From Iceland — This Is Not A Drill: Vegan Hot Dogs In Akureyri

This Is Not A Drill: Vegan Hot Dogs In Akureyri

Published April 3, 2024

This Is Not A Drill: Vegan Hot Dogs In Akureyri
Photo by
Art Bicnick/The Reykjavík Grapevine

If Akureyri can’t be the northern capital of Iceland, could it be the vegan hot dog capital?

“Eina með öllu,” (“one with everything”) is something I have never said while living in Iceland. Yet, it’s probably the most common phrase you’d hear at any local hot dog stand, the most famous one being just around the corner from the Grapevine’s HQ. Being plant-based most of my adult life, the only time I even had a hot dog out in this country ended up being an empty bun with sauce and crispy onion. Laden my FOMO over never getting a “pylsa” when it seems like it’s “hot dog o’clock” for literally everyone else, I was elated to discover on a recent trip to Akureyri that Pylsuvagninn á Akureyri has not one, but seven vegan hot dog options on its menu. I didn’t waste time.

The story

Located on the main street of Akureyri, Pylsuvagninn á Akureyri is hard to miss — its tacky yellow design pops up from afar, contrasting with a bright pink ice cream shop just across the street. Similar to Reykjavík’s Bæjarins Beztu, the stand says “SS pylsur” for the country’s most popular sausages from Sláturfélag Suðurlands. Polish immigrants Agnieszka Kujawska and Tomasz Kujawski bought this hot dog stand ten years ago and despite selling sausages from a local supplier in North Iceland in the beginning, due to customer demand, they succumbed and switched to SS.

Art Bicnick/The Reykjavík Grapevine

“On the first day we opened, I prepared some toppings like tomato, cucumber, salad, typical hot dog toppings served in Poland,” says Agnieszka. “But I only sold one hot dog like that.” Slowly but surely, she was learning what makes a truly Icelandic hot dog — the importance of adding two types of onion and specific sauces. “After a while, I also learned that people from Reykjavík don’t want the cocktail sauce in their hot dog, meanwhile here, everyone wants it. Right now, even by the accent, I can tell who’s from where and who wants which sauce based on that,” she laughs.

“Having waited years to get my hands on some vegan “pylsa,” I’m ecstatic.”

The idea of adding vegan hot dogs to the menu was born because Agnieszka’s daughter-in-law is vegan and her son was always asking for vegan hot dogs for her, emphasising that they would be popular among visitors. “At first, I made a ‘vegan’ hot dog with tuna and vegetables, but my son corrected me that it’s not really vegan. I’ve done my research and learned that it has to have a vegan sausage and toppings,” Agnieszka admits her mistake.

The menu

The tuna hot dog stayed on the menu, but 100% vegan options were added. In addition to classic hot dogs (plant-based sausage, onion, ketchup and mustard), Pylsuvagninn á Akureyri offers a vegan hot dog with pickles, a summer-only offer with fresh vegetables, a popular after-party bite with baked beans, a hot dog with pickled red cabbage and two options that come in a black bun — the vegan black sheepdog and the vegan volcanic dog with onions, sriracha, jalapenos, ketchup and mustard.

“When the volcano erupted, we wanted to introduce something new, so we came up with a black bun with an addition of bamboo charcoal,” says Agnieszka. “The buns are made here in a local bakery.”

For those who don’t eat meat or fish but allow dairy products in their diet, there are a few more options on the menu — a hot dog with potato salad, cheese, fried egg, or blue cheese. The latter one mixes ketchup, cocktail sauce, remoulade and mustard with two types of cheese, plus nuts and rhubarb jam — a delicacy not for the faint-hearted.

“The locals and the tourists stick to the classic hot dogs, but vegetarians and vegans like trying new things,” answers Agnieszka about the most popular plant-based hot dog on her roster. ​​

The verdict

Having waited years to get my hands on a vegan “pylsa,” I’m ecstatic. I devour my hot dog with a plant-based sausage and pickles in record time. The perfectly toasted bun melts in my mouth, the sausage is juicy with a satisfying texture, and the zesty pickles hit the spot. The only downside is eating a hot dog outside in below-zero temperatures.

I know I’ll be trying the volcano hot dog next, but we are short on time, so I might as well just move to Akureyri.

Taste vegan hot dogs at Pylsuvagninn á Akureyri on Hafnarstræti. The hot dog stand is open until 17:00 on most days (unless the weather is terrible) and until 23:00 in the summer.

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