On the corner of Vitastígur and Bergþórugata stands the legendary local bar Vitabar, a Reykjavík burger fan´s favorite. This is the place most locals will point out to tourists looking for a quick hamburger meal, the way hamburgers should be presented, that is, those who are fed up with multinational chains like McDonald’s and Burger King, who by the way can’t be found in the city centre. Vitabar actually is a pub and a popular hangout spot for a crowd of thirsty middle-aged regulars, but if you don’t mind the smoke or the occasional drunkenness the burgers are simply the juiciest you’ll get in Reykjavík, and the price to pay is fairly cheap as well.
When entering Vitabar, one’s first thought will probably not be that you just set foot into one of downtown’s more popular fast food restaurants. The place is not very big and the interior is rather basic. A couple of tables are aligned against the walls, the lighting is rather murky and the establishment hasn’t been renovated for years, but all that helps in creating a cosy feeling where you just want to take it easy, as if right at home. A big bonus is the selection of newspapers and magazines that fill one corner of the counter for customers to browse while waiting for a meal.
The place was quite busy when my companion and I arrived on a Thursday evening. Busy in the sense that almost every table was occupied. Even the counter contained customers gulping down a big one. Luckily we got a table and with no real need to look at the menu we both ordered the specialty, the Gleym-mér-ey burger or Forget-Me-Not burger, consisting of a 200 grams hamburger covered in blue cheese and garlic sauce. Along with a small portion of French fries (which should be quite enough for a normal eater) and a soda, the meal only put us back 1.050 ISK.
I have to give compliments to the service, which was excellent. We only waited a couple of minutes for our fresh-from-the-grill burgers to arrive at the table and the hearty dish was just as expected. Made the old-fashioned way, the burger is extremely flavourfull. The beef itself perfectly grilled and with the right amount of sauce, the burger was just as greasy as it should be. As the sauce dripped down our chins, we were once again reminded that the Gleym-mér-ei burger is the ultimate, perched on top of the hamburger kingdom.
For those who don’t like the blue-cheese taste there’s always a special offer on a cheeseburger with fries for 650 ISK. Also worth mentioning is the beef steak, which comes with fries, salad, béarnaise sauce and a large beer for a laughable 1,700 ISK.
In my opinion, few things in life are better than a bite at Vitabar, especially if you’re on a tight budget. If you’re aching for a burger and beer in a chilled-out atmosphere or just need to grab a quick meal on the way home from work, Vitabar comes highly recommended. SJ