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.
When the owners of Ramen Momo and Makake joined forces with the chef owners of Mat Bar, it was bound to be an explosion of flavours. Handmade dumpling know-how from the former and fine dining flourishes from the latter have translated to a Chinese-inspired fusion menu that offers Reykjavik a taste of dim sum culture. The erroneously named xiaolongbao—really a steamed bun filled with an unctuous, savoury beef filling—has only got better since their opening. As a nod to our love for sauces, the dumpling baskets arrive dressed in one of three sauces that are spunky and acidic enough to cut through the richness. Take-away is available, but really dining in is the best way to experience these dumplings.
You may be forgiven for not knowing this under-the-radar restaurant that quietly popped up in what once used to be Dill. With a small, eclectic menu that changes weekly, Númi, Atli and Aðalsteinn pride themselves on their fresh produce and good, honest food. Regulars swear that whatever comes out of the kitchen is inspired, fresh and enjoyable. A rotating menu not tethered by cuisine can make for a dizzying challenge, but Hosiló is making it through a pandemic no less. If that isn’t a seal of approval of their efforts, then what is?
Despite its contested origins—it’s been claimed by every country in the Levant at this point—the falafel at Chickpea appear closest to the Palestinian variety. It’s classic bright green with herbs, and the beetroot number is earthy, slighty sweet and fittingly Nordic. There is an entire salad bar’s worth of salads, toppings and sauces—the mango aioli, tomato mayo and adjika, (a nod to the Moldovian roots of the owners). It’s all delicately wrapped in their homemade sourdough pita, a far cry from the stale, dense curse that afflicts the country’s standard pita supply. Wash it down with a tall glass of their homemade kombucha and finish with one of their sweet bites for a wholly satisfying affair.
You can buy a copy of the full Best Of Reykjavík 2021 magazine—an essential guide to having fun in Reykjavík—here, posted worldwide.
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!