Do you want to eat in the world’s best restaurant? Head to Copenhagen. Not only the worlds best restaurant, and extremely happy people, Copenhagen has become a foodie paradise. While people have been living in the area for over a thousand years, Copenhagen started its life as little more than a small fishing hamlet. By the 11th century, the area that the city would become was little more than fishermen in the harbor, shepherds and cattle grazing in the hills, and a few small buildings overlooking the water. The small islets that are found outside surrounding the harbor protect the village from the winds and weather and so, the region was a pretty good place to settle. Though the city’s beginnings were humble, the power of the region grew. Copenhagen grew as a natural stopping point between the old Royal Capital Roskilde and Lund in Sweden. Moreover, Danish fishermen and merchants grew very prosperous selling fish to Roman Catholic Europe during Lent. As a result, the country grew and after a few invasions and pillaging’s, Copenhagen emerged in the mid-20th century as one of Europe’s best capital cities.
If you look back only 20 years ago, nobody would think that Copenhagen has an important food city. In just two decades the city has emerged to become one of the most important food cities, not only in Europe but in the world. Food in Copenhagen is an exercise in modern cuisine and is often taken to a point where dishes resemble more of an art piece rather than something that should be eaten. These trends even have a name (again similar to an art movement) The New Nordic Cuisine Movement provides new ideas in environmentally sustainable cooking, minimalistic ingredients, and seasonal dishes. But it’s not all elegant and dainty dishes, Copenhagen is also home to budget-friendly and international tastes, but no matter where you choose to dine, Copenhagen has fresh, delicious, and environmentally conscious plating.
What can be said about this iconic restaurant that hasn’t been discussed already? Noma is not only one of the best restaurants in the city or in Europe, but it has the honor of being rated as the best restaurant in the world on more than one occasion. Having that honor comes with some big shoes to fill and Chef and owner René Redzepi has been showcasing the very best of Danish cuisine since 2003. Being rated the best restaurant in the world means that getting a table here is incredibly difficult but you can check your waitlist online. The food alternates according to the seasons. Seafood is the focus in the winter and spring, vegetables in the summer, and games in the fall. Prices and ingredients change depending on what’s available with the Nordic Cuisine Movement ethos taking center stage. The ingredients are all local, sustainably sourced, and showcased with a minimalist attitude.
The restaurant is located on the waterfront, located in a former munitions depot in the weird and quirky Christianshavn neighborhood. The interior features designer aesthetics and food served on bespoke ceramic plates. It’ll probably be easy to plan your trip to Copenhagen around when your reservation will be open at Noma, rather than the other way around.
While the wait might not be as long as it is waiting for a spot at Noma, Juno still has people waiting out the door. Lucky for you, the wait is only a few minutes but there’s a reason why people wait outside this Østerbro bakery. Even if you didn’t know what they serve, chances are that when you walk by the enchanting smell of the freshly baked croissants and trademark cardamom buns will pique your curiosity. Juno was started by famed Swedish baker and Noma alumnus Emil Glaser and outstanding pastries and bread rolls make the wait worth it. Pick up a bunch and coffee and enjoy a quick snack or have a little picnic and eat them all yourself. No one will blame you if you do. As a side tip, Juno has a sister café around the corner called “At the Counter” serving similar bites and a wider selection of coffee.
First and foremost, Manfreds is billed as a wine bar. And while they have a huge selection of wine available, the food at Manfred’s is a big standout. The menu here is charcuterie focus with a selection of cheeses, cured meats, and wine pairings. And while charcuterie is the focus, Manfreds takes it to a more healthy and Scandinavian style. The menu is vegetable-heavy with ingredients that are local and dishes feature healthy grain bread baked locally and fresh. If you’re looking to satisfy your protein cravings, then you’ll also be in luck because the signature beef tartare is made with rye breadcrumbs, poached egg mayonnaise, and long strands of spicy cress for a little heat.
Copenhagen is filled with restaurants serving fresh ingredients with refreshing palate tastes that are healthy and nutrient-filled. But sometimes you want something fast, meaty, and bad for you. Gasoline Grill is the place when you’re not looking for a grain rye bread and pickled herring salad. Winner of the best burger in Copenhagen, the Gasoline Grill is a roadside burger joint that’s on the site of a former gas station. The restaurant is located in a pretty central spot and while the Gasoline Grill serves some pretty tasty burgers, the menu is limited going off on the idea that “less is more”. There are only a couple of tables outside and the menu consists of 4 different burgers, but why serve many mediocre burgers when you can ultimately master a couple? And Gasoline Grill speaks to that ethos because in 2017 Gasoline Grill was rated by Bloomberg as one of the best burgers in the world and the only one in Northern Europe.
Some of the best pizza outside of Naples isn’t in New York, it’s in Copenhagen. Bæst serves some of the best Italian dishes with a Danish mentality behind them. The items and dishes are fairly simple but it’s the craftwork that goes into the food that makes this place truly special. Bæst serves freshly made pizza that’s been cooked in an imported brick wood-burning oven imported from Naples. The pizza dough is made in-house from locally milled flour that’s been left to rise before it’s been baked along with vegetables served from the restaurant’s farm and mozzarella cheese made from cows from that same farm. For dessert, homemade gelato, also made from the restaurant’s own cows. Everything from the dough to the cheese, toppings, and dessert is made locally and homemade. The restaurant was also featured on Netflix’s Ugly Delicious so the restaurant now also has an international reputation.
Conditori La Glace
Conditori La Glace is an iconic Danish landmark. Founded in 1870, Conditori La Glace is like an old-timey Willy Wonka’s factory. The place is Denmark’s oldest confectionery and after 150 years of operation, the place is a little mysterious. The interior features a pink, green, and brass tea room giving vibes from a bygone era while the sights and smells of delicious pastries and candies tantalize you. Sip some tea and make your way through all the sugary treats Conditori La Glace has to offer. Their specialty is the sportskagen or “sports cake” which is made with crushed nougat with whipped cream and a macaron base.
Broaden & Build
The beer scene in Europe is some of the best and it is no secret that the Danes love some good beer. If you’re looking to sample something other than the ubiquitous Tuborg or Carlsberg, head to Broaden & Build and check out what is new on tap. Located on the waterfront in an old warehouse the place has been refitted to provide plenty of guests lots of room to hang out, drink and of course, enjoy some gastronomically-inspired pub food. There are over 20 different beers on tap here that are on a rotating basis so there’s always something new to check out, while the food offered here is some of the best bar food you’ll ever have such as fried chicken, dusted with vinegar powder – the chef’s signature plate.
Copenhagen started as little more than a fishing village and it arguably rose to the power of a European capital because of its maritime industry and fishing. So suffice it to say, that fish and seafood are a big part of Denmark’s culture. Hooked brings the best of Scandinavian seafood delicacies with the modern flair and tastes of the 21st century. The owners of Hooked have had a huge success with their food truck of the same name as well as touring local food festivals and have decided that the next step is a permanent shop. Hooked is in the Nørrebro area and serves things like lobster rolls, fish and chips, poke bowls, and fish burgers and while a lot of seafood places can get pricey, eating at Hooked won’t break the bank. The surrounding area has a lot of bars and nightlife spots making it a good spot to grab a bite before a few drinks or some food to soak up the alcohol after a night out.
Food in Copenhagen isn’t all minimalist and restaurant-grown ingredients carefully arranged in an artistically pleasing way. The food scene extends beyond all that and GAO is a perfect example. GAO is the city’s first dedicated dumpling bar and they specialize in meaty, doughy, and brothy goodness that are dumplings. The bright green ceramic walls and neon signs give the place a little hip and modern flair while the food is akin to something you’ll find on a street corner in China. GAO is located in Blågårdsgade so plenty of little hip cafes and lakes are nearby making picking up some takeout from here and having a picnic a good option if you don’t feel like eating in. Guests here can put together their sampling menu with four different kinds of dumplings to choose from, all of which are handmade from start to finish.
Combining Danish minimalism with the bold flavors of Mexico, Sanchez comes from Noma alum Rosio Sanchez. The vibe here is simple yet elegant with a full bar filled with a variety of wine and spirits, wooden tables, and bright accents for an uplifting and fun atmosphere. At Sanchez, fine Mexican-inspired cuisine comes together with Nordic tastes to bring dishes such as house-made taco with Scandinavian salmon and locally made queso fresco. It’s not quite what you’ll find in Tijuana, but it is unique and delicious.
Don’t let the name fool you, Lille Bakery is much more than just bread and pastries (although, there’s plenty of that too). While other bakeries in town offer a more pick-up-and-go attitude, Lille Bakery is a perfect spot for a morning coffee and relaxation or afternoon casual lunch with some coworkers. The open concept dining area and kitchen make it feel homey and cool while dishes like salads, pastries, and light lunch fare make it a perfect spot for an afternoon snack.
Our Final Word
The food scene in Copenhagen has come a long way, even in the last few decades. At a time when people thought of Danish food as pickled herring and dense rye bread, it has now become a place where some of the best restaurants in the world hail from. The scene is diverse and exciting while no matter what you’re eating there are always elements of freshness and care into every dish.