Best restaurants for Icelandic cuisine
There are plenty of restaurants in Reykjavik, influenced by many different cultures. But one of the fun parts about Iceland is to discover the local cuisine. Here's a list of restaurants where you find traditional Icelandic cuisine at its best. The list starts with the cheaper “fast food” and cafés and ends with one of the best restaurants in Reykjavik.
There is no other way to say it, Bæjarins bestu is a hut that sells hot dogs. It also happens to be the most popular hot dog stand in Iceland. The menu is very simple, hot dogs in a bun and you can choose from the typical toppings, mustard, ketchup, remoulade, fried or fresh onion.
Cold or warm weather, there is always someone grabbing a bite at Bæjarins bestu. Photo: Ómar Óskarsson
Perhaps one of the most peculiar restaurants in Reykjavik, Fljót og gott serves burgers, sandwiches, pan fried lamb chops and lamb’s heads. There’s a combo available, lambs head with mashed rutabaga, mashed potatoes and a large coke. You can even pick it up in a drive through on you way home from partying in central Reykjavik, as the restaurant is open 24 hours on Friday and Saturday.
Address: Vatnsmýrarvegur 10
Any Icelandic grandmother would proudly serve the Kaffi Loki’s food at a family feast, rye bread with smoked salmon, herring, skyr cakes, Icelandic pancakes, kleina (fried deliciousness) and so on. They also serve some of the best Icelandic meat soup in Reykjavik, and if you are brave enough to try the infamous fermented shark, this is one of the places you can get it. One of the most delightful and unique dishes on the however is the Icelandic rye bread ice cream.
Address: Lokastígur 28
Rye bread ice cream with rye bread open faced sandwiches at Kaffi Loki Photo: Jon Pall Vilhelmsson 2013
There are many traditional Icelandic dishes that go with certain days of the year. Múlakaffi is the place where the people of Reykjavik go to get this food, if they can’t or won’t cook it themselves. On other days their menu consists of everyday traditional Icelandic food.
Address: Hallarmúli 1
Located in Grandi, the new favourite destination of Icelandic foodies, Kaffivagninn serves traditional Icelandic and Scandinavian dishes and baked goods. Kaffivagnin has a long history, and for years it was sought mostly by sailors, as it stands on the docks. It’s been in the same family for decades and the newest owners took over in 2013. They did not change much, the biggest adaption was to offer wine and gluten/lactose free meals.
Address: Grandagarður 10
Old Iceland takes traditional Icelandic ingredients and serves them in according to present day fashion. There is a traditional Icelandic meat soup on the menu, but the chefs also serve pasta, shellfish soup, scallops and more that hasn't been a part of the diet in Iceland for more than a few decades.
Address: Laugavegur 72
There are more sheep in Iceland than people, lamb is on the menu of almost every restaurant. Photo: Old Iceland
Chef Úlfar Eysteinsson’s restaurant, Þrír frakkar has been a key element in the Icelandic culinary scene since it opened in 1989. Eysteinsson is primarily known for cooking fish, which is the main ingredient on the menu at Þrír frakkar. The menu lists everything from Icelandic specialties like plokkfiskur, (hashed fish with rye bread) horse, whale and wild guillemot (a bird that lives on the coast of Iceland and feeds in the sea) to tuna and French onion soup.
Address: Baldursgata 14
The name comes from the bible of traditional Icelandic cuisine, Matur og drykkur by Helga Sigurðardóttir. The aim is to take old Icelandic recipes and giving them a very modern spin. And the result is unique and one of the most interesting ways to enjoy Icelandic cuisine. It’s also one of the highest rated restaurants in Reykjavik, listed as the seventh best in Iceland by The White Guide.
Address: Grandagarður 2