One of the most exciting things about visiting any country is trying out the local cuisine, and Iceland is a fantastic place to test your tastebuds and enjoy some of the most delicious and hearty food I’ve ever eaten!
Being an island, with the majority of the population in the coastal regions, fish is the number one item on the menu. Anything from cod to lobster is available in almost any restaurant and once you get used to the rather expensive Icelandic price lists, they seem relatively good value! Reykjavik is full of restaurants and bars, and it’s worth wandering around the town to find somewhere within your budget.
My absolutely favourite place we grabbed a bite to eat whilst in Iceland was the Sægreifinn or Sea Baron which sits just next to the harbour in amongst a little collection of fish restaurants. It is a tiny place, with no written menu, just a fridge in the entrance filled with plates of freshly caught fish and whale and a huge steaming pot of lobster soup.
You quickly become used to spending upwards of 3500 krona (about £25) for a meal and a drink, so to find you can get a delicious bowl of lobster soup, bread and a beer for the equivalent of just £15 at Sægreifinn is an absolute bargain. The atmosphere is rustic and inviting, with long thing benches to sit at, as the staff freshly cook your fish or serve your lobster soup.
Save some krona and drink the free water (Icelandic water is said to be some of the purest and most delicious in the world) or splurge on some of the delicious Icelandic and Scandinavian beers. If you’re there over Christmas then enjoy a bottle of a festive tipple.
Bundle up inside the cosy building during the brisk winter months or enjoy the harbour views sat on the benches outside during the summer. The Sægreifinn is a relaxed and authentic feeling place to enjoy some of the great tastes of Iceland at a fraction of the price! If you’re feeling particularly brave they often have small portions of minke whale available, a meat commonplace in Iceland despite the shock that might cause across most of the world.
For a slightly more formal set up, with a more varied menu then head for Islenski Barinn on Ingólfsstræti, just off the main street. The menu is filled with Icelandic specialities including puffin and fermented Greenland shark (definitely one for the brave of stomach!) as well as seafood hot dogs and reindeer burgers. If you’re after a side dish to go with your main of choice then opt for popped cod skin – a crunchy and salty portion of fried fish skin served with dipping sauce. Surprisingly delicious and a definite taste of this fish loving country. The bar has a buzzing busy atmosphere and the prices are reasonable given the average cost of a meal in town. The central location means it is the perfect place to start a great night out in Reykjavik and enjoy everything the town has to offer after dark!
Much like New Zealand (a country that shares many similarities to Iceland, on the opposite side of the planet) there are more sheep than residents and therefore alongside the beautiful traditional knitwear and jumpers, lamb is a common sight on the menu. A hearty lamb and vegetable broth can be found on most menus and is a great way to warm up after a long day exploring the icy countryside!