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 gostilnas are situated alongside vineyards or farms. In Ljubljana, these are usually on the outskirts of the city. Those in the city center tend to be oriented toward the tourist trade, 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. From the former Yugoslavia (and originally from Turkey), you’ll find grilled meats and a popular street food called burek, a little pastry pocket stuffed with cheese or meat.

Mealtimes follow the Continental norm for lunch and dinner. Even if a restaurant posts earlier opening times, the kitchen won't normally start operating until noon. Dinners typically start around 7 pm. It can be tough to find a breakfast place, so it's best to take the standard hotel or pension offering of sliced meats and cheeses when available.

Restaurants usually close one day a week. In larger towns like Ljubljana that's likely to be Sunday. In resort areas that cater to a weekend crowd, Monday is the usual day off. When in doubt, phone ahead.

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