Iceland is mostly known, food-wise, for top quality fish and lamb, and perhaps the traditional (and kinda gross) whale meat, shark and sheep heads. But a walk around the streets of Reykjavík reveals that Icelanders love fast food, especially with a bit of added Americana. From the traditional diners to forward-thinking vegan joints, here are some of our favourites.
Sæta Svínið infuses American style portions with gastropub-level flavour. If you’re looking for a juicy burger on a beer-brioche bun with a meat-to-fat ratio that will have you drooling, this warmly lit cosy hub is the place to go. The meal also comes with addictively crunchy waffle fries and truffle mayo. If that’s not enough, they also have some of the best cocktails in the city.
Block Burger is a relatively new arrival in Reykjavík. It’s modelled heavily on Shake Shack, with the burgers served in little paper bags with very crispy, tasty fries. The portions are quite small, but the ingredients are great—their soy-based veggie burger does a very convincing meat impression. Try a bottle of Fizzy Lizzy soda.
Prikið’s newly introduced vegan burger comes topped with blueberry jam and fried mushrooms on a spelt bread bun. The meal seems surprisingly artisanal for a low-key joint, but you’ll understand immediately why it’s cemented Prikið’s position as a must-visit for cruelty-free diners. Hey, it might even convert you to the meatless life.
The Bike Cave is a bit of a trek from downtown Reykjavík but if you’re looking for pure vegan comfort food, the walk is worth it. Dripping with vegan bearnaise sauce and cheese, their 1395 ISK vegan luxury burger is both the cheapest and most satisfying vegan meal you’ll find in the city. Seriously, we dare you to finish a whole one.
Hamborgarabúllan, nicknamed Búllan, has a special place in the heart of Icelanders. There are several branches in Reykjavík, and dotted around Iceland, but the most iconic is the diner-style joint at Geirsgata 1 on the old harbour. While burgers may have gotten fancier in recent years, Búllan hasn’t: you’ll get a no-nonsense burger and fries, hot from the grill.
Vítabar is a true neighbourhood bar in a quiet downtown residential street. It’s a no-frills diner where you’ll mingle with locals having an after-work beer and a classic burger and fries. The atmosphere and menu are old-school, so vegetarians beware—Vítabar is one of the few burger joints with no veggie options.
Roadhouse is a family restaurant where you’ll get burgers loaded with fillings, condiments and toppings, some of which are almost obscenely massive. They also offer creamy milkshakes and all kinds of tempting sides. The veggie option is a smoked celeriac slice, and even that feels decadent: go here if you feel like pigging the fuck out, basically.
The restaurant at Kex Hostel is a favourite with both locals and tourists, and has a nice view over to Mount Esja. Their burger is of the new school variety: the “Spicy Freedom Burger” will leave your tastebuds tingling.
Fabrikkan’s menu has a musical twist, with menu items named after local celebrities, past and present. The patties are juicy, the fries are good, and, for some reason, all the burgers and buns are square—you can get everything from a huge meaty feast to a chicken, portobello mushroom or Oumph! burger, with all kind of sauce and topping combos.
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