Iceland’s restaurant scene has exploded in the past five years. There’s a demand for truly Icelandic food — lamb and fish are staples as they’re available year-round, and while geothermal greenhouses also let us grow vegetables all year, we see a seasonal increase in fresh vegetables. It’s not all pickled!
The best place for an honest meal is at Sæmundur í Sparifötunum, a gastropub, inside KEX, a hostel set in a former biscuit factory. Burgers here are dressed with Ísbúi cheese and sausages are made from Icelandic lamb. Our nameless sister restaurant, located in the same building as Dill, serves amazing pizza and cocktails. Kolaportið, a weekend flea market, meanwhile, offers a taste of delicacies like dried fish, fermented shark, liquorice, and freshly baked kleinur pastries. visitreykjavik.is
My friend Hjörleifur has a sheep farm on the west coast with a guesthouse attached, Ensku Husin (‘English house’), built as a fishing lodge by an English lady in the early 1900s. His sheep supply the guesthouse (and Dill); they make the best lamb stew in Iceland. Tryggvaskáli, in Selfoss, South Iceland, is set in a former ferryman’s lodge; they serve lamb and langoustine.
Surrounded by Southern Iceland’s fertile, volcanic soils is Bragginn, a converted military barracks that was a potato warehouse for half a century before being converted into a cafe and ceramic studio. Run by two sisters, it’s open in summer for coffee and brunch and the occasional evening concert. It also boasts great views of two volcanoes, Hekla and Eyjafjallajökull.
At Dill, Ragnar Eiríksson focuses on the seasonal local ingredients and obscure flavours of North Iceland. Before opening Dill, he worked at Michelin-starred Copenhagen restaurant The Paul (now closed).
Published in the June 2017 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)