UPDATE: The Copenhagen Street Food market at Paper Island that we speak about in this post is no longer in operation. It has been taken over by a new market called Reffen on Copenhagen’s industrial Refshaleøen.
While the food vendors have changed, the concept of Reffen is the same as it was before. You will find a very similar experience at Reffen, where there are over 50 start-ups.
Here are directions from Visit Copenhagen on how to get there: Strömma / Canal Tours’ canal cruise will sail from the centre of the city to Refshaleøen. In addition, you can go by bike (15 minutes from the Nyhavn), car, the public bus 9A (every 5-10 minutes) or the harbour busses 991 or 992.
Before we went to Copenhagen, I was doing my usual research, looking for great places to eat and drink in the city, when I came across a very interesting website for Copenhagen Street Food and I instantly added it to our itinerary. After visiting in person, I’m really glad we took the time to check it out, because it’s a foodie’s paradise.
Every city needs one of these!
Located just across the water from the ultra-popular Nyhavn harbour area, Copenhagen Street Food is housed in a white-washed, non-descript warehouse building. It doesn’t look like much from the outside, even when dozens of well-fed patrons are hanging out in the sun at the picnic tables outside. But what you find inside will instantly make your eyes expand to twice the size of your stomach.
The concept isn’t exactly unique. There are dozens of street food conglomerations around the world where food vendors have come together to form a little food city of their own, but the way they’ve gone about it here is different. Not only is it Copenhagen’s only authentic street food market, but it’s also the only place in the city where food cultures, ideas and initiative come together in one effort and the only parameters are that the food tastes good, is made from scratch, and is sustainable.
The (currently) 33 food trucks, booths and containers are all housed inside the enormous Papiroen Building on Paper Island. There’s a map of the layout with street names and various sectioned off areas for eating and drinking. Plus, because it’s all inside, it’s not affected by the weather. Local chefs are able to build their own concept and set up shop inside without the constraints they might find elsewhere, so they can be as creative as they want.
You can take a really convenient water taxi to Paper Island from the pier at Nyhavn. Eventually a foot-bridge will be completed so visitors can walk across instead, but construction seems to be going rather slowly on the bridge. As you walk from the water taxi to the Papiroen building, you’ll find signs all along the way leading you to the entrance.
Up above I mentioned containers — that is one of the coolest things about this place. Some of the food vendors have driven traditional food trucks into the space. Some have set up make-shift booths and shanties. Others have chosen to work out of shipping containers. We particularly loved the two-story booths. We could see the chefs working upstairs and bringing the food down to the storefront.
The other thing we really appreciated about Copenhagen Street Food is that the food is so diverse. There are many different International cuisines represented, like Mexican, Korean, Japanese, Italian, etc. You can go several times and not even overlap countries. We were excited to be able to try a bunch of different stuff from around the world all in one place.
You’ll find tons of different food options, from burgers and pizza to huge piles of carpaccio and duck-fat fries. There are coffee shops, bars serving beer, alcohol and wine, ice cream shops and juice bars. There’s organic, gluten free and just about any other food movement you wish for. You can find fresh, homemade pasta and super crispy fish & chips.
We went in with as empty of a stomach as possible, in the hopes of finding some really good food, and we were not disappointed. The only thing we wish was that we had more room in our bellies for the dozen more dishes we wanted to try but couldn’t fit. Here are the things we tried:
My ultimate favorite of the six things we tried was the crispy duck bowl from Red China. They had a couple of really tasty looking dishes laid out on display — all of them were probably great. But the crispy duck was crazy good. It was piled high with duck, rice, cabbage and spring rolls.
Copenhagen Street Food is a great place to hang out with friends and enjoy a fun progressive lunch around all the food you could possibly eat. But it’s also a great initiative. The association supports the conservation of the The Original Red Danish Dairy Breed and the biodynamic farm Thorshøjgaard. If you buy water at the venue, you’ll also be supporting these things, so you can feel good about your contribution to the cause.
I would absolutely love to go back to Copenhagen Street Food to see how it progresses over time. There is so much potential there. If only we had something like that in Seattle! But then I’d probably end up eating myself to death.
If you’re ever in Copenhagen, make sure you put this on your itinerary and don’t eat before you go!
Laura Lynch, creator and writer of Savored Journeys, is an avid world traveler, certified wine expert, and international food specialist. She has written about travel and food for over 20 years and has visited 70+ countries.