Slovenia’s best restaurants selection Foto: The Slovenia Restaurant Awards
Slovenia’s best restaurants selection Foto: The Slovenia Restaurant Awards
Pršut Foto: The Slovenia Restaurant Awards
Ričet Foto: The Slovenia Restaurant Awards
Tagliata Foto: The Slovenia Restaurant Awards

Tourists appreciate Slovenia and happily return here, not only because of the amazing diversity and natural beauty of the county, but also because of the rich and sophisticated range of food and drinks on offer. Diverse and innovative dishes, quality ingredients, fine wines and friendly service are the virtues of Slovenian restaurants.

With our team at The Slovenia, who have many years of experience in international tourism publishing, we wish to produce the best selection of restaurants in Slovenia, which will be multi-faceted - professional, independent and designed for the broader public, both domestic and foreign tourists.

Our vision is for Slovenia to be an international foodie tourist destination; thus we aim to increase its international reputation, support long-term improvements in the quality of services and experiences at restaurants and develop a vibrant "foodie" culture among Slovenes. This is why we have decided to prepare our own selection, inviting both experts and discerning members of the public to collaborate, so that together we can present all the best restaurants from across the country including top regional restaurants - simply, we share with foreign visitors and Slovenes the very best of Slovenian gastronomy.

Selection methods
The vote will take place over three stages - a selection of best restaurants will be prepared by the Expert Committee (first stage) then handed over to be voted on by the Academy of Chefs & Foodies, consisting of chefs, culinary experts, critics, sommeliers, restaurant owners, winemakers, connoisseurs and business representatives (second stage - a closed vote commencing 12.01.2017). Finally, voting will be opened to the broader Slovenian public (third stage - voting begins 20/01/2017).

Voting will take place until 24.2.2017, the final selection will be completed by the end of March 2017, when results will be released and awards will be handed out. Before the summer we will also publish a book, which will feature all the selected restaurants and present tourists with a varied catalogue of epicurean delights for every occasion and budget.

Members of the Expert Committee include: Msc. Helena Cvikl (director, Vocational College for Catering and Tourism Maribor), Mira Šemič (wine connoisseur, gourmand and gastronomic traveller), PhD. Janez Bogataj (Emeritus Professor of Ethnological Sciences), Assoc. Prof. PhD. Aleš Gačnik (Head of the Department for cultural tourism and cultural heritage at Turistica and head of the Centre for gastronomy and wine culture at the University of Primorska) and Yuri Barron (editor, Slovenian editions of the In Your Pocket tourist guides, editor and main author of The Slovenia Book -Top 100 Destinations). They had just one principle in assessing restaurants; this was not how much it cost, the size of the restaurant or the accessibility of the location, but their overall satisfaction with the dining experience.

Members of the Committee made their selection based on the following:

- The restaurant must have been operating for at least one year. Restaurants that were opened in 2016, will be eligible to be candidates from 2018 on.

- Menus must be diverse, innovative, based on quality ingredients, food is presented in an interesting and appealing manner, flavors are balanced, food and drinks are appropriately paired.

- The service is friendly, receptive and knowledgeable; ready and able to recommend food and drinks.

On this basis a common rating of "overall satisfaction" with the restaurant visit was derived.

The Committee divided Slovenia into 5 regions:

- NORTH: Gorenjska and Koroška, the Upper Savinja Valley.

- SOUTH: Dolenjska, Bela Krajina, Posavje, Bizeljsko, Notranjska.

- EAST: Pohorje, the Drava Valley, Kozjak, Maribor, Celje, the Lower Savinja Valley, the Šalek Valley, Laško, Kozjansko, Prekmurje, Slovenske Gorice, Prlekija, Haloze, Dravsko and Ptujsko Polje, the area between Donačka Mountain and Boč.

- WEST: Rovtarsko, Idrijisko and Cerkljansko, the Soča Valley, Goriška Brda, Goriška, the Vipava Valley, Kras, Brkini, Kraški Rob, Slovenian Istria.

- LJUBLJANA AND CENTRAL SLOVENIA: the area from Zasavje, Litija, Grosuplje, Vrhnika, Hotavlje, Medvode to Kamnik.

Each jury member chose up to 15 restaurants from each region, with the exception of Ljubljana and the surrounding area, where they chose up to 25 restaurants. Together, they selected 140 restaurants throughout Slovenia.

The Expert Committee has selected a wide range of restaurants, which shall be voted on by the Academy of Chefs & Foodies. Each member of the Academy of Chefs & Foodies selects up to 5 (10 for Ljubljana) top restaurants in each region. Members were selected by the organizers and the Expert Committee. The names of Academy members will only be known to the organizers and will not be made public.

The end result will be a shortlist of the 5 (10 for Ljubljana) best restaurants in each region, out of which 1 winning restaurant will be announced for each region, thus there will be 5 winners. At the same time the expert committee will also award "The Expert Committee Award"; only one restaurant can claim this title in all of Slovenia. The same list of restaurants given to the Academy will be put to a popular vote. Their votes will represent 25% of all votes.

The selection of the best restaurants will be published on the official website of the selection, as Foodies Maps and in a book. The winners and those who rank among the regional top 5 (10 for Ljubljana) will be profiled in detail, all the other restaurants that the Expert Committee handed over to the Academy and public to vote on will be labelled as "recommended". In this way, restaurants will have the opportunity to increase visitor numbers, they will be motivated to improve and gradually work their way to the top of the list, while presenting tourists with a varied catalogue of epicurean delights for every occasion and budget.

We invite you to join us and vote for the best restaurants - THE SLOVENIA RESTAURANT AWARDS sponsored by Diners Club International - and participate in fostering Slovenia’s culinary reputation!