Looking for good eats while in Reykjavik? You are in luck! The country’s capital city is full of cozy cafes tucked away on charming streets as well as fine dining establishments boasting innovative creations. Whatever you are craving, there are restaurants in Reykjavik that will satisfy. If you are local or a visitor, these are the best Reykjavik restaurants to enjoy!
Join us on a culinary adventure through the vibrant city of Reykjavik. We will showcase the gastronomic wonders that the capital has to offer, whether you are craving traditional flavors or modern, international cuisine. Reykjavik’s restaurant scene will have you covered.
When we first started coming to this small country nearly two decades ago, the food was…uninspiring. Some might go so far as to say bad. But the tourism boom has brought delicious food to this small island. In this article, we showcase the best restaurants in Reykjavik. If you are traveling around the countryside, you might be interested in our related article on the Best Restaurants in Iceland.
Like the rest of the country, Reykjavik restaurants tend to be heavy on seafood and lamb dishes. But there is some controversy. The most touristy restaurants have menus that include endangered species, whales, puffins, and shark. While most people in the country (over 98% in one recent survey) don’t eat them, you may find it on the menu of restaurants that focus on tourists. Skip it if you find it on the menu (usually as part of an over-priced pre-fix menu option). Instead, do as the true locals do: “Meet them, don’t eat them.”
A final note – food is expensive (most ingredients have to be imported). And nowhere is food more expensive than in Reykjavik. Many of the establishments mentioned below have discount coupons, either in the Icelandic coupons app or in the free publications you see all over the city. It is definitely worth picking up to save a little money.
Matarkjallarinn (Food Cellar)
Nestled beneath a historic building that has stood for over 160 years and just two blocks from the port, The Food Cellar is a gem of local culinary delights. As you wrap up an eventful day of exploring the sights of Reykjavik, treat yourself to a feast of contemporary local cuisine at this charming establishment.
Indulge in the set menus, each offering good value and generously sized portions. Among our personal favorites is the surf & turf, featuring succulent steak paired with either langoustines or scallops (depending on the season). For those who prefer à la carte options, the Arctic Char is a must-try and has earned its reputation as one of the city’s best.
The Food Cellar boasts an outstanding wine selection and the staff is well-versed in their offerings. Reservations are generally advisable, particularly during peak season. Located at Aðalstræti 2.
Situated right on Laugavegur Street, Sumac introduces the flavors of the world to Reykjavik with its outstanding international cuisine. Specializing in Lebanese cuisine (the blending of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern flavors), Sumac is a dining destination that never fails to leave us in awe. We’ve made it a point to ear here on four separate occasions during our visits to Reykjavik.
Dining at Sumac is a culinary journey where every dish is remarkable. Don’t miss the opportunity to savor the fried halloumi, which is a delightful indulgence. The assortment of mezze dips such as hummus, labneh, and the roasted red pepper dip are the perfect accompaniment to any of the entrees. We love the roasted cauliflower and the shakshuka. But our new favorite is the chicken shawarma, which surpasses all expectations.
Given that lamb is one of the most popular local proteins, you can bet the lamb ribs rock. We’ve likely sampled almost every item on the menu at this point, and without a doubt, they are all superb.
Reservations are essential, particularly during weekends when demand is high (although bar seating without a reservation is sometimes possible if you arrive early). Located at Laugavegur 28.
Fiskfélagið (The Fish Company)
Located in the heart of downtown, Fiskfélagið (The Fish Company) welcomes guests with a relaxing ambiance and delicious food. With lava rock walls, a timbered ceiling, and flickering candlelight, it doesn’t lack for charm. But the centerpiece for the evening is a staggering array of delicious seafood.
At Fiskfélagið, the highlight is their thoughtfully crafted multi-course tasting menus. Whether you prefer a swift yet delightful 3-course experience or are ready to embark on a lavish 9-course culinary adventure, their offerings have you covered.
Additionally, the menu boasts a generous selection of à la carte options. Each dish showcases a bold and worldly interpretation of local ingredients, pushing the boundaries of flavor and creativity. Finally, one cannot overlook the legendary status of their lobster soup, which features in many of the tasting menus or is available individually.
Due to its popularity, securing reservations at Fiskfélagið are crucial. Located at Vesturgata 2a.
Grillmarkadurinn (Grill Market)
Hidden in a courtyard just off the vibrant Laugavegur Street and behind the Caruso restaurant, the Grill Market is a sanctuary of elegance amidst the lively bars and casual dining establishments. Whether you’re seeking an unforgettable date night or simply want to dine on remarkable food, the Grill Market fits the bill.
While serving some seafood (the salted cod is a standout), this is a temple of carnivorous delights. For appetizers, the duck spring rolls are a masterpiece. Or, you can skip over the starters altogether and just proceed to the main event: either succulent beef tenderloin and or the flavorsome local lamb.
Grill Market is an extremely popular restaurant and reservations are essential. Located in the courtyard at Lækjargata 2a.
Apotek Kitchen + Bar
Located inside the Apotek Hotel in the heart of Reykjavik, the Apotek restaurant is where well-heeled locals go for a night on the town. This is not your usual hotel restaurant. The food is incredible and the service matches.
Sitting on plush velvet seats, you’ll indulge in the best local fare imaginable. Like everywhere else in the country, fish and lamb are the winners here. The plaice fish with asparagus and beurre blanc sauce is deceptively sophisticated. And the lamb rump steak is one of the best dishes we’ve had in Reykjavik – tender and smothered in a black garlic sauce.
If you want a fancy night out, Apotek is it. Tip: Skip the touristic pre-fix menu and focus on the a la carte options. Located at Austurstræti 16.
The Fishmarket (Fiskmarkaðurinn) is one of the oldest new wave restaurants and a pioneer in modern gastronomy, making it one of the best restaurants in Reykjavik. The east-meets-west concept focuses on delivering incredible cuisine using local fish with the flavors of Asia. Add to it that the restaurant is in one of the city’s oldest buildings and you’ve got an instant hit.
The Fishmarket may have the best sushi in Reykjavik. The sashimi and maki are worth the fight for a coveted reservation. Fish Market is a great spot for surf and turf – pair the sashimi with the lamb or beef from the robata. Reservations are critical. Located at Aðalstræti 12.
In the world’s northern-most capital, Steikhúsið is a classic steakhouse the likes you’d find in New York or Washington. It has a formal ambiance, refined service and delicious food.
The prime feature here are the beef and lamb steaks. It is also one of the few restaurants we’ve encountered that serve horse meat, a historically important meat to the population. The steaks (beef, lamb or horse) come out perfectly cooked and are served on rustic wood slates with a potato. It’s quite expensive, but well worth it for a nice meal out.
Reservations are necessary. Located across from the old port at Tryggvagata 4-6.
If you’ve been in the country for a while and you’re feeling like you’ve entered the Land of Bland, head to Gandhi for some of the Indian cuisine from the four corners of India. You can get the spice level adjusted to your preference.
The food at Gandhi is all top notch. We recommend the Old Delhi Butter Chicken or the Chicken Tikka Masala for the carnivores. Vegetarians will love the Chana Masala. Whatever your love, you’ll find it here. Our meal was so good that we talked about it for days.
Reservations are smart, particularly in peak season, but walk-ins are commonly accommodated. Located at Bergstaðastræti 13.
This small French bistro in the capital almost feels like Paris…almost. Stepping inside, you are transported to the small streets on the continent. The wine is all French and the food matches. It’s location off a small square near the city center, Snaps just feels like a hidden gem in the city.
The Boeuf Bourguignon is divine, as is the fish of the day. The mussels, when available, are among the best around. While the seafood is all excellent, the duck is a solid choice. The entire menu is classically French, and excellent. Snaps Bistro is also a top spot for brunch in Reykjavik.
Reservations are necessary, especially on Thursday and the weekends. Located at Þórsgata 1.
When you are thinking of dining out at a local Reykjavik restaurant, you often don’t think tapas, but there have been several tapas restaurants in the city over the years. Some come, some go. But Tapas Barinn has stood the test of time. For over two decades, this has been one of the “it” spots in the city – perfect for a date night and one of the few places in the city with a kitchen open until midnight.
Tapas Barinn looks like it came right from the back alleys of the Gracia neighborhood in Barcelona. Yes, you’ll find Spanish tapas classics like prawns al ajillo with chorizo and also the classic patatas bravas with romesco sauce. But you’ll also find local interruptions of tapas, such as the Arctic char with elderflower hollandaise sauce.
Reservations are smart, particularly in high season. Located in the courtyard at Vesturgata 3b.
We once asked a local tour guide, where do all the guides hang out and drink? In every city in the world, there’s that ‘local spot.’ The answer was: Islenski Barinn. Yes, you’ll find tour guides throwing back the local beer (they have over 60 domestic beers available), but also some decent food too.
The dung smoked salmon, while sounding unappealing, is actually quite good. The lamb soup is arguably the best we had anywhere in the country. But their unique takes on the hot dog (plysur) are worth the visit alone. Trust me when I say the lobster hot dog is something you’ll never forget.
You can try calling for reservations, but we’ve always just walked in. Located at Ingólfsstræti 1a.
The country has fallen in love and perfected the pizza in recent years. There’s no shortage of pizza places in Reykjavik and throughout the country. In Reykjavik and Selfoss, Flatey Pizza has the pie of choice.
They serve craft pizzas from their rustic ovens and made with the freshest ingredients (including local potatoes and local cheese). Whether you like a red sauce, a white pie, or no sauce at all, they’ve got you covered. Their pizza of the month specialty is not to be missed.
Flatey has several locations, but the best (and most convenient for visitors) is near the port. No reservations are taken, but there’s not usually a long wait for a table. If you’re in a hurry, get your pizza for takeout. Located at Grandagarður 11 in Reykjavík.
The Sandholt Bakery is located right along the main street, Laugavegur, near some of the cool street art murals. Or, you’ll recognize it by the line outside waiting to get in. Stay to the right for a table, or you can head inside on the left for takeaway.
Sandholt is arguably one of the best breakfast restaurants in Reykjavik. The brown sugar bun is a thing of legend in the city. Of course, we’re a bit partial to the waffles with eggs. Whatever you get here, you can’t go wrong. And in a city obsessed with good coffee, Sandholt has some of the best.
Reservations not accepted. Just join the queue to wait for a table. The line moves relatively quickly. Located at Laugavegur 36.
Grái Kötturinn (Gray Cat)
The basement Grái Kötturinn (or Gray Cat) is a quirky little place that is part bookstore, part Parisian café and part down-home dinner. Opened by local artists in 1997, it’s been cranking out American-style breakfasts and lunches since.
The signature dish is The Truck – a heaping portion of pancakes, fried eggs, bacon, potatoes, tomatoes and everything else you can fit on the plate. If you aren’t looking to consume your daily intake of calories at breakfast, they do have smaller portions.
Reservations not accepted. Just show up and hope there’s a table. If not, the tables turn quickly. Located at Hverfisgata 16a.
Lamb Street Food
If you are looking for a quick, flavorful bite, Lamb Street Food is a good bet. Located near the port, it’s convenient for stopping in for a quick lunch or takeaway. Best of all, they have free parking!
The lamb wraps are the most popular dish, and are delicious. The traditional Lebanese kofta is also excellent. If you aren’t feeling lamb or are looking for something vegetarian, the falafel is moist and very tasty.
Reservations aren’t necessary. Located near the port at Grandagarður 7.
The Laundromat Cafe
Located in the heart of tourist central, the Laundromat Café could be the kind of place that you work to avoid. Instead, it’s a warm inviting café where intrepid travelers do laundry, grab a beer, or have breakfast or lunch. And the food is way better than you’d expect.
We recommend diving into the American-style breakfasts. Later in the day, they serve burgers, sandwiches and salads (but you can still get breakfast all day). They also have a number of vegetarian and vegan options.
Reservations are not accepted. Just wait for a table to open up. Located on the main street at Austurstræti 9.
Reykjavik Fish Restaurant
The Reykjavik Fish Restaurant (or better known as just Fish & Chips) has a couple of locations throughout the city, including one on the Rainbow Street and another down by the port. The sign outside simply says Fish & Chips, so that’s how locals refer to it.
The menu is simple. There’s fish and chips (fried) or fish and chips (baked). Add to that a couple of soups and a burger option. The fish and chips are a solid bet for a quick lunch in the heart of the city.
This is quick serve restaurant, so no reservations. Located at Skólavörðustígur 8 on the Rainbow Street or at Tryggvagata 8 down by the port.
The humble Kaffivagninn is the oldest restaurant in Iceland. Located right along the water, you can have a table looking out at all the pretty boats. If you come in the morning, you’ll likely see a large group of retired sailors sitting at long tables drinking coffee and telling tall tales.
The menu is not extensive, but the food is good. The breakfast plate is a solid choice and comes with local skyr. No reservations, just show up. Online reservations are possible for dinner service. Located at Grandagarður 10 by the port. Note: Pay close attention to the parking signs around here.
The Dude abides. This simple bar along the main tourist drag could easily be dismissed as a campy, made-for-tourists dive. It’s not. The Lebowski Bar is absolutely excellent. Decorated in a joint homage to both 10-pin bowling and the Coen Brothers masterpiece, it’s nothing short of a transformative experience. And yes, their rug really ties the room together.
They are known for having decent bar food and a creative burger of the month. While packed in the evenings with diners and drinkers alike, you can come for lunch and enjoy the burger special, almost having the place to yourself.
They have an extensive list of White Russian cocktails on the menu (24 to be exact). We’re partial to the traditional White Russian, but also the El Duderino and the Special Lady Friend. No reservations. Located at Laugavegur 20a.
Braud & Co (Bread & Company)
Oh, my… Bread & Company. Opened in 2016 in the heart of downtown, they have grown like wildfire. You’ll now find 8 locations across the greater capital area. But the original, with its cool street art façade, is probably the best.
What do you get here? Bread. In all shapes and forms. But the reason to come here and why there is usually a long line: the cinnamon rolls. When they are fresh from the oven, they are a thing of perfection. Trust us. You’ve never really visited Reykjavik until you’ve had one of these little gems. Located at 16 Frakkastígur or visit one of their other 7 stores.
Valdis Ice Cream
Locals are crazy about ice cream. In a country that rarely sees temperatures above the mid-70 degrees, it is surprising that ice cream is a passion. And yet it is. While there are many ice cream shops (and nearly every restaurant has a version of it on the menu), Valdis is the place to visit.
Starting back in 2013, they’ve set the bar. They’ve created over 400 different flavors over the years and some are truly bizarre. But you don’t come here for the ordinary. We highly recommend the rye bread ice cream. It’s made with the same rye bread that is famous across the country (cooked in the ground using geothermal heat), but it is an entirely new way to try it. Trust us, it’s great! The HQ location is at Grandagarði 21 near the port, or you can find another shop right in the heart of the city Frakkastígur 10.
Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur
Tucked into an otherwise quiet courtyard near office buildings and just one block from the harbor, the distinctive red-and-white kiosk of Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur has stood the test of time. Since 1937, this iconic little business has been serving the beloved food item known as the plysur (or hot dog to the rest of us). And locals love their hot dogs.
You’ll recognize Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur by the long lines of people waiting. This spot is extremely popular, but particularly at lunchtime (from nearby office workers) and also late night. Reykjavíkings (how locals refer to themselves) know the hot dog is the perfect post-bar or post-nightclub comfort food necessary for soaking up that extra alcohol. (They are open until 6am on Friday and Saturday nights).
The spot was also made famous by a visit by Bill Clinton, who ordered his hot dog incorrectly. When you visit, you want to order one “with everything,” which is adorned with remoulade, onions, mustard, and ketchup—the quintessential combination of flavors. While it seems a bit ridiculous to call a hot dog stand one of the best Reykjavik restaurants, you’ll want to try it. Located at Tryggvagata 1.
Lance Longwell is a travel writer and photographer who has published Travel Addicts since 2008, making it one of the oldest travel blogs. He is a life-long traveler, having visited all 50 of the United States by the time he graduated high school. Lance has continued his adventures by visiting 70 countries on 5 continents – all in search of the world’s perfect sausage. He’s a passionate foodie and enjoys hot springs and cultural oddities. When he’s not traveling (or writing about travel), you’ll find him photographing his hometown of Philadelphia.