I wanted to make the most of a 24-hour layover in Reykjavik, so naturally I looked for a food tour to join! I found Wake Up Reykjavik and signed up for the Reykjavik Food Tour. This 3-4 hour tour will take you to 6 Reykjavik restaurants. As soon as I signed up, I received the friendliest emails ever, giving me more details about the tour and the meeting point. We met our guide, Juliana, at the Harpa Concert Hall at 10am. (Great place to meet – you can’t miss it, but even still I received detailed directions including a photo!)
Julia & Julia
After a brief stroll from the Harpa Concert Hall, our first Reykjavik restaurant stop is the new cafe Julia & Julia, located in the Culture House. Our mission here is to sample Skyr, or Icelandic yoghurt. The Skyr was served with cream and sugar, so we could doctor it up according to our tastes. It was really thick, but the cream worked well to lighten it up a bit. I loved the vintage dishes and decor here, too!
Someone in our group was celebrating a birthday, so we got a bonus tasting here! We each received our own little skillet cookie with melted butter on top. Butter on top of a cookie?! OMG! Delicious!
Our next stop is Ostabudin, a deli with an interesting array of meats and cheeses. Here, a sample of 3 meats and 3 cheeses were waiting for our arrival. We learned that Iceland doesn’t really have it’s own cheese, so they’ve taken cheese from other cultures and adapted them to their own dairy products. We started with the cheese – black gouda, white mould cheese and then blue mould cheese. The gouda was my favorite, but they were all good! Then for the meats: first, a cured sheep filet, followed by cured horse filet and finally smoked goose-breast topped with a tangy fruit jam. Our guide seemed surprised that everyone in our group tried the horse. I can see how some people might object, but when in Iceland…
These were all good, too. The horse was a bit chewy, but I was surprised how much I liked the goosebreast, which I expected to be gamey, but wasn’t at all!
Continuing our food walk, past Hallgrimskirkja (the iconic church dominating the Reykjavik skyline) brings us to Café Loki. In addition to a fascinating mural which Juliana narrated for us (click on their website and scroll to the bottom) we sampled 3 rye bread specialties at Cafe Loki. Rye bread is very common here, but different than the rye bread we have in the States. It is sweeter, which explains why I liked it! We had a bit of fish stew on rye, smoked trout on rye and best of all, rye bread ice cream, which of course was my favorite! The bread is mixed into the ice cream and adds just a sweet little fun crunch and texture. Definitely try rye bread ice cream when in Reykjavik!
Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur
Our 4th destination is the famous hot dog stand, where we lined up to sample Iceland’s infamous hot dogs! Despite spending most of my adult life in Chicago, I’m no hot dog connoisseur. I don’t dislike them, but I just don’t get all the hype. To me, they are something we boiled up on the stove at home. However, if you read about Icelandic food, you will inevitably hear about Icelandic hot dogs, so of course I had to see what the hype was all about! Icelandic hot dogs are made mostly of lamb, along with pork and beef. Traditional style is served with mustard, remoulade, raw onions and crunchy fried onions. It was good! With all of the toppings, it’s hard for me to really tell the difference between any other hot dog, but the crunchy onions were a nice addition! As we left, there was a pretty long line as it was lunch time. Not sure I would line up for one, but you kinda gotta try one when you’re in Iceland!
Unfortunately for me, this was my last stop on the food tour as I had to rush to the airport to catch a flight. If you are better at time management than I am, you’ll get two more stops on this food tour, which lasts up to 4 hours. The guides are also happy to give recommendations on Reykjavik restaurants and did so throughout the day, which pained me to hear as I had to fly home that day!
In addition to all the great food we tasted, Juliana gave us some fun facts about Iceland as we walked around downtown Reykjavik. She injected lots of humor into the stories and was super good-natured under the constant ribbing from a Brit in our group who liked to heckle her!
I loved hearing about the various Icelandic beliefs such as trolls and fairies. All over town, there are mischievous signs of these pranksters. I might have never noticed the tiny figures perched up high all over the city. (Can you spot 2 of them in the photo on the left?) The whimsical surprises combined with the colorful buildings make Reykjavik a really fun city to walk around and photograph! I can’t wait to come back and spend more time here!
Prior to my trip, I had not heard great things about the food in Iceland. I heard it was bland and that there is no fresh food, but I’m so glad that I took this tour and learned otherwise! And, shocker, there was no fermented shark served on this tour…yay!Heading to #Reykjavik ? Check out @WakeUpReykjavik Food Tour #foodtourist #iceland Click To Tweet