The Best of Reykjavík 2012: Drinking and Nightlife

19.7.2012
Words by the usual gang of idiots
Best place to drink like a pro: Anywhere on Frakkastígur

If your plan is getting shitfaced by yourself and forgetting all about the outside world and its various pressures by drowning yourself in watery beer, you need look no further than Frakkastígur. The street has slowly but surely established itself as a haven for the modern drunkard, with Live Pub (Karaoke Sports Bar), Bar 7 and Obla Di forming a glorious trifecta of misfortune and broken dreams. The drinks are cheap, the opening hours are sporadic and the clientele is non-judgmental, so head on down to Frakkastígur for that ‘lost weekend’ you’ve been dreaming of...

(2011: Kaffi Grand

2010: Live Pub

2009: Grand Rokk)


Best mainstreamer bar: The English Pub

The Grapevine is not exactly super mainstream, but we think a mainstreamer bar is one that appeals to a wide range of people and plays music that appeals to the masses, featuring for instance cover bands and troubadours playing lots of Bubbi songs. English Pub fits the bill pretty well. However, the Lebowski Bar—formerly Oliver—was a really, really close second.

Runner-up: The Lebowski Bar

(2011: The English Pub

2010: Austur)


Best place to start the night: KEX Hostel

A lot of people like KEX Hostel’s bar for starting their nights these days. One correspondent remarked that “KEX have very decent beer on tap, their back porch is nice for soaking up the sun on bright days and the bar food is affordable and tasty. I also always meet someone fun when I’m there, whether it’s an old friend or a tourist passing through town.” Others commend KEX for their regularly scheduled events and pleasant, low-key atmosphere. In any case, it’s a winner.  

(2011: Nýlenduvöruverzlun Hemma & Valda

2010: Nýlenduvörverzlun Hemma & Valda)


Runners-up: Snaps, Laundromat, Nýlenduvöruverzlun Hemma & Valda

Best cheap bar: 
Ölsmiðjan

A sort of miniature version of Berlin seems to be forming at Lækjargata 10, 101 Reykjavík, with a somewhat authentic kebab joint in the basement (Kebab Grill, see: “Best kebab”) and a cheap dive bar on the second floor. Hip young locals have been spotted flocking to Ölsmiðjan lately, likely drawn to the watery 590 ISK beers and one another’s authentic company. “Not that I’d go there sober or anything,” one reader remarked, “but Ölsmiðjan can be really fun with the right crowd, despite the horrible beer.”

Runners-up: Esja (“every drink is half-off until 22:00”), Nýlenduvöruverzlun Hemma & Valda (“great happy hour, good music”).  

(2011: Den Danske Kro

2010: Kaffi Zimsen

2009: Nýlenduvöruverzlun Hemma & Valda)


Best all-around bar: Faktorý

This was a close race between Bakkus and Faktorý (Kaffibarinn is not in the running, as it’s a nightlife institution). Bakkus won it last year, but the bar has since moved to a new location and it seems that people aren’t as into it. Faktorý, on the other hand, is gaining popularity. “This is one of my favourite places because you never know what kind of night you’ll have,” one of our nightlife enthusiasts noted. “They have samba, hip hop, and nineties nights, for instance.” Some say it’s the closest to a substitute for our newly departed club, NASA. “And they have that GIANT pool table outside,” someone added. Word of caution: If you go out for a smoke, you’ll have to the back of the queue, which can be terribly long after 2 AM.

Best bar to go dancing: Bakkus

Even though not everyone loves their new location, Bakkus still runs an ambitious booking policy, serving up great DJs and fresh music on weekends and weeknights alike. “Once I get past a certain level of drunkenness, I always find myself grinding against Bakkus’ walls for some reason. That must mean something,” remarked one commenter.  

Runner-up: Faktorý, no-one (“there is a real shortage of good clubs in Reykjavík”)

(new category)

Best newcomer bar: Slippbarinn, Hótel Marína

This is a hotel bar located by harbour. It’s in a cool and underrated part of Reykjavík, namely the Grandi area, and they have a nice selection of drinks and appetisers. Those of us who live in the west side of town find it an especially convenient place to start the night. Read more on page 50.

(2011: Faktorý,

2010: Sódóma)


Best place to watch sports over beer: Úrilla Górillan

Hvíta Perlan won this category the last two years in a row. Hvíta Perlan is now closed, but Úrilla Górillan has opened in its place and in many ways it’s just like Hvíta Perlan so it’s not surprising that it takes best place to watch sports over a beer this year. It’s a restaurant and sports bar with constant streaming of live sports. People who like to watch sports over a beer tell us that it’s simply the best. “They have a huge screen, and they have lots of them, and it’s really comfortable, and you get a seat with your very own personal tap at your table, so you don’t have to get up to order!” someone who doesn’t even watch sports excitedly told us.

(2011: Hvíta Perlan,

2010: Hvíta Perlan,

2009: Bjarni Fel)


Best beer selection: Micro Bar

While most bars in Reykjavík are content to sell run of the mill “bjór,” Micro Bar prides itself in having an excellent selection of excellent beers on draft and by the bottle. The place just opened inside Center Hotel a few months ago and we’re pretty into it. They carry all of Iceland’s wonderful microbrews and import fine beer and liquor that you’re not going to see anywhere else in town. Read more about it on page 42.

(New category)

Best place to get cocktails: Kolabrautin

Lebowski Bar might make 150 types of White Russians, but like most bars in Iceland, it is lacking a diverse cocktail menu. People overwhelmingly go to bars to drink beer after all. Hótel Marína, Hótel 101 and Harpa’s Kolabrautin seem to be the best places to get cocktails. After some back and forth about this, we decided that Kolabrautin should get the award. Their lipstick pink cocktail, the house cocktail, is to DIE FOR and Harpa is just a really awesome building to be inside. The bar doesn’t stay open super late, but it’s a swanky place to get a before dinner drink.

Runner-up: Hotel 101 (“It’s loaded with people at happy hour. They know how to make them.”)

(New category)



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