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Best places to eat and drink in Reykjavik, Iceland: top 10 places to eat and drink

Discover clean Nordic flavours in the Icelandic capital, from hot smoked catfish and freshly baked sourdough to waffles with rhubarb jam

Old-school elegance At Hotel Holt’s restaurant, priceless works of Icelandic art hang on dark, wooden walls and a French-inspired menu (think duck liver and duck leg confit with apple jelly and fresh apples) adds to a sense of elegance, as does the bar’s red leather sofas, open fire and 4,000-bottle strong wine list. hotelholt.is

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Nesting instinct In the city’s old harbour area Coocoo’s Nest is a quirky bistro owned by photographer Íris Ann and artist/chef Lucas Keller. The menu leans towards Italy and California and everything is made from scratch including sourdough, pasta and ricotta. There’s also a great weekend brunch menu.

Nordic flavours Chef Gisli Matthias Auðunsson is making his mark on the local culinary scene, adding innovative twists to traditional Icelandic cooking. His restaurant, Matur og Drykkur (Food and Drink), is a cosy space with friendly, committed staff. Go for lunch and order steamed cabbage and lamb parcels with onion butter sauce, or book for dinner and try the whole roast cod’s head.

Table with a view An Italian-inspired fine-dining restaurant at the top of Harpa music and conference hall, Kolabrautin promises food as impressive as the views across Reykjavik harbour (house-made burrata with pickled tomatoes and basil). If you can’t stretch to dinner, splash out on a glass of franciacorta
at the bar instead.

Legendary waffles It first opened its doors in 1958 and Mokka Café hasn’t changed much since then. It was the first coffee shop to install an espresso machine and serve cappuccino, espresso and latte in Iceland. While the coffee is still great, the waffles with rhubarb jam and whipped cream are legendary.

Cocoa loco Award-winning Icelandic chocolatier Omnom is opening its eagerly awaited new factory premises and store this month. Any self-respecting chocaholic should sign up for one of the company’s tours, exploring the production process before ending with a tasting 
of its range; the liquorice and sea salt version is amazing.

Bake off Fourth-generation baker, Ásgeir Sandholt, runs the historic Sandholt bakery with his partner Lísa. It’s synonymous with craftmanship and the range of pastries, cakes and award-winning sourdough breads makes this an ideal place to visit for breakfast or coffee. Ásgeir pioneered the resurgence of sourdough baking in Iceland a decade ago and Lísa ́s pastry creations – not least her lemon and lavender tart – keep customers coming back.

Fish supper Set in the Nordic House,
 a space designed by famous Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, the Aalto restaurant is owned by chef Sveinn Kjartansson. A popular TV chef and food writer in Iceland, Kjartansson is known for innovative seafood cooking. Try the hot-smoked catfish with citrus.

Food trippin’ Sign up for a Food and Saga Gourmet Tour with Tyrfingur Tyrfingsson. ‘Tyffi’ founded Reykjavik’s acclaimed Lobster House restaurant, but on this half-day tour he’s a great guide to the history of the Icelanders and their food traditions. The tour ends at Tyffi’s home, where he cooks a meal with ingredients picked up along the way.

Budget bites As well as its own takeaway premises, Tokyo Sushi has a branch in Kronan, a budget supermarket in the city’s harbour area. The sushi is excellent, always fresh and great value. Look out for innovative dishes such as a salmon, green apple and chilli mayo maki roll.


Written by Eirny Sigurdardotti

Photographs: Alamy, Ragnor Visage/Andre Visage


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