matarkjallarinn

While it’s known for geothermal spas and striking scenery, Iceland’s reputation as a foodie destination is on the up as Dill Restaurant in Reykjavik recently received the country’s first Michelin star, and five more restaurants were added to the Scandinavian Michelin Guide for 2017.

This is the SUITCASE guide to the best restaurants in Iceland.

Prir Frakkar

This cosy restaurant is as honest as they get. An old-fashioned bar and simple dining setting is little to giveaway the food on offer – unlike the crowds of locals who flock here. The menu is full of Icelandic fare such as puffin and fermented shark (an acquired taste) in their most classic get up, as well as more modern sashimi-style iterations. Other options such as monkfish will please the less adventurous, but don’t miss the skyr brûlée for pudding – gloriously indulgent but surprisingly light, it’s the perfect ending to a proper Icelandic meal.

Matarkjallarinn

While we take TripAdvisor reviews with a pinch of salt, Matarkjallarinn (meaning “food cellar”) takes the number one spot in Iceland and we’re inclined to agree. The live piano may feel a bit La La Land (the pianist actually played from the Oscar-winning film’s soundtrack while we dined) but combined with the setting in a 160-year-old building in the city centre, it sets the scene for a truly memorable dining experience. Go all out and opt for the chef’s choice menu, a six-course journey through the restaurant’s best dishes based on local ingredients, washed down with some killer cocktails. Visit at the weekend when the bar takes on more of a moody, lounge feel.

Höfnin

This turquoise, family-run restaurant is perched on the edge of the harbour away from the main hustle of the city and is a must-visit while in Reyjavik. Ask to sit near the window upstairs so you can watch the happenings of the port below while tucking into the restaurant’s modern take on classic Icelandic dishes. Order the four-course set menu which features the likes of cured reindeer fillet followed by Icelandic lamb (gamier tasting than usual thanks to the animal’s diet of berries and wild grasses), rounded off by a chocolate lava cake with liquorice ice cream – an updated take on a classic which will delight aniseed lovers.

Dill

As the holder of the island’s first ever Michelin star, we don’t need to tell you that Dill is worth a trip – if you can bag a table, that is (the waiting list currently stands at four months long). Under chef Ragnar Eiriksson, Dill is committed to preserving and furthering traditional Icelandic cuisine, channelling contemporary-cool vibes with low-hung lighting, gun-metal greys and mismatched wood reflecting equally artfully put-together plates. In short, it’s what Instagram dreams are made of – so beg, steal and borrow for a seat.

Grillmarkaourinn

This chef-owned “it” restaurant prides itself on a close relationship with local farmers in-keeping with a focus on seasonality and sustainability. Dishes are cooked on log fires and coal, with much-lauded chefs Hrefna Rósa Sætran and Guðlaugur Frímannsson sending out plate after plate of perfectly crisp, smoky fare. We recommend visiting for a special occasion and going for either the tasting menu or the “trip to the countryside” to experience as much of Iceland’s best bits as possible in one sitting.

Sandholt

This chic, family-owned bakery first opened in 1920 and is now run by its fifth generation of master bakers, headed up by Asgeir Sandholt, who has won a number of awards with The Icelandic National Team of Chefs. It’s the perfect place for a pitstop in a day of exploring, so hole yourself up in a corner and take cosy a break over artisan cinnamon buns and some strong coffee.

Matur og Drykkur

Matur og Drykkur is a new entry into the Nordic Michelin Guide 2017 (alongside Grillio, Gallery and VOX), named after a famous Icelandic cookbook which forms the basis for many of its dishes. In the name of modernity, they spruce up these classic recipes while still staying true to traditional preparation methods. Chef and part-owner Gisli Matthias Auounsson wants to make Icelanders proud of their native cuisine and certainly does so with this simple but highly praised restaurant.

Smakkbarinn

Smakk Barinn has all of the hallmarks of a traditional tapas bar – tightly packed high tables, a long wooden bar and all a bit hectic. It’s also a nod towards the hipster side of the city, serving all of it’s dishes in petite jars from shark and Icelandic meat soup to langoustines in Reyka Vodka batter. With a regularly changing menu, it’s a great spot to kick back and experience a young, buzzy Reykjavik.

Salka Valka

Iceland is not a cheap destination, but that doesn’t mean you can’t eat on a budget. Salka Valka (“fish and more”) is a simple eatery channelling East London vibes thanks to cactuses, succulents and hanging lightbulbs, while the food is more home-style cooking. The menu features only two main courses (alongside more casual sandwiches and breakfast plates); go for the plokkfiskur, a fish dish which is an authentic slice of what locals would cook for themselves.

Fridheimar

When driving the famous Golden Circle route be sure to stop off at Fridheimar, a geothermal energy-run tomato farm with an on-site restaurant, where you dine in the same greenhouses that the tomato-based menu is borne from. While tomato soup at home may not be considered a luxury, this farm’s version certainly is. Sweet, smooth and served with a dollop of sour cream, it blows Heinz out of the water. Toast to a stellar day of sight seeing with one of their famous bloody Mary’s – surely some of the best in the world.

Café Loki

This café’s location next to the quirky Hallgrimskirkja church makes it the perfect breakfast spot before a day of exploring the capital. Fill up on homemade Icelandic rye bread and Skyr-filled crepes among friendly locals – and you won’t be left wincing at the bill.

Hamborgarabullan

Tommi’s Burger Joint restaurants in London are actually from Iceland, first popping up back in 1981. Credited with bringing hamburgers to the country, owner Tommi Tomasson’s Reykjavik restaurant is endearingly haphazard and dolls out some of the tastiest patties in town.

  • +354 577 1888
  • Go to Website
  • Bíldshöfði Bíldshöfða 18
    110 Reykjavik

Silfra Restaurant

Take off from Reykjavik and into the wild to discover the Silfra restaurant in the architectural delight that is the ION Adventure Hotel. The building originally housed the employees of Nesjavellir power station and sits within the Golden Circle. While the hotel restaurant serves some of the finest Nordic cuisine in the region, it’s the Northern Lights Bar that you visit for. As the name suggests, it’s the perfect place to plonk yourself with a drink and wait for the best light show on earth to commence.

  • +354 578 3700
  • Go to Website
  • Nesjavellir vid Thingvallavatn
    801 Selfoss

Silfra Restaurant

Hamborgarabullan

Café Loki

Fridheimar

Salka Valka

SmakkBarinn

Sandholt

Matur og Drykkur

Grillmarkaourinn

Dill Restaurant

Hofnin

Matarkjallarinn

Prir Frakkar

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