Finance educated, mountain and glacier loving, imaginary ski extraordinary and current resident of Reykjavik.
Now we go deep into the foodie world of Reykjavík. Find out what and where to eat while staying in Reykjavík, Iceland. Both fancy and budget-friendly - eating out in Reykjavik is a worthy experience either way. Let's see the best food places in Reykjavik!
BEST PLACES TO EAT IN REYKJAVIK CITY CENTRE
You might be wondering, where’s the best place to eat in Reykjavik? Well, I’m here to help.
Food! It plays a huge part in all of our lives. On the most basic level, we need it to survive, we need all those calories to keep our bodies functioning. But on a higher level, food serves many wonderful purposes.
We use it to celebrate big occasions, we go out to dinners and lunches to connect with people, we cook and bake to express ourselves and to relax. Sometimes food helps us through hard times and heartbreak (cue: chocolate, ice-cream and chips). Last but not least, food is a wholly enjoyable way to experience a country’s culture and history.
In recent years, Reykjavik, thanks to increased levels of tourism, has seen a huge increase in the number of high-quality restaurants popping up in the capital.
If you’re a foodie visiting Reykjavik, be sure to check out our carefully curated set of organized Food Tours in Reykjavik and beyond. However, if you’re keen to explore Iceland’s foodie delights on your own steam, then we’re here to help! We’ve pulled together a list of our top restaurant recommendations in the capital.
These restaurants will no doubt be the subject of many blog posts, but for now, I’m going to tell you about my favorite places to eat in the city. Some are hip, some are cheap, some are pretty basic, but they all serve fantastic food and are reasonably priced.
Read on to learn about my favorites…
1. MAT BAR
Location: Hverfisgata 26
First up on the list is a relatively new restaurant called Mat Bar. This tiny little place is located on the corner of Hverfisgata and Bergstaðastræti and is the perfect spot for a quick bite at lunch, afternoon drinks or an evening meal.
Mat Bar focuses on small plates, and the ordering process is similar to that of a typical Tapas restaurant. Dining with a friend? Order between two and five dishes, which, depending on how hungry you are, is the perfect amount to share.
The last time I went to Matt Bar, I sat next to some people visiting from Portugal. It was their third time in two days eating here. It made me feel a little better about my frequent visits. My go-to dishes are the Arctic char, cod, everything cheese, crushed potatoes, glazed beets, scallops and all the desserts.
Make sure you book reservations on their website since this place is almost always packed.
2. KOL – Kitchen Bar
Location: Skólavörðustígur 40
Next up on the list is Kol Restaurant. Situated at Skólavörðustígur and just a couple of houses down from Hallgrímskirkja (Iceland’s iconic church), Kol is one of my favorite places to eat.
The perfect location for lunch, I highly recommend you make time to visit this restaurant. Make sure to get there early, try and beat the lunchtime rush and order one of their famous burgers. My other favorite dishes include the freshly-caught fish of the day and the shared seafood starter.
If you require something stronger with your meal (because it’s 5 o’clock somewhere right?), these guys are also great at mixing drinks – check out their list of cocktails.
Location: Geirsgata 3
Down at the old harbor, overlooking the ocean and slightly hidden from sight, we have Kopar. A staple of Reykjavik’s restaurant scene, it never disappoints.
We recommend asking for a table upstairs, you’ll have spectacular views over the ocean and at night you might even catch a glimpse of the mesmerizing Northern Lights. Given its popularity, you may need to book a table during the peak season!
My current go-to dishes are the cod tongues for starters (don’t be scared, it tastes like the best fish and chips you’ll ever have) and mussels for the main course. The restaurant has a great selection of seafood options with the lobster and crab risotto being particularly popular.
If you think you have no room for dessert, think again!
Rok is a wonderful, rustic restaurant located close to Hallgrímskirkja. Despite its small size, this cozy little restaurant is easy to spot, thanks to its black paint and green turf roof – you can even see it from the church’s main entrance!
Rok has a tapas-style menu, with customers choosing two or three dishes each when they order. It’s hard to go wrong with this menu, as everything on it is incredible. It’s so good, in fact, I couldn’t pick a favorite. My only advice is to save room for dessert which is also delicious.
The restaurant boasts a great brunch menu and a beautiful covered patio – the ideal combination for lazy Sunday mornings spent eating good food and enjoying the sunshine. You can check out their photo gallery here.
Now to the cheaper eats, lunch or dinner in Reykjavík:
5. THE NOODLE STATION
Locations: Laugavegur & Bæjarhraun
Indian food is always a good idea. Hraðlestin is located in a couple of places in Reykjavik and is the fast-food brother to Austur Indíafélagið – a fancy, a white tablecloth, a gourmet Indian restaurant.
The latter has been around for ages, but the cheaper and newly-opened Hraðlestin, doesn’t sacrifice on taste. Come here for lunch or dinner, and stop by on Wednesdays, when vegans can enjoy an expanded selection of dinner options.
When it comes to recommendations, Thali, Chicken 65, Chicken Madras and all of the vegan options are my favorites – it’s just so good!
Indian food is always a good idea. Hraðlestin is located in a couple of places in Reykjavik and is the fast-food brother to Austur Indíafélagið (a fancier white tablecloth variation of the place) the later has been around for ages, but the newly opened Hraðlestin, gives no discounts on the amazing quality of food. Come here for lunch or dinner, and stop by on Wednesdays for an expanded selection of vegan options. Go to the dish: Thali, Chicken 65 and Chicken Madras along with all the vegan options.
7. THE COOCOO’S NEST
Located on Grandi, just a tad further out than the Old Harbour, you’ll find a collection of little restaurants, with The Coocoo’s Nest being my absolute favorite.
This place does a mean brunch and is a great option for weekend brunching. During the week, the menu is different each night, with themes varying from Taco Tuesday to sourdough pizza nights.
It can get a little cramped in here and they don’t take reservations, so make sure to get there early, but even if you have to wait for a seat, it normally doesn’t take that long.
My go-to dish is The Breakfast Burrito. The restaurant’s soups, salads and sandwiches are also delicious and the perfect pick for lunch.
8. THAI MATSTOFA
Location: Suðurlandsbraut 52
Now to a real hidden gem; Thai Matstofan. This place is the furthest thing from fancy and is located in Skeifan, about a five-minute drive from the city center.
I’m not going to lie, the first time a friend took me here I wasn’t totally sure it was a great idea, but I’m glad I was proven wrong!
Many, many years have passed since then and now, and I can’t keep myself away from Thai Matstofan. What’s not to love? The prices are good, the food is amazing, and the people are so friendly. You won’t regret a visit to Thai Matstofan! Whenever I’m there, I always order the Pad Thai. It never gets boring and is always tasty.
If you are dining in a group, be sure to check out their family offers.
Locations: Suðurlandsbraut 4 and Suðurlandsbraut 48
Fancy a filling salad? Then go to Fresco, Reykjavik’s best salad bar. When traveling, it can be hard to eat healthily, but Fresco will help you keep on track. It’s not at all fancy, but it tastes so so good! You can order salads from the menu, make tweaks to the existing options or even create your own salad. The Burrito Bowl, minus the red onions, with extra tomatoes, avocado and a dash of spicy California dressing is my favorite, but don’t take my word for it – try it!
Last but not least, for a little taste of Mexico, and in my opinion, the only good Mexican food you can find in Iceland, I give you Serrano!
Founded by two locals after they traveled the world and discovered the joys of Mexican food, Serrano aims to recreate the authentic flavors of Mexico, while making sure that each dish is fresh, healthy and of the highest quality.
There’s no doubt in my mind that Serrano succeeds in achieving all of the above. Think of Serrano as a healthier version of Chipotle. My top tip when ordering here is to ask for the Cajun Burrito, with a side of…everything else on the menu! You can thank me later.