Like a local Bratislava 2 | FACH, SUVENIR, Chez Balzac

Like a local Bratislava 2 | FACH, SUVENIR, Chez Balzac

Ahoj! In this gourmet edition of “Like a Local” in Bratislava, we’ll guide you through places that are more than meets the eye, that have hidden value, and where you can, as we say in Slovak, “kill two flies with one blow.” Anyway, let’s start in the heart of the historical Old Town.


Ventúrska 10, 811 01 Bratislava, Slovakia

One of the many things every proper tourist is looking for in Bratislava’s Old Town is the Pálffy Palace, where Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart performed as a 6-year-old wunderkind. Once you’ve found the marble plaque on the building and taken a selfie, look inside: on the ground floor of the palace is a place considered a local institution of food (and architecture) lovers: FACH.

A favorite breakfast & lunch spot (with reservation recommended at the weekend), FACH seeks to pursue a philosophy of cooking seasonal and healthy dishes that please the eye. Their breakfast menu is packed with sophisticated versions of childhood classics like semolina porridge with cocoa or the classic “bundás kenyér” (French toast—the Transl.).

Their sourdough bread and pastries come straight from their own bakery, and their homemade lemonades are rich in vitamins (try the freshly squeezed sea buckthorn lemonade, you’ll literally feel vitamin C running through your veins). Oh, and do try their specialty, the so-called “bread with butter and bread,” and let me know if you’ve ever had a more satisfying bread experience.

Just next door is another craft of FACH: their juice shop, started by a couple of food enthusiasts who believe that food is the best medicine and offer a selection of cold-press juices, fresh smoothies, and strong elixirs. They use a cold press method (and a one-of-a-kind machine) that locks in the maximum of essential vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. So, if the traveling/weather/parties wear you out, this is the place to go to reboot your energy. Also, don’t hesitate to grab some of their tasty seasonal salads, vegan sandwiches, burritos, porridges, or granola to go, they sell out fast during the day.

The spacious and sprawling ground space of FACH, located around an inner courtyard, was renovated by architect brothers Ilja and Martin Skoček, who took on the task of unifying the divided multifunctional spaces visually and turning a palace and its arches into a contemporary, minimal, Scandinavian-inspired, yet warm and highly functional interior. And take it from an insider: if you get lucky to be invited to an event at FACH, do attend, their inner courtyard is a magical place with trees, lights, and wines. Enjoy!


Rázusovo nábrežie, 811 02 Old Town, Bratislava, Slovakia

Walking along the Danube (or in case you just arrived in Bratislava via a cruise ship or speed boat), you can’t miss the functionalist building called Propeller, which originally served as a stop and ticket office for the river ferry between the two shores of the Danube.

Built in 1931 by one of the key figures of modern Slovak functionalist architecture, Emil Belluš, it was later renovated, and a coffee shop was added. Today, it is home to the Suvenir Café and well, you guessed it, SUVENIR, where you won’t find magnets and T-shirts made in China. All items are created by contemporary Slovak artists and designers reflecting on regions, traditions, or craft techniques. Sipping on your coffee or a glass of wine will be a different experience if you’re surrounded by art and design.

In case your guidebook didn’t tell you, you haven’t been to Bratislava unless you’ve tried the traditional sweet Bratislavský rožok (a pastry consisting of a roll of sweet yeast bread—the Transl.) with a poppyseed or walnut filling. The unpretentious menu features products from local coffee roasters, small Carpathian wineries, and bakeries. Occasionally, they also offer other homegrown delicacies from small Slovak producers, depending on the season and availability. And pst! Come colder days, their mulled wine is said to be the best in town.

If observing passers-by in foreign places is your thing, get a table in front of the building. If you just want to have a quiet moment, move to the tiny terrace overlooking the Danube that flows right in front of your eyes with views of the landmark UFO Bridge or the Bratislava Castle.

Chez Balzac

Hlboká cesta 7, 811 05 Bratislava, Slovakia

Off the traditional tourist route, bordering on the much-loved Forest City Park lies a hidden gourmet gem with a strong French influence: Chez Balzac. At the weekend, you can see local residents lining up outside the bakery or even pre-ordering their favorites (from simple baguettes to decadent croissants with almond filling).

The bakery’s secret is that 95% of the ingredients, including butter and flour, are French. The bakers here are busy bees, they kick off work at 2:30 am, so the whole space smells like sweet gluten heaven in the morning. The lunch and dinner menu changes every week to reflect the season and the freshness of groceries that come in from France, like fish, lobster, oysters, meat, or cheese.

The elegant, classical interior with high ceilings, soft carpets, chandeliers, and partitions for privacy go hand in hand with the professional, classy service. This set-up doesn’t feel too formal (though they require a dress code for dinner after 6 pm; if you plan to go to Chez Balzac around this time, skip jeans or sweats, better check out the website). The owner, strongly influenced by his years living and studying in Paris, built Chez Balzac as a culinary and educational institute and dedicates his activities to presenting elevated, natural joie de vivre culture and lifestyle. Besides other activities, he teaches popular etiquette courses for kids and adults alike.

The Chez Balzac shop offers a selection of fine cheeses alongside jams from Corsica and wine and champagne from smaller French producers, as well as wine curiosities that the owner usually purchases at auctions.

The chairs on the terrace under the trees come from Maison Gatti Paris. The trees and the terrace, not overlooking the street, make the café more laid-back, a favorite spot in the summer for meeting friends or dates over glasses of wine or champagne. Salut!

About the author:

Marika “Tonbo” Majorova – Brand consultant, photographer, beauty hunter. Bratislava/Pozsony/Pressburg born & raised, speaking Slovak/Hungarian/German (with a dose of English and a little bit of French). Supporting local design, art and fashion, mom of Mia.

Photos from her.

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