Are you wondering where to eat in Reykjavik during your stay in Iceland’s capital? Where can you find the best cheap restaurants in Reykjavik? Read on to discover the best affordable places to eat in Reykjavik.
In recent years, so many world-class restaurants have opened in the city of Reykjavik, wowing people with their fresh ingredients and creative flavor combinations.
Thankfully, you can also get great food in Reykjavik without breaking the bank. Some of the best places to eat in Iceland are in Reykjavik, and many are affordable.
To easily get around the city, you can rent a car in Reykjavik to take you from place to place. There is a wealth of accommodations in the capital, which you can explore on the largest marketplace for hotels in Reykjavik. The capital city also makes for a good base from which to explore the country, so make sure you book day trips from Reykjavik and be back in the city before dinnertime!
- Check out our list of the Best Restaurants in Reykjavik
Reykjavik has something for everybody, including traditional Icelandic cuisine. However, it won’t cater to you if your favorite dining establishments happen to be McDonald's or Burger King, which you'll not find in Iceland. These are all authentic, locally owned Icelandic establishments (except for #12). If you prefer to try a little bit of everything, check out this selection of food tours in Reykjavik.
You'll notice that there are no pizza places on this list. That's not because there aren't plenty of great pizza joints in Iceland. In fact, there are too many of them! So, if you're in the mood for pizza in Reykjavik, check out our article on the 7 best pizza places in Reykjavik.
Check out our hand-picked suggestions for the 12 best cheap places to eat in Reykjavik below.
Best Places to Eat in Reykjavik
It might seem odd to start a list of budget-friendly restaurants in Reykjavik with a Swedish furniture store. To add insult to injury, it's not even Reykjavik! It's located in the suburban town of Gardabaer, within the Greater Reykjavik Area. But it's simply the most bang for your buck if you want to save on food in Reykjavik. You can enjoy simple meals such as Swedish meatballs with potatoes or chicken nuggets with fries, hovering just around 1000 ISK.
If you prefer veggies, there's a decent selection of salads and even a vegan version of Swedish meatballs (minus the meat). There's also a café-style dining area, where you can enjoy baked goods and sandwiches with a nice cup of coffee while enjoying a lovely view of... the warehouse in IKEA.
11. Lamb Street Food
Anyone who has traveled around Iceland during the summer will be quite familiar with the sturdy and proud Icelandic sheep, which roams around the countryside freely before being rounded up in the fall. This is the key ingredient of the excellent Lamb Street Food, which takes 3 cornerstones of Icelandic cuisine, lamb, skyr, and flatbread, while mixing it up with Middle Eastern and Moroccan influences, creating a delicious meal every time.
Our favorite is the Lambaróní, a freshly baked flatbread with cheese, dates, pepperoni, lamb kebab, and other flavors blended together. For non-meat eaters, there is also a nice selection of falafel blends in flatbread wraps as well as salads to choose from. The interior of the place is inviting and well-thought-out, with art on the walls displaying the many natural colors of Icelandic sheep.
If you want good, honest burgers with no frills, Hagavagninn is the place to go. Conveniently located by the Vesturbaejarlaug swimming pool, this burger place carries a certain neighborhood pride in the Vesturbaer district, named after the old public bus en route there during the 60s and 70s.
They keep it remarkably simple by having only 3 types of burgers on the menu, with an option to make it a double or replace the beef patty with a bean patty. If you try just one, you are guaranteed to have cravings to try all three. The design of this burger joint is in character with its menu as glass surrounds the dining area with concrete pavers underneath and heating lamps above, making you feel like you're outside. The music played at Hagavagninn is refreshingly retro, often blasting out classic rockabilly tunes or outlaw country, despite the staff being born many decades after the music's heyday.
Mandi is a classic stop for late-night grub after a night of partying in downtown Reykjavik. Since opening in 2011, it has consistently delivered on its promise to provide authentic Syrian food for a reasonable price. It serves a wide range of shawarma, falafel, and hummus dishes that are affordable, filling, and delicious. There's some casual seating within Mandi, but you can also order meals to go.
Despite being a small fast-food venue, the family-run business has a reputation for warmth and hospitality. The popularity of the original Mandi in the city center has spawned two other locations, as well as sauces, hummus, spices, and even frozen pizzas being sold under the Mandi brand in supermarkets around the country, recognizable by their signature fez hat logo.
- See also: Nightlife in Reykjavik
8. Wok On
If you want affordable and quick Asian food in Iceland, you can't go wrong with Wok On. Originally opened in 2016, it has quickly become very popular in Iceland and has expanded its reach to nine locations around the country, reaching as far as Akureyri and Vik. What makes this place unique lies in its name; everything is cooked on a wok to your specification.
You can either pick their signature dishes from the menu or create a rice or noodle concoction of your own, blending together veggies, meat, sauces, and toppings for a special treat to your liking. If you're on the go, you can ask for a takeaway or sit down in their neatly designed establishment for a nice meal while recharging. One of its locations is at the GreenHouse Hotel in Hvergerdi, perfect for a quickly prepared hot meal before passing out in your hotel room after a long day.
7. Just Wingin' It
Starting out as a humble food truck, this chicken wing place has quickly grown to be a local favorite. It has opened in two locations in the capital region in the last few years and shows no signs of slowing down. Just Wingin' It is a good example of a place that focuses on one thing and does so with excellence: making the best darn chicken wings in Iceland. The atmosphere is very sporty and American, with plenty of sports memorabilia on the wall and license plate numbers from all 50 states.
That's quite appropriate as it was established by an American basketball player who played in the Icelandic league for many years, with the goal of bringing hot Buffalo-style chicken wings to the icy cold north. It's safe to say the experiment was a grand success. When perusing the menu, there are a dozen or so sauces to choose from, and don't worry, most of them will not burn your tongue off. The emphasis is first and foremost on taste, not heat. However, for those brave enough, you can consult the heat scale if you want something really hot! We recommend the honey-based lemon pepper cajun sauce, which won a newcomer prize at the National Buffalo Wing Festival in 2023.
Hlöllabátar has been making excellent sub sandwiches in Reykjavik since 1986, and they show no signs of slowing down. Their most popular location is right in the heart of downtown Reykjavik at Ingolfstorg square, immediately noticeable by their red neon sign in the darkest of nights. This place tends to get very popular after a night on the town, with a chaotic queue forming outside the eatery after 2 AM on the weekends.
The menu has four types of meats to choose from and a great selection of classic subs, all drenched in the legendary Hlölli-sauce, whose exact ingredients have remained a well-kept secret since the inception of the restaurant. The subs are categorized into three price ranges, with some of the most popular being the "Sheriff's Boat" for beef lovers, the "Head Boat" with a great mix of lamb and fried onions, or the hardcore "Hlölli Big" with bacon, beef, and chicken!
Pítan, as its name indicates, serves top-notch pita bread stuffed with meat, vegetables, and sauces. Opened in 1983, it has been in the Icelandic food scene for over four decades and still remains a classic. In fact, most Icelanders had never heard of pita before the opening of this restaurant, and it was an immediate hit at the time. Located just outside the city center, the interior has an unmistakable 1960s vibe, with large, colorful paintings of all four Beatles straight out of Yellow Submarine.
There are many options when it comes to choosing your meal, the classic choice being a simple beef patty pita. Our personal favorite is the crispy chicken pita, with a great combination of garlic sauce, bacon, and heavenly deep-fried chicken tenders. If you're not in a pita mood, don't worry, there are also simple hamburgers available on the menu. If you dine in, you can have unlimited refills at the soda machine, which is always a plus.
2Guys excels in both great smash burgers and a fun 90's nostalgic atmosphere. The owner of this establishment, Robbi Kronik, was the host of Iceland's first radio show dedicated to hip-hop way back in 1993, and his love of hip-hop is reflected in the menu. The burgers are named after 90's rappers, and the walls are covered with posters of the Wu-Tang Clan, Notorious B.I.G., and other hip-hop legends. All of that would be a moot point if the burgers didn't taste good. Thankfully, they do! The buns have a perfectly soft texture, while the double smashed patties are oozing in cheese, with no crispy crusts. Try the "2Pac" with triple cheese, jalapeno, and crushed Doritos!
The inviting atmosphere of this place makes you want to stay there longer than for a burger meal, as there's plenty to do. There's a full bar where you can go for beer on draft or cocktails. You can also play darts there without worrying about keeping score, as it's fully automated by touch sensors, allowing you just to enjoy the game. If you want to go fully retro, there's also an arcade machine of the original Mortal Kombat there. So whether it's the 90s hip-hop, beer on draft, darts, or delicious smash burgers, there are plenty of reasons to check out 2Guys.
3. 101 Reykjavík Street Food
The concept of Icelandic "street food" doesn't really exist, as Iceland doesn't have a long history of street vendors compared to many other countries. So, the food you'll find at 101 Reykjavík Street Food could be better described as traditional Icelandic comfort food, and boy, is it comforting! Located right by Skolavordustigur street, characterized by the rainbow painted on the pavement, this is a great place to stop by on a cold day and get some warm and delicious food to replenish you.
We highly recommend the traditional Icelandic lamb meat soup, which is filling soup with lamb meat and vegetables such as potatoes and carrots. The "plokkfiskur" fish stew is another Icelandic classic, as well as the always-reliable langoustine soup. If you're not sure about these Icelandic dishes, you can also go for a simple chicken noodle soup. To top it all off, you can finish off the meal with some Icelandic skyr with blueberries. Nammi-namm!
- Learn more: The Ultimate Guide to Icelandic Food Culture
2. Hamborgarabúllan (Tommi's Burger Joint)
In 1981, Tommi opened up his first burger joint and hoped to sell around 250 hamburgers during the opening weekend. He ended up selling 1,000 hamburgers on the very first day. Suffice it to say, this place was a hit among Icelanders, and its popularity has just grown ever since.
This is the #1 stop to get good, simple burgers in Iceland in a cool, laid-back atmosphere. The walls are adorned with old concert posters, classic Icelandic vinyl records, and hand-drawn pictures by the youngest customers of this establishment.
We recommend the "Offer of the Century" for a classic Tommi burger with french fries and soda. Everything on the menu is good, though. The beef steakburger costs a little extra, but is made from grounded tenderloin, rib-eye, and rump steaks, making the extra cost worth it for a luxurious burger.
The reputation of Tommi's burgers has exceeded the borders of Iceland, as it has successfully opened in the UK, Germany, and Denmark, as well as nine locations in Iceland. All locations are consistent with the Tommi brand, while the burger joint at Geirsgata is the most iconic of them all (pictured above).
1. Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur
A few years ago, visitors to Iceland were surprised by the enthusiasm Icelanders have for hot dogs and the strange condiments they drenched their hot dogs in. Now, trying an Icelandic hot dog is on the to-do list for everyone who visits Iceland. In short, the secret is out: Icelandic hot dogs are delicious!
What is it about the Icelandic hot dog that makes it special? Let's start with the meat in the hot dog. It's made with a combination of three meats: pork, beef, and lamb. The reason for this is not culinary genius, but necessity. Back in the early 20th century, when Icelanders tried their hand at sausage making, which they learned from their brethren in Denmark, there was little to no pig farming in Iceland, the main ingredient in Danish sausages. So they tried out mixing it with beef and lamb, which there was an abundance of. Fast-forward 100 years, we can conclude the experiment was a success.
But a hot dog by itself is not a meal. That's why we drown it in all types of condiments! There's ketchup, a sweet brown mustard (pylsusinnep), a mayonnaise-based remoulade (remúlaði), raw onions, and crunchy fried onions. If you order an Icelandic hot dog with all five toppings and condiments, it's called a "one with everything," or in Icelandic, "eina með öllu."
Now that you know why Icelandic hot dogs are a must-try, you need to know the best place to get them. That's where Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur comes in, the legendary hot dog stand in downtown Reykjavik. Opened in 1937, it has been a mainstay in the city center for decades and is the oldest food-serving establishment in Iceland. While they started out selling hot dogs in just napkins, they have evolved through the years into an icon of Reykjavik, even recently selling merchandise such as hoodies and tote bags for their adoring fans around the world.
If you have a hot dog at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur (which means "The Town's Best Hot Dogs") you will stepping in the footsteps of Bill Clinton, Kim Kardashian, Gordon Ramsay, and (probably) the entire population of Iceland.
Like many capital cities, it can be tough to decide where to eat in Reykjavik. While Reykjavik, and Iceland in general, hold a reputation for high prices, you'll be able to find fantastic value food options. You can find all the locations on this list on the map below.
The list above provides our hand-picked suggestions for some of the best places to eat in Reykjavik. We’d love to answer your questions or hear about the experiences you’ve had with some of the best cheap eats in Reykjavik options in the comments below.
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