Where to eat in Reykjavik, Iceland, and what to order!
Where to eat in Reykjavik, Iceland, and what to order!

When we started planning our trip to Reykjavik, Iceland, in the dead of winter, we weren’t really expecting much. I thought it would be cold, snowy, and maybe even a little quieter than usual, but I was so wrong. Not only did we find Reykjavik to be an exciting, activity filled city, we came upon some of the most interesting and delicious food options we’ve seen in a while. I had no idea Iceland was so full of culinary surprises! If you’re a foodie, or just love to travel for food, you have to check out Reykjavik’s exciting food scene and see for yourself! We’ll provide you here with a primer of where to eat in Reykjavik.

You’re in for a real treat when it comes to the restaurants in Reykjavik. The variety is stunning, the food presentation is eye popping, and the atmosphere is fantastic. Eating out in Reykjavik can be one of the highlights of a trip there (although rather expensive, so be prepared!).

While there are dozens of choices for both what and where to eat, even in winter many of the restaurants are fully booked and require an advanced reservation.  But when you start planning a trip to Reykjavik, Iceland, I strongly suggest you also plan what and where you’re going to eat while you’re there and start making reservations, or you’ll end up being disappointed.

What to Eat in Reykjavik

Let’s start with what you should be ordering in Reykjavik, and throughout Iceland, so you can choose what you’d like to try, then find the restaurant that serves it. There are so many ingredients and products in Iceland that aren’t used elsewhere, so it’s a true adventure to eat there. As a foodie, you’ll be blown away. Likewise, if you’re not an adventurous eater, you might be a little thrown off.

  • Langoustine – They call it lobster on almost every menu, but it’s actually langoustine, a cousin of the lobster. Langoustine can be found in salt water and oceans, and they grow to only a quarter of the size of lobsters. They have a very sweet and succulent meat in their tails.
  • Lamb – One of the claims to culinary fame for Iceland. They use a lot of lamb and it’s exceptionally tender and tasty. Lamb is an ingredient in the hot dogs you’ll find in Iceland.
  • Puffin – Yes, the cute little bird! You’ll find it on many menus around town, generally smoked and with some type of sauce.
  • Lobster or fish stew – The lobster stew that is so famous around Iceland is really fantastic. It’s a mix of lobster stock, cream and spices.
  • Cured Shark – It’s true that fresh shark meat can be poisonous, but once it’s been cured, the poisonous issue goes away. Cured shark is consumed in Iceland as a snack.
  • Brennivín – This is the national liquor, which is a licorice-flavored schnapps.
  • Minke Whale – the debate rages on. It’s on a lot of menus. It’s up to you to decide.
  • Horse – You might be completely repulsed by the idea of eating horse, but in Iceland (and many other parts of the world) it’s just what they do. If you’re daring enough to give it a try, it’s actually quite good. Served as a filet, it’s tender and very much like a beef steak.

Where to Eat in Reykjavik

Sægreifinn (Seabarin)

Sægreifinn's (Seabarin) famous lobster stew
Sægreifinn’s (Seabarin) famous lobster stew (Photo by Savored Journeys)

Our first foodie stop was at Sægreifinn (Seabarin), which bills itself as having the best lobster soup around. They also have skewers of all kinds of fish, including Trout, salmon,shrimp, cod, scallops, redfish, catfish, plaice and monk fish, among others. The space is really small and can only seat so many people. They only accept reservations for up to 4, but if you want to get in for dinner, you should absolutely have a reservation.

When we went, just before the regular lunch hour, it wasn’t fully packed yet, so we got a seat at one of the long tables. We ordered both the lobster soup and a few skewers of fish. Both were delicious and warmed us right up. The lobster soup was very good, though it didn’t have the creamy richness I was expecting. The flavor was definitely there. If you want to try to make this soup at home, check out this really great tribute to the owner of Sægreifinn (who passed away in 2015), that includes a sneak peak at their recipe.

Sægreifinn – Geirsgata 8, Reykjavik 101, +354 553 1500
Read reviews on Trip Advisor

Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur

A Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur hot dog
A Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur hot dog (Photo via Flickr by Stin Shen)

I’m not entirely sure why this small hot dog stand, located on a side street near the marina, is so famous. But it definitely is, and you’ll figure that out first thing just by the line forming in front of it. It’s been open since 1937 and has been serving the masses what has become known as the best hot dog in Europe. You have to order the hot dog with “the works”. The “works” simply means ketchup, mustard, onions and a special roumalade with relish. It sounds awesome, and I wanted it to be awesome, but the fact is, it’s still just a hotdog. Even Bill Clinton stopped by for a dog once (and his picture is hanging proudly at the stand). The dog did have a nice snap to it. But the best hotdog in Europe? Doesn’t really matter, we’ll still get in line for it!

Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, Tryggvagata 1, Reykjavik 101, +354 511 1566
Read reviews on Trip Advisor

Grillmarkadurinn (Grill Market)

Grill Market's Lobster feast
Grill Market’s Lobster feast (Photo by Savored Journeys)

One of the best restaurants we went to in Reykjavik was Grillmarkadurinn (Grill Market). I am still thinking about that dinner. The restaurant has a really great atmosphere. The downstairs dining room has all rock walls. Plus they have the best bread and butter service anywhere. They also have a chef’s tasting menu, as most places in town do, which looked pretty amazing, but we had our sights set on specific menu items so we went a la carte.

For a starter, we had the trio of mini burgers, made with reindeer, langoustine and whale. It’s one of their specialties, and practically required eating! For our main courses, we chose the Tenderloin of Horse and the Grilled Lobster with champagne sauce. Our jaws dropped at the giant mound of lobster tails (langoustine) that was piled on the plate. It was almost more than the two of us could eat in one sitting, but we did it anyways. It was expensive, yes, but worth every penny and I would order it again in a heartbeat.

Grillmarkadurinn, LÆKJARGATA 2A – 101 Reykjavík, +354 571-7777
Read reviews on Trip Advisor

Fiskmarkaðurinn (“Fishmarket”)

Fishmarket's great fish dishes
Fishmarket’s great fish dishes (Photo via Flickr by Jon Aslund)

Another great spot in downtown Reykjavik for lunch or dinner is Fiskmarkaðurinn or Fishmarket. The presentation of the food here is nothing short of awesome. You’ll be amazed. This where you should go if you want to taste the best Icelandic fish. You can go all out and order the 9-course tasting menu, which features so many of the area’s favorite fish, from shrimp tempura, scallop sashimi and salmon maki, to salt cod. You won’t find a better place to try it all.

If you don’t think you can handle the 3-hour spectacle that is the 9-course tasting menu, you can always order a la carte from the menu. No matter what you choose, you won’t be disappointed. They really raise the bar here.

Fiskmarkaðurinn – Adalstraeti 12, Reykjavik 101, +354 578 8877
Read reviews on Trip Advisor

Icelandic Fish & Chips

Icelandic Fish & Chips
Icelandic Fish & Chips (photo via Flickr by Tyrone Warner)

A great spot for a casual lunch is Icelandic Fish & Chips in the marina area. They have the crunchiest, tastiest fish options, along with a dozen or so dipping sauces for your chips. When you order at the counter, you choose your fish, your side dish and your sauces, then they bring it all out to you. If you don’t like fried fish, they also have langoustine, baked fish and a few soups and stews. The sides include potatoes, onion rings and a couple different types of salad.

We were happy to see that they also have a few local microbrews you can enjoy with your meal. Everything they serve is either organic, local or both. You can be sure you’re getting the freshest possible fish. The restaurant is larger than most, but it does get packed, so if you know you want to go for a specific meal, you should reserve in advance. You can make a reservation right on their webpage.

Icelandic Fish & Chip, Tryggvagata 11, Reykjavik 101, +354 511 1118
Read reviews on Trip Advisor

Tapas Barinn

Puffin at Tapas Barinn
Puffin at Tapas Barinn (photo by Savored Journeys)

Another popular spot to eat in Reykjavik is Tapas Barinn, a Spanish-style restaurant serving Icelandic specialties in tapas form. You can find some pretty interesting dishes here, so it’s worth a stop to try these specialties. They also have a special called the Icelandic Feast that includes 7 of their popular dishes, like Smoked Puffin in Blueberry Brennevin sauce, Icelandic sea trout and minke whale, plus a shot of the naitonal liquor, Brennevin, and dessert. I would highly recommend this place. It’s tiny inside, and it gets packed immediately upon opening, but it’s definitely worth it to try such unique and delicious Icelandic dishes.

Tapas Barinn – Vesturgata 3b, Reykjavik 101, +354 551 2344
Read reviews on Trip Advisor

Sjavargrillid (Seafood Grill)

A beautiful plate at Seafood Grill
A beautiful plate at Seafood Grill (photo courtesy of Seafood Grill)

You are going to need a reservation to eat at the Seafood Grill pretty much any time of the day. It’s very popular, and for good reason. While the entrees are quite expensive, the portions are large and the food is outstanding. It’s not just seafood here either. One of their best dishes is the lamb, alongside the fish of the day, of course. One of the best deals is the three-course lunch special, but they have a few different types of “grill” menus, like the Taste of Iceland menu and the Grilled Lobster Feast. The atmosphere is relaxing and inviting, and the service is always top notch.

Sjávargrillid – Skólavörðustíg 14 – 101 Reykjavík, +354 571 1100
Read reviews on Trip Advisor

Dill Restaurant

Dill Restaurant
Dill Restaurant’s creativity on a plate (Photo via Dill)

Dill has been captivating eaters ever since it opened in 2009. The opening of Dill by Chef Gunnar Karl Gislason and Sommelier Ólafur Örn Ólafsson was the transforming moment for the contemporary Nordic food movement. They showcase their innovative approach to seasonal and local ingredients in their stunning dishes, which is a large part of what makes Dill such a great experience. They use classic Nordic ingredients, like lamb and millet, and prepare it in a simple, yet stunning fashion using contemporary techniques.

Their signature 7-course dinner changes every week and can be paired with wine, if you choose. Of course, it doesn’t come cheap, and even by Iceland standards it’s an expensive meal, but there are 3- and 5-course tasting menus as well. For lunch, the atmosphere is much more casual with a simpler menu.

DILL Restaurant, Hverfisgata 12, 101 Reykjavík, +354 552 1522
Read reviews on Trip Advisor

Lava

Deliciousness at LAVA
Deliciousness at LAVA (Photo courtesy of LAVA)

Most travelers to Iceland stop by The Blue Lagoon for a swim in the thermal waters. But you can’t stay in there forever! When the prune hands start to form, you done your bathrobe and go for a fancy lunch at Lava, the fine-dining restaurant located just steps away from the pool. While it might feel strange at first to be dining in your bathrobe, you’ll soon forget all about that as you fall instantly in love with the food on your plate.

The chefs at Lava focus on traditional dishes with local ingredients, melded with world flavors. For lunch, there are various options in a 2- and 3-course menu, like the Icelandic Gourmet Menu that features arctic char and lamb fillet. For dinner, there is a 4-course tasting menu with optional wine pairings.

LAVA Restaurant, 240 Grindavík, 101 Reykjavik, +354 420 8800
Read reviews on Trip Advisor

Iceland is creating world-class cuisine and stylish, high-class dining experiences that certainly exceed any expectations I had for this small island. Now is the time to visit Iceland and experience the best in Icelandic cuisine. If you’re spending a bit more time in Iceland, outside of Reykjavik, check out this post for more places to visit in Iceland and a few more food options!

Laura Lynch

Laura Lynch is the creator and writer of Savored Journeys, an avid world traveler and lover of great food and wine.

19 thoughts on “Where to Eat in Reykjavik Iceland (and what to order!)

  1. Katie says:

    All of these look so tasty! I am heading to Iceland next week, I am looking forward to trying the fish and chips place and of course eating all the hot dogs!

  2. Drew says:

    Julie and I did the tasting menu at Fish Market when we visited and loved it. We tried smoked puffin, and grilled whale, which tasted way better than I anticipated. But I must say, I’m sure jealous about that pile of langoustines. What a portions! They are one of my favorite shellfish, so I would certainly do my best to finish that plate!

    • Laura Lynch says:

      Fish Market is one of our favorites. If you can only have one meal there, it would be a toss up between Fish Market and Grillmarket. The langoustine was pretty amazing.

  3. Laura says:

    I saw the lobster soup on the TV the other day. We tried the hot dogs when we were there, but we found it so expensive that we were a bit put off to go into a proper restaurant.

    • Laura Lynch says:

      Yes, it’s really expensive in restaurants in Iceland. There are a lot of great casual, less expensive choices though, like the hotdogs and even the lobster soup I spoke about.

  4. Chris says:

    Discussions we had whilst there, as well as subsequent research actually suggests Whale is not really a way of life for Icelanders.

    The majority of meat consumed is by tourists under this false assumption, whilst in the past whale was rarely hunted, but rather opportunistically utilised instead of wasting it when washed ashore…

  5. melody pittman says:

    I think I would have to get familiar with the local McDonalds in Iceland. LOL I’ve heard how awesome the puffin in but its psychological for me, I couldn’t do it. The lobster feast looks very appealing though.

  6. RaW | Ramble and Wander says:

    While I have been thinking about Iceland, haven’t really given much thought about the food though. But now, thanks to you, I’d definitely try the fish and chips, and the tasting menu at the Fish Market! The 3-hour 9-course menu sure has got me curious!

  7. Nisha says:

    Great list! I have yet to go to Iceland . Puffins , not for me. Although I have seen some outlandish dishes during my travels, I have never had the courage to eat them . LIke someone above said, it is probably psychological.

  8. RaW | Ramble and Wander says:

    Everywhere I go, I’d try to find my favourite meal, fish & chips, so I’d definitely try Icelandic fish & chips! Would also consider fish market’s tasting menu but a 9-course meal over 3-hour period sounds a bit too much perhaps (although I’ve actually done a 7-course meal over the same no. of hours before) so yeah, I’d give it a shot! Btw, funny how before this I only think of landscapes when it comes to Iceland but now you’ve made me think about their food too.

  9. Christopher says:

    Your pictures are so beautiful. As always with you guys my mind is on food. Iceland is in my to go to list and I hope to get to it this year. A couple of questions… Does Langoustine taste like Lobster?
    Lamb is my favourite meat and I’d love to try the hot dog version. Ive head of people eating Horse but Puffin… I saw them in Newfoundland. They are cute.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *