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Where to Eat and Drink in Reykjavik
Reykjavik is the ideal starting point for an adventurous road trip along endless snowy roads, sometimes surrounded by vegetation, lunar landscapes and fascinatingly intriguing rocky backdrops. The geography of one of the most enchanting countries in the world consists of lakes, mountains, volcanoes, fjords and glaciers, among other spectacular landscape features. Its capital, Reykjavik, is a trendy paradise dominated by middle-class inhabitants. There you may bump into Björk enjoying a cappuccino in the carefree environment of a café where top quality food is served. To assist you in the choice of great dining options in Reykjavik, we have chosen 8 restaurants you can never go wrong with.
1. Lava Restaurant
Aside from being situated in a fairy-tale location, the Blue Lagoon restaurant is representative of Iceland's creative cuisine. Its chef, Viktor Orn Andresson, who was named best Nordic chef of 2014, offers creative, organic cuisine, with an emphasis on fresh fish and vegetables. Here you can see the geothermal waters and lava formations of the Blue Lagoon open-air spa by just looking out the dining room's glass walls. Alternatively, an outdoor bathe in these warm medicinal waters can be enjoyed regardless of the freezing ambient temperature, while indulging in Icelandic avant-garde cuisine. Their dishes range from mutton tartar with spicy radish to garlic and crayfish soup, to delicious cod with citrus fruits.
Charming restaurant with spectacular views, located by the harbour. This delightful eatery is always busy thanks to their delectable seasonal cuisine, fresh produce – lovingly prepared – and a no-nonsense approach. They boast a great international wine list, with slightly higher prices than the rest of the menu, in addition to a wonderful choice of lavish dishes, some among the best we have ever tried – the harbour-style tuna (lightly roasted, with garlic chips), cod tongue with garlic and cherry, and creamy lobster risotto. Undoubtedly a must.
A visit to Reykjavik is incomplete without gazing up at the stunning Harpa building. Located by the sea, it houses a macro concert and conference hall that won a Mies Van Der Rohe prize and is the headquarters of the Icelandic Symphonic Orchestra and Opera. After a photo shoot of this glazed building and a sneak-peak at their design store, we can take the lift up to the 4th floor to Kolabrautin, its snazzy restaurant. While soaking up what is likely the best view of the city, you can enjoy a well-blended fusion of Icelandic and Italian cuisine, accompanied by a blissful cocktail or a glass of wine. If you would rather venture into one of the numerous eateries of the main street – Laugavegur, a paradise of art, design and fashion shops, cute cafés and restaurants – you can always move on to Kolabrautin after supper for some drinks.
4. Café Babalú
From the cosmopolitan sophistication of the last three options to the informality of this enchanting café. Café Babalú welcomes anyone at any time of the day, with an original and picturesque ambience and a menu that ranges from homemade cakes to soups, sandwiches and vegetarian pies. When approaching it from the street you'll see a pretty yellow house and, on entering, you'll be greeted by an interior of various types of vintage furniture. This renders Babalú the ideal location to enjoy the marvellous view from its glass front while clutching a massive cappuccino with both hands. Their cheesecake is the city's most popular.
5. Te & Kaffi
This bookshop café is a required stop. From its terrace you can sit back and watch Reykjavik's placid everyday life.If the weather is not on your side, you can take a seat at an indoor table and enjoy a large coffee and an equally remarkably-sized slice of cake. Meanwhile, you can flip through one of their art and design books in a pleasant and cosy atmosphere. This chain of cafés can also be found in some shopping centres.
One of the first things that will strike you when you set foot in Reykjavik is that Icelanders love huge cafés and homemade pastries. Indeed, the city is teeming with establishments packed with surprisingly slim hipsters, considering the amount of cakes they put away. One of the busiest cafés in town is Mokka, frequented by local artists, where their wonderful waffles are a must-try. No Wi-Fi connection here but, so what?
7. The Laundromat Cafe
As most things in Reykjavik, this place is super cute but, take note, their hamburgers are among the best you will find here. A totally kid-friendly spot with a playroom, this delightful café with wood-panelled walls is just as trendy as it is cosy. Bright, spacious and charismatic, The Laundromat Café is always lively and – yes – you can do your laundry here.
8. Slipp Bar
Like other buildings across the road from Reykjavik harbour, the bar of the Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina is a tribute to Scandinavian good taste (to the point it may give you Stendhal syndrome). An overnight stay at this soberly charming three-star is well worthwhile, and you'll almost fall asleep to the lullaby of the waves. Both Slipp Bar and the hotel are exquisitely decorated and are ideal spots to spend an afternoon in Reykjavik. Here you can enjoy a mid-morning coffee, a snack in the afternoon or a cocktail in the late evening, always with views over the sea and a designer lamp above you.
Feeling hungry? Check out our flights and discover Reykjavik's fabulous cuisine now!
Text and images by Laura Conde (Gastronomistas)