The Best Restaurants in Iceland
Updated: Jan 10, 2021
Due to its remote location way up in the North Atlantic, Icelandic cuisine used to be somewhat limited. But over time Icelandic chefs have gotten creative. Today some of the best restaurants in Iceland centre on carefully prepared local and seasonal ingredients. With many truly fantastic fine dining restaurants in Reykjavik and beyond you are going to be very tempted by Iceland’s cuisine.
Many chefs make the most of the abundance of delicious fresh fish and seafood available in the surrounding waters. Lamb is also reared on the island and features highly on the menu. Other favourite dishes include fragrant fish stews and hearty meatball dishes. The Nordic cuisine is quite meat and fish heavy in Iceland, so vegans or vegetarians might struggle a little when eating out. This is especially true outside of the capital. We have covered a range of our favourite restaurants and cafes in this guide. From savouring a tasting menu at a fine dining restaurant to enjoying a casual brunch, we’ve got you covered.
Fjoruborodid – lobster ‘all ways’ on the South Coast
This is THE place to come for lobster in Iceland. Located on the water’s edge (as you would expect) Fjoruborodid is in the town of Stokkseyrion Iceland’s beautiful South Coast. It is not too far from Selfoss Waterfall so quite well visited. It is best to book this one in advance to avoid disappointment. Expect fragrant and warming lobster broths or buttery lobster tails with fresh baked bread. All round delicious in a comfortable dining space by the sea.
Dill – One of the top restaurants in Reykjavik
This fine dining restaurant is housed is one of Reykjavik’s standout buildings. Nordic House is a multi purpose cultural venue situated on the edge of Vatnsmyri, Reykjavik’s wild bird nature reserve. This beautiful building is home to some food to match. Acclaimed chef Gunnar Karl serves up fabulous new Nordic cuisine in the stylish Dill restaurant. Classic flavours are given an exciting twist and the setting and service are all excellent. The restaurant offers tasting menus, so you get to try a delectable mix of flavours. This is high-end creative cuisine done well and easily one of the best restaurants in Reykjavik.
Grillmarkaðurinn – This classic Reykjavik grill is a carnivore’s paradise
This is a classic grill restaurant in the centre of Reykjavik. Grillmarkaðurinn translates as grill market and you will find that this is very much the case. On the menu are whale, horse, reindeer and puffin! Not one for the vegetarians then. The restaurant’s sourcing is exemplary though, and they smoke and grill fresh farm produce to perfection. Housed in another building of note, Grill Market resides in a carefully reconstructed art nouveau cinema.
Baejarins Beztu Pylsur – The humble hot dog at its very best
Lets change things up a bit here. We all enjoy a fine dining experience once in a while, but nothing beats a classic hot dog. This humble snack is practically an Icelandic obsession. Kind of like a burger is in the US. This waterfront snack bar has been serving the best hot dogs to locals, visitors and stars since 1937. Baejarins Beztu is open until the small hours so it’s a fun place to go for a cheap bite after a night out. You are bound to meet an interesting crew of fellow diners here. The go-to choice is the ‘eina með öllu’, which translates as a hot dog with everything.
Sudar Vik – The place for Arctic Char by the ocean
This a lovely relaxed restaurant in the town of Vik on the south coast of Iceland. The pan fried Arctic Char is as fresh as you can get here. Pink, flaky and seasoned to perfection. The main dishes come with simple but flavour packed sides of fresh salads and creamy potatoes. This is a really comfortable place to dine and a great place to warm up and fuel up after visiting some of the beautiful south coast sights.
Noa – Straight from the sea dining in Akureyri
Located on the old harbour, Noa serves up deliciously fresh seafood and fish straight from the ocean (well, almost). The restaurant is spacious and relaxed and there is a friendly and easy atmosphere. If you enjoy fresh seafood, then this is the place for you. It really is their speciality. The chefs let the fish do the talking and serve it off the grill with tasty sides and an interesting variety of sauces to accompany each one.
The Cuccoo’s nest – Hip vegan-friendly brunching in Reykjavik
This is a firm favourite with brunching urbanites on the weekends. It is a relaxed little place not far from the old harbour. They offer a great range of breakfast and brunch dishes on Friday to Sunday. Think mimosa’s, pancakes, breakfast burritos or Florentines. There is always a few great vegan and vegetarian options too.
A note on Michelin Stars: Although at the time of writing there are no Michelin starred restaurants in Iceland, there are plenty that come Michelin recommended. Of course those little stars aren’t the be all and end all and there are many fantastic restaurants in Iceland. Enjoy!