It used to be the case that good restaurants, after leaving the confines of Reykjavík, were pretty slim pickings. These days, fancy restaurants are springing up all over the country. With that in mind, here’s a handy guide to a few eateries that are worth detouring for. Pro tips: the further out you get, the more eccentric the opening hours, and you’ll need to book in advance at some of these places—increased tourist traffic means business is booming, even in the off-season.
Kaffikompaní Strandgata 75, Hafnarfjörður
Strandgata 75, Hafnarfjörður
Located in the borough of Hafnarfjörður, Pallett is run by Iceland’s award-winning barista champion and his foodie British partner, so you get good coffee, a flaky pastie, and fresh-baked apple snúðurs that prompt even 101 rats to make the drive to this sleepy, scenic suburb. In the same building you’ll find the Von eatery, offering excellent fish, warm service and a brunch that has many going back for more.
Eyrarbraut 3a, Stokkseyri
Strandvegur 76, Vestmannaeyjar
Legendary lobster restaurant Fjöruborðið is steeped in tradition. The lobster bisque, buttery langoustine and hulking meringue cake are best dealt with by taking a walk outside and enjoying the stunning scenery between courses. A ferry ride away on the Westman Islands is Slippurinn, run by the same folks as Matur og Drykkur in Reykjavík. There are few places offering such a high standard of simple New Nordic dishes made with the finest in locally foraged ingredients—this place is something special.
Also recommended: Hotel Ranga, nr. Hella; Rauða Húsið, Eyrarbakki.
Norðurgata 2, Seyðisfjörður
Austurvegur 42, Seyðisfjörður
The White Nordic guide declared Norð Austur the best sushi place in Iceland, and they’re not wrong. It’s only open during spring and summer, but local seafood is transformed into modern Japanese fare, letting the pristine produce speak for itself. If you’re there in winter, all is not lost—just up the street is the cosy basement restaurant-bar Skaftafell, where you can sample a memorable blue cheese and reindeer pizza.
Also recommended: SALT, Egilsstaðir; Hotel Hildibrand, Neskaupstaður
Kaupvangsstræti 6, Akureyri
Easily the best restaurant in Iceland’s second city of Akureyri is Rub23, which has a beautiful dining room, excellent service, a laid back atmosphere, and a menu that invites you to mix-and-match your choice of fish or meat with a variety of different spice rubs, to customise your meal. They also serve tender steaks and succulent sushi.
Aðalgata 3, Stykkishólmur
The star of Stykkisholmur is Narfeyrarstofa, with its quaint exterior, an intimate, candlelit atmosphere and, most importantly, a stellar menu that makes the most of the fresh seafood hauled from the adjacent Breiðarfjörður each day. Further inland, Hotel Húsafell is a remote luxury hotel that offers an excellent five-course tasting menu of creatively prepared local ingredients with excellent service, and wine pairings should you so desire.
Also recommended: Hotel Búðir, Búðir; Bjargasteinn, Grundafjörður; Tjöruhúsið, Ísafjörður
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