Let’s do the drinking bit first! There are loads of bars and pubs in Reykjavik as one would expect. I tried a fair few and liked them all! Some of my favourites are – Kex [see below] and Hurra, which had a small venue at the back. [I have been told that Hurra has recently closed down- really sad about this].
The eating bit: There are plenty of excellent restaurants and cafes in Reykjavik to choose from although you may be a bit shocked at the prices if this is your first visit to Iceland. A main meal can easily cost double or even treble what you would pay back at home. A bottle of wine is likely to be around £40! Beer is a good option if you like a drink [other than water] with your meal. Lovely fresh Icelandic water is free, so don’t buy bottled.
Here are some of our faves:
Saemundur at Kex: The Kex Hostel is housed in an unnassuming and bland block but head uptsairs, ignoring the graffiti on the way, and you enter a large room with a bar and restaurant as well as the reception for the hostel. They have a good selection of home brewed beers on tap and a small but yummy menu. Prices here are pretty good for Iceland. We love it and the staff are so friendly.
Forrettbarinn : We have eaten here a couple of times now, including a wonderful New Years Eve dinner. They offer well presented and superb food in a relaxed environment.
Lamb Street Food: Good value wraps and kebabs. Located by the harbour – near the Saga Museum.
Icelandic Street Food: Perfect for a quick lunch. Soup or stew served in a bowl or in a bread bowl with free food refills for mains! It’s very small, and very popular, but you can take your food to the nearby Icelandic Craft Bar if you want.
Icelandic Fish and Chips: Great value with prices starting at about a tenner.
Sjavarbarinn: Seafood buffet about £26 per head. Fish and chips or fish stew around £20.
Ostabudin: A pleasant place for lunch in an extension to the deli. I recommend the soups. It can be found on the main road Skolavordustigur which leads to Hallgrimskirkja.
Messinn: Excellent seafood. Large portions. Fish mains around £26.
Svarta Kaffid : On Laugavegur. Good value soup – ideal for lunch.
Harry’s : [was Salt]: Good value – Old Harbour area. Lunch or dinner.
Old Iceland: Fish mains from about £27.
Resto : Not cheap but yummy.
Sægreifinn : The Sea Baron is a fish restaurant and has a good reputation and is generally considered to be good value. It’s in a hut by the old harbour and their lobster soup is meant to be amazing. My family and I did enjoy the food here- we had fish skewers, but it was still pretty pricey and we were all still hungry afterwards. I think we should have had the soup as a starter which may have helped fill us up.
Grai Kotturinn: Cafe. Bjork’s favrit. Great for lunch or breakfast, or brunch.
Saffran, We tried out Saffran as it was close to The Arctic Comfort Hotel and we were away from the city centre. They do a range of pizza and spicey foods to take away. We ate in and it was pleasant and affordable.
If you are on a budget, self catering will help. Bonus supermarkets are dotted around Reykjavik and are a good affordable [ish] option. A meat or fish soupy lunch with bread can be pretty filling. A pizza dinner is pretty well priced, or you can grab a hotdog or two at the Baejarins Beztu stand in the old town not far from the harbour. Icelandic Street Food mentioned above is about as cheap as you can get in Reykjavik. Petrol stations often sell hot food to take away or eat in and they can be a good option too.
A few words about Hakari [Fermented shark]
Hakari has been described by the chef Anthony Bourdain as “the single worst, most disgusting and terrible tasting thing he had ever eaten”
If that does not put you off and you want to be brave [or foolhardy like me] and wish to try the infamous local delicacy Hakari, several places do serve it including the Icelandic Craft Bar.
If you do not wish to try this and I do not blame you, here is my opinion on the dish:
The shark came served as a small sugar lump sized cube. It’s the smell that hits you first, a putrid, acrid smell of stale piss that makes you gag if you breathe in [not advisable]. The texture is like a squash ball, possibly a little less chewy, but I have not eaten a squash ball for some time. The highlight is definately the shot of Brennivin which does offset the weird numb sensation in ones mouth.