When anyone mentions Icelandic food, it tends to read something like a vegetarian’s worst nightmare: fermented shark, singed sheep’s head, grated puffin, minke whale… Luckily, like most places, wild meat options are only a fraction of the story.
For such a small city, Reykjavik has decent selection of eateries across a range of cuisines. The more out-there dishes like those mentioned above tend to be more aimed at tourists looking for an “authentic” experience, than locals eating what they would usually eat. You can find various Asian cuisines, Italian places, myriad cafés, and even a few dedicated vegetarian restaurants in Reykjavik.
Eating out in Reykjavik is not a cheap affair though. We bought a few supplies from the supermarket to make our own breakfasts each day and sandwiches to take along on our Golden Circle trip which dramatically cut down the cost we would have otherwise incurred. That said, for me, dining is an integral part of any trip so here are my veg-friendly recommendations for Reykjavik:
The Laundromat Café
The Laundromat Café was an accidental find but not to be missed. They have a varied menu with a few solid veggie and vegan options. I went for the ‘vegan toast’ accompanied by salad and potato wedges (you could skip the chips in favour of more salad if you were so inclined). The vegan toast comprised of crusty bread topped with houmous, grilled aubergine, and an absolutely incredible chutney made from dates sprinkled with cashew nuts, at a reasonable 1390ISK. There was also a good beer selection including local beers and I loved the decor.
Gló is an almost vegetarian restaurant with an emphasis on healthy eating. Every day they have a fresh menu boasting one vegetarian dish, one raw vegan dish, one chicken option and a soup of the day, in conjunction with an accompanying salad bar. You order at the counter and can choose up to three salads to go with your main. On my visit the options were aubergine parmigiana or raw pizza (or mango chicken, if you’re interested).
Gló seems a very popular option with Reykjavik locals and it’s not hard to see why. They publish their menu everyday on their Facebook page if you wanted to check in advance, but only in Icelandic I’m afraid. The main courses here check in at around 1790-1890ISK.
Eldsmidjan is a long-standing institution in Reykjavik. Offering reasonably priced, freshly stone-baked pizzas and refillable soft drinks, you really can’t go wrong here. The interior is fairly basic and the service is to the point, but they have some nice touches such as chilli flakes and herbs to top your pizza as you wish.
A large margarita pizza costs 1895ISK and a refillable drink is 295ISK. We found a large pizza ample enough to share between to, as an ideal lunch after more than a couple of beers the night before.
Laekjarbrekka is set in an old house that dates back to 1834. Beautifully restored with an atmosphere evocative of times past, the restaurant serves traditional Icelandic food and has earnt itself a sterling reputation. Crucially, unlike any other Icelandic restaurants I spotted, Laekjarbrekka does have a couple of vegetarian options.
I opted for the Icelandic Barley – a smokey dish with tomato concasse, haricot vert and dill snow. Both the presentation and the flavours were remarkable (the picture was quickly snapped and my camera hurried away as it is quite a formal restaurant!) It was a definite splurge, with my dish coming in at 3600ISK and non-veggie options largely between the 5500-6000 mark.
I do have to admit that I had been hesitant about eating somewhere that served whale (even if neither of us were ordering it) but I also didn’t want to force us into avoiding Icelandic food altogether, so for a traditional Icelandic restaurant this did have great veg options.
This is just the small selection of places I experienced in Reykjavik and I’m sure there are plenty more.
Have you eaten veggie in Reykjavik? Share your experiences below!
More in my Iceland Diary: