In the heart of Helsinki, just next to the Baltic Sea, is one of the most famous market places in the city. It is a perfect spot to try traditional Finnish treats. Here is the list of top restaurants in the neighborhood, known to Finns as Kauppatori.
Modern Finnish design | Courtesy of Story Restaurant
Situated just next to the Market Square, Story opened its doors in 2014 together with the renovated Old Market Hall. Story offers a wide range of artisan dishes made of locally sourced ingredients and although the interior is modern, it sits with the surrounding historical architecture of the market hall perfectly. The outdoor seating gives an opportunity to enjoy the local patisseries and drinks from small regional wineries with a perfect view of the Helsinki Sky Wheel and the Baltic Sea.
Bronda’s menu reflects Europe’s wide variety of tastes and kitchens. Most of the meals are inspired by the culinary-rich countries around the Mediterranean Sea, Spain, Italy and France. Nevertheless, the dishes are mainly made of Finnish seasonal ingredients and served in a Scandinavian manner, modern and sophisticated. The high ceilings and large windows give guests an opportunity to savor the views over Esplanadi Park.
Another option for those seeking a lively Finnish fusion of tradition and modernity, Aino is located in a two-level building with an air conditioned brick cellar and a more lively street level area with a great view over Esplande Park. The kitchen uses almost exclusively Finnish seasonal ingredients, like reindeer, herring, salmon, berries and forest mushrooms.
For those looking for a truly Nordic food experience, Spis restaurant is perhaps the perfect choice. The 2015 winner of the Finnish Gastronomic Society Restaurant of The Year award offers four and six-course meals based mostly on vegetables. The food is made from fresh Nordic ingredients, while for wine lovers the drinks menu offers a range of interesting labels. The interior is designed to look like an abandoned building and is well worth a look.
In the center of Helsinki you will find, Gastrobar Emo, a place where flavors from all around Europe mingle in a relaxed way. The restaurant is featured in the White Guide as one of the top restaurants of the Nordic countries. You can reserve a table in one of the dining rooms, wine cellar, or spend a memorable evening at the Chef’s Table where patrons try their hand at cooking themselves!
Owned by a Finnish-Italian family and run by just three young people, Toca is a place where south European cuisine meets Nordic innovation. Toca offers two-course lunches, and three and five-course dinner menus. The dishes are never known in advance, however, and patrons choose either meat, fish or vegetarian set cards. The restaurant offers a range of regional Italian wines. With only 24 seats, the restaurant’s atmosphere is warm and cozy. Address: Toca, Unioninkatu 18, Helsinki, Finland, +358-44-2379922
Toca | Courtesy of Mari Moilanen and Toca
If you are in Finland, Lapland is a region which you should definitely visit. Nonetheless, you can discover Lapland’s cuisine without moving from Helsinki too. Lappi is the first Lapland style restaurant in the city. The elegant interior is designed to make patrons feel like they’ve just entered a restaurant in the Arctic Circle. The menu is filled with typical Lappish meals like sauteed reindeer with potatoes and lingonberries or roasted elk.
Kappeli is the Finnish word for ‘Chapel‘. This word perfectly describes not only the building in which this restaurant is placed, but also the sublime atmosphere it creates. The history of Kappeli reaches back to the mid-19th century. Years ago the restaurant used to be a meeting spot for the best Finnish artists; today it is one of the most vibrant parts of Helsinki, directly opposite the Espa Stage, where many festivals and parties take place in the summer. Kappeli’s menu offers a great choice of Finnish meals as well as other European dishes.
Pastis is a restaurant offering French cuisine. Classic hand-made delicacies are accompanied by a wine selection from the whole of Europe and beyond. The restaurant’s kitchen uses only hand-picked and first-rate products and the interior is arranged in the vintage, minimalist style, reflecting French elegance and Nordic charm at the same time. Pastis is a perfect place for discerning eaters who want to enjoy high-quality food in a homey surrounding, a glass of fine wine in hand.
Juuri declares that the preservation of local Finnish food traditions is the restaurant’s mission. However, despite their sentiment to the cooking culture, this small bistro does not abstain from experimenting with fusions of Scandinavian tastes with world cuisines either. For example, Juuri is particularly well-known for its original idea of Sapas, plates of Finnish food inspired by the Mediterranean cooking tradition of tapas. All meals are prepared from local and organic foods and the presentation is truly top-notch.