From Iceland — Blast From The Past: Tommaborgari

Blast From The Past: Tommaborgari

Published August 24, 2017

Blast From The Past: Tommaborgari
Zoë Vala Sands
Photo by
Reykjavík Grapevine Archives

In this issue’s Blast From The Past, we pay homage to Iceland’s first hamburger joint, Tommaborgari, founded by the forefather of Icelandic hamburger culture, Tómas Andrés Tómmasson, a.k.a Iceland’s O.G. burger man.

Tommi was born and raised in the old Vesturbær neighborhood. He learned to cook at Hótel Loftleiðir in 1967, but the real magic began when he left for America.

“I was studying at Florida International University when two very important men taught me how to cook a hamburger. One of them was a professor at the university,” says Tommi. “That hamburger is what stands out the most from my days at university.”

Tommi returned to Iceland with a precious recipe, the likes of which were previously unknown to a nation whose diet consisted of sheep’s heads and bull’s testicles. (Yum.) In 1981, Tommi opened Tommaborgari, Iceland’s first burger joint. And thus, the Icelandic hamburger revolution was launched, with six Tommaborgari restaurants opening across the land.

Unfortunately, this historical burger joint no longer graces Reykjavík’s streets. But despair not, for in 2004, Tommi brought back an Empire Strikes Back-level sequel to his original burger joint, called Hamborgarabúlla Tómasar. Hamborgarabúllan has since expanded into an international sensation, with restaurants kicking ass all over Iceland, as well as in Copenhagen, London, and Berlin.

So, what’s for lunch?

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