Much like all vegans are contractually obligated to announce their veganism to everyone within earshot, I feel it’s apt to take this opportunity to clarify that I’m not vegan — I could go into the convoluted intricacies of my being seagan, but I don’t want to look like that much of an asshole when we’re just getting to know each other.
That being said, my partner is vegan. And in the six years or so that he’s chosen that righteous path, eating out as a family has been a rollercoaster. Sometimes we’ll land at an all-vegan eatery and he can order with reckless abandon. Other times, we’re the high-maintenance guests asking what the vegan options are and if it’s possible to “veganize” other menu items by omitting key ingredients.
This being the great month of Veganuary, however, it’s time for an annual roundup of the best vegan fare Reykjavík has to offer — it may just make you want to make every month Veganuary.
Tides has quickly become the place to go for a sumptuous fine-dining experience. In fact, the culinary heart of Reykjavík’s first five-star hotel got a Best Newcomer nod in our 2022 Best of Reykjavík awards. This Veganuary, there’s added reason for plant-based foodies to book a table: a mouth-watering special menu available to order during Tides’ dinner service on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays featuring cauliflower satay, grilled cabbage with truffle and caramelised onion, and an aquafaba meringue with raspberry sorbet, and excuse us while we call in our rez.
Brút brings to Reykjavík a Nordic-skewed brunch that is at once light, colourful and oh-so-satisfying. Mounds of delicately dressed salads, hummus, roast veggies and cakes make up the spectrum of vegan offerings. This is the vegan-friendly brunch Reykjavík has been waiting for. Oh, and the bottomless mimosas don’t hurt.
You don’t have to be vegan to recognize Le Kock makes a banging vegan burger. Unlike the ubiquitous supermarket shelf patty, Le Kock leans into the smashed burger trend with their crispy, lace-edged smoked barley and bean number. That smokiness lends a deeply satisfying note, and the savoury pineapple-ginger BBQ sauce compliments it perfectly. Aptly named Vegan Fox 2.0, this is one sassy number.
Vegan World Peace
This is an all-vegan restaurant with practically throw away prices — seriously, almost nothing is priced over 2.500 ISK. Southeast Asian mock-meats act as protein in a menu that is full of hearty bowls of soups, stir fried noodles and vegan versions of popular Vietnamese and Thai dishes, with a smattering of Japanese and Korean as well.
The wealth of vegan baked goods at Emilie’s is drool-inducing. Snúður stuffed with blueberries, raspberries or cinnamon; chocolatey banana cakes; savoury scones and more — it’s all there and it’s all delightful. The soup and bagel combo is also a nice bite, not skimping on the vegan cream cheese on the side.
There isn’t a better fish fragrant eggplant in town and the Mapo Tofu sans meat is what tofu aspires to be. These dishes at Fönix always arrive at your table scaldingly hot, the eggplants fried to silky perfection, the tofu enticingly jiggly. These delights also happen to be vegan! Family-run Fönix has something for everyone. The lunch buffet is also a notch above similar fare. A word of warning: once you taste of Fönix’s vegan offerings, everything else will pale in comparison.
Mushroom bread. Mushroom bread. Mushroom bread. I was earnestly hoping typing that three times fast would magically transport this open-faced delight to my desk (spoiler: it didn’t). The mushroom bread at this foodhall outpost is deceptively delicious. The concept is simple enough: toasted sourdough, mushrooms, potatoes, apples and kale. But then there’s horseradish and some amazing sauce and herbaceous oil, and the next thing you know, you’re looking up real estate on Borgartún so Hipstur is within walking distance, but that’s no way to make major life purchases. Sigh.
Engihjalli 8, Kópavogur
If you’ve eschewed dairy, but you miss the classic Icelandic soft serve cone — dipped in chocolate, of course — then get thee to Kópavogur. The Akureyri staple Brynja has two types of vegan soft serve on offer (vanilla or coconut) and an assortment of clearly-marked vegan dips and mix-ins so you can craft a bragðarefur with confidence. Might we recommend an Oreo, cookie dough, hazelnut combo?
All heart and sunshine, this firm Grapevine favourite has been making delectably wholesome fare for a couple years now and they never disappoint. Sourdough pitas and flatbreads encase crunchy fried falafel and various salads and pickled toppings and makes for a satisfying lunch that fuels you through the day. Not everything is vegan, but everything that is is delicious. Don’t even think of walking by on an empty stomach — the scent wafting out of Chickpea will have you drooling.
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