There's so much to see and experience in the small but beautiful country of Iceland. There are glaciers, waterfalls, geysers, and volcanoes (preferably dormant!). There are the Northern Lights in the wintertime and The Blue Lagoon, an amazing, natural geothermal spa that draws tourists from around the world. And of course, there's the food. Two years ago, I visited in the summer and got to experience Icelandic food culture for the first time.

There is no better place to experience Icelandic food than the capital of Reykjavik. A clean, scenic, relatively small city (population: 130,345), Reykjavik has some of the best food in Scandinavia. They emphasize local products in almost all of their restaurants, from skyr (Icelandic strained yogurt that has a similar consistency to Greek yogurt) to fresh fish and even Icelandic moss (seriously, you can find it in herbal tea mix).

The freshness of the food in Iceland is unparalleled. If you find yourself in the capital of this incredible country, be sure to check out some of the restaurants on this list.

1. Baejarins Beztu Pylsu

This hot dog stand is world-famous. In fact, Bill Clinton was caught eating one of their famous hot dogs when he visited Iceland. Their hot dogs have consistently been voted the best in Europe (that’s a big accomplishment, btw). The classic comes topped with remolaði (mayo + sweet relish), ketchup, sweet mustard, and onion.

2. Café Loki

This cozy café has some of the best traditional Icelandic food in the country. It also has a great location right across from the famous Hallgrimskirkja church. Known for their delectable rye bread (one of the highlights of my entire trip), herring, and pastries, Café Loki has great options for both meat eaters and vegetarians alike.

#SpoonTip: Be sure to give their vegetarian plate (pictured above) a try. It comes with rye bread, greens, baked veggies, quinoa, feta cheese, and a sprinkle of pumpkin seeds and is crazy good.

3. Café Paris

Jinna Hatfield

The service here is excellent even when the restaurant is packed with hungry customers. Their menu is extensive, with burgers, meat and fish entrées, and brunch options like omelets. I recommend the salmon entrée, which features freshly grilled salmon, farro, asparagus, and arugula with a creamy skyr-based sauce.

4. The Laundromat Café

This restaurant has the coolest interior design, with bookshelves incorporated into the seating area, bright red furnishings, and layer cakes displayed prominently on the counter. The lamb shank dish is rich and savory, with tender, local lamb, roasted root vegetables, and potatoes au jus.

5. Icelandic Fish and Chips

chicken, chicken wings, beer
Jinna Hatfield

These fish and chips are healthier than your average “fry up,” with fresh, locally-caught fish battered in spelt flour (a nutritious variety of wheat) and fried in canola oil. The chips are crispy, roasted potatoes, and there's a wide variety of options for dipping sauces beyond the traditional tartar. Regardless of what sauce you choose, they're all skyr-based.

#SpoonTip: Try the fried broccoli and cauliflower as a side dish.

6. Islenski Barinn

This restaurant offers unique Icelandic dishes, including grilled puffin, skyr cake, and the infamous fermented shark. They're also known for their burgers (beef, chicken, vegetarian, and in the wintertime, reindeer).

7. Sakebarinn

sushi, seafood, rice, fish, salmon, sashimi, tuna, wasabi
Jinna Hatfield

This restaurant specializes in Japanese cuisine, specifically sushi rolls and sake. I recommend the Arctic char nigiri, as this roll features locally-caught Icelandic fish. You can also order grilled sticks of meat and fish and even reindeer in the wintertime. If that’s not your thing, they’ve got plenty of other sushi options, such as uramaki (inside-out roll), hosomaki (small roll), futomaki (big roll), and sashimi.

8. Grillmarkadurinn 

This restaurant is dedicated to sourcing their meat as locally and seasonally as possible. They take high quality cuts and cook them in their specialty grill, highlighting the properties of fire and smoke to give the meat an exceptional flavor.

9. Tapas Barinn

This Spanish-inspired restaurant specializes in tapas. They take local Icelandic produce and transform it into dishes with Spanish-infused flavor, like prawns with mango salsa and saltfish catalana.

10. Perlan Restaurant

This restaurant is known for its beautiful view as much as for its renowned food. You can see the skyline of Reykjavik and the incredible natural scenery in 360 degrees as the restaurant rotates. The dishes feature whatever is in season. A favorite is local beef and lamb in soups or desserts made with skyr and each dish is beautifully presented.

water, coffee, tea, wine
Jinna Hatfield

This list of restaurants only scratches the surface of all of the dining options in this spectacular city. Icelandic ice cream is a whole other experience, so be sure to check that out as well during your visit. Reykjavik has many restaurants with a diversity of cuisines, so go exploring.