The 20 Essential Reykjavík Restaurants

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A seafood emulsion presented in a large decorative shell fringed with pink.
Scallops at Dill.
Nicholas Gill

A Michelin-starred tasting menu hidden behind a speakeasy, pastries made with Icelandic herbs and flowers, a celebrity-favorite gem in a surprisingly strong Thai food scene, and more of Reykjavík’s best meals

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Scallops at Dill.
| Nicholas Gill

Iceland’s capital of Reykjavík is often seen as a base camp for exploring the rest of the island, but the quirky, cosmopolitan city on Faxaflói bay is a burgeoning culinary capital. A recent surge in tourism has financed a wildly expanding scene in the city center. While there are still too many pricey tourist restaurants and cookie-cutter food halls, there’s also a growing core of immigrant-run restaurants, Copenhagen-inspired bakeries, and impressive New Icelandic tasting menus. These are the essential Reykjavík dining experiences.

Nicholas Gill is a food writer, author, and photographer living between New York and Peru. He writes the newsletter New Worlder.

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La Primavera is the resurrection of a Northern Italian restaurant that originally opened in Reykjavík’s House of Commerce in 1993 but closed in 2011. The restaurant reopened on its 25th anniversary in 2018 inside the Marshall House, a 1948 fish factory redesigned as a cultural center, and an additional outpost opened in the Harpa concert Hall in 2021. The time off seems to have been good for the concept. The culinary team is killing it with a tight selection of innovative dishes like grilled monkfish with garlic risotto, bacon, and red wine sauce.

Matur og Drykkur, which simply means “food and drink,” draws its name from an old cookbook. The cozy dining room inhabits an old saltfish factory attached to the Saga Museum. Here, the kitchen puts modern spins on classic Icelandic recipes, like foal tartare with fermented angelica seeds, pickles, and flatbread.  

Thin, milky halibut soup is poured from a kettle into a decorative bowl, which already contains apples, raisins and mussels.
Halibut soup with mussels, apples, and raisins
Nicholas Gill

If you can’t snag a reservation at Dill, you can get a taste of Gunnar Gíslason’s food at glitzy restaurant Tides overlooking the harbor in the Edition hotel, where he oversees the menu. Open from breakfast until late, there’s a laid-back, international menu touched with Icelandic ingredients like 1,000-day-aged feykir cheese and Arctic thyme. There’s also an attached cafe with coffees and pastries, and an eight-seat chef’s counter serving 12-course menus.

An airy restaurant interior dotted with large columns. Empty tables are set for dinner and a blue-gray banquette sits off to one side.
The interior of Tides.
Nicholas Gill

There are a lot of gastropubs with craft burgers in Reykjavík, but if you have to pick one, make it Le Kock, where all the condiments and potato buns are made from scratch. Try the smash-style Trump Tower burger, which the restaurant describes as “big and extreme, thick-nosed, and tastes completely demented.”

A restaurant exterior in neutral gray and yellow, with large white doors and the name of the restaurant displayed in several places.
Outside Le Kock.
Nicholas Gill

Dedicated to owner Haraldur Þorleifsson’s late mother, Anna Jóna opened in mid-2023 in a beautifully designed, semicircular space full of light in one of her favorite buildings. The eclectic menu includes things like poached eggs with seaweed caviar and fluffy Japanese pancakes, alongside all-day breakfast items. The drinks program impresses with a variety of teas, Italian coffee, sparkling wines, and original cocktails.

A restaurant interior decked out in pale pinks, reds, and whites. A table with a banquette is set with small yellow plastic-looking cups and modernist chairs.
Inside Anna Jóna.
Nicholas Gill

While Bæjarins Beztu, founded in 1937, has ballooned into a national chain, this iconic cart remains the epicenter of the Icelandic hot dog phenomenon. President Bill Clinton even famously visited during a UNICEF conference. Open from 9 a.m. until 6 a.m. on weekends, the stand offers hot dogs made from a blend of lamb, beef, and pork. They’re best ordered eina með öllu, or with everything: ketchup, mustard, fried and raw onion, and remoulade.

A hot dog in a bun sits in a ridged holder on an outdoor table, with a snow-dusted parking lot and buildings in the background on a cloudy day.
Hot dog at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur
Nicholas Gill

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Former Dill chef Ragnar Eiríksson and TV host and sommelier Ólafur Örn Ólafsson opened seafood-centric Brút in 2021 in a huge wraparound space connected to the Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel. Proving there’s more than cod in Iceland, the menu showcases a wide swath of Iceland’s seas, such as skate with brown butter and monkfish glazed in chicken stock, not to mention oysters, whelks, and anchovies. The wine list, with categories like Funky Shit and Candy Shop, is massive and includes a sizable collection of Champagne and sparkling wines.

Seafood dishes clumped on a table, including fish roasted with skin and scallops in broth with tomatoes.
Selection of Icelandic seafood.
Nicholas Gill

Icelandic baker Ágúst Einþórsson, who learned the art of sourdough while working in some of Copenhagen’s best bakeries, sold his stake in growing chain Brauð & Co. and opened this two-level bakery and restaurant in 2022. Icelandic stone-milled flours are used for pastries and sourdough breads that can be bought at the door and carried out, though the restaurant also serves full brunches and wood-fired pizzas, paired with natural wines in the evenings.

A worker fetches a pastry from a rack behind the counter of a bakery while a customer looks on.
Inside Baka Baka.
Nicholas Gill

This diminutive eatery, located on increasingly happening Hverfisgata Street, shifted focus away from its original Nordic-Italian concept and now serves a collection of seasonal small plates that don’t fit in neat little boxes. There are dishes like grilled pork belly with wasabi grown in the East Fjords, a selection of lunch-only tacos on house-made flour tortillas with fillings like scallops with mole, and an innovative list of original cocktails.

A small bowl filled with lumpfish roe and ricotta blanketed with chives beside a large scorched flatbread
Lumpfish roe with ricotta and grilled flatbread
Nicholas Gill

Reykjavík now has a handful of taquerias, but the best of them is this tiny Pueblan-style spot founded by musician Carlos Guarneros. There are campechano tacos and vegan chorizo burritos, but look out for the specials, like the birria tacos with a side of consomé served on the weekends.

A large taco taking up an entire enamel plate, buried in chopped cilantro, with a wedge of lime.
Taco campechano.
Nicholas Gill

Open since 1994, this stunning restaurant, decorated with teak ceilings and antique bronze, has managed to defy expectations, proving that Indian food doesn’t need to be inexpensive or strictly traditional to succeed in Iceland. Using the best-quality Icelandic ingredients and Indian spices and oils, the kitchen embraces regional Indian dishes. Don’t miss the minced lamb-stuffed keema paratha or the hariyali salmon, which are cooked in a tandoor.

Two dishes on a wooden table, including chunks of salmon on a bed of greens.
Salmon and Kodava pepper fry.
Nicholas Gill

Prior to opening the more formal Brút, owners Ragnar Eiríksson and Ólafur Örn Ólafsson launched this hip wine bar in a minimalist basement space on Reykjavík’s main drag. The wines are mostly natural or from small producers, and there are always about a dozen open bottles offered by the glass, though the lineup changes constantly. To pair with all that wine, pick from a selection of small plates and charcuterie.

After working in fine dining restaurants in France and Iceland, Aurore Pélier Cady opened this fine French patisserie that infuses things like choux, macarons, and cakes with seasonal Icelandic herbs and flowers, many of which she forages for herself. The bakery sits in a chilled out downstairs space with comfy seating. Nice coffees and breakfast pastries make it an easy place to linger.

A choux pastry topped with a swirl of frosting and a strawberry half.
Choux chervil.
Nicholas Gill

In early 2023, Michelin-starred Óx moved out from the back of owner Þráinn Freyr Vigfússon’s restaurant Sümac to a slightly larger location down the street, tucked behind a graffiti covered door and speakeasy Amma Don. The 17-seat counter is set within a room that looks like a 1960s Icelandic kitchen and living room, and chef Rúnar Pierre’s three-hour tasting experience, consisting of around 20 small courses that mix modern and traditional, gets more solid every year.

Chef Gunnar Gíslason is a foundational figure in Icelandic cooking. In 2009, he opened Dill, which went on to earn the first Michelin star in the country and completely energized Reykjavík’s entire food scene. After spending several years in New York, earning another star at Agern inside Grand Central Station, Gíslason returned and rebuilt Dill in a new location, hidden away up a spiral staircase on the city’s main shopping street. The restaurant’s menu highlights small producers (seaweed foragers, organic barley farmers) and seasonal ingredients (lumpfish roe, crowberries), and the kitchen continues to break new ground with a superb attention to detail and flavor.

A seafood emulsion presented in a large decorative shell fringed with pink.
Scallops, green currant, and ocean herb.
Nicholas Gill

This bakery changed Reykjavík’s bread landscape with Danish-style rugbrauð (rye bread), creative takes on the snúður (cinnamon roll), and other baked goods. Since opening in 2016, the business has expanded rapidly around town, and though baker Ágúst Einþórsson is no longer involved, the quality has stayed consistent.

Pastries sit on shelves in front of a window, near caged shelving hanging on a wall holding loaves of bread.
Pastries in the window of Brauð & Co.
Nicholas Gill

Inside Hlemmur Mathöll, an old bus station turned food hall, you’ll find Skal, owned by Björn Steinar Jónsson and Gísli Grímsson (who also own salt company Saltverk), and run by Danish chef Thomas Lorentzen, formerly of Kadeau in Copenhagen. Bar stools wrap around the counter and open kitchen, which slings a collection of small and share plates, like salt-baked beets or scallops with red currant granita, the latter livened up by subtle touches of fermented and foraged ingredients. The bar program is one of the city’s best, with herb-driven cocktails, natural wines, and local craft beers and ciders.

A large U-shaped counter surrounds a bar and open kitchen beneath a bright neon sign inside an industrial warehouse space.
Counter at Skál! inside the Hlemmur Mathöll food hall
Nicholas Gill

Reykjavík has a great selection of Thai restaurants, though none are as popular as decades-old Ban Thai, which, despite its kitschy decor, has lured in a number of celebrities for dinner. The menu is massive, around 200 items, encompassing recipes from every part of Thailand, though everything, from spicy Chiang Mai-style curries to the keow wan roti, is made from scratch.

Exterior of a squat two-story building decorated with simple signage for Ban Thai, an awning over the entrance, and small lanterns hanging on either side of the door.
Exterior of Ban Thai
Nicholas Gill

Open since 1989 on a quiet downtown side street, Þrir Frakkar is where visitors and locals come for classic Icelandic dishes. Skip the gimmicky puffin breast, whale sashimi, and fermented shark, and opt instead for the homier hashed fish with black bread or cod tongue gratin.

A plate with a large serving of hashed fish beside two slices of rye bread and small side salad.
Hashed fish with rye bread
Nicholas Gill

At the popular Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, the Retreat luxury hotel not only features its own private lagoon, but also the dinner-only, Michelin-starred restaurant Moss. The restaurant made a splash with its wine cellar, which is carved out of volcanic rock and features lots of Bordeaux and Burgundy, as well as seasonal tasting menus with Asian touches from Icelandic chef Aggi Sverrisson, formerly of London’s Texture.

Trails of smoke rise up from a beef fillet sitting on a rustic table-top grill beside various ferns and brush used for smoking.
Smoked beef fillet
Jamie Orlando Smith

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La Primavera is the resurrection of a Northern Italian restaurant that originally opened in Reykjavík’s House of Commerce in 1993 but closed in 2011. The restaurant reopened on its 25th anniversary in 2018 inside the Marshall House, a 1948 fish factory redesigned as a cultural center, and an additional outpost opened in the Harpa concert Hall in 2021. The time off seems to have been good for the concept. The culinary team is killing it with a tight selection of innovative dishes like grilled monkfish with garlic risotto, bacon, and red wine sauce.

Matur og Drykkur, which simply means “food and drink,” draws its name from an old cookbook. The cozy dining room inhabits an old saltfish factory attached to the Saga Museum. Here, the kitchen puts modern spins on classic Icelandic recipes, like foal tartare with fermented angelica seeds, pickles, and flatbread.  

Thin, milky halibut soup is poured from a kettle into a decorative bowl, which already contains apples, raisins and mussels.
Halibut soup with mussels, apples, and raisins
Nicholas Gill

If you can’t snag a reservation at Dill, you can get a taste of Gunnar Gíslason’s food at glitzy restaurant Tides overlooking the harbor in the Edition hotel, where he oversees the menu. Open from breakfast until late, there’s a laid-back, international menu touched with Icelandic ingredients like 1,000-day-aged feykir cheese and Arctic thyme. There’s also an attached cafe with coffees and pastries, and an eight-seat chef’s counter serving 12-course menus.

An airy restaurant interior dotted with large columns. Empty tables are set for dinner and a blue-gray banquette sits off to one side.
The interior of Tides.
Nicholas Gill

There are a lot of gastropubs with craft burgers in Reykjavík, but if you have to pick one, make it Le Kock, where all the condiments and potato buns are made from scratch. Try the smash-style Trump Tower burger, which the restaurant describes as “big and extreme, thick-nosed, and tastes completely demented.”

A restaurant exterior in neutral gray and yellow, with large white doors and the name of the restaurant displayed in several places.
Outside Le Kock.
Nicholas Gill

Dedicated to owner Haraldur Þorleifsson’s late mother, Anna Jóna opened in mid-2023 in a beautifully designed, semicircular space full of light in one of her favorite buildings. The eclectic menu includes things like poached eggs with seaweed caviar and fluffy Japanese pancakes, alongside all-day breakfast items. The drinks program impresses with a variety of teas, Italian coffee, sparkling wines, and original cocktails.

A restaurant interior decked out in pale pinks, reds, and whites. A table with a banquette is set with small yellow plastic-looking cups and modernist chairs.
Inside Anna Jóna.
Nicholas Gill

While Bæjarins Beztu, founded in 1937, has ballooned into a national chain, this iconic cart remains the epicenter of the Icelandic hot dog phenomenon. President Bill Clinton even famously visited during a UNICEF conference. Open from 9 a.m. until 6 a.m. on weekends, the stand offers hot dogs made from a blend of lamb, beef, and pork. They’re best ordered eina með öllu, or with everything: ketchup, mustard, fried and raw onion, and remoulade.

A hot dog in a bun sits in a ridged holder on an outdoor table, with a snow-dusted parking lot and buildings in the background on a cloudy day.
Hot dog at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur
Nicholas Gill

Former Dill chef Ragnar Eiríksson and TV host and sommelier Ólafur Örn Ólafsson opened seafood-centric Brút in 2021 in a huge wraparound space connected to the Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel. Proving there’s more than cod in Iceland, the menu showcases a wide swath of Iceland’s seas, such as skate with brown butter and monkfish glazed in chicken stock, not to mention oysters, whelks, and anchovies. The wine list, with categories like Funky Shit and Candy Shop, is massive and includes a sizable collection of Champagne and sparkling wines.

Seafood dishes clumped on a table, including fish roasted with skin and scallops in broth with tomatoes.
Selection of Icelandic seafood.
Nicholas Gill

Icelandic baker Ágúst Einþórsson, who learned the art of sourdough while working in some of Copenhagen’s best bakeries, sold his stake in growing chain Brauð & Co. and opened this two-level bakery and restaurant in 2022. Icelandic stone-milled flours are used for pastries and sourdough breads that can be bought at the door and carried out, though the restaurant also serves full brunches and wood-fired pizzas, paired with natural wines in the evenings.

A worker fetches a pastry from a rack behind the counter of a bakery while a customer looks on.
Inside Baka Baka.
Nicholas Gill

This diminutive eatery, located on increasingly happening Hverfisgata Street, shifted focus away from its original Nordic-Italian concept and now serves a collection of seasonal small plates that don’t fit in neat little boxes. There are dishes like grilled pork belly with wasabi grown in the East Fjords, a selection of lunch-only tacos on house-made flour tortillas with fillings like scallops with mole, and an innovative list of original cocktails.

A small bowl filled with lumpfish roe and ricotta blanketed with chives beside a large scorched flatbread
Lumpfish roe with ricotta and grilled flatbread
Nicholas Gill

Reykjavík now has a handful of taquerias, but the best of them is this tiny Pueblan-style spot founded by musician Carlos Guarneros. There are campechano tacos and vegan chorizo burritos, but look out for the specials, like the birria tacos with a side of consomé served on the weekends.

A large taco taking up an entire enamel plate, buried in chopped cilantro, with a wedge of lime.
Taco campechano.
Nicholas Gill

Open since 1994, this stunning restaurant, decorated with teak ceilings and antique bronze, has managed to defy expectations, proving that Indian food doesn’t need to be inexpensive or strictly traditional to succeed in Iceland. Using the best-quality Icelandic ingredients and Indian spices and oils, the kitchen embraces regional Indian dishes. Don’t miss the minced lamb-stuffed keema paratha or the hariyali salmon, which are cooked in a tandoor.

Two dishes on a wooden table, including chunks of salmon on a bed of greens.
Salmon and Kodava pepper fry.
Nicholas Gill

Prior to opening the more formal Brút, owners Ragnar Eiríksson and Ólafur Örn Ólafsson launched this hip wine bar in a minimalist basement space on Reykjavík’s main drag. The wines are mostly natural or from small producers, and there are always about a dozen open bottles offered by the glass, though the lineup changes constantly. To pair with all that wine, pick from a selection of small plates and charcuterie.

After working in fine dining restaurants in France and Iceland, Aurore Pélier Cady opened this fine French patisserie that infuses things like choux, macarons, and cakes with seasonal Icelandic herbs and flowers, many of which she forages for herself. The bakery sits in a chilled out downstairs space with comfy seating. Nice coffees and breakfast pastries make it an easy place to linger.

A choux pastry topped with a swirl of frosting and a strawberry half.
Choux chervil.
Nicholas Gill

In early 2023, Michelin-starred Óx moved out from the back of owner Þráinn Freyr Vigfússon’s restaurant Sümac to a slightly larger location down the street, tucked behind a graffiti covered door and speakeasy Amma Don. The 17-seat counter is set within a room that looks like a 1960s Icelandic kitchen and living room, and chef Rúnar Pierre’s three-hour tasting experience, consisting of around 20 small courses that mix modern and traditional, gets more solid every year.

Chef Gunnar Gíslason is a foundational figure in Icelandic cooking. In 2009, he opened Dill, which went on to earn the first Michelin star in the country and completely energized Reykjavík’s entire food scene. After spending several years in New York, earning another star at Agern inside Grand Central Station, Gíslason returned and rebuilt Dill in a new location, hidden away up a spiral staircase on the city’s main shopping street. The restaurant’s menu highlights small producers (seaweed foragers, organic barley farmers) and seasonal ingredients (lumpfish roe, crowberries), and the kitchen continues to break new ground with a superb attention to detail and flavor.

A seafood emulsion presented in a large decorative shell fringed with pink.
Scallops, green currant, and ocean herb.
Nicholas Gill

This bakery changed Reykjavík’s bread landscape with Danish-style rugbrauð (rye bread), creative takes on the snúður (cinnamon roll), and other baked goods. Since opening in 2016, the business has expanded rapidly around town, and though baker Ágúst Einþórsson is no longer involved, the quality has stayed consistent.

Pastries sit on shelves in front of a window, near caged shelving hanging on a wall holding loaves of bread.
Pastries in the window of Brauð & Co.
Nicholas Gill

Inside Hlemmur Mathöll, an old bus station turned food hall, you’ll find Skal, owned by Björn Steinar Jónsson and Gísli Grímsson (who also own salt company Saltverk), and run by Danish chef Thomas Lorentzen, formerly of Kadeau in Copenhagen. Bar stools wrap around the counter and open kitchen, which slings a collection of small and share plates, like salt-baked beets or scallops with red currant granita, the latter livened up by subtle touches of fermented and foraged ingredients. The bar program is one of the city’s best, with herb-driven cocktails, natural wines, and local craft beers and ciders.

A large U-shaped counter surrounds a bar and open kitchen beneath a bright neon sign inside an industrial warehouse space.
Counter at Skál! inside the Hlemmur Mathöll food hall
Nicholas Gill

Reykjavík has a great selection of Thai restaurants, though none are as popular as decades-old Ban Thai, which, despite its kitschy decor, has lured in a number of celebrities for dinner. The menu is massive, around 200 items, encompassing recipes from every part of Thailand, though everything, from spicy Chiang Mai-style curries to the keow wan roti, is made from scratch.

Exterior of a squat two-story building decorated with simple signage for Ban Thai, an awning over the entrance, and small lanterns hanging on either side of the door.
Exterior of Ban Thai
Nicholas Gill

Open since 1989 on a quiet downtown side street, Þrir Frakkar is where visitors and locals come for classic Icelandic dishes. Skip the gimmicky puffin breast, whale sashimi, and fermented shark, and opt instead for the homier hashed fish with black bread or cod tongue gratin.

A plate with a large serving of hashed fish beside two slices of rye bread and small side salad.
Hashed fish with rye bread
Nicholas Gill

At the popular Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, the Retreat luxury hotel not only features its own private lagoon, but also the dinner-only, Michelin-starred restaurant Moss. The restaurant made a splash with its wine cellar, which is carved out of volcanic rock and features lots of Bordeaux and Burgundy, as well as seasonal tasting menus with Asian touches from Icelandic chef Aggi Sverrisson, formerly of London’s Texture.

Trails of smoke rise up from a beef fillet sitting on a rustic table-top grill beside various ferns and brush used for smoking.
Smoked beef fillet
Jamie Orlando Smith

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