Reykjavik has a wealth of choice when it comes to eating on a budget!

Where can travellers find delicious and cheap eats during their stay in Iceland's capital, Reykjavik? How can one eat delicious food without breaking the bank? Discover the top 10 cheap restaurants in Reykjavík.

Being an island with an extremely small population which relies heavily on imported goods and raw materials, Iceland is a relatively expensive place to visit. Thankfully, eating cheaply in Reykjavík is more than possible, though it does take some navigating and prior knowledge of where the best deals are to be found.

If you’re on a budget or, hell, just broke, there are still some eateries in the capital that balance delicious menu options with affordable prices, meaning you can enjoy your stay in the city without becoming lightheaded with hunger.

Reykjavík has something for everybody; that is, of course, unless your favourite dining establishments happen to be McDonald's or Burger King which are nowhere to be found in Iceland.

International cuisine is prevalent and varied whilst traditional Icelandic food is readily available and authentically prepared. If fine dining isn’t your cup of tea, the numerous street vendors will surely tempt you with an easy to prepare snack without pulling too hard on the purse strings. 

10 - Baejarins Beztu

The Icelandic hot dog has become a defacto symbol of the country's snack industry. Credit: Bæjarins Beztu

The famous Reykjavík hot dog stand, Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur is a longstanding and much appreciated cultural landmark, capable of selling over a thousand hot dogs on a busy day. Jokingly referred to as the national dish of Iceland, hot dogs have long been a cultural and dietary staple.

The distinctions between an Icelandic hot dog and a regular hot dog are widely and heatedly disputed. Some claim the unique taste derives from the lamb, others from the sweet mustard or mysterious condiments available. “One with everything” (the favourite choice amongst locals) includes;  ketchup, remoulade, sweet mustard, raw onion and fried onion.

The original Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur stand in 1937. Credit: Bæjarins Beztu

Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur translates to ‘Best Hot Dogs in Town’, a reputation they have earned given their tenure in the business. Conceived of by the current owner’s grandfather, the stand was first set up in 1937 on Austurstræti, before moving to its current location on Tryggvagata in the 1960s.

The stand’s long history of hot dog vending can be seen on a photographic placard beside the stand itself. Amongst its former patrons have been a number of public figures—from former US President Bill Clinton to five-star chef Anthony Bourdain—who have boosted the stand’s reputation as one of the hottest spots in town for grabbing a bite.

Address:                    Tryggvagata 1, 101 Reykjavík
Opening Hours:      Mon - Thurs: 10AM–1AM
                                      Fri - Sat:  10AM–4:30AM
                                      Sun: 10AM–12AM

9. Devito’s Pizza            

Devitos remains one of Reykjavík's finest pizzaria's

Devito’s first opened its doors in 1994, offering the people of Reykjavík their chance to indulge in quick and easy, delicious pizza slices. Back in the day, Devito's was housed in an outside compartment only a few square metres in size, providing just enough room to shield their customers from the harsh Icelandic elements.

Ten years later, in 2004, Devito’s moved only a few metres up the road into its current premises at 126 Laugavegur, just off Hlemmur Square. Advantageously situated in the direct eye line of the city’s commuters, Devito’s does a healthy business, especially on the weekend nights when patrons sit inside in a hungry bid to sober up.

Address:                  Laugavegur 126, Reykjavík
Opening Hours:    Mon - Sun: 10.30AM-2AM

8. Krua Thai Cuisine      

Top 10 Value Places to Eat in ReykjavikCredit: Krua Thai 

This choice is not quite to the glorious standards of Ban Thai, but cheaper, and therefore has earned itself its place at the end of this list. Having lived on a Thai island for a few months, I hold a special place in my heart for the country’s delicacies and, I must say, Krua Thai does not disappoint.

One of the best things Krua Thai offers is a large variety of menu options; patrons can choose from classic dishes like Thai-styled Panang, Pad Thai, Tempura and spicy noodles. The restaurant also has takeaway and delivery options and accepts walk-ins without prior booking.

Given the reviews—and my own personal experience, of course—Krua Thai has an excellent reputation for its friendly customer service. 

Address:                Skólavörðustíg 21a, 101 Reykjavík
Opening Hours:  Mon - Fri: 11.30AM-9.30PM
                                  Sat: 12PM-9.30PM
                                  Sun: 5PM-9.30PM

7. Durum          

Durum is tastefully furnished, making it an excellent spot for a light lunch.Credit: Durum 

Durum is a cafe that balances healthy and fulfilling eating with easy to swallow prices, offering everything from soup to sandwiches to salads and wraps.

The business opened in 2011, making it a fairly new feature in downtown. Housed in a small and cosy corner building, Durum’s founders have, since its inception, made it their mission to serve dishes both delicious and of the simplest ingredients.

Durum has a wide variety of food on the menu, including sea food, sandwiches and pizzas.Credit: Durum 

Of particular recommendation is the seafood pizza, a dish overloaded with shrimp and scallops. If instead, you’re visiting Durum in the morning, they serve a delicious and appreciated coffee, as well as a full English fry up.

Address:                  Laugavegur 42, 101 Reykjavík
Opening Hours:    Mon - Sun: 9AM-8PM

6. Bio Borgari          

Bio Borgari's burgers are made from the freshest, locally sourced ingredients. Credit: Bio Borgari

Bio Borgari is a new burger joint in Reykjavík, adding further passion to the nation’s penchant for sizzling beef patties. Unlike other fast food outlets across the city, however, Bio Borgari specialises in offering a healthier alternative, using only products that are either organic or have been sustainably farmed.

In 2015, two cuisine-loving brothers, Vífill and Ýmir, went looking to find a location for their new burger restaurant. Two years on, the brothers’ commitment has paid off, with a new Reykjavik restaurant now formally opened for business.

In true organic style, the brothers were responsible for almost every aspect of the new establishment, from the ingredients used and the cooking methods, to the restaurant’s interior decoration.

This attitude towards health and entrepreneurship comes from the brother’s childhood; "Using ingredients grown organically, for us, is the default way to show nature and the resources that Mother Earth has. We can not just take, we must also give back so we can create balance, be constructive and live in harmony with the environment.”

Address:                   Vesturgata 12, 101 Reykjavík
Opening Hours:     Mon - Tues:  Closed
                                     Wed - Fri: 11AM–2PM, 5PM-9PM
                                     Sat: 12PM-9PM
                                     Sun: 12PM-5PM

5. Kaffi Vinyl      

Kaffi Vinyl has DJ's playing on certain nights of the week.Credit: Kaffi Vinyl

As the name suggests, Kaffi Vinyl is dedicated solely to two things; first, their extensive collection of vinyl records and, second, their devotion to serving delicious vegan food. In fact, Kaffi Vinyl is Reykjavík’s only vegan restaurant, making it an important stop for animal lovers, health enthusiasts and music aficionados alike. The establishment also serves as a small record store, selling electronica and groove LPs.

To add to this chilled ambience, the restaurant will, more often than not, enlist DJs and live performances for nighttime entertainment. This makes enjoying one of the bar’s quirky beer options a true pleasure; even if the music is not to your tastes, the atmosphere of the restaurant is one of open and relaxed comfort.

Kaffi Vinyl is the city's only dedicated Vegan restaurant.Credit: Kaffi Vinyl

Kaffi Vinyl is perhaps most famous for it’s ‘Oumpf Sandwich’, a truly life-affirming snack made with Swedish soy and caramelised onions. Aside from that, the vegetable lasagna is one of the finest contributions to the menu, as is the veggie sushi.

Address:                   Hverfisgata 76, 101 Reykjavík
Opening Hours:     Mon - Fri: 9AM–11PM  
                                     Sat: 10AM–11PM
                                     Sun: 11AM-11PM

4. Café Babalu      

Cafe Babalu is one of the most abundantly furnished establishments in Reykjavik.Credit: CurryStrumpet 

Café Babalu is known for many things; its eccentric and eclectic interior decor, its surprisingly delicious cheesecakes and its hospitable staff and atmosphere. The cafe has two levels, leaving plenty of seating room; the decoration does, however, make the establishment appear smaller than it is, leaving a cozy, some-might-say claustrophobic, atmosphere.  

Café Babalu is instantly recognisable from its bright yellow paintwork, artistic exterior and its second-floor balcony. People travelling to and from the Hallgrímskirkja church, Reykjavík's most iconic landmark, will almost certainly pass it, making it an excellent stop off for a light lunch. Besides scrumptious desserts, the cafe also serves sandwiches, soups and coffees.

One drawback of Cafe Babalu often cited is its small menu. Visiting the cafe more than three times during your visit will most certainly exhaust it., but that’s not to say your enthusiasm will diminish. Quality over quantity, after all. Cafe Babalu is also known as an LGBT-friendly cafe; the owner Glenn Barkan opened the cafe in 2004 after moving to Iceland to marry his longterm boyfriend.

Address:                   Skólavörðustígur 22, 101 Reykjavík
Opening Hours:     Mon - Sun: 11AM-11PM

3. El Santo 

A Taco Pexadp from El Santo.

Having opened in March 2017, El Santo is a new addition to the Reykjavik food scene, presenting authentic Mexican cuisine at affordable prices. The restaurant’s chef, Agnar Agnarsson, lived for a time in the United States, where he was introduced to and fell in love with Mexican food.

Now using only the freshest ingredients and a DIY approach to tortillas and sauces, Agnar has made El Santo’s popularity soar over only a few months—Icelanders were quick to grab a taste of the sunshine. 

For the lover of Mexican food, El Santo will not disappoint; the restaurant dedicates itself to traditional wraps, tortillas, tacos, Gorditas and Empanizados. One can also order an Elote, a grilled cob of corn that is quickly becoming one of the restaurant’s signature dishes. El Santo also provides vegan options, uses only gluten-free ingredients and chickens from free-range farms. 

Both Thursday nights and the weekend see El Santo become a livelier venue, with the upstairs lounge playing host to local DJs and local musicians. All this contributes to El Santo’s wonderful atmosphere, made all the more perfect by the northern lights or midnight sun glimmering through the restaurant’s glass ceiling.

Although El Santo is not the cheapest option on this list, the quality of the food, the friendly staff and welcoming atmosphere make any dining experience there a bargain.  

Address:                 Hverfisgata 20, 101 Reykjavík
Opening Hours:   Mon - Wed: 5PM-11PM
                                   Thurs - Sun: 5PM - 1AM

2. Noodle Station         

Charin Thaiprasert outside Noodle Station.Credit: Noodle Station

Noodle Station is an incredibly popular stop off for guests and locals alike, serving large and cheap portions of one of Asia’s signature dishes; Noodle Soup. More than anything, Noodle Station is authentic, a family run restaurant owned by Thai national, Charin Thaiprasert. According to urban legends, his noodle soup recipe has been in the family for generations.

The soup at Noodle Station quickly became something of a national treasure upon the restaurant’s opening in 2009 and is available with either beef, chicken or vegetable—plus, of course, a handful of secretive ingredients. 

One minor issue with Noodle Station is the establishment’s size. Given its popularity, finding a seat to eat your soup can be easier said than done.

Address:                  Laugavegur 103, 101 Reykjavík
Opening Hours:    Mon - Fri:  11AM–10PM
                                    Sat - Sun: 12PM–10PM

1. Mandí     

The ever popular 'Mandi Special Chicken'Credit: Mandí

Given Reykjavik's nightlife, and thus, its inhabitants' nocturnal desires for an after-party shawarma, Mandí is a welcoming presence in Reykjavík’s food scene. Styled as a half takeaway, half corner store, Mandí serves not only a wide variety of everyday snacks and items, but also delicious and affordable Syrian dishes that come at a very low price.  

There are only a handful of barstools in the restaurant, meaning that take away is the most popular option for patrons. Although the place is almost always packed, waiting for your food never takes more than 5-10 minutes, during which time one can enjoy watching the friendly all-Syrian staff interact with the large and loyal base of regulars.

For locals, Mandí is the place 'where everybody knows your name.'

Mandí is particularly suited to the night-dwellers amongst us, staying open as later as 6 am on a Friday and Saturday night. This makes it the perfect location for a quick stop off between bars on a night out on the town.

The 'Mandi Special Fish' plate is highly recommended, and vegetarians can savour in the delicious falafel wraps and hummus bowls to satisfy their appetite. 

Address:                  Veltusund 3b, 101 Reykjavík
Opening Hours:    Sun - Thurs:  10AM–2AM
                                    Fri - Sat: 10AM–6AM