Best Places to Eat and Drink in Reykjavik
Are you looking for the best places to eat and drink in Reykjavik? I only spent 48 hours in Reykjavik during a February stopover but managed to check out a good variety of the city’s cafes, bars and restaurants. Here are the places that I enjoyed.
Best Places to Eat and Drink in Reykjavik
Where to Eat in Reykjavik
After arriving in Reykjavik bright and early, and dropping my bags off at Reykjavik Downtown Hostel, I set out to find a cafe where I could ride out a morning blizzard. Stofan Cafe was the perfect spot to relax with a warm cup of chai and a pastry (about $12 US). Since I wanted to keep myself awake, I chose to sit at a table, but there are plenty of soft vintage couches and chairs if you want to be a little more comfortable. Besides drinks and sweets, Stofan also has a variety of sandwiches and soups.
I spent an evening hanging out and working at Kaffibrennslan, another warm and inviting cafe with a very friendly staff. I enjoyed the salmon sandwich special – there’s typically about a dozen sandwiches on the menu – and nursed a cup of tea (about $20 US). The desserts looked tasty as well – particularly the carrot cake – but to save some cash, I opted to stop at the grocery store on the way back to the hostel and pick up a chocolate bar.
I was drawn to Cafe Babalu – which sits right on Skólavörðustígur, the main road through the tourist area – because its yellow exterior stood out on a cloudy day. The inside is quite colorful as well and features mis-matched tables and chairs along with quirky decorations. It has many vegetarian and vegan options available including salads, soups and sandwiches – I chose the caprese panini (about $15 US). I would’ve spent more time there, but unfortunately, I was seated next to an obnoxious young man who held a loud phone conversation next to me detailing his female conquests around the globe.
Reykjavik Fish was recommended by a foodie friend of mine, and it didn’t disappoint. After a long day of walking around and taking a dip in one of the local pools, I was in the mood for some comfort food. I didn’t get down to the Old Harbour until about 9:30 p.m., when most restaurants were closing up, but fortunately Reykjavik Fish was happy to serve me. I devoured a heaping plate of fish and chips and washed it all down with a Viking beer (about $25 US).
Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur (“The Best Hot Dog in Town”)
I don’t eat hot dogs myself, but it’s obvious Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur lives up to its name. Every time I passed the stand – located right in front of the Radisson – it always had a very long line in front of it. (And I had heard from meat-eating friends that hot dogs are a filling and economical meal choice in Iceland.)
Here are some other restaurants that came highly recommended:
- Bergsson Mathús – for a hearty breakfast or brunch
- Fish and More – for the best fish soup in town
- Hverfisgata 12 – for fantastic pizza (There’s no sign, so it might be a little hard to find.)
Tip: Friends who have spent more time in Iceland than me me recommend buying packaged foods at grocery stores and gas stations. (Apparently the gas stations have surprisingly good food!). I noticed grocery store sandwiches cost about $10 US, whereas in cafes they were about $15.
Where to Drink in Reykjavik
Reykjavik loves its coffee. (I have a feeling it’s like Seattle – people need caffeine to compensate for the lack of sunshine.) Reykjavik Roasters was recommended by the same friend who recommended Reykjavik Fish. There are two locations – I made a stop at Kárastigur, the original location, late afternoon on my second day to refuel with a cafe latte. The interior is light and modern, but since there aren’t many seats, I was stuck next to a man who pestered me with marriage proposals (He was looking for a way to get to the U.S. I politely declined.) But I was able to get a bit a work done, and I enjoyed my latte, which was creamy and strong.
I’m usually skeptical of hanging out underground – college bar flashbacks – but I made an exception for Micro, which is consistently listed as one of the best bars in Reykjavik. It’s one large, no-frills room with a bar that runs along one wall and lots of colorful wooden tables and chairs. There was no music playing while I was there – I’m not sure if it’s always like that – but both the tourists and locals around me seemed to be having a good time. I read my book and chatted with the bartender, who recommended five of the dozen or so Icelandic beers on tap for my flight (about $30 US).
Skúli Craft Bar
Skúli, which also makes a lot of “best bar in Reykjavik” lists, is a more traditional-style pub that sits in the corner of a building right off Austurvöllur square. Like Micro Bar, it has a nice variety of Icelandic beers on tap as well as a very friendly bartender (this one was half Icelandic, half American). I foolishly ordered an American beer (about $13 US) because I didn’t recognize the name. But I had a nice time chatting with the American couple from D.C. that sat next to me at the bar.
Pablo Discobar is a bonus recommendation because I actually didn’t get to visit this quirky 70s-themed bar during my 48 hours in Reykjavik. However, I did get to meet bar manager Teitur Ridderman Schiöth, one of Iceland’s hottest bartenders, at Taste of Iceland in Boston last month. I can assure you, he makes a tasty cocktail.
- Slippbarinn – for creative cocktails and live music
- SKY Restaurant & Bar – for the best views in town