Good Food in Iceland
Food in Iceland can suit any budget, from a delicious 3 euro hot dog to a multi-course meal from an award-winning restaurant. There is truly something for everyone!
If you are looking to save some money, you can stop at a Bonus store (logo has a cross-eyed pig) to pick up groceries for your trip. They usually open at 10am and close between 6-8pm.
Be sure to try out some Icelandic specialties, such as lamb and seafood, during your trip. The fish is extremely fresh and brought in daily from local fishing village. Reykjavik also has a wonderful selection of options for dining out.
Originally opened in 1937, Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, a red-and-white hot-dog stand near the harbor, was rated the best hot dog stand in Europe a few years ago by the British newspaper the Guardian. The stand (the name translates to “the best hot dog in town”) is a Reykjavik institution; expect a line regardless of whether it’s before sunrise or after. Whatever the hour, order one with everything: fried onions, raw onions, ketchup, rémoulade, sweet Icelandic mustard.
Icelandic Fish and Chips - a great spot for lunch or dinner. It’s an organic bistro offering amazing fish and chips. We absolutely loved the food here.
For mid-afternoon drink and snacks, check out Tapas Barinn or Tapas Húsið for Spanish-Icelandic fusion cuisine.
The Noodle Station serves up a great value meal. Big steaming bowls of oriental noodle soups, served with chicken, lamb or veggies.
For an indulgent evening dinner, try Grillmarkadurinn. A beautiful modern space with decor inspired by Icelandic nature. They use fresh and seasonal ingredients to create innovative dishes combining scandinavian and asian influences. It's sister restaurant, Sjavargrillid (Seafood Grill), is another spot for a sampling of the best of Scandinavian cuisine. Their menu feature a variety of meats, seafood and vegetarian options to suite everyone’s tastes.
Dill is ranked alongside the previous two as one of the best restaurants in Reykjavik. Its chef, Gunnar Karl Gislason, is a pioneer in the contemporary Nordic food movement, having introduced new Nordic cuisine to his nation. While his dishes are decidedly modern, what really makes Gislason’s cuisine sing is his commitment to local producers and Icelandic traditions that are quickly being forgotten in the wake of industrialization. Service is impeccable, as is the wine and cocktail selection.
The best place to shop for traditional Icelandic foods from all the scary things you hear about like fermented shark and pickled lamb testicles to more appetizing items like pastries, dulse and cheese is Kolaportid, just steps from Reykjavik's harbour. The indoor food market is located next door to Iceland's biggest flea market, which is fun to peruse for hip Nordic style at a discount, offbeat Scandinavian music and all the Icelandic kitsch that space in your suitcase will allow. The food market vendors offer tastings galore and while horse sausage might not be your thing, addictive Icelandic birch cheese just might be.
Kex means biscuit in Icelandic and this is an appropriate name for this former biscuit factory overlooking Reykjavik’s harbour. The industrial hostel and gastropub’s vibe feels like the Ace Hotel’s Reykjavik extension. The rooms are trendy and sophisticated, with Icelandic wool blankets and kitschy art on the walls. But it’s the food that keeps locals, and the visiting trendsetters who flock to Iceland each summer, coming back for more. The taps pour local beer brewed with Icelandic ingredients like angelica and arctic thyme and the menu is comprised of fresh salads, pristine seafood and Icelandic lamb burgers.
Reykjavik Roasters serves the best coffee in Iceland. Its co-owners are internationally award-winning roasters who view their work as an art rather than just a job. One of its owners, an Icelandic native, was trained to roast beans at The Coffee Collective in Copenhagen — Denmark’s best coffee shop. He was the only non-Danish person ever allowed to do so and his years of diligent work paid off now that he’s back home, resulting in silky rich coffee that locals and in-the-know tourists return for again and again. The corner space is just a few blocks from Reykjavik’s iconic church Hallgrímskirkja, making it an ideal stop during a day of sightseeing.
TRADITIONAL ICELANDIC FOOD
Skyr (a smooth and thick yogurt/cheese)
Hangikjot (smoked lamb)
Pylsur (hot dog)
Rúgbrauð (dark, dense rye bread)
Plokkfiskur (fish stew)