• Best bakery: Sandholt (on Laugavegur) has been revered by locals since 1920 and, after a facelift, it has been impressing any tourist who strolls by for a light lunch or (even better) one of its delicious cakes.

  • Best style: Foeréttabarinn (on Nýlendugata) has the Borough Market vibe, and a fusion of traditional Icelandic meat and fish with international styles served at long benches. The set menus are good value.

  • Best hotel restaurant: Snaps (in Hótel Óðinsvé on Þórsgata) is a cosy French-style bistro in this family-run hotel. There’s a catch of the day and a whole range of comfort food in the affordable brunch menu.

  • Best takeaway: Bærjarins Beztu Pylsur (on Tryggvagata) is the home of the original Icelandic pylsur (hot dog). Order “eina með öllu” (one with everything) which will get you fried onion, raw onion, pylsusinnep (sweet mustard) and remolaði (sweet mayonnaise). Open until 0230 (0430 on Friday and Saturday). 


  • Best of the best: Þrír Frakkar (on Baldursgata) is top of the class, a tiny bistro-style back-street restaurant which is the locals’ favourite (and A. A. Gill’s favourite restaurant in the world, apparently). Everything is delicious, but the whale peppersteak may be the best thing you’ve ever eaten. Reservations are essential.

  • Best meat: Grillmarkadurinn (on Laekjargata) a meat eater’s paradise, with locally-sourced produce of a more Icelandic type; puffin, reindeer, horse and whale share the menu with more international meats. 

  • Best fish: Messinn (on Laekjargata) serves up sizzling pans including salmon with coconut, chili and lemon; char with honey and almonds; cod with chutney, leek and apples; and hashed fish with onion, garlic and lime.

  • Best family restaurant: Hamborgarafabrikkan (at Höfðatorg) has a huge range of hamburgers and ice cream sundaes, where the menu takes the form of a newspaper and a big scoreboard updating Iceland’s population, birth by birth (the national hospital tells them). Reservations are essential.


And don't miss

  • Best pudding: YoYo (on Snorrabraut) has a dozen hand-cranked frozen yogurt machines plus a huge pick and mix bar of toppings, fruits, sweets and sauces; it’s all self-service so you can be the architect of your perfect sundae, and you pay by its weight. Open until 2300 daily.

  • Best themed restaurant: Fjörukráin (on the seafront in the neighbouring town of Hafnarfjörður) has an authentic Viking banquet which is an absolute riot from beginning to end. Take local bus no. 1 from Hlemmur or Lækjartorg to Fjörður; buses are every half hour; the journey takes 30 minutes; the last bus back leaves at 0021.