Usually known for its striking landscapes and thermal pools, Reykjavik is also quickly becoming a foodie hotspot. Despite its small size, the world’s most northerly capital is home to a totally unique dining scene.
Seafood naturally dominates the menus of this waterside city but there are a few culinary surprises, too. The gastro brave can try local delicacies, such as fermented shark and reindeer burgers, while rye bread sandwiches and lamb hot dogs are better choices for the fainthearted.
No matter what you’re in the mood for, we’re sure you’ll be tempted by the best restaurants in Reykjavik.
Best for Icelandic: Matur og Drykkur
Housed in an old salt fish factory near Reykjavik’s harbour, this quirky setting oozes local history. Matur og Drykkur is all about traditional Icelandic cuisine with a few surprises thrown in for good measure.
Cod’s head is one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes, but veggies are catered for too, with a delicious set menu that’s packed full of flavour.
Best for breakfast: Grái Kötturrin
Grái Kötturrin, also known as ‘the Grey Cat’, is a teeny 50s-style café which consists of only six tables. This hidden-away haunt is regularly filled with local artists and writers enjoying a quick breakfast while searching for some inspiration.
Grab a seat and devour pancakes drizzled with syrup and cream cheese bagels or try the crispy bacon and eggs on thick, buttery slices of toast. Wash your chosen dish down with a strong coffee or fresh orange juice. Before leaving, leaf through the eclectic books that are dotted throughout the café.
Best for fine dining: Dill
In 2017, Dill was the first eatery in Iceland to be awarded a Michelin star, so come here expecting fine food. You’ll find this high-class restaurant inside a former barn in downtown Reykjavik. Each week, head chef Kári þorsteinsson devises a new seven-course menu which embraces Icelandic staples and seasonal flavours.
You’re certainly in for a treat – his innovative approach to traditions creates mouth-watering dishes, even more delicious when paired with complementary wines. The Scandi-style interior provides the perfect backdrop to your meal and tops off the whole experience.
Best for lunch: Jómfrúin
For more than 20 years, Jómfrúin has been serving some of the best smørrebrød in Iceland. Smørrebrød is a Danish open sandwich, made from dense buttered rye bread, topped with quality cuts of meat, fish or cheese and garnishes. You can alter the combinations to feature all your favourite things.
This traditional Scandinavian dish is the perfect choice for lunch. If you’re after the true smørrebrød experience, toast with a glass of schnapps as you dine. “Cheers” or “Skál” as they say in Iceland!
Best for street food: Hlemmur Food Hall
Hlemmur Food Hall is the perfect solution if you can’t decide what you’re in the mood for. This quirky venue hosts ten individual vendors that offer a huge variety of cuisines.
Choose from fish tacos, Scandi-style sandwiches, Vietnamese street food and divine pizzas among many others! There’s also a bakery, coffee shop, ice cream parlour, fresh food market and a traditional bar. It’s got everything you could possibly want under one roof!
Best bakery: Braud & Co
This intriguing bakehouse sits on Frakkastígur, a street in downtown Reykjavik, just off Laugavegur, the city’s main shopping spot. You’ll certainly smell it before you see it, as a delicious and sweet aroma draws you through its doors.
Once inside, you’ll see mounds of fresh produce that’s baked on site. There’s a tempting line-up of giant vegan pretzels, seeded sourdough loaves, sweet croissants, wholemeal pumpkin seed breads and hearty rustic loaves.
The giant cinnamon swirls are also not to be missed. These deliciously doughy buns are soft and squishy on the inside with a slight crunch on the outside and a generous dusting of powdered sugar on top. If you time it right, you might be lucky to get one straight from the oven!
Best for fusion food: Mai Thai
Spice up your trip with a visit to Mai Thai. This family-run Reykjavik restaurant prides itself on serving authentic Asian and Thai dishes that are packed with flavour. Simply order at the bar, take a seat, check out the quirky birdcage lights on the ceiling, then tuck into your made-to-order bowl of deliciousness. Or, if you’re on the go, you can enjoy all its dishes to take away.
Looking for snacks to accompany your busy day of sightseeing? The on-site supermarket is filled with all sorts of weird and wonderful treats to keep you going.
Best for seafood: Messinn
Open for lunch and dinner, this traditional seafood restaurant is a cosy haven away from the busy streets serving fresh fish every day. The pan-fried fish is the dish to try, accompanied by buttery potatoes and fresh veggies. Choose from salmon, plaice, redfish and Arctic char, which will be served directly to your table in the pan it’s cooked in. Vegan and gluten free options are also available.
The nautical elements make you feel like you’re aboard a ship, with a porthole that looks into the kitchen and murals of the sea that have been hand-painted onto the walls.
Best for pizza: Flatey
This hip hangout near the Old Harbour is a sure hit with pizza lovers. Flatey’s Neapolitan-style pizzas are cooked in only one minute at around 500°C. Go traditional with a Margherita or try the Tartufo which is topped with Icelandic potatoes and ricotta cheese and drizzled with rich truffle oil.
If you’ve managed to save room for dessert, try the indulgent Nutella pizza that features a generous covering of chocolate spread and a sprinkling of almond chips and icing sugar.
Best for burgers: Roadhouse
Craving American-style comfort food in Iceland’s capital? The best restaurant in Reykjavik for the job is Roadhouse. With a huge selection of gourmet burgers on the menu, you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing your meal.
Their special burgers feature everything from mac and cheese to fried eggs and even a sugar doughnut! All the sauces and spice mixes are made from scratch too, so each recipe is totally unique. Fancy a freakshake to round off your meal? Here, a thick milkshake is embellished with a chocolate doughnut, rocky road brownie, cream and chocolate syrup.
Feeling hungry? Check out these delicious Reykjavik restaurants for yourself on a magical trip with Jet2CityBreaks.
Posted: 18th Apr 2019.