April 13, 2018
I heard about the Tabay Brothers long before I went there, but by the time I tried to make my first visit they’d already moved out of my comfort zone, aka the very centre of town, out to the relative hinterlands of Bežigrad, next to the World Trade Centre, necessitating a taxi, bus or bike – and who travels for a burger?
But this week the stars aligned and I had an appointment nearby, so I fired up the Urbana card (find out how to get one here), sat on a number 20 bus, dealt with business and then retired for an early lunch of a cheeseburger, fries and beer at the fabled joint, hidden off the main road but easy enough to find amid the row of cafés and stores that serve those who come to work or visit the WTC.
The brothers at work at an open-air event
One thing to note from the start is that this isn’t a faux sibling affair or some chain with a fake handmade feel, as Tomislav and Marko are right there, live and in person, not only standing behind the product but making, cooking and serving it too, then cleaning up the tables when the customers have gone.
The menu is meaty and relatively long, with a smoker out front to provide the pulled pork, ribs and so on. As always on these ventures, and to keep a level playing field, I ordered the basic cheeseburger (4.90 EUR for the American Classic), fries (2.00) and a step up from Laško / Union, which on this occasion was a Union unfiltered (2.50 - so a competive 9.40 in total). Other more interesting beers are on the menu, but none were in the fridge on my visit, although it should be noted that I was there at a little before noon, and so perhaps before deliveries had been made and almost certainly before a beer should be ordered.
But I’d gotten up early, was lunching beside the relatively cosmopolitan WTC on a sunny day, with a clear view of snow-capped mountains from my seat, 10 EUR on my Urbana and a new contract just secured for an interesting project that would pay a week’s rent. If this didn’t call for a beer at 11:58, what did?
The burger was thick and juicy, the patty made by the brothers themselves. The bread was thick too, and soft, good for absorbing the juices and keeping things less messy than expected. There was some lettuce to provide health and vitality, while the pickle was sharp and the BBQ sauce was tangy, and it all came on a real plate, rather than a plastic tray with a piece of paper on top (which is fine, but different).
I ordered medium rare but the burger wasn’t pink inside, so maybe order rare if that’s your preference. The fries were good too, and enough for the meal, though a little over-salted for my taste. With regard to condiments, the tray came with small dish of ketchup, and there was hot sauce on the table.
In short -- while I wouldn’t get on a bus just to come here, if I ever have business in the area again then I’ll be sure to schedule things with an eye to getting another burger from the brothers, and I’ll certainly be giving them consideration whenever they have a stall at one of the open-air markets they visit around the country.
For now, the one and only Tabay Brothers can be found at Palmejeva ulica, Ljubljana 1000. They’re open from 11:00–19:00 Monday to Wednesday, until 22:00 Thursday to Saturday, opening at noon on the latter, and are closed on Sundays. This weekend (April 14 and 15, 2018) you can also find them at the 10th Pivo & Burger Fest in Ljubljana (read more here).
Other stories in this series can be found here.