-Written by Steph
Iceland is considered by many to be a difficult or impossible place for vegans, so we had pretty low expectations going in. But as usual, it was amazing, and further proves my theory that the only place in the world where people are actually dicks to vegans is North America. The restaurant were, however, outrageously expensive, so we had to get a bit creative to combat that! Here’s how the food part of our Iceland trip went down.
For some strange reason, restaurants in Iceland are crazy expensive while groceries are very affordable. I can’t say I’ve ever seen such a huge gap in any other country. Good thing we rented an apartment with a kitchen! We mostly went to two big grocery chains, Bonus and Hagkaup, but there are also a number of smaller health food stores around. They have a pretty decent selection of vegetarian meats:
Anamma seems to be the popular brand, and we tried and liked several of their products – the burgers and meatballs above, and also some sort of chicken chunks. One package seemed to make about 3-4 portions worth of dinner for us. If we’d been in town longer we probably would have tried the ground beef and sandwich meat as well, but we ran out of time. One thing to keep in mind if you’re looking for these – they’re all frozen unlike their North American counterparts, so head for the freezers rather than a refrigerator room (the Bonus stores put all the cold items – milk, juice, meat, yogurt, etc – together in one big room with doors, presumably to conserve energy). The grocery stores had a pretty good selection of dairy alternatives as well, but nothing really spectacular – soy milk and yogurt were easy enough to find though.
Vegan options are, surprisingly, quite common in Reykjavik, and restaurants tend to label them pretty well.
Serrano is a really common burrito-bar chain found in a lot of the malls, and plenty of other places as well – we definitely tripped over them more than once. There’s even one next to the BSI bus terminal, which is VERY convenient for anyone going on tours, since that’s where most of them seem to leave from.
Núðluskálin has a few types of vegan noodle dishes explicitly on the menu, but can actually make anything on the menu vegan by request! So if you like the look of something that’s not vegan, just ask and it could be yours.
Cafe Babalu has a vegan chili that’s quite good, as well as some desserts. We grabbed some on our first day in town. There’s a pretty cool ambiance as well.
For a nice snack, Eldur og Is makes some pretty sweet vegan crepes. This place was actually our first stop after getting into town, while we were waiting to check in to our apartment. The peanut butter crepe was fantastic.
For another snacky type place, Reykjavik Chips is a great place to grab fries. As a die-hard ketchup-on-fries fan, I never thought anything could beat that combo until I tried their vegan cashew-based dip. They also have a great statue outside their place:
C is for Cookie was also a favourite hangout of ours. They make vegan panini sandwiches in a variety of flavors, plus some pretty good desserts – apple crumble pie, carrot cake, and of course several types of cookies. Here’s me with a slice of the pie we kept going back for:
Did I mention that there’s actually one totally vegetarian restaurant in Reykjavik? It’s Garðurinn! They have a fixed menu that changes each day generally with one vegan option and one vegetarian option, as well as desserts. We didn’t actually have a full meal there due to stuffing ourselves at C is for Cookie right beforehand, but the food looked pretty good and we had some sort of brownie thing that was tasty. Here’s what it looks like from the outside:
And lastly, there was a really good bakery that had a bunch of vegan options. Passion Bakery was fantastic! We went there a bunch of times (translation: Cel sent me out early in the morning while he was still asleep to load up on pastries for breakfast). It was really cool to try out Icelandic style baking, which is quite different from anything else we’ve tried. We tried a couple of their artisan breads, as well as hot chocolate, brownies, chocolate cinnamon rolls, and some sort of absolutely divine Icelandic dessert that I couldn’t get enough of even after eating it daily for most of the trip. Normally they also have vegan croissants, but alas, the reality of being a fairly remote island nation means that sometimes restaurants can’t get things like vegan butter for long stretches of time. I’m sure they’re fabulous though, and if I find myself in Iceland again I intend to resume hounding them daily with “Do you have croissants yet???”. Anyway, here’s that beautiful Icelandic dessert (on the left):
And that’s about it for the food. We spent out vacation thoroughly stuffing our faces as always, and would definitely recommend Reykjavik as a destination for traveling vegans and vegetarians.