Written by Žiga Födransperg.
Ljubljana is a truly beautiful town by a magical little river under a fairy-tale castle, and it offers many wonderful things. A real market, a whole bunch of versatile restaurants and numerous little stands with offers that can satisfy even the most demanding of stomachs. Then there is Trubarjeva street, a real culinary trip around the world. But those who possess a true gourmet nose will know that the best isn’t always as clear as day, all days and every day. This little town must be hiding something that cannot be found in every guide book, something not every taxi driver will be able to direct you to. As it is everywhere around the world, a true petite treasure is tucked away only a short walk from the centre, through Tivoli park and into the Šiška neighbourhood, in the one and only Lepa Žoga sports bar.
Žiga from Ljubljana and his superbly trained team has managed to present the common hot dog on an entirely new level. Not only has the team created a true gourmet treat out of a simple combination of a bun and a frankfurter, but HODOK has become an event in and of itself, as the tactic is to only serve it four hours a week (yes, you read that correctly), every Wednesday from 10am to 2pm. “The whole of Ljubljana gathers here!” say the locals, from well-known Slovenian actors, artists, olympic athletes, businessmen, lots of top DJs… We could go on about what sort of rabble wanders into HODOK, as their version of hot dog has been named.
The team has let us in on some of the good-to-know secrets:
“The buns are made for us by a local bakery from the Vič neighbourhood. We offer four kinds of HODOK, each with its own base - the Vegedok’s is a seasonal squash (may that be zucchini, cucurbita, butternut, or whichever can be found at the market at the time), the Flerinka got its name after the local butcher, renowned for his veal frankfurters, the DeLuxe has a spicy sausage from Safet, a well known butcher and grill master, and finally there’s the Klasik, made with a chicken frankfurter, which we cannot give up on, since it is the one that got us into the hot dog business. And somehow people cannot pass on the chicken.”
And the hodoker ritual goes something like this: you pay Žiga the boss or his wife Petra, you get a coupon and go on to the next person in the team, where a bun baked to a golden crisp awaits you. Then you choose among the numerous spreads - Macedonian ajvar (pepper spread), Slovenian and Austrian mustard, horseradish, homemade salsa, a colourful choice of fresh chilli, both fresh and sauteed onions, tomatoes, and the Slovene version of the sauerkraut… There are many permanent sides, but sometimes those more seasonal drop in, like cracknels, scallions, grated horseradish, grilled zucchini, …”
This is truly an inside event, and your visit will incur the envy of every friend who has visited Ljubljana only through guidebooks.