I’ve not eaten in every restaurant – but I have tried the majority. Here’s my list

You will find most if not all the restaurants in Bled offer local dishes. Sometimes there will be modern twists on traditional cooking. A few specialise in traditional – some might say “hearty” – dishes which satisfy the most voracious appetite. The area is rich in fresh easily sourced ingredients. It’s a safe guess that noting you eat will have travelled very far.

Let’s start with my top 10 restaurants

If I were in a rush, these are the places I would go to … in this order depending on how much time I had.

Public & Vegan Kitchen Bled

Fast and friendly – but not too fast – Great lunch

Ljubljanska cesta 4, 4260 Bled, Slovenia
Phone: +386 70 270 712

In a shaded, slightly secluded corner of the main shopping centre, you will find Bled’s only vegan restaurant. In 2014 a very small vegan place called Zaziv opened offering vegan burgers. Public Kitchen opened before Zaziv moved to Ljubljana full time.

While you will find food suitable for vegetarians in almost every restaurant in Bled, Open Kitchen is the only place dedicated specifically to vegans. The main offering is vegan burgers. Choose one of four patties, then one of four breads, then the sauce.

Forget what you know about fast food burger joints. The chef will not begin to build your burger until you order. I use the word “build” advisedly. In the basket delivered to your table, a burger as high as it is wide. A diameter of about six inches and a height of at least four inches. The salad is crunchy fresh, the patty warm when it arrives. Ask for knife and fork …  and extra napkins. You are about to do battle.

I am a meat eater, but meat or no meat this is a first-class burger. You do not need to be a vegan to appreciate it.

Beside me an elderly American couple are finishing their salad and arranging to collect a picnic tomorrow morning, and perhaps bring more of their favourite salads with them to eat on the flight home at the weekend.

Good food, well priced. Closed Mondays Opens 12:00 noon to 9:00 pm

Pri Planincu

Perfect for local cuisine at a good price – best in the evenings

Grajska cesta 8, 4260 4260 Bled, Slovenia
Phone: +386 4 574 16 13
www.pri-planincu.com

Yes, this is the same Pri Planincu featured in Best Bar and Best Pizza, and no they are not paying for favourable reviews nor feeding me for free. It just happens this is my favourite place. The restaurant is old and a bit faded – that’s why I like it. The food is traditional Slovenian homemade fare and is consistently good (I’ve been eating there for over 20 years.) If your grandmother was from Carniola, this is what her home would be like … possibly. It is excellent for budget travellers, but you find plenty of people arriving in expensive cars eating there too. It is also a favourite of locals.

Restaurant Sova Bled

Always in my top 3 – 20 minute walk from main town – worth every cent you pay.

cesta Svobode  37, 4260 Bled, Slovenia
Reservations: +386 59 132 100 
www.restavracija-sova.com

The Sova restaurant is about to enter its third year in its present location in Mlino on the southern shore of Lake Bled, a 25-minute walk from the town centre. Sova is in an old bar and before becoming a very good restaurant was a pizzeria with a good Slovenian home-made style of cooking.

The standard of cuisine has been elevated and while the restaurant still looks like pretty standard bar, the food is outstanding. Modern Slovenian cooking takes place behind the bar in a small kitchen. The staff are very helpful especially choosing the right wines and guiding you through the occasionally slightly obscure menu.

It is a mid-range price but very good cooking and an interesting menu. I often choose the Sova Krožnik. It is similar to a Balkan grill, but more sophisticated.

Pension Mlino

Love it for lunch outside in the summer and dinner inside during the winter.

cesta Svobode 45, 4260 Bled, Slovenia
Phone:  +386 4 574 14 04 
www.mlino.si

Pension Mlino is a beautiful building and busy restaurant, bar and B&B. Here you find traditional Slovenian hospitality, excellent traditional Slovenian food and the day’s soundtrack is traditional Gorenjska music playing in the background.

There is more than one restaurant in the building, but the bar is the place to drop in for a drink or food. You will find it directly opposite the pletna pier in Mlino. This is where the pletnar, who row passengers to the island, gather after their shift.

This is another personal favourite for lunch, dinner or just a bowl of mushroom soup on a cold day. In summer, it can become very busy as the tour bus passengers disembark at that point.

If you are a couple and like fish, the fish feast is one of the best items on the menu.

Oštarija Babji zob

Great atmosphere – something special about this restaurant words can’t capture.

cesta Svobode 8, 4260 Bled, Slovenia 
Phone: +386 8381-0584
www.ostarija-babjizob.si/en

Two years elapsed between my first and second visit to this restaurant. It was good the first time and even better the second.

The restaurant is named after the great rock by the Jelovice plateau “Babji zob” or “Old hag’s tooth”. It has narrowed its menu of simple food, with lots of Balkan grill and very large portions, to something more sophisticated, better quality, better service, better atmosphere. Ostarija-Restaurant Babji Zob has shifted up a gear while keeping excellent value for money.

In the summer time the terrace is busy and in the winter the bar-restaurant is warm, cosy and welcoming. The reduced menu focuses more on the quality of cooking and presentation. There are several small “rooms” inside where people site close together and the result is a marvellous atmosphere.

On a cold winter’s evening it is a welcoming and warm place to visit for a beer or a bowl on mushroom soup.

Finefood – Penzion Berc

On the expensive side – worth it – very helpful if you are new to eating in Slovenia. GREAT wine list

Želeška cesta 15, 4260 Bled, Slovenia
Phone: +386 4 574 18 38
www.penzion-berc.si/si

The Berc family run the Hotel Garni Berc (Luka’s property) and Pension Berc (Miha’s place). Both, rightly, score outstanding reviews for their accommodation and hospitality. Pension Berc has one of the best restaurants in Bled. It is a special place, a restaurant to treat yourself.

It is relaxed and semi-formal, that is to say the waiting staff professional and formal, and guests are more relaxed informal. We are sitting in a group of four tables and before long, the young couple from the Netherlands, the Canadian couple and the retirees from California are swapping stories with us about what they have done today, where they have come from, what their plans are.

The food is outstanding. You have a choice between the €46, 4 course tasting menu and the a la carte. Specialities include fish (on our visit sea bass, bream and trout), Istrian pastas, Angus beef, game medallions, light soups. All beautifully cooked and presented.

The Slovene wine list includes white, red, orange and fizz. The waiter will give you advice if you need it.

One final thought: pumpkin oil. If you have not tried it, do.

Outstanding. Dober tek

Gostilna Murka

If you like traditional, there are fewer more traditional places than this.

Riklijeva cesta 9, 4260 Bled, Slovenia
Phone: +386 4 574 33
www.gostilna-murka.com

It was established in 1906 in the old part of town. The restaurant is light, with plenty of room. The service is pitch perfect. It has a good reputation for traditional cooking and entertainment. A simple Slovenian dinner will be inexpensive. The restaurant is “in the round” and is bright and airy on a warm evening.

Oštarija Peglez’n

This will always be on the short list of best places to eat in Bled.

cesta Svobode  19, 4260 Bled, Slovenia
Phone: +386 4 574 42 18

Oštarija Peglez’n, close to the shopping centre and opposite the Restavracija Panorama, will always be on the short list of best places to eat in Bled, unless something drastic happens. And in the years that I have been going, it has only got better. One evening, walking past I noticed a queue to get in. A rare event in Bled.

In the summer on the small terrace the sunlight streams in as it begins its descent behind the Julian Alps. Large blinds are lowered and even though you are just a few steps from a main road, you feel removed from the busy street. Inside the main restaurant the décor is traditional Slovenian home kitchen.

Before we visited, people had recommended Oštarija Peglez’n for the fish. Yes, sure, but the menu is all good and reliable. The service is great. If you are new to Slovenia and want to try some Slovenian wine with dinner, this the place to ask advice.

Always a favourite.

Restavracija Okarina

Ljubljanska cesta 8, 4260 Bled, Slovenia
Phone: +386 4 574 14 58 
www.okarina.com/en/
Opening hours: Seasonal – 12 noon –11 pm not open year-round.

Another favourite with visitors and locals. There has been an Okarina restaurant in Bled for more than 30 years, starting in a different building to the one now established on the busy road in the centre of town. The restaurant shares its name with and is responsible for the world/ethno music festival held annually in Bled.

Brightly decorated with superb paintings, good service and a style unique in Bled.

You should expect, in addition to the usual, good vegetarian food and spicy Indian food. Leo the owner is a vegetarian who visits India every year. Paul McCartney ate there, he liked it.

Peking Chinese Restaurant

Ulica narodnih herojev 3, 4260 Bled, Slovenia
Phone: +386 4 574 17 16

I have walked past this restaurant so many times and each time thought about dropping in. It’s large terrace almost always has customers at tables all through the day and always in the evening. My focus in Slovenia has been to find Slovenian food. I love Chinese food but going there seemed to be a slight distraction. I resisted one evening recently and I am mighty glad I did.

I went for the terribly predictable sweet and sour chicken. At least I had something to compare it with. The taste was different to what I am used to. St home the “sour” tends towards citric, here it was different, a deeper taste. The fried rice had macedoine of peas and carrots mixed in (and was priced separately) the chicken dumplings were generous in size and quantity. It was on the expensive side. Had I ordered the steamed rice the difference in cost would have been noticeable.

Excellent.

Next, 6 of the best of the rest

Vila Prešeren

Veslaška promenada 14, 4260 Bled, Slovenia
Phone: +386 4 575 25 10 
www.villa-preseren.com/

On a sunny day the open-air terrace is busy with tourists and locals sitting beside one of the best spots on the lake shore. No more than a patch of grass and a pathway separates Vila Prešeren from the lake. In the summer evenings, musicians play. Drop by for coffee after shopping or a beer after a walk around the lake which can turn into a full-scale lunch or even dinner. Coffee, cakes and drinks are good. Lunch – often specialities from Bled and Slovenia – is one of the best in the town. Although I’ve never been to dinner, the menu would suggest this is not a place for people on a tight budget. During the summer Taste Bled festival, Vila Prešeren is probably one of the best places to go to try traditional Bled and Slovenian cooking.

Restavracija Vila Ajda Dax

cesta Svobode 27, 4260 Bled, Slovenia
Phone: +386 4 576 83 20
www.vila-ajda.si/

Vila Ajda is one of the grand houses built in the 18th and early 19th century that are dotted around Lake Bled. It is now one of the best restaurants in Bled used by visitors and locals alike. For the last seven years, it has been run by Vlado Dakskobler, “Everybody calls me Dax.”

The food is strongly Slovenian and Carniolan. The menu ranges from the humble struklji (one of the most characteristic everyday Slovenian dishes, usually made from cottage cheese rolled-up in dough) and Balkan meats like čevapčići (grilled minced beef), and ražnjići (skewered meats) through to chateaubriand. But Dax points out jelenov medaljon (deer medallions) as one of the highlights for him.

And the menu – which changes four times a year to reflect the season – uses ingredients and dishes from the wider geographical area with Italian and Austrian taking their place. Some dishes are from very specific areas such as Mojstrana and Dvoje, villages in the Alps between Bled and Kranjska Gora.

If it is on the menu, try a house special; pečene ripsi reba brez maščobe (literally ribs and veal shank baked without fat).  It is served with roast vegetables – with a slight bite – in a pan which is at lunchtime probably enough for two people. Slovenian portions are often extremely generous.

The house wine here is Erzetic, a family owned winery in Goriška Brda.

Vrtnarija – Garden Village

cesta Gorenjskega odreda 16, 4260 Bled.
Phone: +386 (0) 838 99 221
www.gardenvillagebled.com/

The ‘Greenhouse’ restaurant at Garden Village boasts “Slovenian Cuisine Vrtnarija – fresh from our garden to your plate.”

Vrtnarija is among the most interesting and innovative restaurants in Bled. Situated in Mlino about 200m from the lake, it creates its own style bringing the outside, inside. The Garden Village “glamping” site opened in 2014 and the restaurant is part of this new development.

Yes, that is real grass growing (and carefully tended) on the tables – bringing a whole new meaning to “Surf and Turf” (as if they served anything so ordinary). And that is little stream running through the restaurant and a tiny foot bridge to cross it. The first time we ate there was just a simple lunch – sandwich and a glass of wine by the pool. It was terrific.

The second time we visited was with a couple of local VIPs and we had the Chef’s Tasting Menu. It was delicious. The food is unmistakably Slovenian – but modern and looks as good as it tastes, and the bill matches the high standard.

Restavracija Grill

Best Western Premier Hotel Lovec
Ljubljanska 6 4260 Bled, Slovenia
Phone: +386 (0) 4 620 41 26
www.grill-bled.com/

The Grill serves some very good food. It is unlikely that you will be disappointed. We have only been there twice. The service was efficient.

Hint: better in than out. With the town’s shopping centre and car park to one side and the busy main road to another, this is not the quietest or most romantic spot in Bled. Inside is a lot more comfortable.

The BBQ burgers, while not prominent on the menu, have some lovely regional twists. The burgers are usually one of the features of the Taste of Bled exhibition held during the summer. The meat for the patties, the chef told me, is sourced from a nearby farm.

There is a strong traditional Slovenian theme to their menu. Each Thursday, from 15 June to 21 September at 7:00 pm they hold a Slovenian speciality event. Their example menu prices are mid-range.

Vila Bled

cesta Svobode 26, 4260 Bled, Slovenia 
Phone +386 (0) 4 575 37 10 
www.brdo.si/en/vila-bled/vila-bled

Vila Bled has had an interesting history. Before the building that sits on the land now, there was a grand castle. It was pulled down – reports from the time said the men working on the site had tears in their eyes as they destroyed the building. Vila Bled was built after WWII and was summer home of President Tito. After Slovenia’s independence, it became a hotel – part of a French chain – and is now owned by the Slovenian government.

The hotel gets all the reviews – and generally very high scores. The restaurant tends to be overlooked by reviewers. Yes, it is expensive, one of a clutch of restaurants in Bled that might put a dent in your credit card. Overall, Slovenia is not an expensive place to dine and, in that context, Vila Bled is expensive. Yet compared with a similar standard restaurant in most European capitals, it is very good value.

If you are on a budget but want the experience, try lunch on the terrace on a sunny afternoon. The views are stunning – island, church, castle, pletna, St Martin’s, and the edge of town. We love it. Even if you are not planning to use the restaurant, Vila Bled should be on your list of places to see. The extensive grounds are open to the public and are very pleasant for an amble. Parts, beyond the Belvedere Café are now abandoned and overgrown, including what I am told was once a private zoo.

Inside the hotel there is a small display of photos of world leaders who stayed there during Tito’s time along with Tito’s desk. Today some world leaders still stay at the hotel; Bled is often the venue for major regional political events including Bled Strategic Forum.

Park Restaurant and Café

cesta Svobode 15, 4260 Bled, Slovenia 
Phone: +386 4 579 18 18
bit.ly/2BpUjXP [Sava Hotels website]

This is the home of the legendary Bled Cream Cake which is celebrated here when the town’s summer season officially begins. Yes, a cream cake party. Often in the evening during the summer, there is live music.

The terrace views are great; the castle, the lake and the island. The seating is comfortable and the atmosphere outside is very pleasant. You are seated and served quickly. The staff are usually friendly, and efficient. However, in recent years, they have become stretched and while your order arrives quickly it can take time attracting attention to get your bill before you leave. If you are not staying long, ask for your bill with your order.

When it is busy I prefer to sit inside the restaurant. The coffee is good, the lunchtime sandwiches are good and reasonably priced. You still have the views from behind the glass. On a hot day, it is a good place to escape to.

During the winter season, the terrace becomes an ice rink where families gather to skate and take hot chocolate (vroča čokolada) and mulled wine (kuhano vino).

Finally, still on my Wish List

This is not “the best of the rest”, because I know that many below are outstanding and could top any list. But, I have not been to any of them and can’t give a firsthand account.

Penzion Mayer

Želeška cesta 7, 4260 Bled, Slovenia
Phone: +386 4 576 57 40
www.mayer-sp.si/

Close to Hotel Garni Berc (which is consistently voted best place to stay in Bled – I’ve stayed; it is). Like its neighbour Pension Berc, it has an outstanding reputation and is in a beautiful setting away from all the crowds and the lake and near the Rikli Balance (formerly Golf) Hotel. Without having tried, I can still recommend that you do, simply based on their reputation.

Restaurant 1906

Hotel Triglav, Kolodvorska 33, 4260 Bled, Slovenia
Phone: +386 (0)4 575 26 10
www.hoteltriglavbled.si/en/restavracija-1906-bled

High above Bled overlooking almost the whole lake from Triglav Hotel. Modern Slovenian cooking and Slovenian wines. It has an outstanding reputation. I did one have a very good lunch there and, on that basis, would recommend it. The hotel and restaurant are both used by Bled and Slovenian rowing teams for VIP visitors, so that must be a recommendation itself.

Topolino Restaurant

Ljubljanska cesta 26, Bled 4260, Slovenia

Phone: +386 4 574 17 81

It is really not far out of town; mere few minutes’ walk. Yet it remains on my wish list. You always have to have something to look forward to.

Bled Castle Restaurant

Grajska cesta 61, 4260 Bled, Slovenia
Phone: +386 4 620 34 4
bit.ly/2CR02lG [restaurant website]

The Caste Restaurant has the reputation of being one of the top restaurants in all of Slovenia. There is no question that it has the best view.

Astoria Hotel Restaurant
Address: Prešernova cesta 44, 4260 Bled, Slovenia
Phone: +386 4 579 44 00

There are plenty of hotel restaurants, but this one is special as it is recommended by sports people and it is the training restaurant for the Bled hotel and catering college.

Restavracija Arbor

Ljubljanska cesta 4, 4260 Bled, Slovenia
Phone: +386 4 574 30 33
www.arborbled.si/about-arbor

In the shopping centre this looks like a very attractive simple restaurant with a big choice of Slovenian and Mediterranean food on a well-priced menu. I notice they do pizza. It is on my list of places to test.

Restavracija Julijana

Toplice Hotel cesta Svobode 12, 4260 Bled, Slovenia
Phone: +386 4 579 10 00
bit.ly/2BRlhHf [restaurant website]

I have not had dinner or lunch here, but if you are feeling flush, they do a splendid breakfast before 9.30 am

The Toplice is at the high-end of the high-end. It is luxuriously decorated, how I imagine a Viennese drawing room might be decorated. You can go into look around the public rooms or take coffee. If you do, check out the display cabinet with photos of many political and entertainment celebrities, royalty, and other notables.