While the pandemic shows no sign of abating, Iceland’s food and beverage industry seems to be surging ahead on a combination of hope, optimism and high spirits despite the many challenges posed by COVID. In a year full of uncertainties, restaurants old and new showed us what resilience looks like. Take-away took on a whole new meaning with at-home meal kits being offered up by celebrated chefs, marked-down menus becoming commonplace and spirited underground deliveries brightened many evenings.
Our expert panel of gourmands were hand-picked for their dedication to food—these people eat out way more than one should and can sift the mojo from the mayo with ease. While it has been a difficult year, the winners rose to the challenge, and how! Adversity does bring out the best in some and this year we are delighted to shine light on our out-of-town superstars who often eclipse their Reykjavík counterparts by miles. So sit tight, and let us help you navigate these gastronomic waters, be it the hottest burger in town or the most memorable dining experience of your life.
“It is their way, and no other way,” our panel notes wryly about Ban Thai’s curt approach to adjusting spice levels (no, they don’t do it) or warm service, (no, don’t come looking for that, either). That said, an institution doesn’t rest on its laurels and Ban Thai isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. Sure, their appetizers might sometimes miss the mark and leave you wondering if they have lost their mojo. But as a die-hard panellist expands, “stick to what they do best, which is Southern Thai fare, and you are in for an experience.”
Does Mai Thai make their curries from scratch? Probably not. Do they make the best Pad Thai in town? A resounding yes. But in a city full of purportedly cheap Thai restaurants kowtowing to their sweet chilli sauce-ketchup loving fan base, Mai Thai stands tall for using pre-soaked noodles cooked to order, with that distinctive trifecta of fish sauce-tamarind-palm sugar singing through. Lunch orders, dine-in or take-away, Mai Thai handles it all with aplomb.
Locals love to lounge at Eiriksson’s private dining rooms or hang out by their long bar and people watch. Either way, the extensive menu, spanning pizzas and pastas to steaks, is sure to have something for everyone. And to truly gild that lily, there’s always caviar and foie gras.
You can buy a copy of the full Best Of Reykjavík 2021 magazine—an essential guide to having fun in Reykjavík—here, posted worldwide.
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