It’s dinnertime and we’re hungry. Let’s talk food. How is dining in Iceland – especially on a budget? We can report it’s better than the guidebooks led us to believe. Not great, mind you, but we had some pleasant surprises.
The day was cool in northern Isafjordur, and the warm lights drew us into Gamla Bakariid. The breads, particularly sweet pastries, had to be tried. The verdict: very tasty, not overly sweet. We approved!
One of the best meals we had was our first. We flew in to Keflavik in the early morning and rented a car, taking off for points north. We explored sights on the way and pushed on to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula for lunch. The little hamlet of Hellnar was down a lane not too far from the ocean, and that is where we found a small cafe, Fjorhusid. Our friends each ordered a meal and we ordered the meal of the day to share, along with a tasty soup. Every thing about the food was terrific. The fish was as fresh as it could be. The meals were simple, satisfying, and nicely prepared. We were all happy to have found such a great place – but, a few hours later, our friends did the currency conversion and realized they had just spent much more than planned. Therein lies the dilemma for dining in Iceland. Food, and especially good dining, costs more than we are used to paying. It takes time to understand and adjust to the reality.
The best meal was very unexpected. We stayed at a remote farmhouse hostel in the West Fjords. Against our hosts’ advice we drove in to Flateyri for dinner, since it was the closest town with a restaurant, and we were too tired to drive further. One guidebook had recommended Vagninn, and we decided that would just have to do. Our friend took one look at the restaurant and did not want to go in. The restaurant was almost empty and this was another bad sign. What choice did we have as this was the only place in town? Happy to say, the menu was inventive, and, to our delight, our dinner was absolutely wonderful! Every single bite! The food was so good we forgot to take a photo, so you’ll have to trust us on this.
Where to dine in Reykjavik? We spent very little time there. If we’d been smart, we would have made a reservation. We didn’t. So, we fell back on the popular Sea Barron. Their menu is limited. The soup is out of this world. Everything else is grilled on a skewer in combinations of fish and vegetables. It’s all very tasty, but pleasure in dining is diminished by the styrofoam plates, plasticware, and dining outside in the coolest summer on record in 40 years.