institution is the gostilna, essentially an inn or tavern but cleaner, warmer, and more inviting than the English translation suggests. These are frequently family-run, especially in the smaller towns and villages, with Mom in the kitchen and Pop out front pouring beers and taking orders. The staff is usually happy to suggest local or regional specialties. Some
of the better gostilna are situated alongside vineyards or farms. In Ljubljana, these are usually on the outskirts of the city; the ones in the city center tend to be directed towards tourists, since urban Ljubljaners usually prefer lighter, more modern fare.
Slovenian cuisine is highly regionalized, with offerings quite similar to dishes of neighboring countries and cultures. The Adriatic coast features Italian-influenced grilled fish and pasta, while the inland regions will offer cuisine very similar to that of Austria and Hungary. Unlike much of former Yugoslavia, Slovenia was never part of the Ottoman empire, so Turkish influence—significant in the cuisines of other former Yugoslav cultures—is absent from the Slovenian kitchen.
These neighboring countries all have a grand culinary tradition, but the Slovenian versions of their dishes tend to be simpler and not as painstakingly prepared. You can certainly eat well in Slovenia, but the standards, with a few notable exceptions, are generally not the same as in countries where cooking is considered an art form.
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