The year 2019 wasn’t kind to many restaurateurs. Let’s be honest, it’s a tough business. Nevertheless, Iceland’s culinary scene is seeing the emergence of new players and the old guard stepping up their A-game. Restaurants continue to diversify; we’ve got ourselves an izakaya inspired spot, while tasting menus are being questioned and reinterpreted. The scope of “Icelandic cuisine” is broadening to include not just produce and products but also their sourcing and seasonal integrity on this harsh island by players big and small. Whether it is globally recognised Nordic fine-dining or fragrant Thai curries, traditional Icelandic cuisine or family-friendly sushi, to everything in-between, this guide to the best of everything Reykjavík has to offer has been hand-picked by our exacting panel of passionate gourmands. From budget bites to fanciful fare, we’ve got you covered. Skál!
Best Cheap Meal
Lækjargata 8 & Laugavegur 85
Plokkfiskur, a fish stew cooked with boiled potatoes and bechamel, is traditionally eaten with heavily buttered rugbrauð (dark, dense rye bread) and is on everyone’s must-try list when they visit Iceland. At Icelandic Street Food you can have all this and more—shellfish soup, traditional kjötsúpa (lamb soup), the aforementioned ‘Fisherman’s Special’, hjónabandssæla (rhubarb-oatmeal crumble pie) and pancakes for about 2000 ISK. The clincher, however, is that buying one shellfish soup allows you to have a refill of the lamb soup, and then the fish and then the desserts and it goes on! Simply put, an impossible offer to beat. The barnyard funk is especially ambient as you sit and sip on your lamb soup like a farmer of yore.
A dark horse amongst Skeifan’s many food joints is 108 Matur with a refreshing spin on Icelandic lunch buffets. Embracing the Soviet canteen like disciplined, sustenance only vibe, it is ,“honest old school construction but with extra flair” like the fresh green peas in lieu of canned Öra, with a flurry of fresh dill. Pick your main course (vegan available too!) from the rotational menu, and the salads, sauces and all other accompaniments are unlimited. Coffee and cake seal the deal.
You’d be hard pressed to find a cuter food truck with prices as little as 350 ISK. Chinese Flavour lives up to its name, offering us a taste of Beijing-style street fare. There is a hearty scallion pancake, dumplings and baos. What you shouldn’t leave without however are the cumin salt rubbed lamb skewers, cooked to order, and a chat with the friendly proprietors.
2019: Lamb Street Food
2018: Icelandic Street Food
2017: Bike Cave
2016: Noodle Station
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