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!
Ásmundarsalur, Freyjugata 41
While Reykjavík Roasters’ mothership is undeniably at Brautarholt 2, it’s hard to beat the serene elegance of their Ásmundarsalur setting. Built in 1933 by one of Iceland’s most beloved sculptors, predictably, the building is a sculptor’s dream and filled with natural light. According to our panel: “It’s that proper third wave coffee millennial cup plus a privately-owned art space.”
A cafe and lunch spot, this cute little French import is endearing. More substantial than being just a caffeine fix, the freshly baked scones are what you should be after here. We are particularly partial to the goat cheese with spinach. Washed down with some excellent brews and a neat little selection of coffee, it makes for pleasant people-watching and tummy pleasing.
One of those “blink and you miss it” neighbourhood cafés that make the humans huddled in Reykjavík’s snowy embrace feel they’re living in a vibrant metropolis. “It’s cute, and with a nice lunch deal. I especially love the soup,” one of our panellists offered. Part café, part cactus sanctuary, this is one for all you wallflowers out there.
2018: Kaffihús Vesturbæjar
2017: Reykjavík Roasters
2015: Kaffihús Vesturbæjar
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