The Iceland culinary tradition will depend mainly on the needs and lifestyle of its descendants. Gathering, farming, and hunting on a rocky island in a cold ocean are some of the things islanders used to need to do to gather food.
The booming tourist industry of this country has helped the food industry immensely. It has opened many opportunities to restaurants owners and Iceland’s chefs. This is especially true for dining establishments located outside the capital city of Reykjavik, which home to around 70 percent of all Iceland natives. Below are ten restaurants that prove Iceland has lots to offer when it comes to food outside of the famed capital city. Time to eat in Iceland outside Reykjavik!
What Kind of Food Will You Enjoy in Iceland?
Potato, lamb, mushroom, and fish are four components that are responsible for a lot of the sumptuous traditional Icelandic food. The island has more animal produce and fewer spices and veggies, but the country is paradise for those who love lamb and fish.
The Icelandic sheep are raised in the country’s wilderness. Also, the prohibition on bovine growth hormones, negligible use of pesticides on plants, and freshwater from glaciers and mountains give an amazing flavor to the Icelandic lambs. The fishes being offered and served in restaurants in the country are caught wild. Most of the restaurants are using conventional and modern methods to spice up the flavor of seafood. The island has a wide variety of fishes, like, flat, herring, and different kinds of fishes which are more common in the restaurant menus.
There are lots of restaurants that are into the vegan population. A group of Icelanders known as Icelandic Vegan and Vegetarian Society is helping these restaurants cater to the vegetarians and vegan who are traveling and living in Iceland.
Top 10 Restaurants to Eat in Iceland Outside Reykjavik
Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, is known for its popular restaurants in the country. But if you go outside the country’s capital, you will discover other restaurants that will surely satisfy you. All of the restaurants listed below are located either in Akureyri, Borgarnes, or the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Here is a Google Map with their locations:
Don’t let this discourage you, though. There are plenty of incredible restaurants and dining options in Southern and Eastern Iceland as well. One such option is Halldorskaffi in Vik, on the southern coast of Iceland. But here are the ten we will be focusing on:
Rub 23: Akureyri
Rub 23 is a unique and beautiful fine dining establishment in stunning, colorful downtown Akureyri – specializing in Asian and South American fusions of ingredients combined with local ingredients that have been sourced from Icelandic farmers and fishermen. Although a good selection of different cuisines and steaks is served in the restaurant, the establishment is best known for their signature sushi and seafood.
The resturant lies in the heart of Akureyri, which is the third largest city in the country, and is in North Iceland. It is owned and operated by one of the most renowned chefs in Iceland, Einar Geirsson. The restaurant is unique for their homemade spice mixtures customers can choose from, known as rubs, which are either rubbed or sprinkled on into the food. The customer can choose the ingredients, meat or fish, and a rub. The menu likewise includes the chef’s preferred combinations.
The next time you visit Iceland and venture up to Akureyki, don’t forget to check out the incredible Rub 23.
Strikið Restaurant: Akureyri
Aside from RUB 23, the Strikið restaurant is another restaurant in Akureyri loved by locals and tourists alike. Strikið has an impressive setting. Although it is in the center of Akureyri, the establishment is hidden on a “penthouse-like” lounge on the 5th floor. The restaurant is modern and is very stylish, but they also have a fantastic balcony where guests and patrons can enjoy the best of summertime in North Iceland. Imagine the parties under the midnight sun that could take place when the weather is favorable.
The kitchen serves Icelandic food and uses the freshest of local ingredients. You and your travel companions will surely love their seafood, as it tastes absolutely heavenly. This is one restaurant not to be passed up.
Bakaríið við Brúna
If you love bread and pastries, you should definitely take the time to stop and visit the Bakaríið við Brúna. The bakery opens at 6:30 in the morning for early travelers. For a healthy breakfast, lunch or dinner this is one stop you should not miss out. Their shelves are full of all kinds of pastries, bread, sandwiches, and cakes – together with coffee, you will have a hearty meal.
The place is very cozy, and the walls are decorated tastefully with pictures of various bridges located in and around Iceland. Another unique thing about the Bakaríið við Brúna bakery is the hand-painted tables with different maps on them, showing the direction from various Icelandic towns, and with a small poem inscribed on each one.
If you stop into the bakery, don’t forget to taste their bread bowl. The bakery takes a round loaf, removes the top, and scoops out the insides, then adds hot, fresh soup into it. It can be your delicious lunch – particularly with the sandwiches or buns filled with a variety of salads, cheese, and meats. Additionally, their pastries are to die for.
Símstöðin Café: Akureyri
The Símstöðin Café is yet another restaurant situated in the center of Akureyri. Backpackers are the usual customers in this café. You will surely not miss the café. The look of the bakery is not as unique as the others. The only advantage they have from others is they serve healthy but not too expensive quick serve meals. They also have a nice selection of smoothies and fresh juices, healthy sandwiches.
If you visit the place, don’t forget to order their super delicious “Glo styled” healthy cuisine buffet. They also serve pizzas and cakes as well as pastries on the menu. So, you can have lots of choices once you step into Símstöðin Café.
The Grill House: Borgarnes
If you leave Reykjavik and you drive in the direction of Snæfellsnes (north), you will reach the small town of Borgarnes within an hour. Most travelers stop at the only gas station to buy some groceries or eat before heading into the remote peninsula. Grillhúsið ‘The Grill House’ is the best place to get a filling meal before you continue with your trip.
The Grill House is situated next to a gas station, and you cannot miss it. The restaurant setting is like a classic American burger joint inside and out. This fast food and friendly grill serve good and fresh food. Their menu is full-packed that includes sandwiches, grilled chicken and pork, pasta, hamburgers, fish, steaks, and pizza.
Hotel Búðir Restaurant: Langaholt
If you drive little further, 15 kilometers outside of Langaholt, you will find one of the best-known spots in the area, known as Búðir. You will see in the area a charming little black church standing in the middle of nowhere. Astounding mountains and an endless ocean surround the church. There is one establishment that sits beside the church, the very stylish Hotel Búðir.
The Hotel Búðir restaurant is considered as one of the best dining areas in Iceland. It is popular for their unique lamb dishes and gourmet fish using fresh local produce. The hotel menu is based on the seasonal and locally sourced ingredients, with a lavish dining experience with unique local cuisine. You will enjoy your food and at the same time will be amazed at the magnificent views. If you are lucky, you might see some seals displaying their skills as you enjoy your meal.
If you travel through the Snaefellsnes peninsula town of Arnarstapi, you will find a small and intimate restaurant and café known as the Fjöruhúsið. Arnarstapi is a famous stop on the Snaefellsnes peninsula. This is a place in Iceland where extraordinary coastal attractions such as cliff formations and columnar basalt are located. The area used to be a fishing area, but the fishing industry in the town has dried up.
This restaurant is located at the best lookout spot, with a great view of the rocky basalt and black beach. The 2.5 kilometer long hiking trail snaking along the coast to Arnarstapi begins here. Fjöruhúsið restaurant offers the best fish stew, freshly baked bread, desserts, and pastries with whipped cream and homemade jam.
Matarlist: Ólafsvík Village
On the northern side of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, you will find the next town: Ólafsvík. This village was one of the largest trading ports in Scandinavia in the 18th century. The town handles the goods trade between the Danish and the Iceland authorities.
One of the best restaurants in this area that serves fresh local food is Matarlist. The outside of the restaurant is quite basic; the interior is comfortable and spacious. They serve homemade dishes, even the mayo in their burgers is homemade.
A professional and experienced chef is supervising the food this restaurant serves. His experience includes working as a head chef at Hotel Búðir for five years before resigning so that he can put up his restaurant.
Matarlist menu includes a wide selection of fresh, seafood which was taken directly from the fishing boats in the nearby town. The salad ingredients, lamb fillet and other ingredients where supplied by a local farm.
Kaffi Emil: Grundarfjörður
One of the most beautiful villages in Iceland is Grundarfjörður it is situated on the northern coast in a dreamy setting. You will also find the famous Kirkjufell ‘Church Mountain’ that you should visit. The place is very popular for Game of Thrones fans. After touring the town, the best place to have a sumptuous meal is found at the heart of Grundarfjörður. This delectable cozy family-owned café is called Café Emil (or Kaffi Emil).
The place is an information center with local library and historical exhibition all in one tiny structure, but it functions amazingly. They serve homemade soups and cakes with a wide selection of beverages.
The ambiance of this adorable place is relaxing and heartwarming. You will surely enjoy the local food, get information about the area while having a cup of coffee. You can also visit the museum and play some good music as you take a sip of your delicious coffee.
Near the area, you will find a hot dog stand that offers most of the popular and common Icelandic street food. Make a quick stop and taste their one of a kind hot dog.
Sjávarpakkhúsið: Stykkishólmur Harbor
If you are in the largest town in the Snæfellsnes peninsula, don’t forget to drop by the Sjávarpakkhúsið ‘The Ocean Goods Packing House’. This restaurant is located directly on the Stykkishólmur harbor. Stykkishólmur is known as the gateway to the Westfjords for those who want to take the ferry in Breidafjörður.
The place has adorable and colorful old houses adorning the place providing a special atmosphere. Before it became Sjávarpakkhúsið, the place is a warehouse that stores bait and fishing gear. The owner has renovated the place and converted it into a very nice seafood restaurant.
As you eat your delicious meal, you will be entertained by the great view of the boats. The inside of the restaurant is very impressive, with real old photos of the old fishermen lining the walls. Since the resto is in the harbor, their menu focuses on fresh and locally sourced seafood, like mussels, scallops, and cod. You will surely enjoy your beautifully presented, delicious, and most of all real authentic food.
Iceland is popular not just on their great scenic spots but also for their world-class cuisine and high-class, lavish dining experiences that will surely exceed your expectation. Now is the best time to check out Iceland and enjoy its Icelandic cuisine.
You will find lots of great places to dine in and enjoy the freshest food in town. Reykjavik, the bustling capital of Iceland, is known to have the most number of high-class restaurants. However, if you visit the neighboring towns, you will be surprised there are lots of fine dine and café that you can choose from. There are plenty of options for palces to eat in Iceland outside Reykjavik.
The ten restaurants/café mentioned in this post are only some of the many that you will find to eat in Iceland outside Reykjavik. If you have plans on visiting the island, consider visiting some of the restaurants we have reviewed in this post. Learn more about the country and check out what towns and establishments you should visit.