Culturesplosion.

Notable Eats In Iceland (aka The World’s Best Hot Dog And Other Things)

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It’s time to take this blog international! DH and I visited Iceland in late March and had a great trip (with a favorable exchange rate!). We ate our way around various places in Reykjavik, took some glorious day tours beyond the capital city, and generally had a fab time exploring this Nordic country. I highly recommend visiting, either as a stopover to Europe or a primary destination.

As for the food, here were the highlights:

(1) BÆJARINS BEZTU PYLSUR (map!)

Hot dog stand of the gods...

Just ask about “the famous hot dog stand” in Reykjavik and everyone will know what you are talking about. Located in the downtown area on a random tucked-away corner/parking lot, this tiny shop always has a queue regardless of time or weather. We went there THREE times because it was so good. Our first bite was practically nirvana:

Magic in a bun.

The best way is to get it with the “works” (ketchup, sweet mustard, fried onion, raw onion and remolaði). The fried onion gives it an awesome crunch, and that sweet mustard is probably nectar of the Norse gods. Anyway, you chomp into it and then there’s silence because you practically want to cry at how good it tastes. Then the silence is broken by the full-mouth-garbled gasps of “oh.my.god.” And at 300 ISK (~$3 USD) each, you can come back for seconds, or thirds, sevenths, whatever.

(2) SÚFISTINN (map!)

A welcome spot to get out of the rain...

We stumbled upon this place on the 2nd floor of the large Visitor Centre on Lækjargata, a main street, while trying to get out of the gloomy drizzle. Craving a warm drink, I got a simple latte, never imagining I would find my favorite drink of the whole trip:

All lattes should come in bowl-sizes!

What is in this latte!! I know coffee culture has hit Iceland hard, but I didn’t expect to find espresso of this caliber in just a little visitors center cafe. Wow. There was zero bitterness and the milk was perfect. Even with most good espresso drinks I usually feel a tiny urge to reach for the sugar, but here, I think it would have practically been a sin to add anything. The fact that it cleared away the little twinge of onion breath from previously consumed hot dog just won me over completely. Needless to say, I returned later in the trip for a second round.

(3) NOODLE STATION (map! oh man, had to use a different map site. Googlemaps is somewhat fail-pants for Iceland…)

Noodles in Reykjavik? Come in, come in!

Even with the good exchange rate, Iceland isn’t cheap. When we wanted a quick and inexpensive meal (i.e., under $20 USD per person), it was actually a little tough to find a good place. Noodle Station saved the day, though, with a really tasty (if somewhat salty, eh, they have free water) noodle dish.

Eat meeee!

You can get noodles with beef, chicken, or veggies. We chose one beef and one chicken. The noodles seemed fairly utilitarian at first, but then we bit into the meat and it was TENDER CENTRAL. Both the chicken and the beef were so flavorful and soft they just fell apart in your mouth at first bite. Uh, can we just buy some of the meat to-go? I wish we could, because I could see myself putting it on top of white rice to cut the salt a little bit and just be in meat-and-rice heaven. You’ve got potential, Noodle Station. I like you. Thanks for the 930 ISK meal!

(4) GULLFOSSKAFFI (Gullfoss Café) (map!)

When we visited Gullfoss during our Golden Circle tour, we stopped by the cafe and gift shop by the upper parking lot (up a staircase from the falls). The tour guide was totally raving about the lamb soup (Íslensk kjötsúpa), and at first I was skeptical, but we got a discount by being part of the tour, so for roughly $10 USD (as opposed to ~$13), I figured I’d give the soup a try.

All lambs should aspire to be made into this soup.

Seriously, isn’t that just gorgeous? First of all, it smells awesome. I accidentally spilled a little bit while trying to move it to take a picture and was kind of devastated. The taste is as good as it looks. Very flavorful meat, not too salty, with a really homemade taste. What is it with Iceland and touristy stuff actually being good and not money traps? And then after filling our bellies with tasty soup, we got to see some natural wonders:

"ROOOOAAAARRRR!!! I'm a waterfall!"

(5) VOX Restaurant at the Hilton Nordica (map!)

Do you have ANY idea the amazing food that awaits you within these walls?

I had my eye on VOX for a long time as I was planning this trip, but the actual dinner menu always seemed just a little bit out of reach price-wise. Next best thing: THE LUNCH BUFFET. Or more specifically, the BRUNCH buffet. We went on a Sunday, so they included breakfasty things (tiny pancakes!) along with the usual fare, and it was just the best. Go and pay the 3150 ISK (~$30) and prepare to have your socks knocked off.

Did I just hear angels singing?

One day I’ll do a longer post about why I love buffets like a mouse loves cheese, but the primary “duhhh” reason is the selection. As much as I love regular restaurants, once you select a dish, you are kind of wedded to the limited amount of food on that plate. If you don’t like it, either order something else for more money or let it go to waste. With buffets, you just pick a little of all the dishes that look appealing, try them out, and if you like something in particular, you just KEEP GOING BACK FOR MORE. AND MORE. AND MOAR. How awesome is that? And if you happen to like everything, well, it’s just Christmas then, isn’t it?

And that’s what VOX was like. Christmas. I mean, can we get some close-ups on this spread?

Shrimp with pearl pasta, bowties, plus cured AND smoked salmon. Be still my heart. And the dishes keep going beyond the perimeter of this photo.

Wait wait wait, that's creme brulee in a baking pan, and I can eat as much as I want??

The amount of smoked/cured salmon and creme brulee (along with everything else) I consumed probably bordered on obscene, but if I’m going to get it this good at this price, I am going to enjoy it to the max.

:D

Juice and a whole pot of coffee is included too! I love Iceland.

So tell your friends, tell your neighbors! There’s awesome food in Iceland and you should go to nom there too!

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2 thoughts on “Notable Eats In Iceland (aka The World’s Best Hot Dog And Other Things)

  1. great website and great top tips for Iceland – i am off there tomorrow and I am pleased you’ve detailed decent coffee and noodle joints – without both I would have problems surviving the week :)

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