Eat Like a Local: Reykjavík’s Best Breakfast and Brunch Spots
Snaps Bistro offers French-Icelandic cuisine for your breakfast or brunching pleasure | Courtesy of Snaps Bistro
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and Reykjavík definitely takes that notion seriously. The city is brimming with restaurants and bakeries touting house-made bread, flaky pastries and eggs whisked with everything from greenhouse-grown veggies to Icelandic smoked salmon.
Situated partially underground, Grái Kötturinn (The Grey Cat) is easy to miss. But once you’re ushered through the sunken red door, you’ll be welcomed into a cosy atmosphere complete with bookcases, red booths and stools, and heaping platters of eggs and toast. The small kitchen pushes out house-made bread and pancakes, which can be found on most tables in the form of The Truck, a fluffy stack of pancakes paired with eggs, bacon, potatoes, tomatoes, toast, syrup and butter. On those cold winter days, you’d be remiss not curl up in one of the booths and nurse a mug of coffee or hot chocolate.
Brunch is served every day between 10am and 4pm at Le Bistro, an Icelandic restaurant with French influences squeezed into a charming pink house. For brunch, there’s an entire menu dedicated to champagne cocktails – from strawberry-pineapple mimosas to kir royals – along with a small sampling of food options. Choose from a slew of omelettes or two brunch plates. One is an Icelandic brunch, prepped with skyr, black pudding, salmon, tomatoes, scrambled eggs, smoked ham and lamb, sausage, country bread and fruit. The second brunch option comprises smoked salmon, pickled herring, brie, pesto, skyr, scrambled eggs, hummus and pickled beetroot.
Large, communal tables are spread out at Bergson Mathús, filled with people reading newspapers and sipping cups of coffee. Here, the kitchen focusses on sourcing the best ingredients, from free-range eggs to vegetables grown in local greenhouses. Crusty sourdough bread is baked slowly in-house, ready to be slathered with butter, smoked salmon or scrambled eggs. Spoon porridge swirled with home-made jam, or opt for a full-fledged breakfast, complete with yoghurt topped with muesli and berry compote, a soft-boiled egg, prosciutto, cheese, salad, fruit, hummus, bread and orange juice.
Prikið is notably the oldest coffee shop in Reykjavík. The exterior is still the same as when it opened in the 1950s, but prepared to be surprised on the weekends as it regularly hosts hip-hop DJs who play until the early hours. This establishment has an Anglo-American-inspired menu with names for dishes such as The Station Wagon (bacon, eggs, sausage, toast and baked beans). Breakfast is served all day.
Housed in an old fishing hut, The Coocoo’s Nest is influenced by California and Italian cuisine, paying particular attention to quality ingredients, like free-range eggs from a local chicken farm. For brunch, you might dine on green eggs and ham whisked with pesto or a breakfast burrito jammed with eggs, cheddar cheese, avocado, beans, salsa and sour cream.
This charming garden eatery is tucked away in Grasagardur Botanical Garden. Its location itself is the foundation for the food: the garden and greenhouse on the premises grow the vegetables, herbs and flowers used in the dishes. Chef Marentza Poulsen’s speciality is smørrebrød, a Danish open-faced sandwich, with Flóran’s consisting of seedy rye bread crowned with soft-boiled eggs, peeled shrimp, purple potatoes or roast beef.
Located on a sleepy west-side corner, this Kaffihús Vesturbær shuttles out a seemingly unending supply of coffee and pastries from behind the tiny counter. This café is run by five friends, who opened it after finding that their neighbourhood was missing a place for residents to come together over a hot drink. During breakfast and brunch, the tables fill up quickly, brimming with patrons slicing into open-faced sandwiches, burgers and omelettes.
Located inside the Hotel Reykjavík Marina, Slippbarinn offers a brunch buffet on weekends from 12pm to 3pm with all the classics, including waffles, bloody marys and green smoothies. Slippbarinn also does a breakfast buffet on weekdays from 6.30am to 10am. Enjoy this antique-decorated café right next to the Old Harbour.
Bistro, Restaurant, Bar, Brasserie, European, Northern European, $$$
Snaps Bistro serves French-inflected cuisine | Courtesy of Snaps Bistro
At Snaps Bistro, Icelandic ingredients are employed in quintessential French dishes. Sheaths of smoked salmon are piled atop English muffins and poached eggs. Stacks of pancakes are dotted with blueberries and caramelised apples, or try the moules-frites (a bowl of mussels offset with crispy chips). Cool off with a glass of home-made lemonade or a berry smoothie.
Breakfast is served on weekdays from 7am to 11am, with the chia porridge especially good. Brunch is offered on Saturdays and Sundays from 11.30am to 3pm. Enjoy the brunch platter with a little bit of everything, the pancake platter or the french toast platter. Considered the oldest restaurant in Reykjavík, Kaffivagninn is seemingly known only by fishermen, as it sits right on the Old Harbour.
It’s all about bread and pastries at Brauð & Co., a bakery housed in a squat building covered in a colourful mural. The bakers here make a variety of bread – stone-ground sourdough, blueberry and liquorice bread, and rye bread – as well as beautiful croissants, salt-crusted pretzels and swirled buns flecked with cinnamon and poppy seeds. The dining area is a bit small, with room for only one to two people to sit comfortably, but you can head across the street to Reykjavík Roasters to munch on your bounty along with a cup of coffee.
A family-run bakery, Sandholt has become renowned for its bread: batons of sourdough, barley and spelt bread are ushered out of the ovens in the morning, along with pastries, cakes and tarts. You can grab something to go or snag a seat and order from the breakfast menu, which includes shakshuka ready to be mopped up with chunks of sourdough bread and pancakes topped with Icelandic strawberries and crème fraiche. On your way out, make sure to pick up some house-made jam and chocolates for later.