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.
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.
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.
Situated inside live-events dive bar Gaukurinn, the vegan diner Veganæs is waiting to challenge your preconceptions of what constitutes vegan food. A passion project of two local vegan artists, Veganæs crowd-funded their way into existence and are quickly becoming the most popular vegan spot in town.
Their menu is 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 was holding their breath for this one.
Linnea has proudly claimed that Veganæs is absolutely not about health-food, but rather delicious and juicy, hangover-friendly comfort-food. Cheers to that! Everything on the menu is to die for as well as 100% cruelty-free; top sellers include the fish-ish dish and spicy seitanic burger and the menu continues to grow.
Since its opening during the debut Reykjavík Fringe Festival, the friendly establishment has enjoyed immense popularity, even standing accused of contributing to the spamming of vegan hashtags in Iceland as loyal customers scrabble to document their delicious dishes.
Veganæs offers a select number of other well-thought-out dishes in a menu which has enough range to satisfy meat-eaters and vegans alike. Reflecting its position in the popular music venue Gaukurinn, the restaurant has also offered customised menus, adapting their well-loved classics to cater to concert attendees.
Although the hip, grungey decor and eclectic clientele may not be what you might expect of a traditional eatery, the rock’n’roll attitude feels fitting for a restaurant making such bold and innovative culinary statements.
Veganæs is located inside Gaukurinn, at Tryggvagata 22, 101 Reykjavík.
“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.
Photo courtesy of kaffigardurinn.is
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, however, 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). You could also head next door to the connecting pharmacy-slash-ice-cream-shop, for all the frosty vegan treats you can eat.
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.
Photo by Hálfdán Petersen
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.
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Photo Courtesy of 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.
Photo from kruska.is
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.
Photo Courtesy of 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 you'll find none of those GMO-packed meat-substitutes.
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.
Eggplant Pie with Quinoa and Chilli Sauce
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.
Photo Courtesy of Núðluskálin
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.
For those of you staying away from gluten, do not let this being a noodle joint stop you from paying this wonderful restaurant a visit, giving that all of the noodles can be selected as made from wheat, rice or zucchini.
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.
Photo courtesy of 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 and reindeer, 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.
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Once the mecca of vegan restaurants in Reykjavík when known as Kaffi Vínyl, the new Vínyl Bistro now serves meat alongside four vegan and nine vegetarian options.Even so, it has retained it popularity with its authentic bohemian decor, crackling vinyl music, colourful clientele and undemanding atmosphere.
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 on a Sunday afternoon, or a lively party on the weekend, this joint is anything but monotonous. It also has regular record release parties featuring local artists.
With its wide windows, excellent music and laid-back vibe, Kaffi Vínyl is an excellent place to wile away the days; its well crafted menu also makes it a great place for vegans travelling with meat-eaters to compromise on a place to go to dinner. Furthermore, music buffs will appreciate the fact you can browse through the restaurant’s wide collection of old vinyl records.
Vínyl Bistro is located at Hverfisgata 76, 101 Reykjavík.
Photo courtesy of 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
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.
Photo courtesy of 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.
Photo courtesy of visitreykjavik
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"...
Indian Street Food
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.
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Photo courtesy of Serrano
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.
Photo courtesy of Lemon
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.
Photo courtesy of 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
Photo courtesy of 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.
Photo courtesy of Mandi
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.
Oat-milk latté at Kaffihús Vesturbæjar - The perfect end to any vegan meal
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!