When it comes to planning your trip, selecting good restaurants is sometimes the trickiest part. It’s often hard to tell, based on the restaurant’s website and reviews, whether it’s good or if it’s simply a tourist trap. I’m a true foodie that has lived in Reykjavik for most of my life, so I’m going to share with you a few restaurants me and my friends love—and are far from being tourist traps.
The casual chic interior of Snaps Bistro. Photo. www.snaps.is.
Snaps became an instant hit when it opened in 2012. Serving mostly french delicacies (charcuterie, moules frites and comfort food such as croque madame), the restaurant attracted Icelanders that were ready to leave the 2008 economic crisis behind and eat out at an interesting new restaurant.
The atmosphere is chic, yet casual, and the food is always delicious. If you’re looking for a weekend brunch, Snaps is also a fantastic spot. I just noticed that they have added Smurbrauð (Scandinavian open-faced sandwiches) to their menu, which is something I would definitely try if I were traveling to a Nordic country,
The place is usually busy, so if you’re looking for a quiet place, you might want to consider other options.
Menu highlights: Moules frites, bacalá provincial, confit de canard.
Atmosphere: Chic, casual, French
Do I have to make a reservation? Yes
Are there options for vegans/vegetarians? Not really
The surprisingly yummy pizza with rucola, boiled potatoes and truffle-mayo. Travelade/Nína.
This amazing pizza place has no name and is sometimes referred as “The Pizza Place With No Name”. This upscale pizza-place opened just a few years ago and quickly became one of Reykjavik’s most popular restaurants, despite being kind of mysterious and not having a name!
The best thing about this place is the bakers’ creative approach when it comes to toppings. You will probably be surprised when you browse through the menu, even a bit shocked. For instance you’ll find a pizza topped with green apples, celery and dill and another one topped with coriander, soya, sesame dressing, pork and cashew nuts. I’ve had most of the pizzas and it’s safe to say that they are all very good.
Upstairs there is a hip little bar named after the Danish beer brand Mikkeler & Friends. They serve dozens of different craft beers on tap and I would say there’s a lot of experimentalism going on in that department too.
Menu highlights: Pizza with boiled potatoes, truffle-mayo and rucola.
Atmosphere: Intimate, cozy, hip.
Do I have to make a reservation? Yes, preferably,
Are there options for vegans/vegetarians? Yes, there is a vegan pizza on the menu as well as some vegetarian pizzas.
Location: Hverfisgata 12
The catch of the day. Photo/Ostabúðin Facebook.
Ostabúðin, which translates into “The Cheese Shop”, is a gourmet deli/restaurant that specialises in Icelandic cheeses. The restaurant used to be one of the best kept secrets of the Reykjavik food scene, but it has increased in popularity for the past couple of years. It remained completely off the tourist radar until recently but now the crowd is a mixture of local gourmets and tourists.
Ostabúðin is conveniently located on Skólavörðustígur in the very heart of the city and is a fantastic option for a hungry traveler, both at lunchtime or dinner.
Menu highlights: Charcuterie/cheese platter, the catch of the day.
Atmosphere: Relaxed, friendly.
Do I have to make a reservation? Preferably.
Are there options for vegans/vegetarians? Yes.
Location: Skólavörðustígur 8
Gratinated goat cheese, crackers and jam. I would gladly eat this every day. Travelade/Nina.
Hlemmur is Reykjavik’s largest bus station. It used to be a hangout for drunks and delinquent youths, but it was dramatically renovated last summer and is now a hip food court with different restaurants, bars a bakery and a café. You can either go for some gourmet stuff or grab something faster and cheaper, such as a taco or a Vietnamese Bánh mì.
I would personally recommend grabbing the avocado sourdough sandwich at Borðið, which is one of the restaurants at Hlemmur. I’m also crazy about the small plates served at Skál!, especially the buffalo-fried goat cheese cauliflower. Skál! also offers a wide selection of cocktails and beers – and the traditional Icelandic hot dog if that’s what you’re craving.
If you have a hard time deciding what to have for dinner while you’re in Iceland, Hlemmur is your go-to-place. Take a moment to stroll around and I can promise you that you’ll find something you fancy pretty quickly.
Menu highlights: Buffalo cauliflower or gratinated goat cheese with jam at Skál!.
Atmosphere: Casual, hip, trendy, relaxed.
Do I have to make a reservation? No.
Are there options for vegans/vegetarians? Plenty.