Right now it seems like everyone is talking about Iceland. Summer or winter, Iceland has become one of the top destinations for northeasterns. In summer, the long days and cool temps are a great time to explore the extreme landscape. Thundering waterfalls, gushing geysers, volcanic terrain, and glaciers abound. In winter, cold and darkness may slow visitors, but the Aurora chasers are just getting started and Iceland’s caché is right up there as a place to go.
Most visitors start their Icelandic journey in Reykjavik. My teens and I spent 8 days in Reykjavik this year and had an opportunity to explore lots of restaurants and cafes. Recently a friend asked me about where to eat, so I started thinking about the places we liked. Here are our recommendations:
Cafe culture is extremely strong in Iceland despite the fact that coffee is not indigenous to the country. We found a few terrific cafes where we could settle in, check emails, read, and even play a few board games.
Café Babalu – just down the road from Hallgrímskirkja church (and Reykjavik’s main landmark) was our favorite mellow hangout of the week and we returned to this spot several times. The cafe is cozy, wifi is good, and they have some good games. The kids loved the crepes and the tomato soup with grilled cheese.
Ida Zimsen – at the bottom of the main shopping strip just outside Ingólfstorg Square, is a great little old fashioned cafe/book shop with lots of wonderful treasures. They even have a fireplace for those chilly July afternoons (of which there were several)!
While Reykjavik has some pretty fancy and expensive restaurants, we focused on mid priced and trendy for our dinners out. Some of our faves included :
We had a great meal at Meze Restaurant on Laugavegur. The small turkish dishes described in its name are a perfect way to have a meal with teens. They each ordered a few different choices and were happy with all of them.
Snaps Bistro Bar was recommended by a friend (AnaPhoto – see her stunning travel blog here) and it did not disappoint. It is a mid priced bistro style restaurant with Scandinavian influences. Great for dinner or for brunch.
We had the best brunch of our entire trip in Scandinavia near the harbor of Reykjavik, at the Coocoo’s Nest. This tiny little spot is super popular with the locals offering classics with a twist. The staff is super friendly. So much so that when my 13 year old daughter asked him if he could make chocolate chip pancakes he got so excited he made them not only for her, but for all of the kitchen staff!
Not to be missed is the food stand of Baejarins Beztu Pylsur for Icelandic hot dogs. Best tried with “the works” (ketchup, mustard, fried onions, remoulade). We returned here twice and my 14yr old foodie daughter has said several times since that she wants to go back to Iceland for the hot dogs!
We’ve covered brunch, lunch, dinner and cafes. The missing component? Ice cream, obviously. Native Icelanders think Valdi’s (near the harbor) is the best ice cream in the world. While we aren’t sure about the best in the world, we thought it was pretty darn good – and worth the wait!
For more on our visit to Iceland, see Ice, Ice(land) Baby! where we review one incredible day on the south shore of this breathtaking country.