Published September 6, 2018
Reykjavik may not have been blessed with the best summer this year, but two very determined foolhardy people strode out undeterred this September, against their better judgement, to try out Reykjavík’s food trucks. Other than the fact that every other truck seems to be offering cod in slightly different iterations, kudos to the truckers for giving us a taste of big city living in the face of inane regulations and “rassgat” winds.
Fish and Chips Vagninn: the best one, the red one
Forget the traffic light lessons: where Fish and Chips are concerned, red is to go, go, go. Based on the classic British dish and made using local Atlantic cod, this mainstay by the picturesque Reykjavik harbour gets everything just right. There are park benches to sit at, warm blankets, and tonnes of malt vinegar to douse the thick-cut chips. The mushy peas are, thankfully, straight outta Britain, made with unmistakably dried marrowfat peas—Ora pea haters, rejoice! The fish itself is deep fried to order—flaky perfection encased in a light, airy batter, served in a sensible cardboard box. This was our favourite food truck, and at 1,990 ISK, it’s a steal. They also regularly update their social media page—a necessary convenience to view opening times, or to check for the occasional relocation (looking at you here, Skuli Bao Bun).
The ‘other’ Fish and Chips truck: the bad one, the blue one
Ironically, ‘Iceland Fish and Chips’ is the truck to avoid at any cost. Usually stationed along the harbour promenade, opposite Listasafn Reykjavik, this blue and white truck—with their sacrilegious offering of sweet potato fries—had already set alarm bells ringing with their empty status. Granted it was a windy August afternoon, but the rancid oil and batter fried to a greasy, ghastly red is likely what’s keeping the crowds away. Although they proudly claimed the fish to be cod, it tasted suspiciously like a thawed day-old haddock. Somnambulist service added insult to injury and our oh-so dramatic demonstration of disappointment—dumping said fish into the trash—was met with zero curiosity. The cardboard cone packaging is Insta-friendly but dining-deadly. Avoid.
Kalkofnsvegur & Lækjartorg
Neither serving lobster nor being located in a hut caused some trepidation regarding this one, but it revealed itself to be a pleasant surprise. Now opposite Harpa, by the fortress-like parking garage below Arnarhóll, the little red wagon serves up the most affordable langoustine in the country. Their soup (1,990 ISK) is a curry-laced bowlful with a generous portion of langoustine, thankfully eschewing the tomato-based bisque that is ubiquitous around town. Fishing for langoustine tails isn’t a futile affair here. The hot dog (1,450 ISK) comes with caramelised peppers and onions with sauteed langoustine, chilli mayo and misplaced tortilla chips (ask them to hold the “nachos”). The only let-down is the bun—when you’re serving up something so tender, firmer bread would help it shine. However, between the hot dog and soup, we easily had around 20 tails, or more. Either they suspected the seriousness of our mission, or we’re looking at the best langoustine-bang-for-your-buck in Reykjavík.
Fish and Co.
Aðalstræti 9, Fógetagarðurinn
Like the waxing and waning of the moon, this little truck keeps making an appearance, albeit in different guises. It used to be the Salmon Wagon (which we suspect, might have been a reincarnation of the Crab Cake Lads). Their lovely blue and white truck is now the dark but salubrious “Fish and Co.” For a mere 1000 ISK, you get a chunk of cod cooked in a generous amount of butter, served over spinach that wilts under the heat, and blistered cherry tomatoes. This is a perfect meal for a cold afternoon and one of the more wholesome options in downtown Reykjavík. They served small talk, too—this was the only chap in our investigation who knew that eating at a food truck is also about chatting with the folk behind the wheel.
Frakkastígur 27, by Hallgrimskirkja
They may proclaim they sell Belgian waffles—those crisp, light as a feather, yeasty delights—but don’t be duped. Manned by an underage teenager who was so disinterested that we were seriously worried that the kid was about to pass out, the waffles are undercooked, with spots of blackened old grease. At 590 ISK for a plain waffle, it’s daylight robbery. They occupy prime location by Hallgrimskirkja—it’s a shame their fare doesn’t match the view.
One of the more recent arrivals, stationed beside the dreaded waffle cart, Sætir Snúðar are upping the cinnamon bun (“snúður”) game with their warm, yeasty rolls—a slightly sneaky move, as they’re stationed above the renowned Brauð & Co, who changed the snúður game a few years back. Perhaps they’re hoping to piggy-back off Brauð & Co.’s success by sucking in wary tourists trotting down Frakkastígur. However, these aren’t your standard Scandinavian cinnamon buns—they’re denser Cinnabun-style yeasty rolls, with cream cheese frosting, meant to be eaten with forks. We’d have liked a punchier frosting, but the rolls themselves are nothing to complain about. Pair with a kokomjólk for an authentic Icelandic packed-lunch (“nesti”) experience.
Skuli Bao Bun
Aðalstræti 9, Fógetagarðurinn
Fogetagarðurinn is seeing some life even in the late summer, thanks to the aforementioned Fish and Co. and Skuli Bao Bun, who share this tucked-away square. With by far the most erratic schedule, this truck was hardest to try. The menu is a tad heavy on the ‘Asian fusion confusion’ trend, where Chinese, Japanese and Korean food names wrestle with Hunt’s barbecue sauce, chilli mayo, Mexican oregano seasoning and fried onions. It’s ideal after a night of Reykjavik debauchery; sober, we recommend the kimchi as a takeaway so you can make your own fried rice at home.