After being named the world’s best restaurant several years in a row, Copenhagen’s Noma put Nordic cuisine on the map. The thing is, getting a reservation is a b*tch- online booking three months in advance closes within minutes of opening. Click that refresh button all you want, you’re not getting in. I was, however, able to sneak out back behind the restaurant one night and capture this duck-grilling shot.
For those of us without reservation trigger fingers, Copenhagen has plenty of other options. You’ll notice a lot of international food because, as one local put it,”Danish food is bad for you. It tastes good, for sure, but it’s not healthy.”
Clearly this sentiment is widely felt in a city where foreign food dominates, but traditional fare still holds its own. Below is a list recommended by locals and taste tested by yours truly.
For something fancy, chef and host Mats will show you a night you’ll never forget as he dances between tables ushering in course after course inspired by artwork from a nearby gallery. Menu items are few (2-3 entrees) but they are made with great attention.
The perfectly cooked crawfish salad appetizer was a table favorite. Bacalao served in a thick, red tomato sauce is perfect for those who like bold flavors. My personal favorite was the crispy skinned trout served with whipped sweet potato mash
Chef Mats makes wine pairing all a part of the fun and your customization of the dining experience is encouraged. Reservations reccomended because walk-ins are often turned away
Studiestræde 17, 1455 København
Lê Lê Street Kitchen
Located a ten-minute walk from the central station, Lê Lê is all about freshness and bright colors under a Vietnamese banner. Veggie packed soup with fried wantons is great for a small snack. Bigger appetites should go for the noodle salad lunch, which comes with a battalion of crispy spring rolls. When the weather is nice, this counter service spot is flooded with light.
Vesterbrogade 56, 1620 København
In what looks like a grandma’s living-room, photographs of Danish princes and Swedish kings keep you company as you sip Aquavit and dig into bone-sticking food like this hakkebøf med blødeløg, a challenging name for butter fried hamburgers and gravy. It is absolutely compulsory to have this with a big steaming bowl of potatoes, which will be refilled upon request. A giant beer and a few pickles will help you pack on the pounds for the dreary winter ahead.
Esplanaden 4, 1263 København
This artificial island is home to Copenhagen Street Food, a permanent structure housing stalls of international fare including pulled duck sandwiches, tacos, and the famous open faced Danish sandwiches called smørrebrød. For a little Danish eye candy and a couple of fresh oysters, go down the second row from the left. You’ll find what you’re looking for on the right hand side
PapirØen, Trangravsvej 14, 7/8, 1436 København
Cozy and cute, Granola is a classic café with a dedicated barrista and a menu full of pastries and tasty sandwiches for breakfast and lunch. A seat at the counter gives you a full view of the coffee-slinging action, but all of the tiny tables will make you feel like you’re in for a treat. I had the best egg sandwich of my life here. It’s brioche bun was pillow soft with the thinnest, crackling veneer. I did not have the yogurt and granola, personally, but it comes highly recommended.