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 Tasting Menu
Inside Sumac, Laugavegur 28
An intimate dining experience unlike any other, Óx seats only 12 diners each night in an intimate chef’s table setting. There is little room for error in this gastronomic drama where everything unfolds in full view. Whole roasted duck carved exquisitely, whole grilled monkfish passed family style, delicate morsels of langoustine paired with beers and wines, all while you chat away with the chefs and fellow diners. The intimacy heightens the experience, and as the wine pours it starts to feel like you know each other well. Once the dust settles, it’s time to leave and you do so a tad bit shaken as you walk out from the tiny timber cabin into the bustling Sumac.
Turning the tasting menu concept on its head, Dill features a singular seafood and/or meat across multiple courses in order to really honour the produce in its entirety. Expect to be dazzled by the foreplay—the onion cake is gaining rightful notoriety as is the wine pairing, in that there is no pairing at all, but ‘a’ wine to accompany a selection of dishes, allowing you to discern for yourself what pairing you enjoy best.
Whether it is land-, sea- or a vegetable-forward tasting you want to experience, you’re in safe hands at Matur og Drykkur. Each menu is a considered study and showcases Iceland’s best produce—foal, reindeer, cod and lamb all make an appearance. The progression between courses is well portioned and well timed, and you’ll leave with a sense of having explored the island’s culinary landscape.
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