Finding a good restaurant in a new city can be a daunting task. With countless options to choose from, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to start. It can be especially challenging when visiting a city as unique as Reykjavík, where the cuisine is heavily influenced by Icelandic traditions and ingredients. However, as a local who enjoys dining out, I can help you navigate the culinary scene in Reykjavík.
Living in Reykjavík has allowed me to discover some of the best restaurants and hidden gems the city offers. From traditional Icelandic dishes to international cuisine, fine dining to casual quick bites, I have tried it all!
These picks have been tried and tested by yours truly, so you can trust that they’re worth a visit. From hidden gems to popular hotspots, we’ve got something for everyone’s taste buds. Get ready to indulge in some of the best cuisines that Reykjavík has to offer!
Before we go into a list of my favourite places to eat in the city, let’s explore what to expect when dining in Reykjavík.
Introduction to Reykjavik’s Food Scene
Reykjavik’s food scene is often misunderstood by those who have yet to experience it. While some may assume that Icelandic cuisine consists only of bizarre dishes like rotten shark and pickled rams testicles, the truth is that there is a diverse range of options available. In addition to traditional Icelandic dishes, there are also international options to choose from.
One of the reasons why Icelandic food is so unique is because of the country’s pristine natural environment. With access to fresh seafood, wild game, and organic produce, Icelandic chefs have the opportunity to create dishes that are both flavorful and healthy.
It is worth mentioning that Iceland is one of the few countries in the world that doesn’t have a McDonald’s. However, that doesn’t mean that you will be deprived of your fast-food fix when visiting. In fact, there are plenty of other famous fast-food chains and burger joints in Iceland that satisfy locals and tourists alike.
So, while it’s true that pickled rams testicles and rotten sharks are part of Iceland’s food culture, visitors to the country can rest assured that they won’t have to eat these dishes… unless they want to. Instead, they can indulge in the many excellent restaurants serving delicious and inventive cuisine showcasing the best of Icelandic ingredients.
Top Picks for Fine Dining
For those looking for a luxurious dining experience in Reykjavik, I have compiled a list of top picks for fine dining. These restaurants have been personally tried and tested by myself to ensure the highest quality of food and service (not just because I really wanted to go there)
So, indulge in the culinary creations of Reykjavik’s finest chefs and elevate your dining experience to new heights with these 5 fantastic restaurants.
Sjávargrillið – Seafood Grill
Sjávargrillið, a renowned seafood restaurant, prides itself on offering its customers a unique culinary experience by serving fresh, innovative dishes that highlight the best of Icelandic cuisine. The chef, Gústav Axel Gunnlaugsson, founded the restaurant in 2011 and created a bold and innovative menu after travelling the country, looking for “the authentic taste of Iceland”.
The menu features a range of seafood dishes as well as meat and vegan options, prepared using locally sourced ingredients. The restaurant’s atmosphere is warm and welcoming, with rustic furnishings made out of driftwood the chefs have found. In addition to the delicious food and cosy atmosphere, Sjávargrillið’s attentive staff provides excellent customer service, ensuring every guest feels right at home.
Rok is a must-visit restaurant if you’re looking for a unique dining experience in Reykjavik. Its rustic design is inspired by traditional Icelandic turf houses, giving you a taste of the country’s rich cultural heritage. The name “Rok” means “windy,” which is very Icelandic and adds to the authentic atmosphere.
One of the best things about Rok is its outdoor seating area, where you can enjoy your meal while taking in the stunning views of the city. The restaurant is conveniently located near the iconic Hallgrímskirkja church, making it an excellent spot for tourists to stop and grab a bite.
When it comes to the food, Rok offers a variety of dishes, from beef to vegan, all of which are delicious and beautifully presented.
- Address: Tryggvagata 16, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
- Reservation: https://www.rokrestaurant.is/reservations
- Price range: $$$
Grillmarkaðurinn is a highly acclaimed restaurant known for its modern take on traditional Icelandic cuisine. Chefs Hrefna Rós Sætran and Guðlaugur P. Frímannson serve up a variety of inventive dishes using the freshest ingredients sourced from local suppliers. The restaurant’s interior is designed to evoke a warm and rustic atmosphere, with exposed brick walls, wooden panelling, and vintage furnishings creating an inviting ambience.
The menu at Grillmarkaðurinn features a selection of grilled dishes ranging from lamb and beef to seafood and vegetarian options. Each dish is carefully crafted by the restaurant’s skilled chefs, using a range of cooking techniques that draw out the unique flavours of each ingredient.
Alongside its impressive food offerings, Grillmarkaðurinn also boasts a wide selection of fine wines, beers, and spirits, making it a great spot for a special occasion or a night out with friends.
Sumac Grill + Drinks
Sumac Grill + Drinks is a must-visit restaurant in Reykjavik for those who love Middle Eastern cuisine and handcrafted cocktails. The restaurant’s nostalgic atmosphere is inspired by the city of Beirut, making it a popular spot for both locals and visitors. The Middle Eastern twist on Icelandic ingredients is a unique culinary experience that you won’t find anywhere else in the city.
The restaurant boasts a modern brasserie style with trendy concrete walls, burnished leather banquettes, and a charcoal grill. It’s a lively spot that’s perfect for a night out with friends or a romantic dinner.
Sumac Grill + Drinks has even received recognition from Michelin in 2023, making it a highly recommended spot to add to your list of top picks for Reykjavik restaurants.
One restaurant that you definitely shouldn’t miss when exploring Reykjavik’s culinary scene is Dill Restaurant. This Michelin-starred restaurant is a true gem and was created by the talented chef Gunnar Karl. You can find it on Laugavegur Shopping Street, right in the heart of the city.
Not only is Dill Restaurant known for its exceptional cuisine, but it has also been awarded a Michelin Green Star for its outstanding eco-friendly commitments. This makes it a great choice for those who are looking for a dining experience that is not only delicious but also environmentally conscious.
- Address: Laugavegur 59, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
- Reservation: https://dill.superbexperience.com/
- Price range: $$$$
Hidden Gems For Local Cuisine
While popular restaurants in Reykjavik are sure to satisfy your taste buds, there’s something special about finding hidden gems for local cuisine. These restaurants may not have the same fame as their popular counterparts, but they offer a unique culinary experience that’s worth seeking out.
Cafe Loki might not be so well hidden as it is located right across the street from the iconic Hallgrimskirkja Church. However, it is a fantastic spot to try traditional Icelandic dishes with a twist, including fermented shark, smoked lamb, and rye bread ice cream.
Aside from its delicious food, Cafe Loki also has a cosy and charming atmosphere, with wooden tables and chairs, colourful Icelandic artwork, and a view of the church across the street. It’s the perfect spot for a relaxing lunch or a cosy dinner after a long day of exploring Reykjavik.
- Address: Lokastigur 28, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
- Reservations: https://loki.is/reservations
- Price range: $$
If you’re looking for a traditional Icelandic dining experience, Kaffivagninn is a must-visit restaurant in Reykjavik. Located on the waterfront in the Grandi region, this cosy restaurant offers stunning views of the Old Harbor and a menu filled with classic Icelandic dishes.
Seeing as Kaffivagninn is located by the harbour, you should expect a lot of fresh fish on the menu. And their fish and chips are definitely a standout item, made with fresh Icelandic cod and served with homemade tartar sauce. Kaffivagninn also serves meat dishes, breakfast items, and cakes.
But Kaffivagninn isn’t just known for its delicious food, they also have a rich history. The restaurant is the oldest in Reykjavík, established in 1935. For almost 90 years, it has served as a gathering place for fishermen, locals, and the occasional tourist who finds it.
- Address: Grandagardur 10, 101 Reykjavik, Iceland
- Website: https://kaffivagninn.is/en/
- Price range: $$
Hlemmur Food Hall is a vibrant culinary destination that brings together a variety of food vendors and restaurants under one roof. However, with so many options, finding a good restaurant offering local cuisine can be tricky. It’s a good thing, then, that you’re reading this article.
One of the standout vendors at Hlemmur Mathöll is Skál, which was rewarded a Michelin Bib Gourmand 2019. Skál serves up Nordic-inspired cuisine with a focus on local and sustainable ingredients. Their menu changes regularly, but you can expect dishes like smoked Arctic char, Icelandic scallops, and beef tartar.
But Skál isn’t just about the food – it’s also known for its impressive selection of natural wines and Icelandic craft beers. The knowledgeable staff can recommend the perfect beverage to pair with your meal, whether you prefer a hoppy IPA or a dry white wine.
- Address: Laugavegi 107 Hlemmur Mathöll, 105 Reykjavik, Iceland
- Website: http://skalrvk.com/
- Price range: $$$
Kaffi Laugalækur is a cosy café and restaurant in Laugardalur Valley. Close by is a beautiful botanical garden, an ice skating rink, Reykjavík Family Park & Zoo, and the country’s largest swimming pool, Laugardalslaug, making it a perfect stop after a day of activities.
The menu of Kaffi Laugalækur is a unique blend of traditional Icelandic items, international dishes, and a mix of the two. I highly recommend the Plokkfiskur Sourdough Flatbread. It’s a pizza-like bake with plokkfiskur-hashed fish, garlic butter, cheese, béarnaise sauce, and crumbled rye bread.
One of the standout restaurants in Reykjavik is ÓX. This Michelin Star restaurant is incredibly popular, but it’s also very well hidden despite being located on Reykjavík’s most popular street.
With only 16 seats available, it’s important to book well in advance to secure your spot. But trust me, it’s worth the effort to experience the exquisite cuisine and intimate atmosphere at ÓX.
You’ll start your evening with a drink in the cozy lounge, where you can mingle with other guests before taking your seats at the counter. The dishes at ÓX are a perfect blend of traditional and modern cuisine, with a focus on intense flavors.
If you’re looking for an intimate and lively dining experience in Reykjavik, ÓX should definitely be on your list.
Budget-Friendly Options for Travellers
Iceland can be expensive, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice delicious meals while exploring Reykjavik. There are plenty of budget-friendly options for travellers looking to save money while enjoying the local cuisine. From food trucks to casual cafes, there are many hidden gems that offer tasty meals at affordable prices.
Bastard Brew & Food
Bastard Brew & Food serves a variety of mouth-watering lunch and dinner options, including burgers, tacos, and chicken wings, all at a reasonable price! And don’t forget to try their craft beer, brewed in-house and perfect for pairing with any meal.
Their weekend brunch is a must-try, featuring a variety of delicious dishes that will satisfy any craving. From classic eggs benedict to American-style pancakes, there’s something for everyone. Plus, their bottomless mimosas are the perfect addition to any brunch.
The bright red house on the corner of Frakkastígur and Njálsgata (a short walk from Hallgrímskirkja) houses Drekinn, one of the best places to get an Icelandic delicacy known as a sjoppuborgari.
At first glance, a sjoppuborgari looks just like a regular hamburger; a beef patty served in a bun with various toppings, like lettuce, onion and cheese. But it has an Icelandic flair. A good sjoppuborgari must be juicy, slathered in a special pink sauce and overly seasoned with a mystery mix of spices. It is served in a tin foil wrapper with a side of french fries, also overly seasoned with this mystery mix. It might not sound good but trust me, it is!
You won’t find a good sjoppuborgari in a typical restaurant. No, this delicacy is reserved for fast-food places only, especially roadside shops or little hole-in-a-wall establishments, such as Drekinn.
Aside from a good sjoppuborgari, you can also get hot dogs, fish and chips, pitas and other fried food at Drekinn. It also serves as a corner shop with basic necessities like milk and tobacco.
- Address: Njalsgata 23, 101 Reykjavik, Iceland
- Price range: $
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly restaurant in Reykjavik, Devitos Pizza is definitely worth checking out. This pizza joint has been serving up delicious pies to locals and tourists alike since 1994. But it’s not just the affordable prices that make Devitos Pizza a popular spot. It’s also the perfect late-night snack for those who have been enjoying Reykjavik’s nightlife.
Located on Laugavegur, the main shopping street in Reykjavik, Devitos Pizza is easy to find. The restaurant has a cosy and casual atmosphere, with a few tables and chairs for those who want to dine in. But most customers opt for takeout, especially after a night of partying.
When it comes to budget restaurants in Reykjavik, 2 Guys is a must-visit spot for burger lovers. Their menu offers a variety of unique burgers, including a few vegan options. My personal favourite is the 2Pac burger. It’s topped with bacon, cheese, and jalapenos. It is also coated in sweet chilli Doritos that pack a flavorful punch.
But what sets 2 Guys apart from other burger joints is their unique atmosphere. Not only can you enjoy a delicious burger, but you can also play a game of darts while you eat. It’s the perfect spot for a casual night out with friends or a fun date night.
And the best part? The prices are incredibly affordable, making it a great option for those on a budget.
Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur
One of the top picks for foodies visiting Reykjavik is Bæjarins Beztu. This small hot dog stand has served delicious Icelandic hot dogs since 1937. Despite its humble appearance, Bæjarins Beztu has gained worldwide fame, with many celebrities and politicians stopping by to taste their famous hot dogs.
What makes Bæjarins Beztu’s hot dogs so special? It’s all in the ingredients. The hot dogs are made from a blend of beef, lamb, and pork, giving them a unique flavour that can’t be found anywhere else. They’re also topped with various condiments, including ketchup, mustard, remoulade, raw onions, and crispy fried onions.
But what really sets Bæjarins Beztu apart is its history and culture. The hot dog stand has become a symbol of Icelandic street food and a beloved institution in Reykjavik. Locals and tourists alike flock to Bæjarins Beztu to sample their hot dogs and soak up the atmosphere of this iconic eatery.
Recommendations for Vegan and Vegetarian Options
For those who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet, finding suitable restaurant options can be challenging when travelling. But not in Reykjavík! Most restaurants in the city have vegan or vegetarian options…and it’s not just a salad or a head of cauliflower.
Notable restaurants with great vegan options include Gaia Reykjavik, LAMB street food, Mandi, Rok, and Reykjavík Chips.
However, while you’ll undoubtedly find various options at most restaurants, I’ve compiled a list of purely vegan or vegetarian restaurants to make your search even easier.
Mama Reykjavik is a cosy little spot in downtown Reykjavik offering delicious plant-based dishes inspired by Icelandic cuisine.
Their menu is filled with salads, sandwiches, burgers, soups, wraps, and other delicious plant-based dishes that are perfect for any time of the day! They also have an array of inventive vegan desserts, including ice cream sundaes.
The atmosphere is comfortable yet vibrant, and their attentive staff will attend to your every need. Whether you’re looking for something creative or comforting, Mama Reykjavik has something to satisfy everyone’s cravings for quality plant-based food!
- Address: Laugavegur 2, 101 Reykjavik, Iceland
- Website: https://www.mamareykjavik.is/
- Price range: $$
Chickpea Vegetarian Restaurant is one of the best places for takeaway vegan and vegetarian food in Reykjavík. This little establishment is located in the heart of the city and serves delicious and healthy dishes made from scratch every day. Perfect for those who follow a plant-based diet.
Although it may be hard to find since it has no sign outside, it’s definitely worth the search (you’ll find it next to Krónan Supermarket). This underrated restaurant is small but offers excellent food and good value for money.
- Address: Hallveigarstígur 1, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
- Website: https://www.facebook.com/chickpearvk/
- Price range: $$
One restaurant that should definitely be on your list when visiting Reykjavik is Garðurinn. Located in the trendy 101 district, Garðurinn is perfect for those seeking vegan and vegetarian options, as the menu changes regularly to offer a variety of healthy food choices.
The relaxed atmosphere has a cool hippy vibe, making it a great place to unwind and enjoy a meal. Additionally, Cafe Garðurinn is known for its great pastries, so save room for dessert!
- Address: Klapparstígur 37, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
- Website: https://kaffigardurinn.is/
- Price range: $$
If you’re a vegan or just looking for some delicious plant-based options in Reykjavík, Loving Hut is a restaurant you won’t want to miss. With locations worldwide, including Reykjavík, Loving Hut serves up big portions of primarily Asian cuisine, but they also offer burgers, fake meat, and fish dishes. Occasionally, they even have an all-you-can-eat buffet.
Whether you’re a committed vegan or just looking to try something new and healthy, Loving Hut is definitely worth a visit.
Kattakaffihúsið – Cat Café
Kattakaffihúsið, also known as the Cat Café, is a unique vegan and vegetarian restaurant located in Reykjavík. As the name suggests, the café is home to several friendly cats that roam around and interact with the customers, making it a popular spot for animal lovers.
The menu at Kattakaffihúsið has various vegan and vegetarian options for light lunches or snacks. The café offers a selection of vegan cakes and pastries, which are freshly baked daily. Customers can enjoy their food and drinks while petting the cats or playing with them, creating a relaxing and enjoyable atmosphere.
Kattakaffihúsið is not only a restaurant but also a cat shelter, where the staff and volunteers take care of the cats. Visitors can even adopt a cat if they fall in love with one of the furry residents.
- Address: Bergstaðastræti 10A, 101 Reykjavik, Iceland
- Website: https://www.kattakaffihusid.is/
- Price range: $$
Reykjavík is a great city for food lovers looking to explore the vibrant and diverse culinary scene. Whether you’re a vegan, vegetarian, or an omnivore, there’s something for everyone here. From traditional Icelandic dishes to modern twists on international cuisine, the restaurants in Reykjavík offer an array of delicious options.
For a quick meal, visit Chickpea or Devitos Pizza. If you’re looking for a more unique experience, head to Dill or Kattakaffihúsið – Cat Café. No matter what type of food you’re in the mood for, you won’t be disappointed in Reykjavík.