If you’re an immigrant living in this country, you have probably been to Cultura. It’s inside the Alþjóðahúsið (Intercultural Centre) and is usually one of the first stops for any new arrival to Iceland. If you’re a student or under 25, you have probably also partied here on weekends. But Cultura is also a restaurant, and quite a pleasant one at that.
While I had been to Cultura on many previous occasions, sometimes for one of the many different theme nights they hold here (salsa is particularly popular), this was the first time I tried the food. Perhaps because of the general international feel of the place – many of the patrons are foreigners, particularly exchange students – and the fact that the owner is originally from Turkey, I had been expecting a menu with primarily Middle Eastern offerings (something Reykjavík is sadly lacking). There are quite good falafels, but the choice overall is broader, including Thai soup, various types of pasta, and Spanish pintxos. There were also several tempting specials of the day.
A big bonus at Cultura is the price. With the exception of a couple of items that are meant for two to share, nothing on the menu costs more than 1250 ISK. True, you don’t get bread or anything to go with it, and the portions are not huge, but they are certainly filling enough. If you need something more, the cakes are 590 ISK and served in large slices with cream. The cakes would also be good to enjoy in the afternoon while you read one of the many paperback books lining the shelves here, or while playing a game of Scrabble (available in many languages).
Although it describes itself as a bistro-bar, Cultura has a very different atmosphere from other similarly branded eateries in town and, with its eclectic menu and slightly bohemian surroundings, fills a niche in the Reykjavík culinary scene. Good food for good value in surroundings that are a nice change.