Where can you find affordable eats during your stay in Iceland's capital? Where can you eat delicious but cheap food in Reykjavík? Where can you find the best value restaurants in Reykjavik? How does COVID-19 affect the dining experience? Discover the top 10 inexpensive restaurants in Reykjavík.
Photo above by Ilya Mashkov
Iceland is a relatively expensive place to visit because it is an island with a tiny population that relies heavily on imported goods and raw materials.
Thankfully, eating cheaply in Reykjavík is more than possible, though it takes some navigating and prior knowledge to find the best deals.
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.
These options will certainly help you enjoy your stay in Reykjavik without becoming lightheaded with hunger.
Reykjavík has something for everybody, but especially 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 will not find in Iceland.
International cuisine is prevalent and varied, while 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.
Check out our hand-picked suggestions for the top 10 best value places to eat in Reykjavik below.
Unlike much of the world, Iceland has managed to keep its businesses open throughout this time of COVID-19, including restaurants. It’s not been easy, and eateries have gone through phases of tight limitations set by the local health authorities to keep the population safe.
The good news is that the general state of these health limitations is slowly easing up as testing, contact tracing, and vaccination continue lowering the risk day by day. If you’re planning your visit and would like to understand better how to get a taste of the local cuisine, we recommend keeping an eye on our COVID-19 information page. It will give you the latest details on where you can go and when.
Meanwhile, here are some answers to common questions about how COVID-19 impacts dining out in Iceland.
Am I able to go to restaurants in Iceland during COVID-19?
Yes, restaurants are open and ready to take your order! There are still some safety limits regarding how many people are allowed to be seated inside. Nevertheless, you can easily deal with this by making reservations ahead of time. Shortened operating hours are also still in effect, but with a bit of research, you can easily have the culinary experience you’re seeking.
Are there any limitations I should know about public dining during COVID-19?
Currently, the COVID-19 restrictions for restaurants influence capacity and operating hours. Restaurants can only accept the number of customers who can safely fit into each restricted space and allow enough social distance between tables. You should also be aware that restaurants are not allowed to accept new guests after 9:00 p.m. but may remain open until 10:00 p.m.
So, while it’s good news that all of Iceland’s hottest dining spots are open, be sure to call ahead so you can get a seat.
Do restaurants offer takeaway meals during COVID-19?
If there is a silver lining to the disruption that COVID-19 has brought to the restaurant industry, takeaway meals are now more available than ever before. During the most locked-down days of the pandemic in 2020, many restaurants adapted to being unable to host hungry guests by making their menu available to order from home.
It’s now a pretty standard service with a well-established system designed to keep you and restaurant employees safe. Most places give you the option of picking up your carryout order, and many others have delivery services. Safety precautions remain in place even during delivery; your delivery person will wear a mask and maintain as much distance as possible during your transaction.
Photo by Daria Nepriakhina
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 is some casual seating within Mandi, but you can also order meals to go.
The family-run business has a reputation for warmth and hospitality, despite being a small fast-food venue.
It also caters to larger groups for great value, making it a perfect place to consider for those having a wedding, party, or similar event in Iceland’s capital.
No doubt due to its centrality in the city, Mandi tailors much of its business to those spending a night out on Reykjavík’s bustling bar scene.
It is trendy amongst locals, who know it as a reliable place to fill the stomach and stave off a hangover.
Because of this, however, it is not always open during the day, so check the opening times below to ensure you don’t miss out on your affordable and sumptuous falafel wrap or chicken shawarma.
Address: 3b, Veltusund, 101 Reykjavik
Opening Hours: Mon-Weds: 10 AM-2 AM
Sat: 11 AM-6 AM
Photo by Jordan Nix
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 meters 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 meters 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: 10.30 AM-2 AM
Photo by Raphael Bernhart
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 happily accepts walk-ins without prior booking.
Given the reviews, Krua Thai has an excellent reputation for its friendly customer service.
Address: Skólavörðustíg 21a, 101 Reykjavík
Opening Hours: Mon - Fri: 11.30 AM-9.30 PM
Sat: 12 PM-9.30 PM
Sun: 5 PM-9.30 PM
Photo by Erik Mclean
If you're looking for a taste of Iceland, there's no better place for affordable local cuisine than Icelandic Street Food.
The casual-feeling restaurant's claim to fame is being the first place to serve traditional Icelandic food with the approach of fast-food restaurants.
The menu is simple, but you can't go wrong, whatever you order. The restaurant serves its scrumptious traditional lamb-soup and shellfish soup in bread-bowls, making them quite a filling meal.
You can also choose their tasty fish-stew with rye-bread on the side, which is about as Icelandic as a dish can get.
As a sweet treat, they serve typical Icelandic pancakes and hjónabandssæla, a cake whose name translates to 'Marriage Bliss.'
Icelandic Street Food is a family-owned operation, which adds to the authenticity of the culinary experience.
They even use recipes from the founder's Grandmother, and Icelanders know nothing is as delicious as food made by an amma (the Icelandic word for grandmother).
The restaurant is also in an extremely convenient location, downtown. It is within walking distance of all Reykjavik city-center attractions.
But you don't have to walk far for drinks and entertainment after your evening meal. Conveniently, right next door to Icelandic Street Food, you'll find the Icelandic Craft Bar, where you can try some excellent craft beers. Afterward, you can then head downstairs to the Secret Cellar comedy club, which has free comedy shows every night of the week.
Icelandic Street Food is a lovely spot for lunch or dinner or even a tasty treat between meals. You'll be hard-pressed to find local delicacies of this quality at the same reasonable price anywhere else in the capital.
Address: Lækjargata 8, 101 Reykjavík
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat: 9 AM-11 PM
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 specializes in offering a healthier alternative, using only organic products or have been sustainably farmed.
In 2015, two cuisine-loving brothers, Vífill and Ýmir, went looking to find a new burger restaurant location.
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 employed 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
Sun: 12 PM-5 PM
Photo by Markus Winkler
At Grandi Mathöll, you can get everything from traditional Icelandic lamb and smoked meats to Vietnamese delicacies, revitalizing soups and juices, to gastro-style takeaway food.
There is also an ever-changing pop-up truck, where up-and-coming chefs with a passion for street-food bring a brand new flavor to the hall.
There is a range of prices throughout Grandi Mathöll, though most are very reasonably priced for Reykjavík.
The food hall is particularly recommended to groups and families with a diverse range of dietary desires or requirements, as no-one will have to compromise, and everyone can grab a plate from their favorite menu.
Address: Hverfisgata 76, 101 Reykjavík
Opening Hours: Mon - Fri: 11 AM–11 PM
Sat - Sun: 11AM-10PM
Photo by Ziko van Dijk
Café Babalu is known for many things; its eccentric and eclectic interior decor, surprisingly delicious cheesecakes, and hospitable staff and atmosphere.
The cafe has two levels, leaving plenty of seating room. However, the decorations make the establishment appear smaller than it is, leaving a cozy, some-might-say claustrophobic atmosphere.
Café Babalu is instantly recognizable from its bright yellow paintwork, artistic exterior, and its second-floor balcony.
People traveling 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. However, 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 long-term boyfriend.
Address: Skólavörðustígur 22, 101 Reykjavík
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun: 11 AM-11 PM
Hlemmur Square is the central bus station of Reykjavík, and for years the space was barely utilized.
Finally, in 2017, a long-awaited food hall was introduced and met with great enthusiasm: Hlemmur Mathöll.
Hlemmur Mathöll provides a range of different flavors from ten other vendors, much of which you can buy at a reasonable price.
For example, Brauð & Co. is an artisan bakery that serves a range of rolls and cakes, La Poblana focuses on Mexican tacos, Báhn Mí provides Vietnamese street food, and Jóm Frúin serves Danish-style open-faced sandwiches.
If traveling on a budget, you are likely to be using the bus service anyway, so why not break up your travels with a delicious bite to eat? The vendors will tailor to all members of your party.
Address: Laugavegur 107, 105 Reykjavík
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun: 8 AM-11 PM
Noodle Station is a top-rated 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 an authentic, 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. There are also, of course, a handful of secret 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: 11 AM–10 PM
Sat - Sun: 12PM–10PM
In regards to taste, texture, and presentation, Ramen Momo is authentic to its roots and was founded by Kunsang Tsering and his wife Erna Pétursdóttir, in 2014.
The venture paid off, making waves immediately across the city, and even finding some diehard fans abroad (The Washington Post gave the restaurant a glowing review).
The four main dishes Ramen serves are as follows: Ramen noodles, Udon noodles, momo dumplings, and steamed bun sandwiches.
Conscious of both the environment and healthy eating habits, the restaurant boasts the only organic noodles in the city. They always make their noodles in-house from locally sourced ingredients.
Ramen Momo will even offer a price discount for those who bring containers to the establishment, thus saving plastic and a pretty penny.
One point should be made clear with Ramen Momo; this is a tiny noodle station, with indoor seating for approximately eight people only.
There are sometimes a further two seats outside, but all in, Ramen Momo is something of a standing-room, grab-and-go type deal.
That does nothing to deter anyone from the reasonable prices. One could order a Tonkotsu soup with Ramen noodles and pork for 1890 ISK. Alternatively, one could buy a Kimchi Salad for less than a 1000 ISK, or eight pieces of Japanese pan-fried Gyoza for 1690 ISK.
In 2017, the couple opened Ramen Lab Reykjavik, a store that furthered the franchises’ devotion to Asian fusion by selling organic noodles, soups, and Japanese cooking utensils. These include wooden spoons, origami paper, ceramic bowls, and traditional chopsticks.
Address: Tryggvagata 16, 101 Reykjavík
Opening Hours: Mon - Saturday: 11.30 AM–2 PM, 5.30 PM - 9 PM
Though Reykjavik, and Iceland in general, holds a reputation for high prices, if you do your research, you will be able to find some fantastic value food options out there. This list above provides our hand-picked suggestions of 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 cheap eats in Reykjavik options in the comments below.