On the low end of vegetarian shopping, there’s always our favourite standby, Bónus. At the time of this writing, whole wheat flour is going for 68 ISK/kg, loose potatoes for 47 ISK/kg, and onions are going for a laughable 1 ISK/kg. A kilo of onions for a single króna – don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t live the high life in this country.
On the higher end is Heilsuhúsið. This corner store is a hybrid of vegetarian shop, vegan shop, gourmet shop, miniature library and small pharmacy. Here you’ll find more than the standard bird-and-rabbit food fare of most vegetarian shops: for those uncertain how to eat healthier – vegetarian or otherwise – there are a few shelves of books on the subject to choose from. At the same time, there are multiple shelves of vitamins, minerals and other supplements. The current meat alternative – soy meat – is for sale there for 350 ISK/500g. We’ve had soy meat before, and you don’t need to worry: it’ll taste like whatever you cook it with/in, so we personally recommend using it in pasta dishes. Organic fruits and vegetables are also available, but with grapefruits going for 622 ISK/kg and oranges for 422 ISK/kg, you might be better off just eating the pesticides on regular fruit and hoping for the best.
Through some New Age twist of fate, three of Reykjavík’s vegetarian restaurants are located within a few second’s walk from each other.
Grænn Kostur boasts heaping portions of both vegan and vegetarian fare with most meals under 1000 ISK. When the weather’s nice, they set up tables outside so you can enjoy the view of the neighbouring parking garage. Two blocks away is Á Næstu Grösum, a restaurant that might change its menu now and then but always has the same prices: 1200 ISK for lunch, 1490 ISK for dinner, and 550 ISK for soup. Not too shabby, especially with unlimited bread and hummus to go along with it. Across the street is Kaffi Hljómalind, which advertises itself as a “non profit” organic café. Meals there hover around 1000 ISK while offering sidewalk dining in nice weather, which makes for great people-watching as this restaurant is on Laugavegur. Not only can you watch people from your perch at Hljómalind, you can judge them as inferior, both for eating meat, and for eating for profit.
Outside of the cosmic vegetarian block, in the more distant but just as worthy Borgartún, is Maður Lifandi, a combination vegetarian restaurant/health food store. The vegetarian dining is consistent there, but most of the clientele—typically a rush around lunch and early dinner– are interested in the organic chicken, said to be the only not sugar-saturated chicken in Iceland.
Not to be ethnocentric, it should be remembered that Asian people had perfected vegetarian cuisine long before Dr. John Harvey Kellogg invented granola. To this end, we recommend checking out three places of interest.
Shalimar is an Indian restaurant with an extensive vegetarian menu. There you can eat your fill for between 1200 ISK and 1500 ISK. A little further west is Krua Thai, which we personally consider to be the best Thai restaurant in town: large portions and limitless rice, with most meals under 1000 ISK. Smack-dab in the middle of downtown is Indokína, a combination Chinese-Vietnamese restaurant with a number of soy, noodle and vegetarian dishes that are all reasonably priced.
So there you have it. With all these shopping and dining options, you now have no excuse to buy that cheeseburger… You murdering bastard!
Bónus, Laugavegur 59, 562-8200
Heilsuhúsið, Skólavörðustígur 12, 568-9266
Grænn Kostur, Skólavörðustígur 8, 552-2028
Á næstu grösum, Laugavegur 20b, 552-8410
Kaffi Hljómalind, Laugavegur 21, 517-1980
Maður lifandi, Borgartún 24, 585-8700
Shalimar, Austurstræti 4, 551-0292
Krua Thai, Tryggvagata 14, 561-0039
Indokína, Laugavegur 19, 552-2399