La Primavera
Photograph: La Primavera

The 11 best restaurants in Reykjavík

Delicious seafood is served with stunning views in the Icelandic capital; these are the best Reykjavik restaurants


They say acceptance leads to peace. As soon as you accept that Reykjavik is expensive, it frees one up for the truly delightful culinary experiences that await you this North of life. The once remote island is now a bustling destination that is more than its volcanoes, waterfalls and black sand beaches. If that is all you know about the country, get ready to be blown away by its pristine, high quality produce and ingredients, some of which you can only experience here.

The small but mighty capital is fast becoming a magnet for epicures, gourmands and the in-betweens; from one-Michelin starred unforgettable dining experiences at Dill and Óx to near-perfect Indian food at Austur Indíafélagið, eating out in Reykjavik is much more than the hot-dog at Bæjarins Beztu (any pool side hot dog stand will deliver the same dog, sans the lines, you heard us), but you should definitely try those too. Here are the best restaurants in Reykjavik.

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This guide was recently updated by Shruthi Basappa, a restaurant critic based in Reykjavik. At Time Out, all of our travel guides are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our editorial guidelines

Best Reykjavik restaurants

1. Skál!

Best for: fresh, authentic Icelandic cooking

Set in Iceland’s first ever foodhall (previously a bus station), Hlemmur Mathöll’s crown jewel is Skál. An Icelandic gastropub, if you will, this is the definitive taste of Iceland: small plates that pack a punch, natural wines that span funky-fruity-minerally, cocktails that highlight foraged-for-the-masses ingredients like pineapple weed and lovage, the whole package delivered at a hard to beat price point. Get the queen scallops served bejewelled with a zippy redcurrant granita and sharp horseradish cream. Or the arctic char, a classic Skál dish; a puddle of shallot-caper butter, homestyle mashed potatoes and the silken fish, baked to flaky perfection. Or the lamb, a lesson in pristine presentation and flavours. Don’t sleep on the veggies either, which tend to be served simply, but with a little char, a little smoke, a tonne of character. If you are on a quest for the best, all roads lead to Skál. 

2. Brut

Best for: fish, fish and more fish

An Icelandic seafood restaurant that serves more than just cod is actually quite rare in this fishing nation. Not so at Brut. Here, the kitchen under Dill alumni chef Ragnar Eiriksson scours for more than your standard fare. Expect whelks in garlic butter, scallops in a light tomato consomme, a side of skate cooked just so the meat slides off the winged carapace or if you drop by for lunch, an excellent fish sandwich. Brut prides itself on its award winning wine list and the sommeliers here are quick with suggestions. Oh, and there's a brunch on the weekends too; Ottolengi-esque with mounds of fresh salads to choose from. 


3. La Primavera

Best for: hearty Italian cooking with a view

La Primavera's small rotating menu showcases regional Italian dishes, marrying ingredients like rovieja beans with peak season Icelandic produce like fresh cod eggs. This is chef Leifur Kolbeinsson’s study in simplicity, proving not everything in the Nordics needs to be a fermented, pickled, tweezered plate of nowness. And why change something that has worked since 1993? This reboot at the Grandi location in the sedate Marshall House overlooks the small harbour and the city’s skyline. Lunch is especially popular, but fair warning, it is like dining at your nonna’s. So bring an appetite, and cancel all your afternoon meetings. 

4. Austur Indíafélagið

Best for: homely, comforting Indian food 

This three-decade old establishment is a beloved local haunt; it's where Icelanders woo, propose, and celebrate milestones big and small. Heck, even Harrison Ford has claimed it as one of his faves. Warm teak coffered ceilings, even warmer service and memorable food that leans on regional hero dishes are the beating heart here. The hariyali salmon marries Iceland and India in its herb redolent marinade. Breads beyond naan beckon and the onion kulcha is exceptional. Want a top tip? I suggest foregoing the beers and getting a stiff martini to pair with the kebabs and curries.


5. Mat Bar

Best for: small plates and a small seasonal menu

Small plate popularity soared with rising hospitality costs the world over, and no one was quicker to jump on that bandwagon than Reykjavik joints. What started as a Nordic-Italian take on comfort plates at Mat Bar has evolved into a kosho loving, inspired from all over buzzy little spot where the decor and food are both fresh and inspired. The small menu has something for vegans and meat lovers alike, making it a great spot for a mixed group. The warm cauliflower dip and the capelin roe (when in season) are emblematic dishes of its ethos. While the Nordic adjacent tacos here have their fans, I'd come back again and again for the wood fire-grilled meats.

6. Nebraska

Best for: eating and shopping, all at once

A restaurant in a clothing store, you say? How does it work? Do the clothes smell all food-y? Fear not, dear friends, all your questions will be put to rest upon first bite of Nebraska's celeriac carpaccio. The alien-looking veggie gets the royal treatment here, pickled, shaved wafer thin, crowned with roasted nuts and a gobsmackingly funky vegan goat cheese. Other dishes revolve around similar principles: fresh, unfussy comfort food that doesn’t take itself too seriously but is hella delicious. Once you’re pleasantly buzzed on food and wine, that pair of expensive glasses feels like a justifiable spend to end the night. 


7. Apéro

Best for: pretending you're in France

What do you get when one homesick French wine aficionado and an enthusiastic Icelander get together? A mutually inspired, cool cat wine bar that appeals to the novice and the sommelier wannabe alike. Apero even does ‘blind tastings’ if you want to flex that palate of yours. Dotted with plush velvets and accents of brass, this spot not only serves wines from across France but pairs it with some excellent bites as well. Think warm gougeres stuffed with goat cheese and honey, or a mosaic-like platter of thinly sliced octopus carpaccio studded with lemon peel brunoise that is ideal with one of their cremants. 

8. Deig

Best for: satisfying your sweet tooth  

What do you get when fine dining chefs throw their aprons in together to create a gourmet tuck shop? Sister bakery to the popular burger joint Le Kock, Deig is a spunky little spot that opens early for breakfast and remains so only until wares run out. All the bagels and doughnuts are made in-house, and while you should definitely try the TikTok-famous crème brûlée doughnuts, their underrated take on a kleina (an Icelandic twisted doughnut with crackly lemon glaze, lemon zest and fresh ground cardamom) is a must-try. The bagels span classics with lox to more Deig nostalgia (chef Markus Ingi is a Boston-Icelander); egg mcmuffin-esque eggs with beer ham or pickled roasted peppers.


9. Chickpea

Best for: veggies, vegans and everyone in between

This family run restaurant takes the falafel and runs with it through umpteen variations, all centred around its good-for-you, made-from-scratch philosophy. Leaning into their Moldovan culinary roots, there are plenty of house made pickles, condiments like adjika that are slathered or tucked into their sourdough pitas and wraps. The real star is Chickpea's herby falafel, available as a classic version as well as a ruby hued beet version. Locals love the ‘number two’ with the latter, grilled halloumi and mango aioli, but the soup of the day is delicious, hearty and cheap, coming in at just under 2000 ISK. 

10. Óx

Best for: showing off to visitors

While Prohibition may have spurred speakeasy bars in America, Iceland is no stranger to restrictions on alcohol. A strange mixture of puritanical views combined with high taxes and control over access meant that even beer was banned in the country until as recently as 1989. Inspired by chef Þráinn Freyr’s grandmother, who was fondly called Ammadon (amma is grandmother in Icelandic), Amma Don sits a whole level under Laugavegur, the main shopping street, but its restaurant Óx is something to shout about, with delicate small plates, presented beautifully and paired with fantastic wines. For the perfect night, dine deliciously and then hit up Amma Don for a nightcap. 

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