From Iceland — Best Of Reykjavík Dining 2021: Best Goddamn Restaurant

Best Of Reykjavík Dining 2021: Best Goddamn Restaurant

Best Of Reykjavík Dining 2021: Best Goddamn Restaurant

Published September 20, 2021

Photo by
Art Bicnick

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.

Best Goddamn Restaurant: Joint Winner

Austur-Indíafélagið

Hverfisgata 56

Photo by Art Bicnick

Showing Iceland what down-to-earth hospitality looks like is the grand dame of all restaurants, Austur-Indíafélagið. Over two decades old now, this is where many Icelanders discovered their first taste of palyas, pickles and pollichathu. It doesn’t matter if you are new to Indian cuisine or a seasoned consumer of curries, this place makes you feel welcome with its warm embrace of fresh spices, high quality local produce, nuanced balance of flavours and deft ability to marry Indian know-how with local preferences—case in point, their braised meats have just enough bite for cutlery-wielding patrons. The tandoori grilled chicken is redolent with the heady pungency of mustard oil in the marinade; the stuffed kulchas (leavened breads) are singed with smoke and pregnant with crumbly paneer and onions; the dal is smacked with a garlic tempering, perfect for stirring into warm steamed rice. The unparalleled service gobsmacks you with the realisation that good service isn’t a unicorn on this island. Whether you’re celebrating a milestone, or simply want to treat yourself to dining out done right, dinner at Austur India never disappoints.

Best Goddamn Restaurant: Joint Winner

La Primavera

Grandagarður 20

Photo by Art Bicnick

Another decades-old institution, La Primavera has been resurrected twice now and is absolutely at its peak. Highlighting regional Italian delights, chef Leifur Kolbeinsson has his finger on the pulse of what makes restaurants great. Eschewing of-the-moment penchant for all things fermented, foraged or frivolous, the focus instead is on coaxing intense flavours with peak-season produce, few ingredients, and an honesty that is rare to come by. The asparagus this season was served with a scattering of trout roe and a silky veloute, monk fish was served on the bone with a textbook shellfish sauce and creamy mashed potatoes we couldn’t get enough of. The pannacotta jiggles like the inside of a woman’s thigh, and the Basque-style cheesecake elicits groans of pleasure. Service is endearingly attentive and the place changes character between lunch and dinner, so even if you were to eat here a whole day you’d still find reason to come back over and over.


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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