The Best Restaurants in Reykjavík
There are so many great eateries in the Icelandic capital that it’s almost too hard to choose. Perhaps you’re on the hunt for somewhere intimate and elegant to impress your significant other or a memorable venue for a celebratory dinner. Maybe what’s required is a characterful and lively place for a leisurely weekend brunch or somewhere casual yet stylish to fuel up after a day’s sightseeing.
Regardless, there’s something somewhere in the city that’s a perfect fit. Some, like Perlan, come with an extra-special view, while others capitalise on cosy interiors created inside historic buildings. Why not try a few of them during your stay as you work your way through our picks for the best restaurants in Reykjavik?
1. Eiriksson Brasserie
This elegant yet relaxed brasserie occupies a historic building which was once home to Landsbanki Íslands. But this former bank has become a family affair, with experienced staff serving up European fare with an emphasis on Italian classics. Its extensive wine collection, numbering somewhere in the region of 4000 bottles, repurposes the old bank vault. There’s also a private dining room for those celebrating a special occasion.
Apotek’s menu is packed with tempting dishes. Starters include arctic char on a Himalayan salt block and waffles three ways with duck, lamb or cured sea trout. Follow with classics such as rack of lamb, chargrilled beef tenderloin and charcoal grilled salmon; opt for their vegan steak if you choose to live meat-free. Expert mixologists craft creative cocktails; plan to retire to the restaurant’s cosy lounge after your meal.
This grill house specialises in Moroccan and Middle Eastern fare and brings the flavours and atmosphere of Beirut – dubbed the Paris of the East – to downtown Reykjavik. Exotic spices elevate Icelandic ingredients to something unique. It’s a feast for all the senses: roasted cauliflower with pomegranate and almonds, salmon with chermoula and tahini or lamb shish kebab with tahini, harissa and sumac onion.
This classy, sophisticated place takes its design inspiration from nature, boasting live-edge wooden tables, raw lava rock-clad walls and leather seating. The food is unmistakably Icelandic, too. Atlantic cod and whale are offered alongside 35-day aged steaks from Miðey, smoked pork belly and horse tenderloin. Be sure to save room for dessert in the form of chocolate cake or ice cream.
Fiskimarkaðurinn (Fishmarket) capitalises on Iceland’s mid-Atlantic Ocean location. It serves a varied and enticing menu that features Asian specialities such as sashimi, nigiri, and maki alongside traditional Icelandic favourites like grilled fish. Charcoal-grilling sears the outside quickly on a 1400°C grill, ensuring the fish stays juicy on the inside. A tasting menu is recommended for groups of two or more diners.
6. Brass Kitchen and Bar
Located in the Alda Hotel on Laugavegur, Brass also welcomes non-guests to drink and dine in cheery, contemporary surroundings. The menu mixes casual fare such as fish and chips, burgers and chicken wings with dishes such as grilled lamb sirloin and oven-baked Arctic char. Wash down your food with a flight of a selection of Icelandic craft beers before rounding off your meal with a Belgian waffle or one of a variety of cakes.
Kol has satisfied discerning diners since 2014, and its commitment to serving high-quality food is the same now as when the place opened. Sævar Lárusson heads up a kitchen team that creates exquisitely presented dishes packed with flavour. Try the Icelandic set menu, which features birch-smoked salmon, Icelandic burrata cheese, a choice of either local fish or grilled lamb fillet and a mouthwatering white chocolate and skyr mousse.
This stylish, casual fine dining restaurant is well located on Frakkastigur in downtown Reykjavik. It offers a special seasonal menu in December, making it one of the best restaurants in Reykjavik for New Year’s Eve. But year-round, it serves inventive and tasty dishes. An extensive list of small plates includes wild mushroom risotto, salmon ceviche, fried cod with cabbage and cured reindeer with blue cheese.
Perlan is home to one of the best restaurants in Reykjavik with a view. Situated on the top of Öskjuhlíð Hill, its elevated position means you can see right across the city to the water and mountains beyond. Dine under its iconic glass dome as you take in the jaw-dropping 360-degree panorama. The menu’s full of deceptively simple crowd-pleasers like fish and chips, chicken salad and pizza, alongside Icelandic fare such as herring on home-baked rye bread, plokkfiskur and lamb soup. Whether you’re hungry or just looking for a light bite, this is the place to come.
Tapasbarinn is a shoe-in for the indecisive, serving Spanish-style tapas with an Icelandic twist. Its atmospheric interior makes this one of the best dinner restaurants in Reykjavik. Go hungry if you plan to order the Icelandic Gourmet Feast. This irresistible tasting menu includes smoked puffin, Arctic char, blue ling and minke whale. Save room for a decadent white chocolate skyr mousse with passion fruit coulis.
This stylish, contemporary pub is a super choice for casual dining with outdoor seating when the weather’s warmer. Graze on a selection of small plates, including slow-cooked lamb with flatbread from the Westfjords and lobster tempura. Those with a sweet tooth are especially well-catered for. Try the Þristur chocolate cake made with Iceland’s popular liquorice chocolate candy, coconut candy cake or traditional Icelandic pancakes.
The name of this lively gastro pub translates as “The Cute Pig”. It’s a fun place to come for a meal, not least for the Sunday evening entertainment in the form of party bingo. The food’s great, too. Start with small plates like cod tacos, BBQ buffalo chicken wings or pan-fried tiger shrimp, then follow up with pork cheeks, grilled salmon, baby back pork ribs or lamb shoulder. Come on weekends to sample its popular brunch menu.
13. Svarta Kaffið
If you’re looking for something filling, warm and tasty, this is a good place to come. This cosy café specialises in soup served in bread bowls. Flavours change daily but expect to find soups such as vegetable soup with curry and roasted tomatoes or meaty lamb or beef soup with chilli and bacon. It’s a simple place, housed in a traditional wooden house with unfussy décor.
14. Messinn Reykjavík
Fresh seafood has top billing in this well-established restaurant in the heart of downtown Reykjavik. You’ll love its seafood pans, served straight from the oven, which combines freshly cooked fish and potatoes fried in butter and vegetables. Try familiar fish such as cod and plaice, or something a little different, like ling or wolfish. They’re ideal for sharing, making this the perfect date night spot or a place to come with friends or family.
15. La Primavera
This restaurant serves up delicious Northern Italian cuisine at Marshall House and Harpa. The chefs utilise fresh Icelandic ingredients, which places a local spin on well-known favourites. Start with beef carpaccio, creamy burrata or prosciutto di Parma, followed by mains such as conchiglie with veal ragout and sliced pork saltimbocca. Desserts are equally yummy: save room for ricotta-filled cannoli or afogato.
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