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Originally based on the restrictions of a rocky island, isolated in the North Atlantic trying to survive winter, Iceland’s cuisine has made several strides from basic preparations of lamb, whale, puffin, and cod over the past few centuries. With no looming shoes to fill in terms of gastronomy, as other European countries have, chefs are free to be their own creative masters, by combining artisanal local ingredients and a bit of tradition, with all kinds of global twists. Here are the restaurants dotted across the island, not only in Reykjavik, to get the most mouthwatering dishes.
Located in the capital of the North, Akureyri, this seafood restaurant located on the harbor offers a great ocean view. Specializing in locally caught seafood, the most popular course is the pan-fried catch of the day. At Örkin Hans Nóa, all fish dishes are served straight from a pan dish, and you can enjoy local art on the walls and a great selection of local beers on tap.
Inside an old wooden house next to the Heritage Museum among the backdrop of the steep fjords of Ísafjörður, Tjöruhúsið is a great option when visiting the Westfjörds. However, they are only open during Easter and summer, offering outdoor seating and occasionally live music. The various catches of the day are coming fresh off the boats from the harbor close by, and their large portions come served in a hot skillet.
While not what you would exactly seek out on your trip to Iceland, Austur-Indíafjelagið is legendary when it comes to Indian cuisine. For over twenty 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 palette calls for more spice during your trip, this is where to find it.
This French-Icelandic bistro balances the best of both culinary worlds to perfection. French onion soup with Icelandic ísbúi cheese, and moules marinières from Breiðafjörður Bay are among its wide range of dishes. The cozy atmosphere, with low-lighting, hanging plants and large windows, is one of the most memorable in Reykjavik. Located downtown next to Hotel Odinsve, in a quiet neighborhood just off the main street.
Located in Ísafjörður among the majestic backdrop of steep fjords cutting into the harbor, Húsið, ‘the house’ in Icelandic, is located in the charming downtown area of this Westfjörds town. Húsið is many things at once: a coffeehouse and bar with live music during the weekends, a restaurant, and a guesthouse. The most popular dish is the seafood soup, made fresh daily using the catch of the day. You can also order a variety of other fresh fish dishes like cod, catfish, and halibut.