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What do you think is the best way to know a city or country? Well, the answer is through their food. Food tells so much about traditions and reception to people from around the world. Iceland has one of the most excellent restaurants, and they are numerous, in almost every corner of the city. However, some of them stand out. From their unique menu to the beautiful atmosphere, it could be difficult making a choice. This is why we have put together a detailed list of the top go-to restaurants in Reykavik, outside Reykjavik, and in Iceland generally. These categories will let you know the favorite stops for whatever part of the country you are exploring.

Iceland Food History

Several years ago, Iceland was majorly a poverty-stricken land with its sparse soil and terrible weather. As such, the farmers and fishers turned to fish and sheep as a source of food in the absence of more abundant options. However, they have moved on from those dreary times and have succeeded in creating a culinary heritage that is worth exploring. The results from their revamped recipes and techniques are available in most restaurants to see, and they are absolutely lovely. The typical Icelandic diet is made up of vegetables, fish, lamb, seafood, and bread.

Things To Do In Iceland

Typical meals and food pricing in Iceland

Fish is a constant favorite as this is available in thousands all around and are always fresh from the harbor. This selection includes cod tongues, cod fillets, blue mussels (kræklingur), skata, Arctic char (bleikja), monkfish (skotuselur), halibut (luda), scallops (hörpudiskur), herring (sild), catfish (steinbitur), wild salmon (villtur lax), freshwater trout (silungur) and so much more. The pancakes, twisted donuts, and several other desserts are dishes that you can’t leave Iceland without trying. Icelandic cuisine is pleasantly varied, and there is something to match everyone’s taste. Here are the common food traditions in Iceland:

  • Most restaurants around the country focus on local produce gotten fresh from the farm
  • Head over to the cafes anytime from lunch to dinner time
  • In rural areas, you can find great places to eat in hotels and guesthouses that open their restaurants to all.
  • If you can’t find any open restaurant around, head over to a petrol station as most local grills can be found there. At the local grills, you can taste excellent lamb dishes, simple burgers, fish, and soup.

Generally, depending on the level of modernization in the area, restaurant food prices are average. 5-star restaurants may be a bit pricy, but some other restaurants look simple yet serve one of the best dishes around.

The Top 10 Go-To Restaurants In Reykjavik

We officially start our list with the top ten go-to restaurants in Reykjavik. This is a very famous city, and exploring Iceland is not complete if you haven’t visited Reykjavik as it connects to most of the hottest spots in Iceland. Here are the top ten restaurants in this city:

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1. Apotek Restaurant

Location: Reykjavik

This is considered the best restaurant in the city by many, and it is not hard to see why. Right in the center of the city of Reykjavik is a highly rated restaurant that provides an excellent selection of food combined with the right atmosphere and friendly staff. That restaurant is Apotek, which has a lot of positive reviews and comes highly recommended as they stand out. It is located in Austurstraeti, one of the corners of the city. The first thing you would notice here is the vibrant atmosphere set in a stylish environment. The restaurant is a picture of class, and the only thing that matches it is their delicious food. The menu consists of an exciting mix of Scandinavian, Icelandic, Argentinean Grill, and European cuisine. You can head here for late-night drinks, a nice dinner, or just a quick lunch.

Apotek also caters to different special diets with options available for vegans and gluten-free meals. There is outdoor seating to enjoy the lovely view of the city while having your meal. It is hard to go in here just once as there is so much to try out. You should also check out the sensational cocktail menu, especially the GoGo Gadget cocktail. If you would rather have something different, then order for the Ferdalangurinn, which tastes divine. The pastries are another aspect that people can’t get enough of, especially the truffle fries. If you are feeling adventurous, try out the mouthwatering lamb rack. With a great atmosphere, reasonable pricing, and tasty dishes, we have one of the best restaurants to visit in Reykjavik.

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2. Fresco

One of the top restaurants to get a filling salad is Fresco. It is located at Suðurlandsbraut and Suðurlandsbraut, giving you that healthy meal you need to say on track. It won’t be an exaggeration to call it the best salad bar in Reykjavik as it tastes so good, and the ambiance wraps it up. To order a salad, check out their menu and make some adjustments according to your preferences. Customers are also allowed to create their salad. Here is one you should try out anytime you stop for a visit: The Burrito bowl. Take this with avocado, extra tomatoes, and the spicy California dressing, and you will never forget the taste.

Things To Do In Iceland

3. Mat Bar

Located in Hverfisgata 26, the Mat Bar makes our list for being one of the best spots for a quick bite. Despite its small size, sitting on the corner of Bergstaðastræti and Hverfisgata, you can head over at any time of the day for lunch, quick drinks, or just a quiet evening meal. Depending on how hungry you are, you can order small plates of dishes and share with friends as well. Great snacks to enjoy here are scallops, Arctic char, glazed beets, cod, desserts, crushed potatoes, and cheese. It is always a good idea to make reservations beforehand, as they enjoy a lot of patronages.

4. Thai Matstofa

If you judged a restaurant based on their physical look, then you may likely pass the Thai Matstofa without going in. However, if you did, you would miss out on one of the best restaurants in Skeifan, Reykjavik. It doesn’t look as fancy as a lot of other restaurants, but the dishes are so amazing. There is so much to love about this place, from the affordable prices to the friendly people. Thai Matstofa is not more than 10 minutes from the city center and worth the visit. Their food, with one of the best being Pad Thai, are always something to look forward to. Talk about a hidden gem.

5. Kol Restaurant

Just a few houses away from Iceland’s iconic church, Hallgrímskirkja, in Skólavörðustígur is Kol Restaurant which serves excellent meals for lunch. If you want to have a lovely time here, head over early to beat the lunchtime rush and get a burger. Their burgers have earned a great reputation and for a good reason too. Great meals you can also try out in Kol Restaurant are the seafood starters and fish. They are also great at cocktails, so there is a wide range to choose from.

6. Rok

In the town of Frakkastígur is a cozy little restaurant with its tapas-style menu and bright atmosphere. Painted in black and with a green turf roof, Rok boasts of a fantastic brunch menu. It is easy to spot this restaurant as it is not so far from the Iconic Hallgrímskirkja church. Everything on their menu tastes good, and it could be challenging to make a choice sometimes. So, if you feel like having a lazy morning, you can head over to Rok for some good food and a healthy dose of sunshine.

7. Sakebarinn

As a sushi lover, there are several restaurants in Reykjavik that have sushi on their menu, but one that stands out is Sakebarinn, which is just ten minutes away from the Old Harbor. To find this restaurant, head over to the second floor of a yellow building located at the corner of Laugavegur and Skólavörðustígur. Every minute spent waiting for your order is worth it as the dishes from their extensive menu are delicious.

8. Kopar

It may be a little difficult to locate Kopar as it is slightly hidden at the old harbor in Geirsgata. However, finding this restaurant is certainly worth it as they have made their mark in Reykjavik’s restaurant scene. Down at this restaurant, you can enjoy magnificent views of the ocean from the top and even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights if you go there at night. If you are a huge fan of seafood, then this is an excellent choice, with their selections of crab risotto to lobsters all available.

9. The Coocoo’s Nest

Weekend brunching never felt so good than at the Coocoo’s Nest. They make a mean brunch at this restaurant cozily located out from the Old Harbor at Grandagarður. They do take variety very seriously at this restaurant as you get a different menu for every night of the week. These come along with varied themes ranging from pizza nights to Taco Tuesdays. One meal you should try here is their Breakfast Burrito, which tastes heavenly. Other options available include sandwiches, soups, and salads.

10. Hraðlestin

In search of Indian food? Then you should check out Hraðlestin in Reykjavik, a restaurant related to AusturIndíafélagið. AusturIndíafélagið is a fancy Indian restaurant and Hraðlestin is its equivalent in Iceland which still matches it in quality. This restaurant is located in Bæjarhraun and Laugavegur. Despite being a relatively new restaurant, lunch and dinner is a good idea here. Vegans will have fun with their Wednesday menu, including the Chicken Madras, Thali, and an impressive range of vegan meals available. They all taste absolutely lovely.

Top 10 restaurants outside of Reykjavik

1. Sjávarpakkhúsið

Sjávarpakkhúsið, sitting at the harbor of Stykkishólmur, is one restaurant that you have to visit anytime you are in the largest city in the Snæfellsnes peninsula. As you can take the ferry in Breidafjörður, Stykkishólmur is often referred to as the getaway spot to the western fjords. The restaurant has an array of colorful and adorable houses that lend an air to a unique atmosphere. They specialize in seafood, and over the years, have become a favorite spot of many people. While eating your delicious food, the magnificent view of the boats will entertain you. The interior of the restaurant is awe-inspiring, with old photos of the old fishermen lining the walls. It is not hard to see why they have one of the best seafood menus as they focus on locally sourced fresh seafood gotten close by. These include cod, scallops, and mussels. You will surely enjoy your deliciously presented and tasty food.

2. Strikið Restaurant

One of the restaurants loved in Akureyri by all and sundry is the Strikið Restaurant. It has an impressive environment cleverly situated in the center of the city. To get to this restaurant, you will have to head up to a penthouse room on the fifth floor. Strikið Restaurantis not just modern and very elegant, but it also has a fantastic balcony where guests and customers can enjoy the best of summer in northern Iceland. Tons of parties take place here under the midnight sun when the weather is pleasant. Icelandic food from the kitchen is made with fresh local ingredients. You will surely love your seafood since its flavor is absolutely heavenly. This is a restaurant worth dropping in for a quick meal.

3. Kaffi Emil

Grundarfjörðuris a beautiful village in Iceland located on the north coast in a surreal environment. You will also find the famous Kirkjufell, which by the way, is a fantastic place to visit in Iceland as it is an absolute favorite of most Game of Thrones fans. You need a sumptuous meal after touring the city and what better place to get it than at the heart of Grundarfjörður in a cozy restaurant called Kaffi Emil. This restaurant is an information center with a local library and historical exhibition, all in a small structure, but it blends perfectly. You can get a wide selection of drinks to take alongside cakes and homemade soups; all made to your taste. The atmosphere of this lovely place is relaxing. You will surely enjoy local food, get information about the area while having a cup of coffee. You can also visit the museum and listen to good music while sipping your delicious coffee.

4. BakaríiðviðBrúna

BakaríiðviðBrúna is fantastic for those who love bread and pastries. The bakery opens at 6:30am for the first travelers passing through the route. For a healthy meal at any time of the day, this is a stop not to be missed. Its shelves are full of all kinds of cakes, bread, and sandwiches. Top this up with a cup of coffee, and you have a complete hearty meal. This restaurant is very cozy, and the walls are tastefully decorated with images of several bridges located in Iceland and its surroundings. BakaríiðviðBrúna bakery also adds a touch of uniqueness with its hand-painted tables. These all have different maps on them that cleverly depict the location of several Icelandic cities, and you can enjoy the lovely use of words to write a small poem in each. The bread bowl is a dish worth trying. It consists of a round loaf filled with fresh soup. It can be your delicious lunch, especially with sandwiches filled with a variety of salads, cheeses, and meats. Also, their cakes are everything and more.

5. The Grill House

Towards Snæfellsnes in the north, just after leaving Reykjavik, is a small town of Borgarnes. It takes about an hour to drive here. Most travelers stop at the only service station to buy some groceries or eat before heading to the remote peninsula. The Grill House, next to the gas station, is the best place to get a hearty meal before continuing your journey. It is conspicuously located and easy to find. The atmosphere of the restaurant is like a classic American hamburger inside and out. This fast-food and friendly restaurant serves fresh and good food. Their menu is packed with pizza, sandwiches, steaks, grilled chicken, hamburgers, pork, and pasta.

6. Sudur Vik

The Sudur Vik is located in the small town of Vik on a hill. It is a cozy place to enjoy Icelandic staples, including lamb fillets, arctic char, fresh salads, and grilled rosemary tomatoes. It is small but stands out for its simple yet tasty menu.

7. Matarlist

Ólafsvík Pueblo is on the northern side of the Snæfellsnes peninsula. This town has a rich history as it was one of the largest commercial ports in the 18th century Scandinavia. The city still handles trading between Iceland and Danish authorities.Matarlist restaurant is in this area and is one of the best for fresh local food. The exterior of the restaurant is quite basic, while the interior is comfortable and spacious. They serve entirely homemade dishes, down to the mayonnaise in their hamburgers. A professional and experienced chef oversees the food served by this restaurant. The Matarlist menu includes a wide selection of fresh seafood that was taken directly from fishing boats in the nearby city while the local farm supplies lamb steak and other vital ingredients.

8. Símstöðin Café

Símstöðin Caféis another restaurant located in the center of Akureyri. The backpackers are the usual customers in this cafe. The coffee here tastes delicious. The bakery serves healthy meals, but not too expensive. They also have a good selection of smoothies and fresh juices, including healthy sandwiches. On their menu is a lot of healthy cuisines and you are free to pick anyone you want; they all taste amazing. They also serve pizzas and cakeson the menu. Therefore, you can have many options once you enter Símstöðin Café

9. Fjöruhúsið

To get to a small but intimate restaurant known as the Fjöruhúsið, you have to travel through Arnarstapi, located on the Snaefellsnes peninsula. It is a famous stop, and it is not hard to see why. Formerly a fishing area, it doesn’t boom as much as before. Enjoy amazing views from this restaurant, and look out into the black beach and rocky basalt. The Fjöruhúsið restaurant offers the best fish stew, desserts including cakes topped with whipped cream, homemade jam, and freshly baked bread.

10. Hotel Búðir Restaurant

Drive about fifteen kilometers from Langaholt, and you will find the Hotel Búðir Restaurant, one of the best restaurants in the area. You will see a small and charming black churchin the city standing in the middle of nowhere but surrounded by incredible mountains and an infinite ocean. There is an establishment located next to the church, the exquisite Hotel Búðir restaurant.Hotel Búðir restaurant is considered one of the best culinary areas in Iceland. It is famous for its unique dishes of lamb and gourmet fish with fresh local produce. The hotel menu is based on seasonal and locally sourced ingredients, with a luxurious dining experience combined with unique local cuisine. You will enjoy your meal and at the same time be surprised by the magnificent views. If you are lucky, you may see some seals that entertain you with their skills while you enjoy your meal.

Top Go-To Restaurants In Iceland In General

1. Apotek Restaurant

Location: Reykjavik

We begin this list with Apotek Restaurant as well. This restaurant stands out for several reasons and qualifies to be not just one of the top restaurants in Reykjavik but in Iceland. From their vantage position at the center of the city to the excellent cuisine in a soothing atmosphere, this restaurant is a picture of class. The menu consists of an exciting mix of Scandinavian, Icelandic, Argentinean Grill, and European cuisine. You can head here for late-night drinks, a nice dinner, or just a quick lunch. With a great atmosphere, reasonable pricing, and tasty dishes, we have one of the best restaurants to visit in Iceland.

2. Rub 23

Location: Akureyri

This restaurant is located in the heart of Akureyriin northern Iceland. The restaurant is unique for its homemade spice blends that customers can choose from,which are rubbed or sprayed on their food. You are at liberty to choose the ingredients and what you want to top this with, meat or fish. You can try out the Chef’s special meal on the menu; it is always a delight. However, one meal they do stand out for at Rub 23 is the sushi. Their hosomaki tuna, scallops made with smoke infusion and uramaki combined with Arctic char are all meals that you will not regret having a taste of, at this restaurant. Their specialty is in merging South American and Asian ingredients, while still infusing local ingredients from the Icelandic farmers. The seafood is one thing that has helped them garner a lot of good reputation in this third-largest city in the country. It is a great and impressive restaurant to visit anytime you are in Akureyri.

3. BergssonMathus

Location: Reykjavik
BergssonMathus is located right in the center of Reykjavik at Templarasund, and they serve a mean brunch. So, the first fact is that it is very easy to find.There are lots of delicious baked goodies on the menu.But that is not all they have to offer at this lovely restaurantBergssonMathus makes a pretty great avocado and the smoked salmon here is an excellent way to start your day. In this relaxed spot, the food does all the talking, and you can get here as early as 7am before you are ready to explore the city.

4. Salt Café

Location: Egilsstaðir
The Salt Café sits at the top of Egilsstaðir. This East Coast restaurant serves majorly traditional Icelandic meals. It is a fantastic way to get a taste of Iceland through their dishes. Nothing may be more conventional that the cod tongue garnished with garlic. It may sound scary, but when it melts in your mouth, the taste may have you requesting for more helpings. If this is not your cup of tea, then check out their daily specials and take anyone of your choice.

5. Fjoruborodid

Location: Stokkseyri
Perched on Stokkseyri, Fjorubordid is a reasonably legendary seafood place located very close to Selfoss and a little bit more than fifty kilometers from Reykjavik.Once you’re here, don’t leave without trying their hot shrimp soup that tastes even better after a cold morning spent exploring. If the soup is not your thing, try their shrimp tails covered with garlic butter. You can’t go wrong with this. During their peak hours, the queues could be especially tricky to navigate. Therefore, it is always a safe bet to book a table before going.

6. Otto Matur and Drykkur

Location: Hofn
You can find Otto Matur and Drykkur in Hofn, a small fishing village. This restaurant is one of the top places to visit in Iceland and for a good reason too. After exploring the east coast, this restaurant is an excellent place to refuel for the day. It is six hours from Reykjavik, and on getting there, you get a gift first. One meal you should try out before leaving is the grilled salmon and smoked cod. It is no exaggeration to say that it tastes so amazing. Otto Matur and Drykkur restaurant is small and intimate but really a gem.

7. Bryggjan Café

Location: Grindavik
Getting to BryggjanCafé from the Blue Lagoon takes just 10 minutes. Located right at the harbor, Bryggjan Cafe has some of the tastiest lobster broths you can imagine. It is a great place to visit after visiting the Blue Lagoon, as that lobster soup gives a very soothing feeling. It is a small but cozy place and an excellent choice for lunch.

8. BæjarinsBeztu

Location: Reykjavik
Even though the BæjarinsBeztu does not look fancy, the meals here are as elegant as they can get. This is the happening spot when it comes to nightlife in Reykjavik. Right next to the coast is BæjarinsBeztu, where you can taste one of the best hot dogs in the country, and it comes straight out from a cabin. When you head over there in the evening or even after midnight, you can enjoy your meal over the soothing sounds of live music down at the bar. They close up the restaurant at 4am, and the delicious taste of the hot dog filled with ketchup, mustard, and onions won’t leave your mouth.

9. Drangar Restaurant

Location: Vik
A good stopping point in Vik for a meal has to be Drangar. This fantasticrestaurant is located in the impressive Hotel Kría. While some restaurants focus on style and class while leaving out the quality of the food, the same can’t be said about Drangar Restaurant. It is both style and substance. They focus majorly on traditional Icelandic cuisine while adding their modern twist. From their dessert to the grilled cod, you’re getting nothing short of an epic dinner here.

10. IslenskiBarinn

Location: Reykjavik
IslenskiBarinn is your typical Icelandic bar in Reykjavik. Best of all, it is cozy and provides a much-needed respite from the cold winter outside.Once here, there are some meals that you try before leaving. One of them is their roasted lamb leg and reindeer meatballs. There is no way to describe the taste rather than letting you experience this for yourself. Alternatively, if that does not float your boat, try slenskkjötsúpa, a special Icelandic meat soup that is so tasty. At IslenskiBarinn, they also serve the traditional hakarl dish of dried fish and fermented shark,and if you are feeling adventurous, then give this a try. Lots of choices on the menu to fill your stomach.

This wraps up all you need to know about visiting restaurants in Iceland. Everyone on this list adds to the overall Icelandic experience, but Apotek restaurant leaves a long-lasting positive impression on every visitor. It is worth checking out.

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