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These days, the Swedish Smörgåsbord tradition, where heaving tables of food are attacked by hungry guests, is reserved mostly for holidays such as Christmas; and Malmö, with its buzzing culinary scene, is one of the best places to enjoy this tradition. There is a set price for the meal (drinks extra) and usually specific seating. Here is where to find the best ones in Malmö.
At Christmas, a smörgåsbord is called a julbord—Christmas table—and on it, there’s plenty of meat including meatballs, prinskorv (small sausages fried in butter), ribs, and Christmas ham (julskinka); there is also fish—usually gravid lax and sill—but it is often light on vegetables, although it would be surprising to not find janssons frestelse—a heady dish made up of sliced potatoes, onion, butter, cream, milk, and anchovies. Most restaurants begin julbord servings around late November or early December, and they’re very popular with everyone from offices to groups of friends to visiting family book at least once during the holiday season.
Fancy having a Christmas meal by the sea? Try Årstiderna, which serves its julbord ‘by the sea’ or ‘on deck’. Their motto is ‘Seasons by the Sea’, which means this julbord will have plenty of seafood, a killer view, and most everything they serve is local. It’s luxurious, yet cosy, and definitely a bit different from the usual Christmas tables found in Sweden.
This cosy neighbourhood eatery is a bit like visiting someone’s home, so quite perfect for a Christmas dinner. The menu during the holidays is five courses served family style and includes all the usual suspects as well as a few surprises such as traditional dishes given a twist. They also offer vegetarian options, which is pretty impressive given the carnivore aspects of a Swedish Christmas.
Those looking for a traditional julbord, look no farther than Rådhuskällaren. Located in the basement vaults of Malmö’s City Hall, this is one of the city’s most famous restaurants—and they do a classic Christmas dinner that includes all the traditional favourites served up in a unique environment with possibly the best service in the city.
Rare is the wine cellar that doesn’t captivate visitors, and Sankt Markus Vinkällare is no different. The brick walls, the arches, the stone floors, and soft wraps—and everything is seen through flickering candlelight. And the food? It’s fantastic and is accompanied with some of the finest wine. This is a wonderfully cosy atmosphere that almost feels like going back in time.
With plenty of herring and salmon, as well as cold cuts, Christmas cheese, Christmas cookies, and plenty more, another classic Christmas table awaits. This is a great place to bring the kids—not only do they get a small Christmas gift, but kids under 13 eat for a fraction of the price of an adult. This truly has a family atmosphere with all the warmth that goes with that.
Ärtholmsgården has an interesting history: once a farm, then a home for unmarried mothers, and then neglected before being rescued and turned into the stylish restaurant and conference centre it is today. This is a very Skåne kind of meal (Skåne is the region at the southwest tip of Sweden), with lots of pickled herring, salmon, smoked sausages, local mustards, and of course a gorgeously prepared Christmas ham. It’s the classic julbord in a classic setting.
A bit of a trek from Malmö but well worth it, Örenäs Slotts offers a ‘regular’ Christmas table and then they offer a Christmas table with a show for just a few short weeks. Not only are there live performers, but there are also DJs who keep guests dancing into the night. But don’t forget about the food. Örenäs is known for the high quality of its kitchen, so pretty much all of restaurant goers’ senses will be filled with delight after a visit here. That it all takes place in a castle raises the bar even further.
While most restaurants in Sweden will do a traditional julbord or some variation thereof, Skeppsbrons 2 has a different take on this. Inspired by the menu launched this past summer, the chefs here are inviting everyone to a Christmas barbecue and offering the choice between meat, fish, or vegetarian plates. Even better, the 10:00 DJs start spinning and will bring in a night of full celebration.
Why not combine a Christmas meal with recording a CD? At AudioSpot Studios, they believe everyone can sing (which is probably true after knocking back a few shots of classic Swedish aquavit), and they’ve combined the julbord with singing as well as a video recording of the recording efforts if so desired.
Use this handy map to discover the best Christmas smögåsbord in Malmö, Sweden: