If you like dining on inspired cuisine created with fresh, local ingredients – you have a lot to look forward to in Iceland! Wining and dining in Iceland is great, you’ll find superb restaurants all across the island.
The opportunity to eat some of the world’s freshest seafood and tastiest lamb is one that should not be missed while visiting Iceland. These local specialties, as well as organically grown vegetables, game, and wholesome dairy products are served in creative ways across the country. After dinner, cruise for coffee and cocktails in the nexus of pulsating nightclubs and cozy pubs, as Reykjavik has one of the liveliest nightlife scenes in the world.
For those in the know, Iceland is an up and coming foodie destination and the capital city is seeing a culinary explosion of new and exciting restaurant openings where chefs are continually inspired by incredibly fresh local ingredients.
Iceland takes great pride in its fresh fish and lamb, but there is also a growing local food movement with a strong emphasis on seasonal, organic ingredients. Visitors are amazed at the range of restaurants available in Reykjavik. You could take an epicurean tour of the world without leaving the downtown area, including sushi, tapas, Indian, French, Mexican, Italian, Thai and American.
Whether you’re dining on international fare or traditional Icelandic cuisine it’s always purely natural food imaginatively served to delight the most discerning of diners. Outside Reykjavik, you’ll find plenty of well-priced restaurants that serve a hearty meal with local produce, like Fimm Fiskar in Stykkisholmur and Vid Fjorubordid in Stokkseyri.
Typical dining hours begin at 8pm and menus always include all taxes and gratuities. Dress is usually smart casual to formal and it is strongly suggested that you make dinner reservations.
There are more than 200 restaurants in the greater Reykjavik area, with several imaginative and exciting restaurants leading the charge in Reykjavik. Just to name a few:
This latest addition to Reykjavik’s burgeoning food scene takes inspiration from Icelandic ingredients and Mediterranean traditions. Situated on the fourth floor of newly opened Harpa Concert Hall, guests enjoy magnificent views of the downtown harbor area through the striking glass facade built by Icelandic-Danish artist Olafur Eliasson.
Located at the splendid Hilton Nordica Hotel, Vox overlooks Faxafloi Bay and the magnificent Mount Esja. The culinary team at Vox emphasizes the New Nordic style of cooking, while focusing on quality Icelandic ingredients.
Rising eight stories above street level and providing breathtaking panoramic views of the city, the warm and intimate surroundings of Grillid restaurant provide diners with a culinary experience created by award-winning master chefs. This famous restaurant in Reykjavik combines incredible food with fine wine and excellent service, all set against the breathtaking backdrop of one of the most dramatic views in the city.
Hotel Borg’s Lounge restaurant has something for everyone on its eclectic menu. The executive chef has built up a delicious selection of Icelandic seafood, beef, game and scrumptious mountain lamb. The name of the restaurant ‘Lounge’ conveys the restaurant’s true spirit of comfort and relaxation.
Grill Market / Grillmarkadurinn:
There’s much buzz about top chef Hrefna Rosa Saetran’s newly-opened Grill Market located on Lækjartorg Square in the heart of the city. A cosmopolitan crowd complements the dramatic bi-level space uniquely decorated with Icelandic moss, dried fish skin, and black lava stones. A custom-made, ultra-high-temperature grill plays a prominent role and ensures a juicy result. The tasting menu is highly recommended.
Seafood Grill / Sjavargrillid:
Located on the charming Skolavordustig shopping street, this newly opened gem features wonderful seafood and grill tasting menus with influences from northern Iceland.
Gallery restaurant located in Hotel Holt has been the benchmark for Icelandic culinary excellence ever since it opened in 1965. The beautiful dining room hosts the largest private art collection in Iceland and boasts one of the few wine cellars in Reykjavik.
The Fish Company is an eclectic restaurant located in the city centre. They offer a trip through a world of culinary adventures, which, as most good adventures do, begins under a bridge. Since it opened in 2010, the Fish Company has become the most popular restaurant in Reykjavik, whether it be for groups or individuals, and is very popular with visitors and Icelanders alike. This is fine dining at its best.
Fiskmarkaðurinn/The Fish Market:
Salmon skin–wrapped railings, backlit bamboo walls, low banquettes, and romantic lighting make The Fish Market one of Reykjavik’s most chic restaurants. In the kitchen, Chef Hrefna plays with Asian and American flavors, and creative presentations making the dining a true experience. Voted by Condé Nast Traveler one of the Hot Tables in 2008, the restaurant draws on locally caught seafood and Icelandic traditions.
Kopar is a restaurant situated by the harbour. They specialize in exciting dishes with new and old methods. The recipes blend traditional ingredients with surprising ones. Furthermore, Kopar is the first restaurant in Reykjavík to serve Icelandic rock crab. They are famous for their tasty and exciting cocktails and you can enjoy your drink on their terrace by the old harbour.
Food Cellar is a Grill & Cocktail bar situated in a 160 year old building in the centre of Reykjavík. The food is in the Icelandic brasserie style, elegantly prepared by their skilled and enthusiastic chefs, using the finest Icelandic ingredients. Experience the secret menu which will take you to heaven and back. The bar has a superb selection of fine cocktails, put together by the outstanding bartenders.
Apotek Kitchen + Bar is an exciting restaurant located on one of the most beautiful street corners of Reykjavík. The restaurant is casual-smart, offering delicious food in a vibrant atmosphere and stylish surroundings. The menu is a fun mix of Icelandic and European cuisine with a smoking hot Argentinean grill. Dishes are designed to be shared and enjoyed together. Apotek is located at Austurstræti 16, one of the first large concrete buildings in Iceland. The building is known as “Apotekið” or “the pharmacy” because it housed Reykjavíkurapotek from 1930 to 1999.
Situated in one of the oldest houses in Reykjavík, right in the centre of the old town, Lækjarbrekka restaurant is very Icelandic with a cozy atmosphere. During reconstruction in 1980, every effort was made to preserve the original appearance. Step into the Icelandic 19th century and enjoy traditional dishes.
Steikhúsið/The Steak House:
The Steak House is a restaurant located in the up-and-coming downtown harbor district in Reykjavik. Highly recommended is their “Butcher’s pride” – beef tendered and treated for 28 days. Their specialty derives from a rare coal oven from MIBRASA which perfectly blends modern technology and ancient traditions to deliver the juiciest steaks imaginable. Although passionate about their steaks, they also offer delicious seafood and vegetarian dishes.
If you want to enjoy gourmet Scandinavian food with a French fusion twist, then Torfan Lobsterhouse is the right place for you. Our langoustine, Icelandic lobster, is widely know for it’s great taste and one of our most favourable dishes. Dining at Torfan is an experience full of warmth and history. Torfan Lobsterhouse seats over seventy people and has banquet rooms available for smaller groups.
Restaurant Reykjavik is a large and spacious combination of restaurant, café and a piano bar. It is located in the very centre of Reykjavík in a 3- floor 19th century former warehouse, which has recently been renovated. The Brasserie, on the ground floor, is open for lunch, coffee and dinners. The Rainbow rooms are on the second floor and the Cabaret room is on the third floor. The restaurant offers a wide range of menus but specialises in fish. This is also a possible venue for meetings in different surroundings.
The chefs at Dill try to use what surrounds them and embrace old Icelandic traditions in their own way. Their ingredients shine in their own simplicity without all accessories but most importantly they try to have fun while they’re at it. Dill restaurant is open Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 6:00 PM.
Downtown Reykjavík is all about throwing a good, old-fashioned soirée. Making allowances for eccentricities in chic sophistication is the essence of Geiri Smart Restaurant. On a culinary level, it´s simply implementing a good idea whenever it presents itself. There are no fixed rules and they play it by ear depending on what their farmers have to offer at any given moment. However, Iceland is an island and a little outside help is needed now and then. No matter the origins, quality produce is what sets the pace. Geiri Smart sets the path.
A genuine Viking feast restaurant, something to be remembered. Lively folk music and real Vikings to serve groups. Fjorukrain, also known as the Viking Village easily seats 350 guests. The emphasis is on the Viking Era and as you enter, you step into a world of the past. The décor is in the Viking style and they offer a true Viking feast with traditional meals served in old-fashioned Viking-style trays. During these famous feasts there is never a dull moment and the guests can expect various treats and surprises offered by our singing Valkyries and Vikings.
Austur-Indíafjelagið is located on Hverfisgata 56, an unassuming street in downtown Reykjavík that lies parallel to the main street, Laugavegur. The signature blue doors of Austur-Indíafjelagið mark the spot. Once you step inside, you will enter the world of Austur-Indíafjelagið and experience what critics and guests have called “a hidden gem”. Since 1994 they have taken delight in serving authentic, upscale Indian food.
Austurlandahraðlestin/The Indian Express:
The Indian Express is a high-quality Indian restaurants chain in Reykjavík with a charming and relaxed Bollywood décor. Some of the most popular dishes are the Western/Indian combinations of gunpowder masala, sweet potato fries and chicken tikka pizzas.
A popular restaurant or take away that serves healthy, fresh and exotic food. The menu is mostly based on Indian and Persian cuisine with a mix of French, Italian and Icelandic cooking.
The best vegetarian restaurant in town that takes pride in using fresh ingredients and buying as much possible from Icelandic farmers. Located on the second floor of Laugarvegur20B, walk in from the side street. Gló offers vegan, chicken, gluten free and raw food. Gló also offers coffee, tea and dessert.
Vínyl is a café, bar, restaurant and record shop located on Hverfisgata in central Reykjavik.
The first Vegan kitchen in Reykjavik, Vínyl has a relaxed atmosphere, live Dj’s and a good vibe.
There is simply no ingredient more important than location. Iceland’s naturally clean environment and pollution-free energy resources provide a strong foundation for exceptionally wholesome and tasty food products.
Many people have visited Iceland for its spectacular nature, but travelers also have the opportunity to explore its delicious secrets on culinary itineraries and experiences offered by Iceland Travel.
Visitors take in Iceland’s extraordinary nature while experiencing the traditional culinary heritage of the country with such activities as catching fresh fish from the pollution-free waters to be prepared and enjoyed in a gourmet restaurant, or by baking sweet rye bread underground using geothermal heat from hot springs.
On culinary inspired itineraries you can explore the tastes and textures of fresh local ingredients and discover the true soul of Icelandic cooking and how fresh food really should taste.
From free-range mountain lamb and fresh seafood to hormone-free dairy products and organic fruits and vegetables grown in geothermally heated greenhouses, there are endless opportunities to experience Iceland’s unique food culture. Here are a few treats not to be missed…
Icelandic Mountain Lamb
Lamb is the mainstay of Icelandic cuisine and is a must-try while visiting the country. Sheep roam the open countryside all summer long, feeding on wild berries, herbs and moss. This free-range flavor comes through in the succulent lamb meat, praised by chefs all over the world.
The best time to experience fresh mountain lamb is in late fall after ‘rettir,’ when the sheep are rounded up after the summer. Smoked lamb known as ‘hangikjot’ is enjoyed all year long, particularly at Christmas time when it is served with béchamel sauce, potatoes, green peas and red cabbage.
Treasures of the Sea
Iceland’s cold Atlantic waters yield a bounty of fresh seafood, which is likely to be among the most exquisite you have ever tasted. Fish generally arrives in shops and restaurants within hours of being caught and is incredibly tender and fresh.
The most common local species are cod, haddock, catfish, herring, monkfish, halibut, trout, Arctic char and salmon. Langoustine lobster from Hofn village in the southeast, fresh mussels and shrimp from the north are also abundant and reasonably priced. Wild-caught Atlantic salmon is firm and rich; usually served smoked or marinated with herbs. Cod is most often snacked on as dried, chewy ‘hardfisk’ but also cooked fresh and used in soups.
The best freshwater Arctic char comes from Thingvallavatn and Myvatn and has a beautiful subtle flavor. Whether its cod, salt cod, local lobster or various other fish, fresh seafood is an essential part of the Icelandic experience.
Iceland’s dairy products are just as exceptional as the fish and lamb, and are remarkably free of contaminants, growth hormones or antibiotics. The most popular dairy product is ‘skyr’ which resembles a thick, creamy, Greek-style yogurt that is eaten for breakfast, as a snack and is used in desserts. Skyr is very high in calcium and protein but surprisingly low in calories.
Varieties include plain, blueberry, melon, pear and vanilla. Ideally it is eaten plain with heavy cream stirred in and topped with seasonal berries.
Iceland also produces a great variety of cheeses, over 100 in fact. Most are mild, rarely aged and similar to Gouda although the local favorites are camembert and blue cheese. Travellers with a sweet tooth will also love rich Icelandic ice cream, which is sometimes made and sold directly from the farmhouse – look out for signs where you’re driving along the west coast and up north.
Due to the northerly climate, Iceland’s freshest fruits and vegetables come from geothermally heated greenhouses located mainly in the South or in towns such as Hveragerdi, 40 minutes outside of Reykjavik.
Locally grown vegetables are organic, free from pesticides and have a particularly fresh taste and crispness to them. The most popular are tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers. Many greenhouses are open to visitors to sample fresh produce and local schnapps made from the greenhouse vegetables.
There are several traditional Viking ‘delicacies’ that Iceland is famous for but probably the most notorious is fermented Greenland shark known as ‘hakarl.’
The meat of the shark is poisonous if eaten fresh but Vikings found that by burying the meat for three months or more, shark becomes acrid, rubbery, rotten, and indeed edible.
Washed down with ample quantities of the Icelandic spirit Brennivin, hakarl is mainly enjoyed in Jan-Feb during the Thorrablot Viking food festivals where traditional delicacies such as pickled rams testicles, blood pudding, sheep’s head jelly and pickled seal flippers are also enjoyed.