What are the best fine dining restaurants in Reykjavík? What's the Icelandic cuisine like? See the top places to go out for dinner and drinks in Reykjavík.
Photo above by Von Mathús
Reykjavík is brimming with great food and world class chefs. Traditional Icelandic food such as smoked lamb, dried fish and herring often has a place on Reykjavík city's top-notch restaurants, although often with some fusion twist.
Gone are the days of limited ingredient selection and now Iceland boasts a local food scene that's renowned for fresh ingredients and Nordic simplicity.
The vegetarian and vegan cuisine is also on the rise, with plenty of options from fine dining to greasy hangover food, and any plant-lover will find a suitable place to fulfill all their food cravings in Reykjavík.
If you're a food aficionado, don't miss out on the yearly Food and Fun festival, where acclaimed chefs from some of the best Michelin star restaurants around the world come to Iceland and take over the kitchens in some of Reykjavík's finest establishments, cooking only with fresh, Icelandic ingredients.
In 2018 the Food and Fun festival took place between the 28th of February and 4th of March.
The restaurants participating in the festival in 2018 were Apótek, Burro, Essensia, Geiri Smart, Grillið, Kitchen and Wine 101, Kolabrautin, Kopar, Marshall Restaurant + Bar, Matarkjallarinn, Mathús Garðabæjar, Nostra, Slippurinn, Sumac, Vox and Bjórgarðurinn - Spanish Pop Up. These establishments make up a mix of older, celebrated restaurants and some acclaimed restaurants that are newer on the food scene in Reykjavík.
There are numerous fine dining restaurants to be found in the city, with renowned chefs priding themselves on using fresh, Icelandic ingredients. Icelandic cuisine focuses on seafood, lamb and of course the Icelandic dairy product ‘skyr’.
In recent years there has been a large increase in restaurants all over Reykjavík, and travellers, as well as locals, can choose from a multitude of fine dining restaurants, gastropubs, brasseries and bistros with both Icelandic, fusion and international cuisine.
In 2017 the first and only Michelin star was awarded to an Icelandic restaurant, Dill restaurant, hopefully paving the way for more to come. Four other Reykjavík based restaurants get a mention in the Michelin guide: Gallerý, Grillið, Matur og Drykkur and Vox.
Below are some of the best fine dining restaurants in the greater Reykjavík area, in alphabetical order.
Photo by Kyle Mackie
Latin American restaurant Burro is situated right in the centre of Reykjavík, right underneath the popular Pablo Discobar nightclub. The restaurant and the nightclub go hand in hand, and both provide you with a colourful and fun atmosphere, and a joyful experimentation both in the kitchen and at the bar.
Expect small tapas sized plate, and a Latin fusion cuisine. You'll find Mexican dishes mixed with Brazilian and Argentinian ones here, tacos, cassava, ceviche and empanadas. If you want something a bit more experimental, why not taste the monk fish with popcorn, or the cocoa puffs cocktail?
Check out the Burro Experience or the Tasting Menu to try five or six of the restaurant's most popular dishes, including langoustine taco and chimichurro beef fillet to name but a few.
Burro is located at Veltusund 1, 101 Reykjavík.
The first and only Icelandic restaurant to receive a Michelin star. Dill has been renowned as being the best and most exclusive restaurant in Iceland for a while, so when they earned a Michelin star in early 2017 it came as no surprise.
The exclusivity is mainly due to its small size and limited opening hours, it is only open from Wednesdays until Saturdays from 18:00. Therefore bookings need to be made months in advance. The wait is worth it for the divine Nordic food focusing on quality Icelandic ingredients.
On arrival you can choose between a set menu of five or seven courses, with some tasting snacks before the meal begins, meaning that everyone will be enjoying the same dishes in the restaurant. An accompanying wine selection is available as well, but it's possible to just buy drinks by the glass if preferred.
Dill restaurant can be found at Laugavegur 59, 101 Reykjavík.
Fiskfélagið, or the Fish Company is a very eclectic restaurant in downtown Reykjavík. Icelandic, French, Malaysian, Irish, Japanese and other countries make up the varied menu, and it's possible to order a five-course meal which takes you around the world. Vegetarian options are available.
The menu is inventive, fun and extremely varied and the chefs will make small changes to your dish when they feel like it, so you never really know what to expect. Waiters are casual, laid back and fun, and you'll feel at ease at once.
Fiskfélagið can be found at Vesturgata 2a, 101 Reykjavík.
The Food Cellar, or Matarkjallarinn, presents you with a lounge-like bar and dining area, with live music being played every night on a gorgeous rosewood grand piano from 1890.
This is a brasserie where the menu is a mixture of seafood and lamb, with vegetarian options, focusing on Icelandic ingredients. Go for the surprise six-course menu or order a la carte.
Matarkjallarinn can be found at Aðalstræti 2, 101 Reykjavík.
If you're looking to step back in time and really treat yourself to a fine dining experience, then the Gallery restaurant at Hotel Holt is the place to go. Elegance and exclusivity are the key words that come to mind. Think of it as Reykjavík's answer to the Ivy in London. Walls are lined with fine art by Iceland's most notable artists, mostly by Kjarval.
The food is simply divine, with classic dishes like the smoked salmon where the recipe hasn't changed since 1966, or tortellini oozing luxury as it comes with a langoustine tail and fresh truffles. But they also have inventive dishes, such as the lamb wellington with a blueberry sponge and the warm skyr dessert.
Get your waiter to tell you about the restaurant's history and show you around if possible. And don't miss out on having a drink at the classic leather sofa bar lounge before or after dinner. This place comes with a price tag, but you won't find another like it in all of Iceland.
Gallery restaurant is found within Hotel Holt, at Bergstaðastræti 37.
The hotel restaurant for the modern and artistic Canopy hotel in downtown Reykjavík is the sophisticated but simultaneously laid-back Geiri Smart.
Known for stylish and elegant cuisine, including Icelandic classics such as langoustine, lamb, arctic char and beef tenderloin you can also find more informal and tasty dishes here such as the rib eye burger and chicken thigh salad.
The restaurant is located just opposite the National Theatre, so obviously offers a pre-theatre menu, consisting of langoustine bisque or toasted brioche with truffle remoulade and asparagus for a starter, and a choice of salmon or lamb sirloin for main. The two course menu is 5500 ISK and available before 7pm.
Three course and five course menus are also available, as well as a la carte.
Geiri Smart is located at Hverfisgata 30, 101 Reykjavík.
Photo from Grillið
If you're after stunning views to accompany your delicious meal, then Grillið restaurant is where you want to go. If Gallery restaurant is Reykjavík's answer to the Ivy, then Grillið is Reykjavík's answer to the Savoy Grill. Situated on the 8th floor with unobstructed views and windows from table height to ceiling, you won't find a better view with your dinner anywhere else in town, and this is a place to be seen.
Rich in history, Grillið is known to be a very formal and classic restaurant in the minds of the locals, although the menu is inventive, modern and surprisingly affordable. The fantastic head waiter, Gísli, also makes you feel like you're meeting an old friend as he enthusiastically explains each wine to you. Do NOT skip the wine pairing, and take your time, it's easy to spend an entire evening here.
Grillið restaurant can be found on the top floor at Radisson Blu Saga Hotel, at Hagatorg, 107 Reykjavík.
Photo from Grillmarkaðurinn
Sophisticated, yet natural and raw is Reykjavík's Grillmarket. It's tucked away in a back alley from the bustling Austurstræti downtown Reykjavík, and feels a little like you just found Aladdin's secret cave when you come across it.
Obviously great for steaks but you can also get fantastic seafood, duck, mini-burgers, soups and salad and a vegetarian option. Both open for lunch and dinner. I highly recommend the eight-dish 'taster' menu and its accompanying wine selection, you will not be disappointed!
Grillmarkaðurinn can be found at Lækjargata 2a, 101 Reykjavík.
Stylish, hip and rather lively restaurant in central Reykjavík, just a stone's throw from Hallgrímskirkja church. The food is incredible and so is the cocktail selection. The menu includes seafood, meat and poultry and has vegetarian and vegan options. Dishes can be made lactose and gluten free.
One of my absolute favourite places in town, great for just a few cocktails with friends, as well as splashing out on an eight-course meal with a wine selection for a special treat with a loved one.
Kol restaurant can be found on Skólavörðustígur 40, 101 Reykjavík.
Head to the old harbour in central Reykjavík and you'll find a gem on one end: Kopar restaurant (name meaning 'Copper'). Situated right by the harbour it's no surprise that this is mainly a seafood restaurant. Meat, vegetarian and vegan options are found here as well. The duck pancakes are not to be missed.
Great combination of flavours, fantastic cocktails and professional service.
Kopar restaurant can be found at Geirsgata 3, 101 Reykjavík.
You came to Iceland to try Icelandic food, and you want to come back with some stories, right?
Instead of telling tales of awful fermented shark, then tell the tale of the delicious, juicy, chicken-flavoured cod's head that's one of the main dishes at Matur og Drykkur (Food and Drink). For starters you can have some crispy seaweed or trout smoked with sheep dung. Wash it down with a cocktail mixed with freshly picked Icelandic herbs.
Don't be put off by the somewhat odd descriptions on the menu, this restaurant gives Icelandic traditional food a whole new meaning with its tasty and inventive twists. Vegetarian options are available; you can even enjoy a whole eight-course vegetarian menu.
Matur og Drykkur can be found at Grandagarður 2, 101 Reykjavík.
You just want nicely cooked, well made Icelandic fish and plenty of it? Then don't miss out on Messinn. Situated just across the oldest high school in town, you'll find an ocean-themed restaurant that only has fish on its menu and one vegan dish.
This place doesn't mess about, you just get tasty food with the focus on the flavour of each ingredient. Main fish dishes come on a hot pan, with potatoes and salad. Try the fish gills, they're like a cross between oyster and chicken served with juicy cherry tomatoes. Very friendly and relaxed service.
Messinn can be found at Lækjargata 6b, 101 Reykjavík.
Sjávargrillið has a sort of a luxurious alpine cabin feel. If it's seafood you're after, then you won't be disappointed with Sjávargrillið. Although I've only had dinner here once (which was a heavenly date with a catfish with lobster & date sauce as well as some slow-cooked salmon), it's become one of my regular lunch places. Their fish of the day during lunch time is always delightful, and very reasonably priced too.
Great place for a romantic dinner for seafood lovers (they also have some meat and vegetarian dishes).
Sjávargrillið can be found at Skólavörðustígur 14, 101 Reykjavík.
Photo from Gil Ndjouwou
Lively French bistro located beside Hotel Óðinsvé, not far from Hallgrímskirkja church. As soon as Snaps opened it became a big hit with the locals and has remained so ever since, so expect a loud chatter and a bustling atmosphere.
The menu is pretty small but contains French, Danish and Icelandic cuisine. Go for the Danish smörrebröd, or opt for the moules mariniére. Fish of the day during lunchtime also never fails.
No bookings can be made after 18:30, just turn up and hope for the best!
Snaps can be found at Þórsgata 1, 101 Reykjavík.
If you want a bit of a Mediterranean feel to your Nordic holiday, then Sumac blends Icelandic product quality with Moroccan and Lebanese spices. A beautiful blend of exotic spices mixed with fruits and almonds provide dishes such as beef cheek tagine and grilled octopus that are sure to whet your appetite.
Also a great place for vegetarians, with delicious dips such as baba ganoush and hummus with the freshly grilled flatbread, stuffed dates, roasted cauliflower and more.
Go for the 7 course Meze for dinner, you won't regret it. There's an interesting wine list to boot, and some of the best cocktails in town.
The space is a mixture of being both raw and modern, with muted colours and soft lighting.
Open for both lunch and dinner on weekdays, but only for dinner on weekends. Book in advance since it gets popular!
Sumac can be found on Laugavegur 28, 101 Reykjavík.
Photo by Jay Wennington
Tapasbarinn is a stable in the Icelandic restaurant scene, having been around since 2000. This is a really fun and lively cellar in downtown Reykjavík, not far from the old harbour area.
The focus is on Icelandic ingredients served in a Spanish tapas style. The most popular things on the menu are the Icelandic Gourmet Feast that includes puffin, arctic char and skyr for example, and a Journey into the Unknown which is a combination of seafood, meat and vegetables. Each of those includes seven to eight dishes, that will more than fill you up.
Tapasbarinn can be found at Vesturgata 3b, 101 Reykjavík.
Photo from Von Mathús
All the best restaurants in town aren't in central Reykjavík. If you're staying in neighbouring town Hafnarfjörður, or want to explore a little more than just postcode 101, then head to Von Mathús.
This brand new and popular gastropub is run by a young and friendly couple. It has a small menu consisting of a few fish and meat dishes, with vegetarian and vegan options. Small but good cocktail list. The ox cheek dish is worthy of a special mention.
Von Mathús can be found at Strandgata 75, 220 Hafnarfjörður.
What is your favourite restaurant in Reykjavík?