Where to Eat in Reykjavik
Reykjavik has a budding food scene and several world-renowned chefs offering classy modern twists on traditional Nordic fare. This post is not about that, however, nor is it about fermented shark meat, roasted puffin, or anything kitschy like that. This post is about moderately priced meals at a few good restaurants that I personally have eaten at and enjoyed (most of them more than once). I’ll try to keep this on the budget end as much as possible (hotdogs are cheap). Reykjavik is known for having steep food prices (but delicious hotdogs). Though that is mostly misconception based on a few poorly written accounts, dining out in Reykjavik can come with a bit of sticker shock (except hotdogs). If you are on a budget in Iceland and would like some ideas for good eats at reasonable prices, this is your post!
Breakfast in Reykjavik
So, you just got off the plane at KEF at 5 AM and you’re about to the board a bus for Reykjavik, nearly an hour away. It’s raining, hard, and near freezing even though it’s Summer. You realize you can’t check into your hotel until 3 PM. You’re hungry, wet, and drowsy from airline travel. What on earth are you going to do for 9 hours until you can check into your hotel?! One thing you can do is join a tour, though I know I am always so sick of being on a moving vehicle at that point that I just want to sit for a quite minute with a cup of coffee and can’t imagine riding around on another bus for hours looking through rainy windows. You could go to the Blue Lagoon, which opens at 8 AM, and chill for $60-$100 USD (plus extra for food), though I couldn’t see myself personally enjoying sitting in a stew of industrial runoff for several hours….I prefer option three: EAT. ALL. DAY.
It’s a good idea to drop your bags at the hotel/apartment/hostel and ask the desk attendant if there’s any way your room will be ready earlier. Sometimes you can check-in a couple hours sooner. Until then, it’s breakfast time. Here are a couple of my favorite places to eat breakfast in Reykjavik:
1st Choice - Sandholt Bakery
No trip to Iceland is complete without visiting Sandholt at least once. My wife flips out over their chocolate croissants, which are buttery, fluffy, and flaky and rival any that we’ve had anywhere (including France). Aside from an amazing assortment of artfully crafted pastries, buns, and breads, they also have a breakfast menu (in English) and full-service restaurant/dining area. This is also a great first opportunity for you to try Skyr – Iceland’s famous protein-packed yogurt-like cheese food. Sandholt is always my first thought when arriving in Reykjavik. It has a relaxing and cozy environment: modern-minimalist in the interior (typical Icelandic design) with comfortable booths and lots of soft pillows. It’s the perfect place to start and plan the rest of your Icelandic adventure. It’s easy to spend a couple hours in Sandholt, and this being Europe, they don’t mind as long as you’re buying something. Sandholt opens at 7 AM daily and is conveniently located downtown on Laugevegur, one of downtown's main streets.