Bratislava's city centre has sometimes been referred to as “one huge restaurant”. This is more or less true: you can find a restaurant, café, bar or pub on just about every corner. There are hundreds in the old-town pedestrian zone alone. The people of Bratislava enjoy spending time socialising in them, and we await with anticipation the appearance of outdoor seating in May each year, which allows us (and visitors) to sit in the sunshine, sipping wines from local vineyards and admiring the beauty of the women of Bratislava as they pass by.
Visitors often ask about Slovak cuisine. Naturally, we have speciality Slovak restaurants, but the ‘Pressburg’ fare has always differed a little from mainstream Slovakia's. Pressburg or Pozsony, as Bratislava was originally called, was home to a mix of Slovaks, Hungarians, Germans and Jews for as long as one can remember, often in mixed families. Pressburg cuisine is a mixing pot of all these influences. A very typical Slovak dish is Bryndzové halušky (a kind of cheesy gnocchi dish) – you will not find anything like bryndza anywhere else in the world (it's a soft sheep's cheese with very distinctive taste). There is no one meal peculiar to Pressburg, but old Pressburg recipes are well worth trying. Poppyseed-flavoured dishes are worth trying: poppyseed linguini or gnocchi are now something of a rarity even in Bratislava, but you can still get your hands on a slice of poppyseed strudel or the renowned Bratislava poppyseed roll (or, alternatively, Bratislava nut roll). If you take a trip to the nearby Small Carpathian hills you can enjoy a traditional meal of roast goose or duck with potato pancakes and chopped cabbage: a true delicacy.
Bratislava once acted as a kind of royal wine cellar for the monarchy. The city lived from processing wine and was celebrated for it. Wine from the Pressburg region could be found at every royal banquet or feast. Queen Maria Theresa even referred to the Frankovka wine of the Rača area as having medicinal properties. During the communist era the new rulers all but destroyed the winemaking tradition. They seized vineyards and merged them into co-operatives, where everything belonged to everyone and nobody owned anything. Fortunately, winegrowers kept some small vines behind their houses and so handed down the tradition from generation to generation. Following the 1989 Velvet Revolution their vineyards were returned to them and winegrowing has since revived. (Every cloud has a silver lining: in times when it was not possible to drink wine we learned from our Czech brothers how to brew good beer.)
Typical varietals include white Rieslings and Veltliners, but we also have our own speciality: for example the cross-variety Devín is popular for its spicy aroma with the scent of lemon balm and grapefruit. Make sure you don’t miss out on these. Na zdravie! (Cheers!)