What are the best options for vegan and vegetarian dining in Reykjavík? Is the selection plentiful or limited? Are there restaurants that offer only plant-based food? How vegan-friendly is the city in general?
The city of Reykjavík has seen its dining options increase dramatically in the last few years. The availability for fine dining has never been higher, with an array of restaurants offering fresh, traditional Icelandic ingredients prepared with international fusions. The same progression has graciously been happening for vegan and vegetarian options.
- See also: The Best Restaurants in Reykjavík
I’m not sure exactly what happened, but suddenly, being vegan is cool. The relatively small population of Iceland provides for a fine example of just what can happen when enough people support an idea: an ideological shift in attitude. Today, there is hardly an Icelandic dining establishment that doesn’t offer one or two vegan options on their menu.
That is why, when conducting a restaurant guide such as this one, we can afford to be pickier than in the past. As a vegetarian resident of this city, I can tell you that gone are the days where we have to order the Caesar Salad sans chicken. No more are we outcasts who receive eye-rolls from waiters and death-stares from chefs.
With veganism being widely regarded as a hip, new dietary choice, the focus has shifted more to the food itself, meaning that we can finally enjoy the full benefits of fine dining.
Is it because the lifestyle is finally respected and applauded due to heightened awareness? Or simply because of our increased numbers and noticeable effect on the market? No matter the reasons, the results can’t be argued with.
- Love animals? See Whale Watching and Puffin Watching Tours here
For this guide, we have explored the best of which Reykjavík City has to offer in regards to plant-based eating. Read on to discover where to go and what to get, in our list of the top 21 vegan and vegetarian spots in Reykjavík.
These are the Reykjavík establishments that are completely meat-free and offer only vegetarian or vegan options.
The mecca of vegan restaurants in Reykjavík and, so far, the only entirely vegan menu in the country. There is nothing I don’t love about this place; its authentic bohemian decor, crackling vinyl music (Meat is Murder by The Smiths is a regular choice), colourful clientele and undemanding atmosphere.
The venue tends to suddenly get packed, and if you call to book a table in advance, the staff might or might not remember to stick a post-it note on a table before your arrival. The lack of any kind of high-end service, in fact, works in the establishment's favour; dining there feels like getting together with old friends.
Depending on when you show, a different scenery will greet you each time around. Be it a family-packed restaurant during the dinner rush, a hipster-esque coffee shop (with four available plant-milks) on a Sunday afternoon, a modish record-release party on a Friday night, or a raunchy house-filled DJ-set on a Saturday, this joint is anything but monotonous.
The only stability of your visits, perhaps, will be the phenomenal and completely vegan menu. Some of the items make use of the revolutionary Oumph! soy product, including the top-selling Kawai sandwich; caramelised onion and pan-fried mushrooms join homemade guacamole on toasted sourdough ciabatta.
Their stir-fried rice noodles with crispy tofu are another favourite, along with the ever-changing wrap-of-the-day and the sinfully tasty black bean and quinoa Ludvig burger. The place also opens remarkably early (8 am) and offers breakfast; which usually is rather a hard find for vegans travelling through the city.
The selection goes beyond the dining options, as the cooling cabinet has an altering array of all-vegan desserts and the drinks include vegan-labelled wine and veganized cocktails; such as a Boston Sour, shaken with chickpea juice as opposed to the traditional egg-white.
The majority of the owners and staff are vegan or vegetarian, and the dedication to the cause certainly delivers - you'll feel right at home.
Kaffi Vínyl is located at Hverfisgata 76, 101 Reykjavík.
Garðurinn | Ecstasy's Heart-Garden
“No price is too great to pay for inner peace” are the words of Sri Chinmoy, a spiritual teacher whose philosophy inspires a global group of meditators, who happen to run a selection of vegetarian cafés and restaurants in different cities around the world.
One of these establishments has nested in the centre of Reykjavík City for seventeen years, where it turns out, the price for inner peace is exceedingly affordable. Before the opening of Kaffi Vínyl in 2015, Garðurinn was the only completely vegetarian joint in town, having provided the locale with affectionately prepared plant-based food for over a decade.
Their menu consists of roughly thirty different dishes that rotate each month, making it so that no two weeks are ever the same in regards to the daily specials. Minimalism is key here, along with love, and dining at the venue honestly feels like someone opened their home to you.
If you happen to be vegetarian as opposed to vegan, you might remember a time not too long ago when such a lifestyle was considered “enough” in regards to its ultimate objective. With veganism on the rise at the incredible rate it is, things perhaps aren’t as transparent anymore.
Garðurinn reminds me of those simpler times, as the establishment follows its own values of integrity as opposed to competing for all-vegan labels. That doesn’t mean they don’t get with the times—in later years all their dishes can be altered to vegan upon request.
The soup de jour is vegan always, as is the accompanying bread, and the staff will ask you if you prefer butter or hummus as a spread. There is also a fabulous selection of desserts, just ask which ones are vegan, and they’ll tell you (they’re on the top shelf, usually).
For a simple, home-made dining experience at economical prices, head on to the ecstasy garden and feel the love and enlightenment.
You'll find Garðurinn at Klapparstígur 37, 101 Reykjavík.
Inside heavy-metal dive bar Gaukurinn, something wonderful is happening. The restaurant Veganæs just recently crowd-funded their way into existence and is being constructed as we speak, by three local vegan artists.
Although they haven’t opened yet, their menu will be all-vegan and their head chef, Linnea Hellström, contributed greatly to the menus at Kaffi Vínyl and Gló, so it is safe to say every vegan in the city is holding their breath for this one.
Linnea has proudly claimed that Veganæs will absolutely not be about health-food, but rather delicious and juicy, hangover-friendly comfort-food. Cheers to that!
Yours truly has been invited to their opening party, so stay tuned for updates.
These are the top 8 Reykjavík establishments that are omnivorous but cater especially well to vegans and vegetarians.
8. Bryggjan Brugghús
Feel like enjoying a five-course vegan meal in a high-class restaurant with a seaside view? Bryggjan provides for a truly luxurious setting, where somewhere between the vegan paté and the fruit sorbet you are guaranteed total satisfaction.
Besides from the set menu, they also have a vegan club sandwich and a mouthwatering risotto. The menu is meticulously labelled, apart from the oddity of listing the mussels as being vegan. But I guess the issue of seafood can be confusing to some?
I recommend heading there on a Sunday for the live jazz, and don't forget to check out their superb craft beer selection.
Bryggjan Brugghús is located at Grandagarður 8, 101 Reykjavík.
Krúska is a bright and friendly diner that offers an ever-changing daily menu of organic and healthy cuisine, largely inspired by Indian vegetarian cooking.
The vegan courses are always especially labelled, as is the accompanying bread and hummus of which you can gorge yourself to your heart's content - not that you have to since their plates are very generously loaded!
You can select all the available salads as vegan, which means they will hold the chicken and yoghurt dressing, add pesto and reduce the price. All their food is prepared on-site and I like to think of them as a welcome competitor to Gló; another popular health food spot and salad bar. Krúska is located a bit off the city centre, but it's well worth the journey.
You'll find Krúska at Suðurlandsbraut 12, 108 Reykjavík.
6. Kaffihús Vesturbæjar
Kaffihús Vesturbæjar is a recent establishment heartily welcomed by the residents of 107 Reykjavík. Sophie Mara, the wonderful head chef, has created a menu inspired by Moroccan and Spanish cooking, where all the ingredients are prepared from scratch - with love.
Her vegan options are the amazing lunch Gazpacho, flavourful and fresh, and a heavenly vegan burger, consisting of chickpeas, kidney beans and beetroot that colours it a naughty pink. There are also options available for salads, appetisers, desserts and plant-milk for the coffee. To Sophie, cooking vegan means cooking fresh; meaning there are no meat-substitutes to be found.
Although the establishment is an omnivorous one, one can genuinely feel that the plant-based food is just as catered to and respected like the rest of the menu.
Kaffihús Vesturbæjar is on the corner of Hofsvallagata and Melhagi, 107 Reykjavík.
5. Aalto Bistro
For an elegant and opulent dining experience, Aalto Bistro in the nature reserve of the Nordic House offers an entirely vegan, three-course menu with a view. The kitchen makes use of local produce from the surrounding environment, where the emphasis is equal for all.
The daily courses are always evenly divided concerning the categories for meat, fish and plant-eaters, meaning that two of them are always vegetarian and one is always vegan. The a la carté also includes two permanent vegan burgers. Although the menu is lacking in vegan dessert, they do offer one upon request if you come for the three-course dinner.
The food and service of this place fall nothing short of exquisite, while the encompassing setting of the reserved marshland serves to reconnect you with your meal. An optimal choice for travelling plant-lovers, if not on too tight a budget.
Núðluskálin is a centrally located restaurant that presents a generous picking of noodle soups. Their bases of tomato, coconut and clear are all vegan, where each dish includes a crackerjack mix of veggies and spices, along with meat or tofu.
What’s even nicer about this fabulous selection, is that cutting out the meat or replacing it with the veggie-stable soybean substitute, actually serves to lower the prices. Since we all know that plants come cheaper than flesh, this much-too-rare attitude comes highly appreciated.
You’ll find Núðluskálin at Skólavörðustígur 8, 101 Reykjavík.
3. Bike Cave
It’s time to move from the fancy to the fast and slashed. The family-run business of the Bike Cave, despite its modest size, has a bargain-basement menu of just about everything.
If you can escape stink-eyeing the selection of lamb, reindeer and minke whale, you’ll find a parade of vegetarian and vegan burgers, sandwiches and pitas, with four types of fries and vegan dips galore.
I feel this place to be a prime example of catering to plant-eaters simply because of commerce; the people get what the people want — and a whole lot of us just want a clammy veggie burger with curly fries and vegan bearnaise after a long day!
The Bike Cave is located at Einarsnes 36, 101 Reykjavík.
Burro is one of the more exciting places to eat in Reykjavík today, nesting below the kitsch-but-trendy Pablo Discobar in the city centre. Their menu is in the style of Mexican tapas, where all the vegan and vegetarian options are acutely labelled.
I can’t recommend this spot enough. If you only have the budget or the time for one fine dining experience during your Reykjavík stay, this is where you ought to go. And if at all possible, call them up before and check if you can get the six-course vegan set menu; not on the main card, but available to groups upon request.
Every single dish of that menu won me over with a soaring capacity. From the exotic Padrón Peppers to the soft green tacos, each plate was better than the last; meticulously prepared and bursting with flavours. Burro is where you go to treat yourself - and if you feel like splurging; the cocktails from upstairs are some of the best in town.
Burro is located on the second floor of Veltusund 1, 101 Reykjavík.
Hidden from plain sight in the corporate hub of Borgartún in central Reykjavík you’ll find Súpubarinn, a gem of a lunchroom that is entirely meat-free. Their selection is all vegetarian, half vegan, where the daily menu includes three continual selections and three specials.
The only reason for why this pragmatic establishment of savoury soups isn’t included as a winner is their limited opening hours — the place is only open from 8 to 15 each day, serving lunch and breakfast in the form of scrumptious oatmeal.
With each stupendous dish comes bread and butter, so if you're vegan remember to ask the latter to be skipped, since there is no vegan spread available (so far). Make your way there and expect to stand in a queue with the working class folk on their lunch break, where the service is speedy, the prices are low, and the food is wholesome and restorative.
You’ll find Súpubarinn tucked away inside Borgartún 26, 105 Reykjavík.
These are the top 5 Reykjavík establishments that didn't quite make the cut to the runners up — but deserve our recognition for their vegan and vegetarian catering.
5. Coocoo's Nest
Coocoo's Nest is a recent establishment with a stellar reputation for making use of ingredients from local businesses in the Grandi harbour area. They have a rotating menu of specialities, such as Taco Tuesdays, Sourdough Pizza Specials and Italian Weekend Dinners.
For every menu, be it the weekend brunch or the daily lunch, there is a Vegan Surprise listed as an option. Now, nice as it is that they always include us, we all know that 'surprise' is more of a codeword for 'leftovers' when it comes to constructing a menu. You might get lucky, but you might also be disappointed.
You can head there for the vegan options (props for labelling the vegan wines as well) - but be aware that your food depends on the chef's mood and the ingredients at hand. As for the case of vegetarians; their brunch menu truly is mouth-watering - try their blueberry pancakes or breakfast omelette.
Coocoo's Nest is located at Grandagarður 23, 101 Reykjavík
4. Salka Valka (Fish & More)
Fish & More is the perfect spot to bring your pescetarian friends for lunch—since this is a meat-free establishment which consists of a menu that is, surprisingly, half-vegan.
The smoothies can be made with oat milk and there is always one vegan soup available, along with an avocado sandwich as a starter.
As for the mains, you can order them vegan, but all you get are more of the sides for the same price. Root vegetables and rice with sauce, tasty enough but not immensely satisfying - it reminds me of all those times where I overdosed on potatoes at the cafeteria.
But, for a light lunch stop, it'll serve just fine. The location is also to die for; right in the shadow of Hallgrímskirkja Church in the centre.
You’ll find Salka Valka (Fish & More) at Skólavörðustígur 23, 101 Reykjavík.
3. Frederiksen Ale House
For comforting pub food head to Frederiksen Ale House—where savoury vegan sausages await. Located right by my favourite time machine the Kolaport Flea Market, the joint offers an array of vegan bar snacks, as well as an out-of-this-world Falafel Burger with sweet potato fries and vegan mayo.
Their vegetarian options include a hearty brunch and vegetable steam buns, the latter of which is a rarity in Reykjavík. The brunch is available as vegan upon request, where you can choose a fitting substitute for the yoghurt.
I recommend heading there on the weekend for the brunch, and so you can look outside at the clubs across the street to reminisce about your night before; the very reason for your quest for the ultimate vegan hangover food.
Frederiksen Ale House is located at Hafnarstræti 5, 101 Reykjavík.
The aptly named Hamburger Factory might be a palace of meat, but their vegetarian and vegan provisions are nothing short of impressive.
Since the opening of this prominent and family-friendly restaurant chain, you could substitute any of the burger patties with a portobello mushroom, but veganizing was always a hassle. You know the drill; hold the cheese, replace mayo with ketchup, etc.
Lately, however, the establishment introduced the crème-de-la-crème of meat substitutes: the one and only Oumph! - not only that but vegan cheese, sauce and dips. The soy-meat is impeccably seasoned, the menu is carefully labelled, and the waiters know exactly what you are talking about.
Not bad for a place whose maxim is "We are pleased to meat you".
This Indian street food chain offers an array of vegetarian dishes, along with a permanent vegan selection of two starters, one main course and one side-dish.
Besides from the highly addictive Onion Pakoda, the vegan a la carte options are existent for sure, but not quite sensational. What comes genuinely recommended, however, are their Vegan-Wednesdays, or ‘Mið-vegan-dagar’, where the kitchen prepares three vegan specials, available on their own or as a Thali.
According to Indian food culture, a proper Thali should be the perfect balance of all the six flavours: sweet, salty, sour, bitter, spicy and astringent - served on a single round platter. Try it out and see for yourself.
Veggie Meals On the Go
These are the top 6 Reykjavík spots of which to grab an easy veggie meal from.
Serrano offers Mexican fast food with the option of self-selected burritos and salads, along with a specially labelled Vegan Burrito. The service echoes that of Subway, where you watch the clerk prepare your meal behind the ingredients counter.
Serrano has eight different locations in the greater Reykjavík area, see their homepage for more info.
Lemon is a quirky sandwich shop with three different locations in the greater Reykjavík area. A delicious vegetarian stable is a tomato, mozzarella, basil and pesto 'Mozzato' - and recently they introduced the amply named 'Spicy Vegan' with falafel, peppers, curry and pesto. The joint doubles as a juice/smoothie bar, where you can substitute the 'skyr' in the smoothies with soy milk.
You'll find Lemon at Suðurlandsbraut 4 and Laugavegur 56, 108 and 101 Reykjavík.
4. Reykjavík Chips
For the best french fries in town, head to Reykjavík Chips and gorge yourself on some quality Belgian-style fast food. Their wide choice of dips is phenomenal, including the specially labelled vegan satay sauce. An added gratuity is their one-hour happy hour with a selection of Icelandic and Belgian beer, every night at 9 pm.
You'll find Reykjavík Chips at Vitastígur 10. 101 Reykjavík
- See also: Happy Hour | Reykjavík's Cheapest Bars
Do you remember when the internet went crazy over pulled jackfruit? So far, the only establishment in Reykjavík that I know to offer that delicacy is Prepp, a coffee-shop with a twist. Their jackfruit sandwich is nothing short of addictive, as is their vegan apple pie.
You'll find Prepp at Rauðarárstígur 8, next to Hlemmur Station, 101 Reykjavík.
2. Noodle Station
The keyword here is consistency; the ever popular Noodle Station offers the same three noodle soups always, with the selection of beef, chicken or veg. The vegetarian soup has the lowest price and classifies as vegan - perfect for those cold winter nights where you crave the throaty comforts of chilli and garlic.
The Noodle Station is located at Laugavegur 103, 101 Reykjavík.
Where everybody knows your name. For the best hummus plate in town at the oddest of hours, head to Mandi for a vegan snack on the go. The staff is delightful; ask for the Falafel "kebab" as vegan and they'll hold the yoghurt sauce. The best spot to head to after a night on the town, since they're open til a whopping 6 am on weekends.
You'll find Mandi at Veltusund 3b by Ingólfstorg Square, 101 Reykjavík.
Be it food that is fast, healthy, comforting or lavish, Reykjavík is now finally a city boasting of all of these options when it comes to vegetarian or vegan dining. When it comes to leaving the house to eat, denouncing animals and/or animal products from your diet has never been easier—and perhaps never as aperitive.
The cruelty-free lifestyle is hip, current and on the rise—whereas opposed to veggies heading to omnivorous places for special selections, omnivores are now rushing to all-vegan, all-vegetarian establishments, simply for the good food and great vibes.
Reykjavík City is a modern capital in a constant state of change, so stay tuned for regular updates on the best Vegan and Vegetarian Restaurants around—or tell us about your personal selections in the comments below!