When I asked for recommendations for my Easter weekend trip to Copenhagen, my friend off-handedly threw in Torvehallerne as “a super cute market kind of place for food.” I imagined it to be a quaint seaside fish market, but a Google search proved me very wrong – and launched Torvehallerne to #1 on my Copenhagen to-do list.
Even someone who has seen some of the many food markets of the world can’t help being impressed with Torvehallerne. The market (whose name I couldn’t spell till writing this article, much less pronounce) was established near the Rosenborg Castle in 2011 and boasts more than 60 vendors of ready-to-eat food as well as groceries, wines, teas, and the like.
With two market halls (one oriented towards sweets and gifts, the other towards more meal-type food), a restaurant, and a small outdoor farmers market, Torvehallerne is an institution that no foodie should pass up.
I was warned that the upscale market would be rather expensive, but I made a meal out of food from three different stands for 68kr (roughly $10). To keep yourself in line, you can also check out these tips for eating in Europe on a budget. I didn’t get to try everything in my brief visit, but I think that these pictures speak the same three words: Go. To. Torvehallerne. After all, it literally means “food market.”
Smørrebrød, one of the most popular foods in Denmark, is essentially an open-faced sandwich made on dense rye bread. You can find the Danish staple at just about any café, with toppings ranging from smoked salmon to liver pate.
Even so, the masterpieces crafted by Hallernes’ stand out with their stunning presentation of relatively standard combinations, like chicken salad with bacon or roast beef with onions and horseradish. Since you can’t leave Copenhagen without trying smørrebrød, you might as well do it here.
This stand has got you covered for a cheap taste of Scandinavia. The frikadeller, fish cakes, are available cold to take home or warm to eat on the spot, best paired with pickled-veggie remoulade for the full Danish experience. In addition to the regular frikadelle, Boutique Fisk offers a spicy version made with chillies and tandoori spice as well as one with spinach and dill. Halfway between chicken nuggets and a burger on the fast food guilt spectrum, any frikadelle makes a great lunch.
Is à Bella
I may be $3.75 poorer, but I can say I’ve enjoyed licorice ice cream. Don’t worry: Is à Bella’s tantalizing selection includes ‘safer’ flavors like dark chocolate, caramelized fig, and Nutella-raspberry. The creamy housemade ice creams are also offered as milkshakes, and tourists and locals alike praise the coffee and Chai lattes.
#SpoonTip: While you’re in the area, skip over to Italy and check out the best spots for gelato.
Rye bread has never looked so appetizing, and I am a little ashamed of how many samples I ended up taking while gazing at the baked goods on display. It was a smart move on Norcino’s part not to have any of it’s tapenades, oils, or sauces available to sample, as I would have probably devoured those as well. The more civilized customers queued up for the sandwiches, available on the delicious rye or fluffy focaccia.
When a cute, young male store clerk asks if you would like to try a specialty almond, obviously you say yes. I assumed I’d be getting some normal chocolate-coated or candied almonds, so I was startled when a pink-dusted nut was plopped into my hand. The flavor: dark chocolate nougat-covered almond coated in mint and rolled in rhubarb powder. Mind. Blown. After sampling the lemon-white chocolate-chamomile and lemongrass-coconut-mango varieties, I bought myself three bags so I could share the astounding experience with my friends back home.
At first glance, Hav is what you’d expect from a seafood counter: loads of raw fish and crustaceans as well as seafood salads. When I say ‘seafood salads,’ though, I don’t mean your aunt’s tuna-and-mayo mess. Think halibut-pineapple-tomato ceviche, tuna tartare with bell pepper and pomegranate, or crayfish with cabbage, apple, and curry. If that sounds a little too experimental for you, though, just buy some nice fish to make for dinner in your AirBnB.
Despite being surrounded by Danish pastries, I was instantly drawn in by Valentino’s international candies. The nougat and turrón looked pretty good, but what really got me was the fudge, which I thought was a well-kept American secret. Alongside classics like chocolate-caramel, the clotted cream, rum raisin, and, of course, licorice flavors gave the stand some Torvehallerne flair. As easy as fudge is to make at home, these novelties are a worthwhile investment.
Laura’s Bakery proves that there’s a lot more to pastries in Denmark than what Americans call Danishes. After all, the chocolate-topped ‘snails,’ thickly frosted cinnamon rolls, and Poptart-reminiscent hindbærsnitte are sure to make any sweet tooth tingle. The stand was another victim of my unabashed exploitation of free samples, but the fault lies entirely with the bakery staff for leaving out a bowl of chocolate rum truffle fragments unattended.
Tapa del Toro
If you find yourself overwhelmed by rye, fish, and Danishes, you can find southern solace at this corner bar. Tapa del Toro stays true to Spanish tradition with options featuring the likes of tortilla española, Manchego, and jamón serrano. The tiny portions make this stand an excellent stop for someone playing the food field and try a variety of what the market has to offer. I advise walking away from the stand with your tapa(s), though, or you might just keep buying more.
The Danes have nice cheese, but even they know that the best stuff has to be imported. Ma Poule offers a huge assortment of cheeses, mostly from France, in various stages of softness and pungency that will immediately stop any dairy fiend in their tracks.
However, what brings most foodies to this stand is its famous duck confit sandwich, made in a crispy baguette with arugula and mustard. If you for some strange reason don’t find yourself tantalized by cheese or eager to munch on duck, you can still feel fancy by buying French wines, meats, or jams.
Although Copenhagen is peppered with Resso cafés, the Torvehallerne stall still managed to draw a crowd with its fabulous coffee and pastries. The chain prides itself on using beans (also available by the bag) that have been roasted locally within the last 30 days. As a non-coffee drinker, though, I was most interested in the carrot cake, mocha, and tiramisu mini muffins. These little treats definitely give Starbucks mini scones a run for their money.