I’ll be honest I was a little weary about eating Icelandic food. Tristan and I have this tradition of watching different shows before we travel to a new location so we can understand what’s good and local, and after watching the episode of Bizarre Foods, I wondered what we were actually going to be brave enough to try.
We love to try food that’s local just to dive into the culture. Nothing tells more history and culture than the food. In Iceland, it’s evident. What’s local and unique to the island? Meat from whale, puffins, and horses. Dried fish. Fermented shark. It was food that you’d imagine to be fit for Vikings because, well, they are.
We didn’t go out to restaurants much due to the prices, but here’s where we did go, what we tried, and also a tip on where to go to stock up on food for the road trips!
Click here to check out our Iceland vacation from the beginning!
This restaurant is a serious treat if you’re doing the Golden Circle one day. The entire restaurant is a greenhouse! They grow a large percentage of the tomatoes for Iceland, and if you didn’t know yet, Iceland has plenty of greenhouses to grow their own vegetables – and they’re powered by geothermal energy. We got there right at closing, so we were one of the last tables to be seated (which is why it looks so empty – it was packed when we got there). The wait was about an hour, but it was okay because there were things to wander around and see. They even ship in their own bumblebees to pollinate the flowers. Dom had fun making friends with them.
Everything here is tomato based, so we enjoyed some tomato soup with bread (you can add your own basil with the basil plant on your table!), and for dessert we had an apple pie with green tomatoes. I enjoyed a “happy mary” cocktail too which was delish.
This spot offers more traditional Iceland food, and you can smell it from the outside. We actually ended up smelling like it after we left, but you’ll basically find a lot of seafood and the aforementioned delicacies. The only bad reviews we found on this spot had to do with them serving whale, but I’m not sure why people are only mad about the whale considering a long list of other animal meat is on the list. Anyway, I digress, this is a good spot to start to really get a feel for the traditional food. We all had different fish here!
Here you can get a more modern take on traditional Iceland food. The overall vibe is pretty hip, but you’ll find very similar items to Prir Frakkar here – just with a more modern twist. We both enjoyed a local cocktail here as well, but be warned. The meal for just the 3 of us was over $100. We did try the puffin here, but I really couldn’t handle it. If you like the taste of liver, you might find it more appealing than I did.
Brauo & Co
Come here to satisfy your carb cravings and that sweet tooth! The line is always moving and the size of these baked goods is pretty exciting. They’re constantly bringing out fresh baked goods, so expect freshness too! We got 3 things, and one was a giant cinnamon roll.
I wish we got to go here a few more times. We only went once just as a break, so we had coffee, tea, and some Skyr cake (which was amazing). If I could come back, I would have tried several other desserts and apparently the pancakes are amazing. Get it and let me know! I’d definitely recommend this spot for breakfast or brunch. It’s also right next to Hallgrimskirkja, so it’s a great stop if you’re sight-seeing in Reykjavik.
Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur
Known as the “best hot dog in town,” we saw this place pop up on several shows and several reviews. Being Icelandic, the hot dog is lamb-based instead of the usual pork, and it has its own signature toppings. We thought it was pretty good, and it’s worth a try! Dominic was being cranky at the time so we tried to eat in the car (ha good times).
Apparently there are several hot dog stands that are pretty popular with locals, but this one shot to fame after President Clinton stopped by for one. He had his with only the bun and mustard, so if you order one as “the Clinton,” that’s what you’re going to get.
As I mentioned earlier, food can get pretty pricey in Iceland, so to keep our expenses low, we went to local markets to grab sandwiches, easy to cook items like instant ramen, some fruit, and local snacks. The fun part here, truly, is picking out what snacks to try. Skyr, an Icelandic yogurt, is a definite must try, and the chocolate was different too. It’s much more milky – we tried Sirius, Lakkris (chocolate covered licorice – licorice is popular here), and Kropp (it has giant crispies). Bonus is a popular store that you can find easily on the GPS, and there’s a few stores that are open 24 hours. We even went to KFC once and ordered a pizza one night at Pizza Hut. They both tasted a little different from home, so that was fun too in a very low-budget kinda way 🙂
That’s it for now. Eat well!
Click here to check out our Iceland trip!