Although it can hardly be described as replete with variety, Bratislava's café society has come a long way since a half decade ago. Back then, one was grateful for an open door and a warm cup of coffee, to say nothing of swift service with a smile. Today, the city center has a burgeoning selection of small hot spots, none of which match the great venues of Vienna or Budapest, but several of which will do for any occasion.
We based our list of favorites on location, ambience, service, and quality of drink and food.
1. Café Maximilián- The best representative of the capital's new class of cafés, Maximilián makes the most of where it is. Squeezed into a narrow space next to Eduscho on Hlavné námestie, Maximilián does not grab attention - until spring is in full bloom. Then, the café's seating spills out on to the square, and Maximilián becomes the hottest spot in town for soaking in the sun and old town scenery. The interior is tastefully arranged on two levels, where those seated upstairs can order by intercom. The menu is limited, but everything is done well - especially the hot chocolate. $$. Hlavné námestie, % 335-474. < 10:00-22:00, M-Su.
2. Café Muzeum- Muzeum, so-named because it is housed in the rear of the Slovak National Museum, is unique for its mix of high-ceilinged architecture and high-tech divergences. This is the one place downtown where guests can hook up to the Internet at tea time. Unfortunately, Muzeum does not take full advantage of its location alongside the Danube, but it makes for a great resting place to break up a riverbank walk. $$. % . < 10:00-22:00, M-Su.
3. Café Grémium- With its big, open space and small tables, Grémium makes up for its lack of intimacy with its art gallery attractions and events. Grémium has earned a reputation as one of the city's funkier places because it frequently plays host to live musicians, literaturary readings, lectures, discussions, and art auctions. $. Gorkého ul 11. % 321-151. < 8:30-23:00 M-Sa.
4. London Café- Located at the British Council, this is a favorite spot for English-speakers to grab a leisurely sip or bite. The quiche is great, as is the tunafish sandwich. Good soups and salads as well. A serene place to catch up on world news as written in English. $. Panská 17. < 9:00-21:00.
5. Cukráreň Srdce- For one of the best pastry selections in town, venture into the heart of Slovenská Kreditná Banka's passage running between Nám. SNP and Kolárska ulica. The hot chocolate is thick and creamy with gobs of whipped cream that prevent it from burning your mouth. Polished and professional, Srdce is a good place for talking business over a drink. $$. Nám. SNP, < 9:00-21:00 Mo-Su.
6. Rolo Café- Due to its location on the busy thoroughfare of Štefánikova ulica, Rolo does not attract the pedestrian tourist traffic that flocks to locales in the city's historic core. The tables at street level provide a sense of city action, while those upstairs offer more of a retreat. Rolo, like some other cafés in the city, is almost as much a bar as it is a café, particularly after 5 p.m. $$ % 491-773. Štefánikova 33. < 10:00-24:00.
7. Café Francais- The biggest, leafiest, salads in Bratislava, with three kinds of lettuce and a tangy vinaigrette - and that's just one of the dishes on offer at the café in the French Institute. Creamy onion tarts, roast beef sandwiches, and to-die-for pastries round out the menu. Continental breakfast, too. $$. Hlavné nám. < 9:00-9:00 M-F.
8. Berlinka- Art aficionados will do well to round off a morning or afternoon of viewing at the Slovak National Gallery at this café in the same building. With stone pillars, high ceilings and marble floors, Berlinka is classy and clean, if not cozy. $$. Námestie Ľ. Štúra. < 10:00-21:30 M-Sa, 10:00-18:00 Su.
9. Café Roland- A year ago, Roland topped most locals' list of Bratislava's best cafés, but a move from its former premises on Hlavné námestie around the corner to Hotel Perugia stripped Roland of significant allure. It retains its top standard service and excellent coffee, full bar, and desserts. There is talk that Roland may move back to one of the old town's bustling streetsides - we hope so for the city's sake. $$. CC: yes. Zelená 5, % 533-1818. < 9:00-22:00 M-Su.
10. Café Viennois- The best hotel-run café in the city. On the ground floor of the Hotel Danube, Viennois manages to be large and airy, while still maintaining a sense of privacy for each table. The service is first class and the views out on the Danube River and up toward the castle are hard to beat. $$$. CC: yes. Rybné námestie 1, % 534-0000. < 6:00-22:00 M-F, 8:00-22:30 Sa-Su.
11. Café Hrad- Stop here on the third floor of Bratislava's austere castle after touring the museum and taking in the views. Unfortunately, it is a bit pricey and the service doesn't make you feel any better about it. $$. CC: yes. < 10:00-20:00 M--Sa.
12. U 4 Anjelov- Small, modern and classy, this spot set in a corner nook is super for pastries during daylight and drinks after sunset. Its few seats offer intimacy, but demand often exceeds supply. Feel free to come in for happy hour or pre- or post-theater. $. Laurinská ul. < 10:00-22:00 M-F.
13. Olympia- Adjacent to Nová Scéna theater, Olympia shines around showtime. A lively buzz surrounds this restaurant/café before the curtain rises, during intermission and after the final ovation. The service is quick and the espresso is strong. $$. Živnostenská 1, % 536-1485. < 11:00-24:00 M-Sa, 13:00-24:00 Su.
14. Devín- In the Hotel Devín, this was one of the nicest establishments in the city under Communism. Its high ceilings, comfortable seats and attentive service make it among the best still today. $$. CC: yes. Riečna 4, % 533-0851. < 10:00-22:00 M-F, 12:00-22:00 Sa-Su.
15. Ravijoma- This sprawling complex is supremely located on Námestie SNP. Most dominant is the cafeteria-style eatery with various hot dishes and cold salads. But more quaint is the café out front, specializing in pastries and drinks. $. Nám. SNP. < 7:00-22:00.
16. Korzo Kaviareň- The velvet décor offer a cozy feel to this ideal spot for coffee, a snack or light meal. Highly recommended are the iced coffee, the sundaes, and apple strudel, which is a generous portion for 25 Sk. Breakfast is also available, with omelettes, and ham or bacon with eggs among the offerings. $$. Hviezdoslavovo nám. 11. % 5334-974. < 8:00-24:00, M-Su.
17. Café Krym- Hey, a real breakfast, inexpensive and available at 7 a.m. Indulge in scrambled eggs, omelettes, ham and eggs, bread and butter with jelly or honey and home-made pastries. When was the last time you had that kind of choice for your petit dejeuner? $. Šafárikovo nám. 7. % 314-954. < 07:00-21:00 M-Su.
18. Andy- A small gallery in which budding Slovak artists' work is displayed. A pleasant stroll down from the castle or up from the old town and a nice stop for a glass of wine - or two. $. Beblavého ulica. < 10:00-23:00, M-Su.
19. Atlantis- If you are looking for ice cream - and as summer draws near, you are ever more likely to - this is the capital's best bet. The inexpensive ice cream and scrumptious cheese cake are very popular with students...often too popular, with lines winding out the door. $$. Štúrova 13. < 10:00-20:00.
20. Café Advokát- For a brief respite from the myriad activities on your docket, rub elbows with the city's legal community here. If the clientele has any objection with the racy black and metallic décor, it is overruled by the classy company. On the ground floor of an office building housing dozens of lawyers, this café is great for morning coffee or evening cocktails. $. Kolárska ul 6. < 8:00-21:00 M-Sa.
21. Jezbera Cukráreň- Rising with the sun? This is one of the few places that can serve you coffee and pastry as you roll out of bed. Grab a window seat and watch Bratislava start its day as Jezbera's location is one of its greatest virtues. $. Nám. SNP 9. < 6:30-21:00.
24. Apr 1997 at 0:00