You won’t find a McDonalds in Iceland as the last one shut down in 2009-aah, shame! but you can get great burgers and hotdogs, fishy and meaty dishes as well as wonderful soups. If you are interested, the last McDonalds burger bought in Iceland is now on display at a hostel. It’s well over ten years old now and still looks as tasty as ever! Don’t believe me?- Click HERE.
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 Húrra, which has a small venue at the back. I recently enjoyed my visit to Dillon which sells itself as a whisky bar but it does have other spirits, beers and wine also. The Dubliner next to Hurra is also a great bar and has a seven hour happy hour – YAY !
The eating bit: There are plenty of excellent restaurants and cafes in Reykjavik to choose from and here are my favrits. 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. the bars mentioned above also serve decent food and are good options.
For a rather wonderful culinary experience both the Reykjavik Kitchen and Forrettbarrin are superb.
The Reykjavik Kitchen is near the Hlemmur foodhall right next to Lucky Records. On our recent visit my wife and I were treated to probably the best fish dishes that we have ever tasted! [Thanks Laura for the recommendation].
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.
There are a couple of foodhalls that are worth a visit- The Grandi Foodhall is by the harbour and offers a tempting range of food options.
The centrally placed Hlemmur food Hall offers 8 different eateries that covers a range of options such as: Vietnamese, Icelandic, Italian food [Flatey Pizza!-yum], as well an Ice Cream parlour and a bar. It’s a lovely and informal place to eat and drink- perfect for families.
Ostabudin: I used to love popping into Ostabudin in the town centre which was part restaurant, part deli. It appears that it has now moved into the Grandi Foodhall and I have yet to try it out at its new location. I recommend the soups.
Íslenski barinn has a nice vibe and a decent menu ranging from hot dogs to burgers, and other meaty and fishy dishes including the infamous Hákarl– see my review at the bottom of this page.
Grai Kotturinn: Cafe. Bjork’s favrit. Great for lunch or breakfast, or brunch. Warning- their pancakes are HUGE!
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 does not look impressive, but 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.
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.
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 loved it and the staff are so friendly. However it does appear that the restaurant and menu has recently changed and it looks like it’s very Pizza orientated now.
Kaffivagninn on the harbour arm is the perfect place to stop for lunch, coffee or cakey. It’s Iceland’s oldest operating restaurant apparently. It’s near Fly Over Iceland.
On a budget ?
Self catering will save you loads and Bonus supermarkets are dotted around Reykjavik and are a good affordable [ish] option. A meat or fish soupy lunch with bread in a cafe can be pretty filling. A pizza dinner is pretty well priced and the Flatey pizza’s are excellent. You can grab a hotdog or two at the Baejarins Beztu stand in the old town not far from the harbour. Petrol stations often sell hot food to take away or eat in and they can be a good option too.
You could also save money by downloading the ICELANDIC COUPONS APP which has some rather generous discounts.
And finally -few words about Hakarl [Fermented shark]
Hakarl 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 Íslenski barinn.
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.