Gray Line Iceland - Food Drinks and Nightlife in Reykjavík

Posted by Admin on 23 Apr 2024

Food, Drinks and Nightlife in Reykjavík

Reykjavík might be one of the smallest capitals in the world, but it’s a little city with a big appetite, where you can enjoy a trendsetting food scene and a rich mix of fun-filled bars, vibrant clubs, and exciting live music venues.

You can choose from fine-dining restaurants (including two with Michelin stars), classy cafés, excellent coffee shops, funky street food vendors, and the world-famous hot dog stand!

Seafood and lamb are the most traditional aspects of Icelandic cuisine, but most restaurants also offer great vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free dishes featuring locally sourced ingredients.

You’ll find a delightful choice of cuisines in the capital, including Indian, Pakistani, Korean, Chinese, Thai, Filipino, Japanese, Italian, French, Spanish, Danish, American and Mexican.

And if you’re feeling brave, you can try various Viking delicacies, like hákarl (fermented shark) or even more unusual traditional treats!

Here’s our guide to the best of Reykjavík’s food, drink, and nightlife scene, with recommendations for breakfast and brunch, lunch and dinner, and the bars, clubs and music venues across the capital.

For convenience, the recommendations are divided into three areas: the “strolling streets” at the top of town (Laugavegur, Skólavörðustígur, and Hverfisgata), the downtown drag surrounding Austurstræti, and the Old Harbor and Grandi districts.

Breakfast and Brunch

Sandholt in Reykjavík

Laugavegur, Skólavörðustígur and Hverfisgata

Babalú Skólavörðustígur 22, 8:00-19:00 (20:00 Saturday)

Just a minute’s walk down from Hallgrímskirkja, pop into this brightly decorated café and relax in the comfy chairs. Babalu is great for morning coffee, breakfast crêpes, warming soups, and lunchtime grilled sandwiches. 

Brauð & Co. Frakkastígur 16 and other locations, 6:30-17:00

Kickstart your morning with the capital’s favorite cinnamon buns from Brauð & Co., located in a multi-colored bakery almost opposite Hallgrímskirkja. Ask for a snúður, and your taste buds will thank you forever.

Grái Kötturinn Hverfisgata 16a, 6:30-14:00

The “original” breakfast bar in the city, the “Grey Cat” serves up American-style diner breakfasts with pancakes and bagels daily. Straightforward and unfussy, the menu also features homemade hummus and tuna salads.

Mokka Skólavörðustígur 3a, 9:00-18:00

Opened in 1958, Mokka is the oldest coffee shop in Reykjavík, the first in town to get an espresso machine, and a favorite hangout for locals and artists. Try a hot chocolate paired with a waffle, topped off with whipped cream.

Reykjavík Roasters Kárastígur 1, 8:00-17:00

Walking downhill from Hallgrímskirkja to Laugavegur, look out for this excellent coffee shop, frequently named the best in the city. There are two other branches around the city, where you’ll find vintage furniture, Brazilian and Ethiopian coffees, and baristas who know what they’re doing!

Sandholt Laugavegur 36, 7:30-18:00

Sandholt is an effortlessly classy bakery that feels like a Parisian patisserie. Handily positioned in the middle of the Laugavegur strip, it’s stocked with splendid pastries, cakes, and rolls. Its spacious interior might lure you in for a longer visit!

Systrasamlagið Óðinsgata 1, 10:00-17:00 (closed weekends)

If you’re looking for an organic option, try this cute café. Run by two sisters (the name means “sisterhood”), it offers sugar- and additive-free options, chai lattes, and plant-based milk.

Te og Kaffi Laugavegur 27, 8:00-18:00 (10:00-18:00 weekends) 

Open since 1984, Te og Kaffi is one of the oldest coffee shops in Iceland, part of a small chain with seven other branches around the city. You’ll find a great selection of pastries, bagels, bread rolls, and the tea and coffee promised in its name.

The City Center

Baka Baka in Reykjavik

Baka Baka Bankastræti 2, 7:30-23:00

Baka Baka is a popular two-floor bakery with plenty of seating, serving coffee, doughnuts, croissants, buns, cookies, breakfast bowls and pastries. Come back at night when it becomes a pizzeria!

The Laundromat Café Austurstræti 9, 9:00-21:00 (10:00-22:00 weekends)

This huge eaterie with a 50s American diner vibe is the perfect choice for a hearty breakfast or brunch. Choose from an extensive menu of pancakes, burgers, juices, shakes, yogurts, and burritos. And you can do your laundry here, too! 

The Old Harbor and Grandi

Deig Tryggvagata 14, 7:00-16:00 

A popular bakery overlooking the Old Harbor, drawn by low-cost freshly baked bagels, sandwiches, donuts, bread rolls, and great coffee. Enjoy the view from the high window seats!

Reykjavík Röst Geirsgata 5, 8:00-18:00

With views of Harpa, Esja, and the Old Harbor, Reykjavík Röst doesn’t need to try too hard to draw you in. A great selection of light bites, coffees, and cocktails makes for a highly satisfying combination of outstanding location and fine fare.

Tides Austurbakki 2, 7:00-11:00 

The Reykjavík Edition hotel, next to Harpa, offers a great breakfast buffet menu at Tides. Eggs Benedict, salmon, Icelandic lamb, rye bread, pancakes, and sausages will fill you up for the day.

Lunch and Dinner

 

Laugavegur, Skólavörðustígur and Hverfisgata

Arabian Taste Laugavegur 87, 10:00-23:00 (11:00-02:00 on Saturday)

As an example of the capital’s eclectic cuisine choices, you can sample Syrian falafels, kebabs, kibbeh, and tabbouleh dishes at Arabian Taste, made from traditional recipes with local ingredients like Icelandic lamb. 

Austur-Indíafélagið Hverfisgata 56, 18:00-22:00 (23:00 weekends)

Highly-rated Indian restaurant in a splendid setting, Austur-Indíafélagið effortlessly merges Icelandic ingredients with imported Indian spices to create classy curries. 

Ban Thai Laugavegur 130, 17:00-22:00 (23:00 weekends)

Ban Thai is the place to go if you’re in the mood for Pad Thai or a creamy coconut curry. Repeatedly named as the best Thai restaurant by the local listings paper, Ban Thai offers an enormous selection of dishes. Choose your spices with care!

Café Loki Lokastigur 28, 8:00-22:00

For authentic Icelandic fare and amazing views of Hallgrímskirkja, Loki is the perfect place to have a bite to eat. Take the plunge with hakarl or try traditional dishes like kjötsúpa (meat soup), plökkfiskur, (fish stew), or luscious lamb shanks. Don’t miss the rye bread ice cream!

Dill Laugavegur 59, reservations required

Opened in 2009, Dill is perhaps the most famous restaurant in Iceland, receiving a Michelin star in 2017. Focusing on Icelandic food culture, the menu is a tribute to time-honored traditions, only using natural ingredients. If you want a memorable meal, make a reservation now.

Gandhi  Bergstaðastræti 13, 17:00-22:00

Gandhi serves an excellent selection of curry classics, from creamy kormas to more sophisticated dishes. Takeaways are also available.

Hlemmur Mathöll Laugavegur 107, 11:00-23:00

Reykjavík’s first “Food Hall” offers an excellent selection of food options. There are plenty of seats to sit and snack on tacos, Neapolitan pizzas, burgers, and Vietnamese street food.

Íslenski Barinn 1a Ingólfsstræti, 11:30-01:00 (03:00 on Saturday)

A traditionally themed restaurant just off Laugavegur, it has walls lined with Icelandic history and icons and a focus on “older” tastes. Try the “plokkfiskur,” an Icelandic fish pie, reindeer burgers, or puffin crumpets. Dung-smoked salmon, lamb, and lobster hot dogs are also on the menu

Kastrup Hverfisgata 6, 11:45-23:00

A modern Nordic-style bistro offering open sandwiches and salads for weekend brunches and sizable dishes for lunch and dinner. Locally sourced mussels, lamb, and salmon are specialties here.

Kattakaffihúsið Bergstaðastræti 10a, 10:00-17:30

If you’re a cat lover, head directly to Kattakaffihusid, Iceland’s first Cat Café, where cats needing a new home are available for adoption. Grab a grilled sandwich, a whipped cream waffle, or a delicious vegan cake, and curl up with a cat on your lap! 

KOL Skólavörðustígur 40, reservations required

A modern restaurant offering fusion food inspired by international cuisines paired with wines and cocktails. Enjoy a bottomless brunch or a tasting menu in an upscale setting lined with leather couches.

ÓX Laugavegur 55, reservations required

A Middle Eastern-themed Michelin-star restaurant with just 11 seats, ÓX is tucked inside another restaurant, Sumac. Sample high-end cuisine with multiple small courses and paired drinks in a summer cabin setting. 

Plantan Kaffihús Njálsgata 64,  8:00-17:00, 10:00-17:00 weekends

An all-vegan coffee house, Plantan Kaffihús offers daily bun and coffee combos, tasty soup options, cakes, pies, and cheese rolls. A perfect spot for refreshments after a dip at the oldest swimming pool in town, Sundhöllin.

Skál! Njálsgata 1, 11:30-23:00

The highlight of Hlemmur’s Food Hall for seven years, Skál! now has a permanent home on Njálsgata, where you can enjoy a feast of seasonal local ingredients, including scallops, baked Arctic char, mussels, steak, pork belly, skyr, and natural wines.

Skreið Laugavegur 4, 11:30-23:00/midnight weekends

Located in a traditional 101 house where Laugavegur and Skólavörðustígur meet, Skreið offers tasty tapas and pintxos in a comfortable bistro setting. 

Snaps Þórsgata 1, 11:00-23:30

A stylish French bistro connected to Hotel Odinsve with a conservatory and outdoor seating, this perfect people-watching spot offers excellent French cuisine and cocktails with a sophisticated vibe.

Sólon Bistro Bankastræti 7a, 8:00-21:00 (11:30 weekends)

Upscale restaurant with a lively atmosphere in an art deco-style white building at the bottom of the Laugavegur strip. Specializing in steak, fish, and chicken dishes paired with classy cocktails and natural wines, it also offers vegetarian and vegan options.

Svarta Kaffið Laugavegur 54, 11:30-22:00

Fancy a warming soup and a giant bread roll to go with it? Come to Svarta Kaffið and pick from a rotating menu of two superb soup bowls each day - both cream-based and always with a vegetarian option. 

Sumac Grill Laugavegur 28, 17:30-23:00 (closed Sun-Mon)

A modern brasserie focusing on a fusion of Icelandic, Middle Eastern, and North African cuisines, Sumac’s open grills serve mezes, spicy skewers, and ribs, fire-seared and straight to your table.

The City Center

Apótek Austurstræti 16, 11:00-23:00 (midnight at weekends)

Upmarket restaurant specializing in Icelandic and modern European dishes, complimented with great cocktails. The restaurant and hotel used to be a pharmacy, inspiring its name.

Caruso Austurstræti 22, 11:30-22:30 (23:30 Fri-Sat)

Conveniently sited at the top of Austurstræti in a historic 19th-century house, Caruso offers high-quality Italian pizzas and pasta dishes. Caruso has been the Governor’s House, the High Court and prison, and a priest school in the past!

Fiskfélagið (Fish Company) Vesturgata 2a, 11:30-14:30, 17:00-22:30

Popular gourmet seafood restaurant offering sushi platters. The “restaurant under the bridge” is in the historic nautical heart of the city, housed in a timber and stone building dating from 1863.

Fiskmarkaðurinn Aðalstræti 12, 17:30-22:30

A firm favorite since 2007, The Fish Market focuses on seafood and sushi, fusing Icelandic and Asian cuisines. Try the Volcano Langoustine roll, king prawn tempura, sushi, or sashimi dishes. Vegetarian and vegan options are also available.

Fjallkonan Hafnarstræti 1-3, 11:30-midnight 

Enjoying a splendid view of Ingólfur Square, Fjallkonan (The Lady of the Mountain) is a popular pub offering good bar food and great vibes. 

Grillmarkaðurinn Lækjargata 2a, 18:00-22:00

The Grill Market occupies a historic building in the city’s center, with a spiral staircase leading to a beautiful basement setting. A first-class fish, lamb, and beef steak restaurant, with tasting menus.

Hornið Hafnarstræti 15, 11:00-22:00

Known as “The Corner” because of its position a few steps away from the Old Harbor. Hornið is one of the oldest eateries in the city, focusing on Italian cuisine, and great for pizza.

Icelandic Street Food Lækjargata 8, 11:00-22:00

Tucked into a tiny storefront, Icelandic Street Food offers local “comfort food” at speed. Fill up on traditional fish and lamb soups, and treat yourself to a slice of “happy marriage cake.”

Iðnó Vonarstræti 3, open 10:00-21:00

Elegant café and restaurant, built in 1897 as the city’s first theater and now an occasional live music venue. Iðnó offers soups, salads, burgers, pasta dishes, classy cakes, and splendid views of Tjörnin.

Mandi Veltusund 3b, 11:00-02:00 (06:00 Saturday)

A simple family-run eaterie off Ingólfur Square serving shawarma, falafel, and other Middle Eastern food, ideal for late-night snacks.

Napoli Tryggvagata 24, 11:30-22:00

Napoli is a pizza takeaway specializing in sourdough Neapolitan-style pizzas, calzones and sandwiches. It also offers vegan options and lunchtime deals.

Pósthús Mathöll Pósthússtræti 5, 11:30-22:00

Continuing the city’s food hall revolution, Pósthús Mathöll offers plenty of seating and a wide range of cuisines in the city’s old Post Office, including sushi, Asian fusion, and gourmet pizzas.

Rosenberg Vesturgata 3, 12:00-22:00 (midnight Saturday)

This split-level coffee house is a delight, with huge armchairs and comfortable sofas to relax and take a break from a Reykjavík ramble with bottomless coffees and delicious cakes. 

Sæta Svínið Gastropub Hafnarstræti 1-3, 11:30-23:00

The “Pretty Pig” is a landmark gastropub on Ingólfur Square, popular for its excellent playlists, brilliant beer and cocktail choices, and tasty pub food. If the weather is good, it’s a perfect people-watching spot.

Tapas Barinn Vesturgata 3b, 17:00-23:00

Merging Spanish tapas style with Icelandic ingredients, Tapas Barinn is an excellent choice for late-night eating. It offers dozens of dishes, including puffin, Arctic char, langoustines, and more. 

Vegan World Peace Aðalstræti 2, 11:00-21:00 (16:00-21:00 Sunday)

Entirely plant-based vegan menu, with lots of gluten-free options featuring soups, salads, and Asian-inspired dishes. 

The Old Harbor and Grandi

Bryggjan Brugghús Grandagarður 8, 11:30-23:00

Gigantic harborside restaurant next to the Maritime Museum, with its own micro-brewery producing handcrafted ales. Choose from sharing plates, tacos, burgers, steak, and seafood dishes.

Flatey Pizza Grandagarður 11, 11:30-22:00

Neapolitan-style pizzas made with sourdough and seared to perfection at 500°C, producing thin base pies packed with traditional toppings. 

Forréttabarinn Nýlendugata 14, 16:00-23:00

Classy Icelandic tapas restaurant with an extensive range of dishes, tasting menus, and a lovely bar area with comfy couches for those just after a restorative drink.

Grandi Mathöll Grandagarður 16, 11:00-21:00

Another of the capital’s ever-growing collection of multi-cuisine food halls, this former fish factory now houses a range of quick-bite vendors, including Indonesian, Korean, and Italian options.

Hamborgara Búllan Geirsgata 1, 11:00-23:00

Popular Old Harbor burger joint offering inexpensive and generous combinations of burgers, fries, and toppings in a characterful faux Art Deco hut.

Kaffivagninn Grandagarði 10, 07:30-23:00

Open since 1935, Kaffivagninn is Reykjavík’s oldest restaurant, and it’s open all day. Come for the beautiful views of the Old Harbor, outdoor seating, and excellent seafood dishes. 

Kopar Geirsgata 3, 12:00-15:00 (not Sun-Mon), 17:00-21:00 

Specializing in seafood, Kopar offers an excellent range of high-quality dishes, wonderfully presented in a gorgeous harborside location with views to Harpa and beyond. 

La Primavera Grandagarður 20, 11:30-14:00, 18:00-21:30 (Thu-Sat) closed Sun-Mon

La Primavera is a longstanding local favorite for Italian cuisine, popular for lunch and dinner dates. With a classy ambiance, it offers top-notch service and practically perfect pizzas and pasta dishes

Le Kock Tryggvagata 14, 11:30-23:00 (01:00 weekends)

Quality American-style street food focusing on gourmet burgers and buns made by their own bakery. According to the local listings paper, these are the best burgers in the city!

Reykjavík Fish Tryggvagata 8 / Frakkastígur 12, 11:00-22:00

Iceland is the perfect place for fish and chips, and Reykjavík Fish serves up fine fish suppers in a central location. Their simple menu includes the traditional “plokkari” (fish stew), soup, and burgers.

Sægriffin Geirsgata 8, 11:30-16:00, 18:00-22:00

A legendary Reykjavík snack shack, the creamy lobster soup served here is a wonderfully warming choice. Its tiny wooden benches encourage conversation between fellow travelers, and it’s a great budget choice. 

Omnom Chocolate Hólmaslóð 4, 11:00-20:00 

The city’s favorite confectioner, making outstanding chocolates and ice creams from high-quality ingredients in small batches in a range of intriguing flavors.

Nightlife

Laugavegur, Skólavörðustígur and Hverfisgata

Bravó Laugavegur 22, 13:00-01:00

Come and enjoy the most extended Happy Hour in the city - it lasts for hours! Cheerfully shabby with a great atmosphere, a varied beer selection, and plump pillows, Bravó is an excellent spot for people-watching along Laugavegur. 

BrewDog Frakkastígur 8, 11:30-midnight (01:00 weekends)

Part of an international chain with many imported beers, unusual guest brews, and good food options.

Den Danske Kro Ingólfsstræti 3, 12:00-01:00 (04:30 weekends)

Popular Danish-style pub famous for its lively late-night atmosphere. Pop in, play darts, enjoy a pint, and watch live sports on big TVs. There’s outdoor seating too. 

Dillon Laugavegur 30, 15:00-01:00 (03:00 weekends)

If whiskey is your drink, Dillon is your destination. With a vast range to choose from and frequent live music sets, Dillon is a firm favorite with the locals, split over two timber cabin-style levels.

Einstök Bar Laugavegur 10, 12:00-01:00 (03:00 weekends)

Bright and spacious with comfortable seats, one of Iceland’s finest brewers has its own bar here, offering an excellent range of local beers. 

Kaffibarinn Bergstaðastræti 1, 15:00-01:00 (04:30 weekends)

With its past connections to Blur frontman Damon Albarn, Kaffibarinn attracts a sophisticated crowd, and its top-notch DJs keep the fun going long into the night.

Kaldi Laugavegur 20b, 12:00-01:00 (03:00 weekends) 

Heaven for beer lovers, this old-school bar is a local favorite, a throwback to the unfussy pubs of the past, with a great selection of Kaldi’s own beers.

Kiki Queer Bar Laugavegur 22, 20:00-01:00 (Thu), 20:00-04:30 (Fri-Sat) 

The “queerest” bar in Reykjavík, the place to come for late-night dance floor action, spread over two hectic upstairs rooms, featuring drag shows and karaoke competitions.

Kokteilbarinn Klapparstígur 28, 14:00-01:00 (02:00 weekends) 

Perhaps the city’s “best kept secret,” Kokteilbarinn is a balloon-themed cocktail bar in a full-sized “champagne train car” tucked inside the restaurant Monkeys.

Lebowski Laugavegur 20a, 11:00-01:00 (04:30 weekends)

Excellent theme bar with well-priced burgers, chicken wings, and drink names drawn from “The Big Lebowski” and walls decorated with memorabilia from the classic film. Other cult classics and live sports are screened, too.

Máls og Menningar Laugavegur 18, 12:00-midnight

Once a bookstore, Máls og Menningar is now a nightly live music venue with top-notch cover bands and outstanding local musicians - a guaranteed great night out! 

Microbar Laugavegur 86, 15:00-midnight (01:00 weekends)

A dream location for beer lovers, Microbar was the first craft beer bar in the city, offering a great selection of local brews.

Petersen Svítan Ingólfsstræti 2a, 3rd floor, 16:00-01:00 (Wed-Thu), 03:00 (Fri-Sat)

Excellent outdoor rooftop bar above Gamla Bío, the city’s oldest cinema, offering splendid panoramic city views.

Prikið Bankastræti 12, 08:00-01:00

An excellent option for cheap eats during the day, Prikið is a magnet for the younger locals at night. Happy Hour beers draw the crowds, and live music and DJs make it a top choice.

Röntgen Hverfisgata 12, 16:00-01:00 (03:00 weekends)

The high-end choice for the dressy crowd, Röntgen is frequently voted the “best bar in the city” and is popular with locals and tourists.

Session Craft Bar Bankastræti 14, 16:30-midnight (01:00 weekends)

At the junction of Skólavörðustígur and Laugavegur, look to your left and head upstairs to discover a beer lover’s paradise, with rows of craft beers on tap in a minimalist setting. 

The City Center

American Bar Austurstræti 8-10, 11:00-01:00 (04:30 weekends)

The premier sports bar in the city, with countless big screens, friendly staff, swift service, and simple and reasonably priced bar meals.

The English Pub Austurstræti 12a, 12:00-01:00 (04:00 weekends)

The English Pub has a great old-school vibe, entertaining wall decor, live music most nights, and wall-to-wall screens that show English and other football matches. 

Gaukurinn Tryggvagata 22, 17:00-01:00 (03:00 weekends)

Excellent dive bar and live music venue featuring drag nights, open-mic comedy, burlesque, karaoke competitions, and gender-neutral bathrooms!

Jungle Cocktail Bar  Austurstræti 9, 16:00-01:00

Stylish and airy cocktail bar in a jungle-green environment, where friendly bartenders will treat you to an excellent range of cocktails.

Lemmy Austurstræti 20, 15:00-23:00 (02:00 weekends)

A rock-themed bar in one of the oldest houses in the city, Lemmy features frequent live music performances from local bands and a good selection of bar snacks.

Skúli Craft Bar Aðalstræti 9, 12:00-23:00 (01:00 weekends)

Skúli is one of the original craft beer bars in the city, and it has an excellent range of different styles of beers on tap. Just ask the friendly bar staff for tips! 

The Old Harbor, Grandi, and elsewhere

Slippbarinn Myrargata 2, 07:00-10:00, 13:00-23:00 (midnight weekends)

Occupying the ground floor of Icelandair’s Marina Hotel, Slippbarinn offers a wide range of cocktails in an airy setting with some cute design touches.

KEX Skúlagata 28, 11:30-23:00 

Quirky hostel in a former biscuit factory, KEX enjoys outstanding views of Mount Esja. Check it out for its craft beer selection and frequent live music gigs from local bands. 

Special Mention

Hot Dog Stand in Reykjavik

Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur Tryggvagata 1, 09:00-01:00 (02:00 Thu, 06:00 Fri-Sat)

The “City’s Best Hot Dogs” is a local institution that has been feeding hungry locals since 1937. 

Famously serving Bill Clinton in 2004 (his order has its own name now), a hot dog from Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur is a must for any visitor to the city.

Unlike traditional hot dogs, Icelandic pylsur are made with a blend of lamb, pork, and beef, free from preservatives and artificial additives.

Just ask for “one with everything” - a hot dog in a steamed bun, topped with ketchup, mustard, remoulade, crispy fried onions, and raw onions!

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