It’s Friday. Where are all the cool kids going for lunch in Ljubljana on a warm summer day? Oprtna Kuhna, of course.
No, it’s not some fancy restaurant or trendy cafe. The “Open Kitchen” is Slovenia’s answer to the food truck craze that has been sweeping Los Angeles and other US cities. Only in this case there are no trucks. The full variety of cuisines is on display in the shadow of the St. Nicholas cathedral, and against the backdrop of an architectural masterpiece, the market colonnade by Jože Plečnik.
Feast for the Eyes
It might take a while to decide what to eat. Choose from traditional Slovene dishes, Balkan and Middle Eastern or Asian cuisine, and the ever-popular tastes of neighboring Italy. While it can be a bit challenging for vegetarians, meat lovers will find plenty of variety, including grilled beef Argentine style. Argentina, by the way, has a significant population of Slovenes who mostly emigrated from the former Yugoslavia.
Clean and Green
My new favorite non-alcoholic summer drink: freshly squeezed lemonade. The Open Kitchen is also a great opportunity to sip Slovenian wine. However, drinking commercially bottled water is not encouraged. Signs remind visitors that Slovenia’s tap water is delicious and perfectly safe to drink. Bring your re-usable container to the faucet and fill ‘er up. That means fewer plastic bottles to recycle.
As for the rest of the trash that is generated, helpful workers in bright green vests instruct you on how to separate your throwaways for recycling or responsible disposal. In some European countries, the recycling mandates of the EU have been derided as just another burdensome government regulation. But as one of the world’s greenest countries, Slovenia has publicly embraced recycling. So join the cool kids and don’t forget to separate your trash! (And then check out my post on why sustainability is one of ten top reasons to fall in love with Slovenia.)
Terry’s Travel Tips
Getting there: You can reach Odprta Kuhna by foot or by bike. It is in the car-free pedestrian zone. The city operates a free shuttle for those who need a little help getting around. You can’t miss the bright green golf carts called “Kavalir.” Just wave them over for a pickup, or you can call them for a ride, as explained on the website.
Personally, I’m not a big fan of food trucks. If I’m going to go out for a meal, I’d like to be served at a table! The only downside of the Open Kitchen is that when all the tables are filled, you end up juggling your food while you look for a place to sit. Despite that, it’s still a must-do experience for foodies in Ljubljana. Since its debut in 2013, the Open Kitchen is so popular that it has spread to other cities. The schedule is on their website.