My husband and I spent less than 24 hours in Bratislava, Slovakia. At least 5 of those hours it was pouring. At least 7 of those hours I was sleeping.
So, my experience in the country and its capital is not broad. But I really, really want to go back. And you should want to, too.
Why, you ask?
Lots of reasons are good ones:
1) It’s an easy and cheap train ride from Vienna.
2) It seems way more “Eastern European” than Austria, for sure, and even more than the Czech Republic, both of which it borders.
3) It still has a tinge of the Soviet/Eastern Bloc/Old Communist feel to it, which is intriguing.
4) The old city of Bratislava is enchanting with stone streets (that glisten in the rain).
5) Prices are cheaper than in many of its neighboring countries.
But the reason I most want to go back and the reason you need to go at least once is this:
Specifically, the most popular national dish, Bryndzové halušky, which consists of small gnocchi-type dumplings covered in a sharp sheep cheese with bacon on top. Oh. my. goodness.
It’s warm and creamy. The cheese has just enough sour bite to make the bacon a perfect salty complement. The gnocchi are small and firm (sort of like Spätzle, maybe). We had the halušky with other toppings (one was cheese with some sauerkraut-like topping), but the bryndzové is the best we tried.
If there’s a place I can get this in a three-state radius of me, it might tide me over. Otherwise, I’m booking my plane ticket direct to Slovakia the next chance I get. That halušky was some good stuff.
I’d had a tiny sample of it when I was in Prague. Further, my guidebook highly recommended it. So, we had it for lunch as soon as we arrived in Bratislava.
That was the best we had, I think. Halušky #1:
Then I had halušky that night for a late dinner at a great restaurant in a downtown basement. (And Charlie wished he’d ordered it, too!)
(We did also try an amazing smoked trout appetizer.) But the star of the meal was Bryndzové Halušky #2:
Prasna Basta was busy, maybe because of a glowing endorsement of its “charm” in the Lonely Planet guide.
And their halušky was really good, too! But it was too dark to get a clear picture of it.
Then, when we got to the train station an hour early for our departure the next day, we had an early lunch of halušky at the next door eating and drinking establishment.
It wasn’t much to look at, but their Bryndzové Halušky was still great! Bryndzové Halušky #3:
It’s just that good. (And the breakfast at our boat-hotel, aka Botel, was just so bad that we were quite famished at 11 a.m.)
Even though seeing all the cheese and bacon drippings I’m no longer wondering how I gained 5 pounds on my trip, I am still begging you: Please tell me where I can get Bryndzové Halušky in these ol’ United States!