You’re probably wondering what the national food is in Iceland and we’re here to tell you first hand that it’s pylsur, aka hot dogs. We think this is great news, because who doesn’t like hot dogs?
Icelandic hot dogs have a slightly different flavour to their American cousins, though. Here, they’re made from lamb, pork, and beef, so meat lovers will be drooling. What makes Icelandic hot dogs so special, though, are the toppings and condiments. You’ll get two types of onions – fried and raw – generously sprinkled over the meat. And in terms of sauces, expect the big three – ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise.
The leading place to sink your teeth into a hot dog is Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur. It’s a really popular hot dog stand in Reykjavik, and translates to ‘the best hot dog in town’ in English. This place opened back in 1937 and has fed famous bellies, like former US President Bill Clinton, over the years. In fact, he loved it so much that you can now sample a Bill Clinton-style hot dog – meat and mustard only, FYI. Plus, the hot dogs here come to a grand total of 80p, so they’re the ideal cheap eat.
If you’re a fan of rye bread, Iceland has its own version with a twist, called Rúgbrauð. Traditionally, it’s baked underground in the hot springs, a technique which dates back to the 17th-century, so it’s pretty impressive in terms of its history. Fast forward to today, though, and it’s more likely to be baked in a pot. While you’re in Iceland, you won’t find this tasty bread hard to come by, as it’s sold in most supermarkets and bakeries.
Rúgbrauð is usually a crustless bread, quite dark in colour, and deliciously sweet. It’s normally served with smoked salmon, trout, herring or just plain butter in restaurants and cafés. It makes a great breakfast as it’s really filling, too.
If you feel like giving Rúgbrauð a go, you’ll find it in most supermarkets, including Bónus or Hagkaup. Alternatively, you can sign up for the Rye Bread Experience at Laugarvatn Fontana, where you’ll get to try Rúgbrauð the old-fashioned way.
Lobster soup is one of those staple dishes you can’t miss out in Iceland. And with a freezing cold climate most of the time, a steaming hot bowl of soup is the perfect way to warm up after a day of exploring sights like the Golden Circle and the Blue Lagoon.
The Verbud 11 Lobster & Stuff restaurant claims it has some of the best lobster soup in the whole world – so it’d be rude not to try it out. You’ll find this eatery in downtown Reykjavik, so it’s the ideal stopping off point if you’re sightseeing the area. Here, the lobster soup is creamy, salty and delicious, with a hint of coconut and ginger. It’s usually accompanied with sourdough, butter and flakes of sea salt, so you’ll get to lap up every last drop. Plus, the chefs leave the lobster tail in the velvety broth, so the smell is really aromatic.
Iceland is a haven for foodies thanks to its wealth of local seafood, meat and game. And you might be surprised to learn that Lundi – otherwise known as puffin – is one of the unusual meats you can tuck into in Reykjavik, as more than 60 per cent of Atlantic puffins live in Iceland.
Lundi used to be eaten by locals in times of starvation, but is now considered a delicacy. It’s really popular among visitors, too. Lundi tastes a little like duck, and is usually smoked, with a dollop of blueberry sauce on top. One of the leading places to sample this dish is at the Grillmarket restaurant. You’ll get a real taste of Iceland here – every meal is cooked on coals and logs, and served on platters made from slate.
If your usual diet is gluten-free, one of the best places to dine at in Reykjavik is Glo. This eatery specialises in vegan and gluten-free dishes, so there’s plenty for you to tuck into. It’s highly rated on TripAdvisor too, where dishes like the chicken and mango salad, and the vegetable lasagne get full marks. If you’re worried though, it’s a good idea to pack a few emergency items that you can snack on during the day.
Although the Icelandic diet is based on meat, vegetarian food is by no means alien here. Most restaurants will gladly accommodate your needs, with the majority of menus offering vegetarian alternatives.
There’s a highly rated vegetarian menu at the Bergusson restaurant in Reykjavik. Here, you’ll get to tuck into dishes like spinach lasagne, salads and soups, to name a few.
The Grand Hotel Reykjavik is situated on the outskirts of Reykjavik and has great views of Mount Esja. It’s also just a 25-minute walk away from the city centre.
The stylish Alda Hotel comes with a fitness room, sauna and outdoor terrace complete with a hot tub.
The Centerhotel Plaza in downtown Reykjavik is surrounded by shops and cafés.
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