The Vegan Food Guide: A Reykjavík ExtraVEGANza

The Vegan Food Guide: A Reykjavík ExtraVEGANza

Published August 2, 2019

The Vegan Food Guide: A Reykjavík ExtraVEGANza
Hannah Jane Cohen angela rawlings
Photo by
Art Bicnick

It wasn’t a million years ago that it was hard to come up with a reliable dinner recommendation for vegans in Reykjavík. But with the rise in demand from international tourists, and the help of the wildly popular Veganuary, veganism is on the rise. With increased demand for tasty and varied vegan fare than ever before, today’s scene is unrecognisable. 

While many places have a sole tacked-on, obligatory-feeling vegan option, these are some of our favourite haunts for a vegan meal—go forth, safe in the knowledge that you’ll have plenty of tasty menu items to choose from—or, at the very least, that the vegan option will be one to remember.

Aalto Bistro
Sæmundargata 11
As the Nordic House’s eatery, Aalto Bistro is well-situated between gorgeous preserved wetlands and the University of Iceland. The menu boasts a vegan course of the day, in addition to two charming zucchini dishes. And the avocado ceviche is a delightful, summery twist on the Peruvian classic. AR

Café Babalú
Skólavörðustígur 22
A staple for locals and tourists alike, Babalú offers comfort food for folks on a budget. Their chilli will fill your belly, and there’s a carrot cake sure to tempt you back for repeat visits. Unpretentious and bubbly, tuck yourself into a booth downstairs or squirrel yourself away for a quiet tête-à-tête over tea upstairs. AR

vegan reykjavik

Emilie and The Cool Kids 
Hverfisgata 98
There’s more to vegan treats than raw cakes and date squares. Just try to stay on your diet after discovering the muffins, cinnamon rolls, and scones at Emilie’s, where vegan offerings are plentiful and clearly marked. And if you do, please let us know your secret. CF

Fine Restaurant
Rauðararstígur 33
Chinese food can be hazardous territory for vegans, but there’s no risk of unexpected ingredients at Fine. The sumptuous vegan dumplings are so juicy pork-lovers would barely know the difference, and the vegan noodles are authentic, spicy and delicious. A real treat. JR

Gló Vegan
Laugavegur 20b
There’s comfort in knowing that an eatery is 100% vegan. It’s even better when they serve up some legitimately tasty bowls, burgers, lasagna, and more. Glo’s heaping assorted veggie bowls—we’re suckers for the Indian Dahl bowl and the Keto Bowl—will tick a lot of boxes from your Daily Dozen, and the world famous (or at least it should be) spinach lasagna will make you feel warm inside. CF

Grundarstígur 10
Historical setting? Check. Peace and quiet? Check? Vegan brunch fit for royalty? Oh yeah. The restored home of Hannes Hafstein, Iceland’s first prime minister, has found a new life as a non-profit organisation and quaint eatery. The vegan brunch is plentiful, with a flavourful tofu scramble, pancakes, “vacon,” roasted root vegetables, hummus and more. Finish the meal with a coffee and the latest Grapevine in the exquisite surroundings. CF

Hi Noodle 
Frakkastígur 9
From the rich umami broth, to the irresistibly slurpable noodles, and plentiful sprouts, peanuts and other toppings, Hi Noodle’s vegan ramen is a treat. Just as enjoyable on a cold and rainy day as during this uncharacteristically summery season. It’ll make your mouth happy. CF

Bíldshöfði 9
The mushroom bread, ohhhhhhhhhhh the mushroom bread!!! Newcomer to Reykjavík’s expanding foodhall scene, Hipstur serves delectable gourmet street-food dishes. Tossed with nuts and topped with aioli, the grilled cabbage and cauliflower salad is savoury and sumptuous. And did we mention the mushroom bread?! Garlic-fried fungi + red onion + kale + grated horseradish = sitophilia! AR

Hverfisgata 64a / Lækjargata 8 / Hlíðasmári 8 / Kringlan
Pakodas, samosas, and bondas, oh my! Hraðlestin’s dinner menu features aloo gobi matar spiced for the gods (or, ahem, deities). And you’ll thank us for this PSA: Vegan Wednesdays! This home-grown franchise has a special offer on their vegan thali every hump day. AR

Ísbúðin Brynja 
Engihjalli 8, Kópavogur
If ever you’ve consumed dairy in Iceland, you’re likely to have indulged in a towering swirl of soft-serve dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with assorted confections. Vegans don’t have to miss out on this classic treat at Brynja in Kópavogur. The Akureyri-transport has three vegan soft-serves on tap (the coconut is divine!) and a range of clearly marked vegan toppings. What are you waiting for? CF

Kaffi Laugalækur 
Laugarnesvegur 74a
Vegan cheese that achieves a satisfying consistency on pizza is a unicorn for vegan foodies. Kaffi Lækur skips this problematic topping altogether, instead crowning their vegan Skrúður and Frú Lauga flatbreads with the likes of pesto, pickled onions, chickpeas, greens and cashews. It goes down easy on its own or with a happy hour brew at the hippest café outside of 101. CF

Austurstræti 4
Reykjavík’s evergreen Pakistani restaurant will fill your vegan belly with fragrant, flavourful fare. Their Curry in a Hurry lunch special (a steal at 1,290 ISK) always has a plant-based option or two, but make room in your day for the vegan set menu, and tuck in to fluffy onion bhaji, impeccably spiced saag aloo and vegetable masala, naan, and a sweet bite to end the meal. CF

Hlemmur Mathöll
One of the (many) beautiful things about Hlemmur Mathöll’s standout and Bib Gourmand recipient SKÁL! is its creative use of plant-based ingredients. A seasonally-focussed New Nordic outpost with a welcome sense of flair, the menu is constantly being refreshed; but at the time of writing this Reykjavík vegan can’t get enough of the smoked carrots or the mainstay crushed potatoes. CF

Laugavegur 28 
Though there’s been a surge in vegan fast food of late, those looking for more upscale cruelty-free fare are in good hands at Sumac. The vegan-optional Meze seven-course tasting menu is a festival of Moroccan and Lebanese flavours, beautifully highlighting the versatility of mushrooms, legumes, cauliflower and courgette. It’s a meal you won’t soon forget. CF 

Tryggvagata 22
For gooey grilled cheese sandwiches, bearnaise-topped steaks, fried fish burgers, and heaping piles of mashed potatoes, look no further than the dim dive Veganæs. Currently taking residence in the back of the Gaukurinn bar and music venue, the low-key joint’ll convince you wholeheartedly that vegan food is for more than yogis. HJC 

Read more about vegan food in Reykjavík here, and Iceland dining more generally here.

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