Bratislava and the nearby towns in the Small Carpathian mountain range represent the premier wine growing region in Slovakia. Consequently, many locals identify more strongly with the wine cellar than with the beer hall.
The Slovak Spectator has compiled the following list of vinárne (wine-cellars) in Bratislava based on service, location, price and quality of the wine and food. But the primary criterion for our evaluations was atmosphere. The establishments below give a strong sense of Slovak heritage, where visitors can sample tasty regional wines under dim lighting and arched brick ceilings.
Price guide (for two people, including appetisers, main course and a bottle of wine): $$$ - 1,000 Sk to 1,500 Sk. $$ - 500 Sk to 999 Sk. $ - less than 500 Sk.
Hradná Vináreň - $$$
Royal treatment and exquisite food is to be enjoyed in this wine cellar located in front of the Bratislava castle. The menu offers exotic hors d'oeuvres such as baked snails and shrimp cocktail with whiskey sauce. Main courses include grilled salmon, frog legs and Hawaiian turkey steak as well as the Slovak national dish, bryndzové halušky. An excellent selection of Slovak red and white wines complete a wonderful dining experience in this royal wine-cellar.
English menu - yes. Location: In front of the Bratislava castle on the city centre side. Tel: 5934 1358. Open daily 11:00-23:00.
Bakchus - $$
This vináreň near Horský Park offers roomy tables and a varied menu featuring all the Slovak staples as well as an extensive selection of Indian dishes. On a cold or rainy day their hot spiced wine will warm you up - on a hot, muggy summer day the brick interior provides a cool respite. While the service can be painfully slow, the wait staff is generally a cheery and helpful group.
English menu - yes. Hlboká cesta. Tel: 5249 4178. Open Mon-Thur, 11:00-23:00, Fri-Sat, 12:00-23:00, Sun 12:00-22:00.
Kláštorná - $$
A classic Slovak wine cellar and a relic of bygone days. The tasty meals, sheltered tables and live folk music make for a cosy and unique atmosphere. Located near the old Gothic chapel of the Fransiscan Church in the old town. Live music every evening.
English menu - yes. Františkánska 1. Tel: 5443 0430. Open Mon-Sat 11:30-0:30. Sundays closed except for previously arranged reservations for large groups.
U Liszta - $$
Duck off Michalská ulica and through the passage at the University Library in the old town and then walk towards the castle. As soon as you emerge from the covered passage way, hang a sharp left and find U Liszta. In warm weather, the back garden is one of the prettiest places in Bratislava to enjoy a drink or a meal. The interior, meanwhile, is designed to resemble a cave. At this site in 1820, nine-year old Franz Liszt debuted at the palace of Leopold de Pauli. Talk about historic ambience!
English menu - yes. Klariská 1. Tel: 5441 2540. Open daily 11:00-23:00.
Modrá Hviezda $$
A delightful haven just below the castle offering creatively cooked Slovak cuisine served up in hearty portions. Try "Mummies' speciality" of beef with cream and cranberry sauce and potato croquettes, or the sauerkraut goulash. Try to find seating in the brick-walled wine cellar with heavy wooden tables - the other room, while attractive enough, lacks the cellar's character. The small sunken room on the way in is available for large parties.
English menu - yes. Beblavého 14. Tel: 5443 2747. Open Mon-Sat 11:30-23:00.