Holidays are coming! Holidays are coming! And with them, all the delicious food! As you can probably tell we are (and have been) pretty excited lately. Christmas is one of our favourite holiday seasons, and experiencing an Icelandic Christmas is definitely something we recommend. Iceland has tons of unique Christmas traditions, like the 13 Yule Lads that visit kids for the 13 nights prior to Christmas and leave them presents in their shoes or the infamous Christmas Cat that eats those who don’t get new clothes for Christmas. But one Christmas tradition Iceland has in common with other countries is food, delicious food. Here are our favourite restaurants that offer festive flavours to whet your appetite this holiday season.
Kolabrautin restaurant, located on the top level of the beautiful Harpa Concert Hall, has been a favourite amongst gourmands ever since it opened. Specialising in fine dining and spectacular views, Kolabrautin has an exceptional treat in store for guests around Christmas. Their scrumptious Christmas Buffet offers a three-course meal full of Icelandic Christmas specialities, with hot, cold and vegetarian options available. Enjoy an Icelandic Christmas dinner in one of Reykjavík’s most beautiful restaurants for a great price.
- Hangikjöt (smoked lamb) tartare with homemade cumin leaf bread
- Slow-cooked and grilled lamb
- Ris á l’amande with cherry sauce
For many Icelandic families, a trip to Jómfrúin restaurant has become an inseparable part of the Christmas preparations. This Danish-style restaurant is a classic and offers the traditional smørrebrød with an Icelandic twist. Located in downtown Reykjavík next to the Pond, Jómfrúin has a relaxed, old-timey feel that’s welcoming for diners of all ages. This year’s Christmas platter has a great selection of smørrebrød and traditional Icelandic Christmas cuisines that will give you a delicious taste of a Scandinavian Christmas.
- Gin & Juniper cured salmon with blueberry sauce
- Christmas roast pork with red cabbage and apples
- Selected Icelandic soft cheese
The Matarkjallarinn Grill & Cocktail Bar is located in a stunning 160-year-old house in downtown Reykjavík. This hip restaurant has live piano music to set the mood for your mouth-watering meal and on weekends turns into a happening lounge cocktail bar where you can savour the feeling of luxury by sampling some of their custom house blends. For Christmas they’re doing a super-secret menu we can’t tell you much about without spoiling the fun, but we can tell you our mouths instantly watered at the sight of it! If you’re not in the mood for surprises there’s also the 4-course “Experience Christmas” menu with its fresh take on traditional holiday treats.
- Grilled puffin & leg of goose with blueberries, button mushrooms
- Cured salmon with cream cheese, pear & moss
- Christmas ice cream with Toblerone, Bailey’s liqueur and gingerbread
One of Reykjavík’s most popular and enduring establishments, 3 Frakkar was founded by three world-class chefs in 1989 and has maintained a high standard of French/Icelandic cuisine ever since. Located in a small, cosy house in one of Reykjavík’s oldest neighbourhoods, this charming restaurant doesn’t do a specific holiday menu but they do take part in the classic Icelandic Christmas tradition of “skata.” Skata is putrefied skate and every year on December 23rd, or Thorlak’s Mass, Icelanders gather to eat this rare delicacy and prepare for Christmas. If you’re around town on the day then you won’t miss the smell but trust us, it tastes delicious. Feel like a true Icelander and join in on the fun.
- Christmas skate with all the trimmings
- Game pâté with Cumberland sauce
- Skyr brulée
The trendy Kex Hostel is known for many things; a cool mix of travellers and locals, plenty of live music events and tasty, tasty food to name but a few. Not your average hostel bar, the Kex restaurant (or Sæmundur í sparifötunum to give it its full, easily-pronounceable name) offers a modern twist on traditional Icelandic fare as well as standard pub grub. This Christmas they’ve put together an enticing Christmas menu in their usual cool style. Bonus points for the eggnog!
- Herring on Danish rye bread with pickled onion and soft boiled egg
- Glazed turkey breast with fried mushrooms, kale and hazelnuts
- Ris á l’amande with Icelandic berries