Icelandic chefs have turned Iceland into a foodies haven by combining traditional cuisine with modern tastes for unique dishes at the country's top restaurants.
Without a doubt if food is your thing you will find plenty in Reykjavik. As the country's largest city most visitors will start here where you’re bound to have your tastes satisfied with menus offering great variety. You'll find tapas so you can sample many of Iceland's tastes, meats for grilling from local farmers and bars known for their local and international beers.
Aside from Reykjavik, we found top spots along the Iceland Ring Circle by the Western Fjords and around the Blue Lagoon so you can have good food no matter where you are in Iceland.
Iceland restaurants that you should probably book now
Also known as “the starter's bar”, this top restaurant serves classic Icelandic dishes with a twist.
The atmosphere buzzes with an open kitchen as locals and tourists gather to sip on cocktails or regional beer and enjoy the creative tapas-style menu.
The chef’s goal is to have guests try many dishes to taste plenty of flavours for a modest price.
Nýlendugata 14, 101 Reykjavík
A trip to Iceland is not complete without trying some of its seafood and this is just the place to do so.
Fiskfelagid (Fish Company) has a menu of Nordic fusion but is still grounded in Icelandic cuisine.
The charming restaurant is set inside the Zimsen building which dates back to 1884. Slide into a comfy booth and enjoy your world-class seafood in a cosy and glamorous atmosphere.
Vesturgata 2a, Grófartorg, 101 Reykjavík
The Laundromat Café
Originating in Copenhagen as a space where visitors could multi-task, The Laundromat Cafe has now become a popular hangout in Reykjavík.
The Reykjavík location houses over 6000 books for guests to enjoy while enjoying brunch or having burgers for lunch.
Don’t skip out on the desserts that this place offers up, it’ll be a fantastic excuse to stay in the quirky coffeehouse atmosphere for longer.
Austurstræti 9, 101 Reykjavík
Matarkjallarinn - Food Cellar
A grill and cocktail bar, Food Cellar sits in the centre of Reykjavík in a 230-year-old building. The menu consists of Icelandic brasserie-style food made with fresh Icelandic ingredients.
Skilled bartenders create a wonderful selection of cocktails which are great to enjoy on the weekends when there is live music.
Aðalstræti 2, 101 Reykjavík
The Grill Market works closely with farmers who have diverse farming productions to use quality local ingredients.
The menu served here is where traditional Icelandic cuisine meets modern flavours.
The restaurant's decor plays off of the Icelandic elements of wood, rock and water for a modern yet luxurious flair.
Lækjargata 2a, 101 Reykjavík
A visit to Grindavík will no doubt be a part of your trip if you plan on visiting the Blue Lagoon.
Grindavík is the small fishing town along the harbour and this restaurant serves up a delicious menu of soups, open-faced sandwiches, pizza, cakes, coffee and beer right by the harbour.
Strandgata 49, 600 Akureyri
About an hour drive away from Reykjavík you’ll find Tryggvaskáli along the Icelandic Ring Road.
This restaurant is in a former hotel and has romantic private dining rooms.
The menu comprises a selection of seafood and meat dishes such as salmon, reindeer carpaccio and lamb filet.
Austurvegi 2 800, Selfoss
When visiting the Western Fjords a stop to Tjöruhúsið is in order. Serving only catch of the day, the menu changes daily to ensure the freshest fish possible for your meal.
Common catches are wolffish, cod, halibut, bacalao, redfish and spotted catfish but a langoustine and tomato based fish soup is always available.
Be sure to book a table in advance as this restaurant is very popular.
Neðstakaupstað, 400 Ísafjörður
You may think the crowd at a hostel bar is too rowdy, but not at Kex Hostel.
This bar and gastropub has locals and visitors flocking here for the quirky design.
It was originally a biscuit factory, hence the name Kex which translates to biscuit. Plus it serves great beer and delicious snacks.
Skúlagata 28, 101 Reykjavík
This bar is the premier spot in town for beer. It has the widest and best selection in Reykjavík that includes both local beers from regional breweries and your international favourites.
The vibe here is very relaxed and casual, featuring stunning artwork on the walls by Icelandic artist Hugleikur Dagsson.
Vesturgata 2, 101 Reykjavík
Must-try Icelandic foods
Icelandic food integrates fish, meats and combinations that other countries might hesitate to embrace. This includes fermented shark and sheep's head. If you're the kind with a weak stomach, we suggest you scroll down past this section.
This Icelandic food is eaten as a snack, for breakfast, as a drink which is called drykkur, a dipping sauce base known as skyr-nnaise or even as a dessert with sweet toppings.
It is comparable to Greek yoghurt, made of pasteurised skimmed milk.
It’s not actually a yoghurt but a soft cheese that is rich, thick and healthy.
Sheep's head (svið)
This dish’s presentation, a whole sheep's head, is what throws most people off this popular menu item. So if you can't bear the sight of it, scroll down fast.
For this meal, the entire head other than the brain is eaten. It can be found in restaurants, pre-cooked or frozen in supermarkets.
It tastes exactly like lamb and the best parts are the cheeks and tongue.
Hákarl is fermented shark and is commonly eaten among the older generation but most people who eat it are the visitors.
Shark meat is fermented by burying it in the ground and then hanging it to dry for four to five months.
The natural toxins in the shark’s flesh that allow it to survive in cold waters make it impossible to eat fresh and is why there is such a lengthy fermentation process.
Chase it down with a shot of Brennivín if you’re brave enough!
Speaking of Brennivín, this is your spirit of choice in Iceland. It's nicknamed "Black Death" and is an unsweetened schnapps.
A typical bottle consists of 37.5-40% alcohol so, if nothing else, it'll warm you up pretty quickly.
Food tours and cooking classes
Sample some Icelandic beer, taste local delicacies or do both in one tour that shows you around Reykjavik’s best restaurants and bars.
Food and drink deals in Iceland
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Feature image: Grillmarkadurinn