Icelandic cuisine was something that was born out of necessity rather than the desire to advance the culinary game. And since Iceland’s main source of food has been fishes and animal meat, most of the modern and traditional cuisine circles around it. So, it is no secret that Iceland is a land which mainly consumes fish and meat delicacies. If one researches about some of the top dishes to try in the country, almost all the suggestions that come up are non-vegetarian or non-vegan which can be quite disheartening for the vegan folks.
However, recent times have brought quite a change in the available dining options in the country. The local ingredients are now being combined with the ones used internationally to create bigger and better menu options. Even though fine dining has been at its peak for quite some time now, the previously limited vegan and vegetarian options in the cuisine of Iceland have now been increasing at a rapid rate. The same trend of new and rising fusions can be seen in the vegan food world of Iceland as well.
Do the Locals Go Vegan Too?
As evident, Iceland is predominantly a meat consuming country but there has been a shift in paradigm bringing in a huge change in the food preferences of the people of Iceland. Vegan tourists have been visiting the country, yes, but the locals have never been inclined towards the vegetarian items on the menu. Recently though, more and more Icelanders are shifting towards veganism, maybe because of the fact that being vegan is suddenly being considered cool all over the world, especially in Iceland. Whatever the reason, the increase in inclination towards veganism has been a huge reason for the development of vegan dishes in Iceland. There are barely any restaurants now that do not offer at least a few vegan options on the menu.
Vegan Restaurants in Reykjavik
Even though vegan restaurants have been increasing by the day all over the country, the capital city of Reykjavik remains to be the hub for the food and banter in Iceland. This article will explore the top places to have vegan food in Iceland. We will discuss the best places to go to find great vegan food options, what is the specialty of each place, and what you can expect on a wholesome level. Lets find out about the top vegan restaurants in Reykjavik.
While this place also serves meat dishes, it is predominantly a vegan restaurant founded by a vegan raw chef Solla Eiriks. The restaurant presents several menu options in the form of vegan, vegetarian, non-vegetarian, and gluten-free menu items which means that you are sure to find something or other that is to your liking. Gló serves its traditional meal bowls as typical menu items which include both vegan and non-vegetarian options. Along with that, you can find soups, Thai curry, vegan lasagna, and vegan desserts. Gló has a rotating menu which means that you will find different menu items every other day. Buffets are also often served in the restaurant.
Gló has won several awards for the “Best Vegetarian Restaurant” in 2011, 2012, and 2013. Gló is located in Fákafen on the first floor of a historic house in the capital city. There is another location in the country where Gló has another branch. The other branch is located in Hæðasmári, Kópavogur. Gló is a great place to try if you are looking for yummy vegan options to try with an Icelandic twist. The menu items are ideally labeled so you will face no confusion in deciding on what to eat. The staff is incredibly helpful and polite. The setting is semi-contemporary with some a little bit of rustic.
If you like a contemporary setting, cool white interiors with a little splash of colors, beautiful fine dining experience then Gott is a great place to be when in the capital city area, as well as in Westman Islands. The restaurant serves both vegetarian and non-vegetarian items with several kinds of soups, salads (including cheese and Caesar salad), appetizer palate, wraps, burgers, and pasta along with an extensive menu of desserts like chocolate cake, tiramisu, and datecake. Sigurdur Gislason is the head chef at the place with Berglind Sigmarsdottir, his wife who also owns the restaurant. Sigurdur Gislason has been a member of the Icelandic culinary team and has traveled across many countries cooking and serving in top restaurants. Not only that, but the head chef also happens to have published two of the bestselling cookbooks in Iceland which also have German translations.
Needless to say, the food is amazing here and all the patrons are taken care of ideally by the waiting staff. There is an option to choose between indoor and outdoor sitting areas. Many parents with young kids choose to sit outside where they can put their strollers comfortably. And the cutest thing about this restaurant is that the children’s menu comes with sketches of cartoons and animated characters like Disney princesses, Mickey mouse, Mutant Ninja Turtles, Spiderman, etc. The kids can keep busy coloring these figures while they decide on what they want to eat. In short, the vibe, the arena, the decoration, and the food, everything at Gott is an absolute delight.
Hands-down, Austur-Indiafjelagid is the best place to find authentic Indian food mixed with traditional Icelandic flavors in Iceland. Located right in the heart of Reykjavik, this beautiful restaurant is a hidden gem that is worth exploring if you want to experience completely vegan and vegetarian food with unbelievable flavors. Indian food is known for being an exceptionally flavorful and unique blend of spices. On top of that, a lot of dishes in India are vegan and vegetarian which increases the options in huge numbers. Austur-Indiafjelagid has recently increased the restaurant space and included a private dining area as well as a lounge which is meant to glorify your time even further.
The interiors of the restaurants are decorated with traditional Indian accents along with yellow-colored lighting and exotic Indian figures. The owners of the restaurants are Chandrika and Gunnar Gunnarsson and it is located on Hverfisgata street which is right beside the main street of the city, Laugavegur. The vegetarian and vegan items on the menu of the restaurant include pappadoms, paneer tukda (spiced homemade cheese), Subz Ki Galouti (spiced vegetable patty), many different curries including goat cheese curry, potato curry and cauliflower, several kinds of lentil curry, rice (fried and flavored as well), pickles and chutneys, various kinds of naan bread, and several desserts including traditional Indian options like Kulfi. Needless to say, your experience is going to be incredibly authentic and different from any other restaurant that you have visited before, in Iceland or otherwise.
A contrast to the dimly lit and exotic Austur-Indiafjelagid, Kruska is a bright and beautiful space that specializes in organic food options. Most of the dishes are derived from Indian cuisine but are served as meal bowls, much like it is done in Gló. They prepare the food right in front of the customers and can make any vegetarian dish when requested by removing any sort of dairy dressing and adding a little bit of pesto for zing. Not to mention, customizing a vegetarian dish here into a vegan one comes with a price reduction, surprising right?
The menu is carefully designed to cater to the needs of every single person who steps in through the doors of the restaurant. There are several meat bowls with a special Indian twist known as Bollywood bowls, there are vegan bowls loaded with rich, lush vegetables, Bollywood vegetarian bowls, KETO salads for the fitness freaks, homemade bread, hummus, and a variety of soups. Each bowl here comes with a hearty serving of bread and hummus which you can eat to your heart’s fill. Although it is probable that you won’t really need to fill in on bread since the portion size here is quite filling in itself. The restaurant is located a little outside the city center so you may have to travel for a few minutes to get there but it will be worth your while.
Breaking all preset conventions about vegan food being all about eating healthy, Veganaes is one of the very few restaurants in the city with all vegan and vegetarian menu. Veganaes are sort of a music-dance-bar-cum-restaurant which also happens to be the first place to serve beer after the end of prohibition in Iceland. Combining Icelandic, Indian, western, and many other flavors from different cuisines, Veganaes has been a completely vegetarian restaurant since 2018 and has received many honors for the food as well. The Black Bean Burger and the Spicy Seitanic burger of this place was voted to be the best burger in Iceland by Grapevine.
The head chef at Veganaes is Linnea Hellström who also contributed to the menus we find at Kaffi Vínyl and Gló. But unlike Gló, Veganaes is all about comfort-food that effectively cures your hangover instead of the health-conscious salad diet. Located inside Gaukurinn in the capital city, Veganaes is an immensely popular place among the locals and tourists alike which speaks volumes for the food that you will find there. The setting of the bar-cum-restaurant is inspired by a pub and includes a lot of disco lights with minimal bright lighting.
Lamb Street Food
Another place reflecting the colors of foreign cuisine, Lamb Street Food is a middle-eastern and Mediterranean food. While the middle eastern and Mediterranean food is mostly about lamb meat dishes and is best known for the dish Döner Kebab, Lamb Street Food also serves some great vegan and vegetarian options like fries, Kathi rolls, spring rolls, salads, sauces, and bread. There are vegan falafels and vegan dips available in the list of vegan options as well. The restaurant is family owned and all the ingredients are grown organically in family-owned farms. The food here is prepared in front of the customers which keeps the tradition of live cooking alive and keep the customers interested.
If you would like to try some of the authentic Japanese delicacies then head straight to Ramen Momo and you won’t be disappointed. This restaurant was established by Kunsang Tsering and Erna Pétursdóttir in 2014 and is the only ramen station in Iceland along with being the only place that produces organic fresh noodles. Most of the ingredients used in the dishes are procured from local markets. There are tons of vegan options in this place for vegetarians to try out. The main vegan dishes include Vegan miso-based ramen and vegan tantamen, There are several drink options including Icelandic beer, homemade Korean grapefruitade, ginger beer, cola, Japanese green tea, homemade Korean lemonade, ginger-lemon honey Korean tea, etc. You can also get vegan Gyoza and kimchi here.
Head to Rok if you are in the mood for some great Icelandic food. The restaurant is located very close to Hallgrimskirkja church in Reykjavik, the biggest church in the country, and serves an extensive vegan and vegetarian menu. Although, the restaurant was not always on the list of the top vegan restaurants in the city one of the owner, Magnus Scheving, started to add more and more plant-based dishes to the menu starting from 2016 which ultimately made it into one of the top places people prefer for having vegan food.
Rok is quite popular for being a tapas food corner in Iceland which means that it is generally packed. It is smart to make reservations in order to avoid any uncomfortable situations. The setting here is rustic and the exterior is all-black which makes it stand out even more. Make sure you enjoy the vegan tacos, roasted potatoes, and homemade lemonade when you are there.
The Coocoo's Nest
Rustic-cum-contemporary setting, rotating menus, and locally produced organic ingredients are the specialty of Coco’s Nest. There are taco Tuesdays, sourdough pizza days, Italian dinner surprises on the weekend, and more. The best thing is that each new menu has a special vegan surprise in it. The food here is mouth-watering good and you will get vegan options for all courses, even vegan wines. Make sure you check out the surprise and the ingredients so that the aforementioned surprise is all about happy surprises.
A rustic and romantic setting, Burro is one of the most loved places in the capital city to eat. It is located below the popular pub and bars Pablo Escobar. Burro’s menu is mainly made with Mexican Tapas food but there are several vegan items on the list as well, all of which are properly marked for customer’s benefit. If you call the restaurant beforehand, it is even possible to get a full six-course vegan menu that is available for groups upon request. For a cocktail splurge, a hearty taco lunch, a quick snack, or for a huge group meal, Burro is your place to be.