Hugely popular with Reykjavikers seeking an affordable spot for lunch who come for its fresh baked bread, home made soups, and its fantastic fish of the day (fish cakes on the day I went), Ostabúðin doesn't seem to be on the radar of the tourist guidebooks.
Ostabúðin’s little hidden secret is its cosy restaurant on the bottom floor, open during lunch hours, (from 11:30 to 14:30). The small space only has a couple of seats and usually fills up quickly every day, but as the service is fast you don't have to wait long.
This is a fabulous place down near the Old Harbour. Service is semi-canteen style in a slightly industrial setting. There are burgundy tables and chairs, velvet curtains, dark grey stone counter, daily fish offerings and specials all chalked up on the blackboard.
The ingredients are all organic.
Haddock 1290ISK, garlic chips 450ISK, tap water is free (as always), tzatziki skyronnaise 250ISK. My meal came to 2000ISK (£12.50) for three huge bits of fish in a really nice light batter, the fish was perfectly cooked inside. The chips aren’t French fry matchstick style, but potato wedges, and a little oily.
The skyronnaise (the bistro’s own mayo/sauce made with skyr instead) is really great:
the price for all skyronnaise sauces is 250ISK and you can choose from lots of different ones such as basil and garlic, coriander and lime or rosemary and green apple.
Café Loki is located up by the iconic church, the Hallgrimskirkja and is found upstairs above the craft Textíll shop.
Cafe Loki has a real buzz about it. Every visitor I met in Reykjavík was talking about it, either planning to go there or having had a great time.
The Estonian waitress/manager is very friendly and welcoming. The menu offers traditional Icelandic favourites like plokkfiskur, rugbraud and svidasulta.
Café Loki, Lokastigur 28, 101 Reykjavík
+354 466 2828
Google map: bit.ly/gsE4Xt
Average main course price 1,300ISK
Café Loki open Mon-Sat 10.00—18.00, Sun 12.00—18.00
Textíll open Mon-Fri 12.00—18.00, Sat 11.00—15.00, closed on Sun.
Fish Factory (Fiskfélagið) has been open for 18 months and is really shaking up the Reykjavik world of fine dining.
23-year-old wizzkid chef Gústav Axel Gunnlaugsson won the Icelandic Chef of the Year 2010 award.
Gústav Axel was born in Húsavík and is the youngest person ever to win this award.
His ‘Around Iceland’ menu gives a real taste of this Arctic land, where flavours spice up the dark winter months.
Fish Factory is housed in the unusual Zimsen building, dating from 1884.
Previously, the house was located in another part of Reykjavik, but in 2006, the building was uprooted and renovated before being replanted at Grófartorg in 2008.
Fish Factory’s philosophy is to use Icelandic ingredients fused with herbs and spices from around the world.
Icelandic chefs are very proud of local ingredients such as lamb, langoustine, whale, puffin and, of course, fish.
Fish Factory highlights produce from all parts of Iceland in a fun, comfortable, yet classy setting.
The interior is dark and cosy with light streaming through stained glass windows.
Just back from a visit at the end of October, after the kronor had crashed and this made things cheaper, though still about the same as the UK.
We loved a second hand bookshop off the main drag and just down from Cafe Rosenberg and near the old Cirkus club. It was piled high with books, with a fair few in English. It has a vibe of total happy chaos.
Our favourite cafe was the one on the corner of Laugeamur and the street where Cafe Rosenberg is - it's a yellow house. Very good coffee, cakes and atmosphere.
We ate at two very good places down at the harbour. One is called "The Baron" and is a fish market. The owner takes his leftover fish and makes the most delicious crayfish soup you can imagine. You sit on old barrels and
drink beer while sipping your soup from a cup which is very atmospheric. If you get fed up with fish just by it is a very good hamburger joint with terrific burgers and fries. Even cheaper is the hot dog stand round the corner from it selling Icelandic sausages in a roll. Very reasonable.
Best bargain for shopping were the Red Cross
charity shops on Laugeamur. I got a beautiful
Icelandic wool jumper there for about five pounds.
And do try the public thermal pools of the city. They are more "real" than the Blue Lagoon, which though fabulous, is rather touristy in feel.
Café Rosenberg, Lækjargata 2, 101 Reykjavík
The Baron, Geirsgata 101
Sitting atop six huge hot water tanks on a hill in Reykjavik, Perlan (the Pearl) restaurant is one of the top eateries in Iceland, with prices that go with its reputation. One floor down, however, is the inexpensive cafe, where extended local families gather on the weekend to sip a beer and eat Italian ice cream. Surrounded by windows on all sides and with access to the viewing platform outside, this is a great place to take in all of Reykjavik and the mountains beyond. As the sun moves towards the horizon, the surrounding landscape becomes bathed in a wonderful golden light (weather permitting of course!)
Perlan - Öskjuhlid - 105 Reykjavik
Tel: (+354) 562 0200
The stretch at the bottom of the hill that runs towards the man-made lake is where it all happens in Reykjavik. A couple of doors down from Café Rosenberg you can check your email at an old fashioned cyber café, and five doors further down is a great fish bar, where you can eat as much as you want for 2,400 knr (about £20) – the best deal in town. We found it cheaper to have a large meal rather than snacking.
Apart from the pay phone opposite Cafe Rosenberg there are no street pay phones. Daytime public phones can be found in the banks and post office when you turn left out of the cafe.
The café is just down from the tourist information office, near the S1 bus service. While at the tourist information office get your self a tourist pass, which gives you loads of benefits like free bus rides and free access to musuems etc.
Café Rosenberg: Laekjargata 2, 101;
tel: +534 551 8008;
Café Rosenberg is one of the few places in Iceland where you can get a good meal at a reasonable price (reasonable by Icelandic standards, anyway). It's a pub, restaurant and the centre for live music in down town Reykjavík. Every Friday and Saturday night there is live music and sometimes also during the week. All kinds of music, from local troubadours to world famous musicians. Very popular with tourists as well as locals, so you may meet people from all four corners of the world in one night. Check it out. You won’t be disappointed.
Café Rosenberg, Lækjargata 2, 101 Reykjavík
Perlan is a revolving restaurant, sitting above the city with views over the harbours and beyond. It is a short taxi ride from the city centre.
Although revolving restaurants are perhaps a bit naff, the views really are sublime (especially at sunset) and the food was great.
It was on the expensive side - £150 for two people – but everything is in Iceland.
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