If you were searching for a hot new culinary destination, looking to Reykjavik restaurants for an answer might not be your first instinct.
It wasn’t mine either but the Icelandic capital quickly proved me wrong. From freshly caught fish to fermented shark, from American burgers to the most delectable White Russians you will ever taste, there are restaurants to suit any palate.
There are places to suit any budget but if you are looking for one that will not make you want to cry when you get the bill, be warned that they are few and far between.
The good news is that Iceland is worth the money – particularly these top ten best places to eat in Reykjavik!
1. Cafe Loki
During your stay in Reykjavik you should check out Cafe Loki, located opposite the famous Hallgrímskirkja church.
My friend Tom and I opted for their pragmatically named “Icelandic plate II”, which consisted of two rye bread slices – one with mashed fish and the other with smoked trout – as well as flatbread with smoked lamb, pieces of dried fish with butter and a few pieces of fermented shark.
If you shudder at the thought of eating what is sometimes also referred to as rotten shark, rest assured that eating it is even worse than just imagining it. Regardless, the experience is definitely worth it.
Address: Café Loki, Lokastígur, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
2. Chuck Norris Grill
Under normal circumstances I probably wouldn’t have visited Chuck Norris Grill during my trip. I certainly didn’t go to Iceland to eat burgers – probably the most ubiquitous food in the world. I went to Iceland to experiment and experience!
But a little sign in front of the restaurant caught my eye. It read: “Free burgers all day!” I went in, expecting a catch – but there was none. Just one of the most delicious burgers ever! My mouth is watering just thinking about it. This is definitely one worth visiting for the meat lovers.
Address: Chuck Norriss Grill, Laugavegur 30, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
3. Noodle Station
First burgers and now noodles… You must think I’ve gone mad! Where’s all the Icelandic food? Don’t worry, it’s coming.
But Noodle Station is a great option for those who are travelling on a budget and also a popular hangout spot for local students. The food is delicious, filling and healthy so there’s no reason to say no!
Address: Noodle Station, Skólavörðustígur 21a, Reykjavík, Iceland
4. Icelandic Bar
Called simply the Icelandic Bar (Íslenski Barinn), this laidback gastropub has plenty of wonderful food and beer on offer.
I only visited the place at night, but Jennifer of “Made All The Difference” assures me that they also sell delectable little portions of local fare like puffin, whale, Icelandic cheese, lamb and herring.
I feel obliged to point out that there is a lot of controversy surrounding puffin and whale hunting. Please do your research before ordering either of these! You can read up on puffin hunting and whale hunting – it’s your choice whether to eat them or not, but it’s important to make it an informed one.
Address: Íslenski Barinn, Internal Ingolfsstraeti 1a, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
5. Tapas Barinn
Tapas Barinn, despite its Spanish sounding name, is one of the best Reykjavik restaurants to visit if you’d like to sample some traditional Icelandic cuisine… with a modern twist.
Prepare yourself for delicacies like sea trout with pepper salsa, lobster tails with garlic, grilled lamb with blueberry brennivín sauce and also the controversial duo of puffin and whale.
Address: Tapas barinn, Vesturgata 3b, Fischersund, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
6. Lebowski Bar
Lebowski Bar is modelled after “Big Lebowski” aka the film that made White Russians into a cool socially acceptable cocktail, lulling us into believing they are more than just flavoured milk for adults.
The bar has a whole menu of them here, with highlights like the Treehugger with soy milk and a very strong coffee-infused one whose name I forgot after two and a half sips. But that’s not all! The place also sells burgers and chicken wings, which alone merit a visit.
Address: Lebowski Bar, Laugavegur 2a, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
7.The Laundromat Cafe
This place was suggested to me by Emily from The Cosy Traveller. She says: “For a slice of style while you tuck into your meals, head to The Laundromat Cafe. As the name suggests, the cafe doubles up as a place to do your laundry, but this is no shabby high street shop.
Upstairs, the cafe itself is colourful and airy, featuring posters of old maps, framed photos of retro laundromats and books of all colours of the rainbow beneath the bar. Drop by for breakfast, lunches, snacks and drinks, and enjoy authentic Icelandic home produce such as salmon and skyr dessert. You won’t regret it.”
Address: The Laundromat Cafe, Austurstræti 9, Austurstræti, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Laura of Savored Journeys recommends Grillmarkaðurinn (Grill Market) as one of her favourite Reykjavik restaurantss. “It’s in a really modern space with elements of wood, fire and water that makes for a unique dining experience.
The menu is extensive and includes things like tenderloin of horse, a trio of sliders with minke whale, puffin and lingoustine, and monkfish, which are all things we can’t get back home.”
Address: Grillmarkaðurinn, Lækjargata 2A, 101 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
9. Fish Market
Diane from “Wife With Baggage” has another great tip – Fish Market. According to her, it’s “casual dining with a twist. While the ambiance and vibe are casual, the food is exciting. If you enjoy fish you will love the freshness and flavors of their menu.
Order at the counter, pour your own glass of water and wait to be served your drinks and entrees by their great staff at the table of your choice. The locals and the tourists are here and the conversations are as great as the food!”
Address: Fish Market (Fiskmarkaðurinn), Aðalstræti, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Diane gave me another amazing recommendation. “Kopar,” she tells me, “is a waterfront establishment focused on using Icelandic ingredients. Seafood is the star, but lamb and beef dishes are strong supporting actors.
Fresh food, creative combinations and a drink and dessert menu to knock your socks off, this female owned and run restaurant is a must-do when in Reykjavik.”
That sounds exactly like Girl vs Globe – female owned and run, creative and ready to knock everyone’s socks off…
Address: Kopar Restaurant, Geirsgata 3, Reykjavík, Iceland
What do you think of these Reykjavik restaurants? Were you aware that Iceland was a great culinary destination? Do you have any tips on the best places to eat in Reykjavik?