Iceland food ranges from things you would expect such as lamb and seafood to things that completely foreign to American tourists such as fermented shark and lambs head. We tried to be a bit adventurous and try a few things as part of the experience.
We found food in Iceland to be quite expensive. We decided our best plan of attack would be to buy breakfast and snack foods at the grocery store and try to not eat out more than once a day. Due to the nature of the landscape, it’s hard to grow fresh fruits and vegetables so in turn these items cost a premium. We did hear ahead of time the best prices on wine and alcohol is at the Duty Free as you leave the airport so we were sure to buy our wine before even stepping foot into Iceland as a way to save money. All of the seafood and meats were ate were incredibly fresh and prepared really well.
Below is a list of Foods Iceland is known for and whether or not we tried them. Along with restaurant info for the restaurants we went to on our journey.
Icelandic Hot dogs
Who would’ve thought one of the most recommended foods for Iceland would be a hot dog? Icelandic hot dogs are made from mostly lamb, but also pork and beef and are covered in an all natural casing. These are served on a warm steamed bun with raw white onions, crispy fried onions, ketchup, sweet brown mustard, and remoulade (a sauce with mayo, capers, mustard, and herbs). The most famous place to snag one of these in Reykjavik is Baejarins Beztu.
We tried these hot dogs once day when we were in Reykjavik and had mixed reviews. Elise who is pescatarian tried one bite and couldn’t get past the snappy casing where on the other hand Maggie really enjoyed hers.
What and why? Langoustine is a smaller relative of the lobster which looks much like a crayfsh but live in saltwater. The majority of langoustines are caught in the cold waters of the north atlantic ocean, which makes the sea right off of Iceland prime hunting ground for langoustine. They are hard to catch and rare, but are well worth trying if you are a lover of seafood or up for trying something new.
Where can you find langoustine in Iceland? While there are many places where you can find langoustine in Iceland, we highly recommend visiting Fjorubordid restaurant in Stokkseyri. Stokkseyri is approx. one hour south of Reykjavik making Fjorubordid a prime location to stop as you are beginning your trek south along the ring road. After looking at the menu, we all chose the three course meal so that we could try everything. This included langoustine soup with bread, a large pan of langoustine with trimmings (cucumber salad with dill and vinegar, tomatoes with basil and black pepper, couscous with curry and leeks, fresh salad with balsamic oil, baby potatoes), and a dessert of our choice. This cost us ~90 USD. Reservations are highly recommended year round.
What’s up with the whale? Eating whale in Iceland is very controversial as whale hunting has taken on more of the public eye. Our recent research has shown that the majority of those actually eating whale are tourists and not local residents. We did not know about any of this before we went to Iceland and ordered whale at a restaurant in the Westman Islands. The menu actually listed it as “whale steak” and we will admit our ignorance in believing that a Whale was a fish and not a mammal. We were expecting it to taste like a tuna steak. We were wrong. To us, the meat had a “gamey”taste to it. Although we do not condone the consumption of whale, we also wouldn’t recommend it based on its taste. The other food at Tanginn was quite good and definitely recommend this restaurant when you visit the Westman Islands.
Kaestur Hakael/Fermented shark
The most famous dish linked to Iceland is Hakael and it dates back to the viking age. Fermentation of the shark was originally done to help preserve food throughout the winter. Fermentation is done by digging a shallow hole in the ground. The shark is put into the hole and covered by sand and gravel. Lastly, stones are placed on top of the mound and it is left to rest for 6-18 weeks. It is then cut and left to hang dry for a few months. This is a food we were too chicken to try. But if you have tried it, let us know how it was in the comments below!
Fish and Chips
We finally got to experience fish and chips at Papas restaurant in Grindavík and boy are we glad that we did! Located close to the harbor, Papa’s serves fresh caught fish (most likely Cod) with chips of course! Papas is only about a 10 minute drive from the Blue Lagoon.
Plokkfiskur (Fish Stew)
A traditional Icelandic dish and a favorite comfort food. Although every restaurant makes it slightly differently, the base is the same: fish, potatoes, onions, and bechamel sauce. We luckily got to have the opportunity to try this on our last night in Iceland, and we were glad we did. It comes highly recommended by locals and by travel guides and on a cold rainy night there’s nothing better than some warm stew.
Bread which is put into wooden casks and buried in the ground of hot springs to bake. This bread can be found at many restaurants within Iceland. You can witness this bread being made at the geothermal bakery in Fotana.
Surprisingly, the only lamb we ate while in Iceland was at Lava restaurant as part of one of the courses of our meal, but we definitely enjoyed it! You can’t drive anywhere in Iceland without seeing at least 1 sheep, so it’s apparent this is the main source of meat for the country.
Right next to the Church Hallgrimskirkja in the Center of Reykjavik was this cute little Waffle Stand. They had a variety of waffles to choose from and it was a great snack to tie us over until the Brunch Restaurant Opened for the day.
Located in Reykjavik, Rok was a cute little restaurant we found for a great brunch. If you’re on the main road facing the Church Hallgrimskirkja, turn left and Rok will be on your left. They had a Brunch Pick 2 Option and Boy did we.
Lava is the restaurant at the Blue Lagoon. When we purchased our tickets to The Blue Lagoon they included dinner reservations at Lava. LAVA offered meals as two and three courses or you could order a la carte. We decided to get the tasting menu. This included char, scallops, lamb, and dessert. This cost us 10400 ISK, but it was well worth the price. The food was phenomenal and the views from the inside were just as nice. Interested? Make reservations early as it gets very busy here at dinner time.
We had dinner at Gott the Night we got Stranded in the Westman Islands. Everything at Gott is made fresh and you can definitely taste it in the food. Jess ordered the seafood pasta and Elise had the Fish of the Day. Both are highly recommended.
Gamla fjósið is a farmhouse restaurant located in South Iceland. After we finished our tour of South Iceland we stopped her for some champagne and a fantastic dinner. The restaurant is so cute and like most Icelandic restaurants all food is made from scratch.
“I’ve never served this much food to three people before!” That is what our waitress said to us when we ordered multiple pizzas, appetizers, and desserts. The pizza menu was very different than the ones in the US and we wanted to have a taste of a few different things. We started off with potato wedges and cheese filled breadsticks and then ordered three small pizzas: five cheese with jam, arugula rocket, and a meat lovers. We ended our order with a chocolate lava cake + ice cream. No, we didn’t eat it all, but the little bites of everything that we had were well worth our “American restaurant in Iceland” experience.
What else makes this Pizza Hut unique? It is the only pizza place in Iceland that makes its own dough fresh daily. This isn’t even done in America! If you are planning a trip to Iceland, work in a trip to Pizza Hut to try this homemade crust and the unique flavors of their pizzas. There is only one Pizza Hut in Iceland and it’s very close to Reykjavik.
Nord Restaurant is located inside the Keflavik Airport. I had an afternoon flight so was happy to find 2 for 1 Mimosas and a Delicious Fresh Made Seafood Pizza.