Iceland’s petite capital of Reykjavik offers many establishments for the vegetarian or vegan traveler, despite the city’s well-renowned seafood and traditional lamb specialties. From Michelin-starred boutique restaurants to greenhouse garden cafes, you will definitely find an option to suit your diet without missing the best culinary tastes of Iceland.
Kaffi Vinyl’s warm and welcoming atmosphere is consistent with its daytime presence as a vegan restaurant and its nighttime presence as more of a bar. The place often features live DJs on weeknights that play great tunes from the record collection that sits in the center of the restaurant. Here you can find something amazing whether you are vegan, vegetarian or not because everything on the menu is amazing from the spinach lasagna to the tofu quesadillas. Also, check out their homemade gluten-free desserts. An eclectic rotating visual art show is also featured on the walls.
With an experimental menu and Reykjavik’s top chefs, Nostra is fast becoming a favorite newcomer restaurant. Using ingredients from Iceland in a way that speaks nothing of tradition, the meals and pairings to be found here focus on innovation and sustainability. With its sleek interior overlooking the main shopping street, one could easily overlook their locavore emphasis. In the restaurant, you will find their own “green room” where they grow herbs and spices with which they make their alcohol infusions and syrups daily.
While not offering a huge selection each and every day, the cozy Cafe Garðurinn has a wholesome rotating menu of excellent vegan and vegetarian options. You can find a variety of soups with good portions as well as gluten-free and vegan cakes. An added bonus is that the staff all meditate and study the teachings of Sri Chimnoy.
Bergsson Mathus was the first of a wave of Icelandic establishments that focused on an atmosphere of slow food and meticulously prepared ingredients for each meal. This cozy place puts great emphasis on local ingredients, slow cooking, and slow eating – basically, a den for food lovers. The typical lunch menu, for example, will consist of a meat dish of the day, a catch of the day, and a soup of the day, while always having the ever-present option of a vegetable lasagne and/or a vegan salad. They also have homemade bread available with every dish along with a delicious homemade hummus and pesto dip.
MATUR OG DRYKKUR specializes in classical Icelandic dishes given a modern twist. Sometimes taking cues straight from classic Icelandic cookbooks your grandmother might have and using it in inventive ways. Taking pride in using only first-class produce, each dinner and lunch menu is accompanied by an equally extensive vegetarian menu. Located in an old Salt Fish Factory by the Grandi harbor area built in 1924, this place offers an open interior space with great natural lighting.
While not what you would exactly seek out on your trip to Iceland, this is a legendary place when it comes to Indian cuisine. For over 20 years this somewhat hidden gem has been serving the perfect blend of Indian spice and Icelandic ingredients in downtown Reykjavík. The atmosphere is warm and genuine, lacking pretension, and the interior decoration could transport you to another continent altogether. If your palate calls for more spice during your trip, this is where to find it.
This charming place is tucked away in the Reykjavik Botanical Gardens and is open from May to October. The café dining area is actually inside a greenhouse, complete with a goldfish pond and all sorts of flowering plants covering the walls. The chef, Marentza Poulsen, uses ingredients from the surrounding gardens and from local farmers. Her specialty is the Danish open-faced sandwich, smørrebrød. The menu is seasonal and hosts a variety of Scandinavian dishes with a very tasteful delivery. Notice the butter served on seashells and the flower petals decorating your plate.
This is the first Icelandic restaurant to receive a Michelin star. The small restaurant, seating 20-30 people, holds great personality. Every week a new seven-course menu with wine pairings is arranged using a mixture of traditional Nordic and Icelandic culinary roots with a modern twist. The head chefs, Gunnar Karl Gíslason and Ólafur Örn Ólafsson, are the pioneering creatives behind the restaurant. Enjoy a large selection of wines available by the glass, which changes often.
A long-running establishment and well-regarded place for vegetarian and vegan lovers, this is one of the quintessential places in Reykjavik for wholesome eating. Owned by Soley, who also has a health food ingredients chain, this restaurant is a great continuation of that chain. Choose from a huge array of salad options such as greens, vegetables, and toppings with homemade bread on the side. You can also choose from vegan tacos, vegetable lasagna or pizza.
Brunch is served on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. The Coocoo’s Nest is very vegan-friendly and has a vegan surprise offer on the brunch menu. Check out their Mimosa made with beet juice. The brunch menu also offers a variety of omelettes and other egg options such as eggs florentine, as well as pancakes and breakfast burritos. The small café is beautifully decorated with a smart design and plenty of succulent plants.