In the cosmopolitan metropolis of Eastern Slovakia, almost the entire world is served on your plate. So there is only one dilemma for every foodie: where to go today.
Start by getting to know the local specialties. You can get the best idea of their ingredients at the bustling market in Dominikánske námestie (Dominikanske Square). The mornings next to the church's walls from the 13th century are marked by the lively market bustle and the fragrant colors of honestly grown seasonal fruits and vegetables. They will show you what they can conjure up in the kitchen at the nearby Villa Regia restaurant, where the menu faithfully reflects the four seasons. The current autumn menu is dominated by duck, pumpkin, and burčiak. During the winter, they will offer you dishes made from venison or beetroot. Spring is the season of asparagus, lamb, and strawberry or rhubarb delicacies. However, be sure to try the year-round staple here: sour mushroom máčanka (soup) with potato bread from their bakery.
Photo: Petra Rozenberg
If you want to catch something of the unmistakable local dialect, go to test "calodňovi frištik" (all-day breakfast) in the original restaurant Republika východu (Republic of the East). You will find it right opposite the majestic Cathedral of St. Elizabeth, the Gothic 500-year-old sacral beauty, which is the main pride of the Košice Corso. In a cozy retro interior with a creative design, you can easily tune in to „singing“ Eastern Slovak dialect and traditional Slovak flavors with a "vianočke vof vajcu zos brindzu a slaňinku“ (toast with cheese and bacon) or another specialty from the imaginative menu (also available in English).
From this dynamic street, you will be transported directly to the Middle Ages on the sought-after Ulička remesiel (Craft Alley). The nearby Hrnčiarska ulica (Potter Street), with historical paving stones and charming little houses, offers the opportunity to learn the crafts honed over centuries in the workshop of an artistic smith, carpenter, or potter. The local herbalist will advise you on a "tailor-made" herbal tea mixture, and the local bakery will gladly introduce you to the art of a crispy bread crust. If, while walking through the city, memories of vacations at your grandmother's house suddenly overtake you, it is certainly to blame for the honest aroma of rolls wafting from the Domáca pekáreň (Home Bakery) on Alvinczyho ulica (Alvinczy Street). As to the traditional desserts baked on beech wood according to the original recipes, regular customers can't resist especially the cheesecake with peaches.
Photo: IG @nikki.lukacova
Are you looking for the best cafe and restaurant in the region? Head to the art nouveau building of Kaviareň Slávia (Cafe Slávia), which is located directly opposite the Štátne divadlo (State Theatre). You will be charmed by the glass ceiling and large windows, but also by the à la carte menu of chef Juraj Hruška, which combines inspiration from old recipes with the latest gastronomic trends. His slow-roasted cutlet from a young pig in black sauce with „džatka“ (potato dough balls) and bear garlic will playfully provide you with another tasteful experience after an evening opera or ballet performance.
If you are a fan of American cuisine, visit the Smokehouse Košice for a piece of juicy romance. Whether you choose beef ribs, chicken wings, or pulled pork, they will prepare them here in the traditional way in a special smoker. Combine it with a tasting of craft beer from the nomadic Fire Brews brewery and have fun here with friends at one of the regular pub quizzes. Do you want a plate of vital Mexico? You will find endless variations of hot combinations at the La Hacienda experience restaurant in Kráľovský dvor (Royal Court). Here, take a bite of fried chimichangas, enchiladas, chili con carne, fajitas, or sweet churros with caramel cream - memories of these dishes will stay with you for a long time.
How about real beef tenderloin with Tyrolean dumplings or cabbage leaves stuffed with veal and arborio rice garnish? Contro restaurant on Hlavná ulica (Main Streett) welcomes you with an inventive combination of Italian and Slovak cuisine. We recommend you try also their popular fish specialties - from tuna to calamari, mussels or shellfish in tomato sauce, cream, and white wine. Are you in the mood for sweet France? Taste fresh macaroons from the Café de Paris patisserie, where pastry chef Jean-Charles takes care of real artistic pieces bursting with dozens of pastel shades. Here, with the French lightness, your taste buds will fall in love with the purple cheesecake, softer than butter, or with the coconut sorbet without milk.
Have you ever eaten phospenina (huspenina - jelly from pho soup)? They will prepare it for you in the restaurant Ohnisko na Gorkého (Fireplace on Gorkého Street), where the composition of the menu was inspired by the flavors of Asia and Nordic methods of food preparation. The beef steak is delivered to your table directly from the charcoal grill. In the kitchen, the fire and smoke combined with probiotic goodies from their fermentation chamber are dominated. You can also order their famous oysters and eel, and try their low-alcohol fermented lemonades. An evening party with a rich cultural program you can find in the courtyard of the nearby Tabačka Kulturfabrik. The locals will take you to the premises of a former tobacco factory for good local beer and quality burgers.
Photo: Tabačka Kulturfabrik
The sound of clinking glasses and loud laughter will draw you into the world of disarming Eastern spontaneity with quality street food on the terrace of the cult arthouse Kino Úsmev (Úsmev Cinema) on Kasárenské námestie (Kasárenské Square). Try proven classics differently! At the Robin food truck, you will quickly discover that the flavor potential of a hot dog does not end with ketchup and mustard - try it in combination with ricotta, arugula, feta, and cherry tomatoes or reach for its sweet version with honey and grapefruit. How about fries with lemon-basil mayonnaise? The hand-cut street food staple made from fresh potatoes at a Smile street food is fried twice in beef fat and served with minced meat and homemade barbecue sauce.
Photo: Visit Košice
By the way, if you spot a naked bronze runner during your gastro wanderings, don't panic! You are on Námestie Maratónu mieru (Peace Marathon Square), which is a reminder that the oldest marathon in Europe is run in Košice - the year 1924 appears on its birth certificate. Directly behind the monument is the East Slovak Museum, which hides one of the world's greatest gold treasures in its underground bowels. If you want to penetrate Košice's 23-carat secret, spend the night in a themed design room offered by the unique Invisible hotel. It consists of five rooms: each one of them will show you a different story, a different visual experience, and a different address. Through augmented reality, you will get to know the local street art scene, the black and white film era, and the city panorama. This is accompanied by local products and tickets in a practical welcome package.
By the way, did you know that the metropolis of the East can boast of its wine from Tokaj vineyards? Its name Cassavita refers to the ancient Latin name of Košice (Cassa), which had a monopoly on the wine trade already in the 14th century. A dry white wine with a long spicy taste with notes of tropical fruit is an ideal choice for a delicious souvenir. One euro from each purchased bottle goes to the city's account, which finances the restoration of monuments in the center. You can enjoy it, for example, in the famous Villa Cassa wine bar, where experienced sommeliers will be happy to guide you through the wide selection of more than 800 mainly Slovak wines. Cheers!
Photo: Visit Košice