Believe me, I’ve been there. Living as a college student in Reykjavík, I have come to understand the true meaning of the word “budget.” To me, everything is counted in beer. 300 krónur for coffee? That’s half a beer!
But whether you are saving money for your drinking or your dignity, remember that you don’t have to dumpster dive for dinner. It is possible to find affordable prices beneath Reykjavík’s overwhelmingly expensive exterior.
Enter the dragon. Drekinn (“The Dragon” in English) is a wonderfully inexpensive place to grab a bite to eat. Located just down Frakkastígur from Hallgrimskirkja, Drekinn offers a traditionally greasy menu with great prices.
According to owner Gudmundur Ingvarsson, Drekinn has been open for more than 40 years as a small convenience shop. It was only a year ago that the shop extended its services to a fast-food joint.
Now the store skillfully does double duty, without losing the convenience. From 8am to 11:30pm everyday, Drekinn carries both basic grocery goods and generously-priced fast food.
A full dinner at Drekinn will rarely cost more than 600-700 kronur per person. The combo meals are the best steal, which include a grilled sandwich, hamburger or cheeseburger with fries and a 1/2-liter beverage. They fill you up for only 500-600 kronur.
And the fries are worth that price alone. Filling and thick (not to be confused with McDonald’s skimpy and starved fries), Drekinn’s fries are especially addictive when dipped in Iceland’s wondrous cocktail sauce.
Starting in the middle of May, an extended menu will be introduced, including chicken- and lambsteak sandwiches, pitas, fried fish and onion rings. Eating in at Drekinn adds a special flavor to the experience. One long table with bar stools serves as the dining area, perfect for people on a tight schedule and wanting a no-frills meal. Or you can take time to skim the daily newspapers and enjoy watching the children stop in to see how much candy they can afford with a pocketful of coins.
Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing poignant about Drekinn. It’s a simple place that serves exactly what fast food should be: Cheap and greasy, hot off the grill. Besides, wouldn’t you rather burn the roof of your mouth than a hole in your pocket?