Are you visiting Iceland and looking for whale-friendly Reykjavik restaurants to eat at?
When people think of Iceland, a collage of volcanoes, water-spitting hot springs, and leaping whales fill their imagination.
But how many tourists think about the food? Unknown to many, Reykjavik in Iceland is one of the premier food hotspots in the country, with numerous restaurants and cafes serving delicious cuisine from around the world.
To promote the marine conservation and protection of local whale and dolphin species, Niels has narrowed down the top 6 best whale-friendly dining spots in Reykjavik. Read this guide and complete your Icelandic tour with eyes full of wonder and a stomach full of delicacies.
Whale-Friendly Reykjavik Restaurants
Table of Contents
1. Cafe Babalu
Just like its quirky name, the outdoor and interior decor of Cafe Babalu is sure to grab your attention while you are strolling through the streets of Reykjavik. You can try several delicacies here, but we suggest ordering its self-proclaimed, albeit tasty, “world-famous cheesecake.”
If you are in a rush, you can even order takeout and eat on the drive or along Iceland’s scenic coast. Before venturing inside, take time to appreciate the orange walls of the cafe, complete with outdoor seating and free WiFi.
Scanning your eyes over the walls will show that Babalu serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, which goes hand-in-hand with its ambient atmosphere. Once inside, seat yourself in one of the cozy chairs and choose from the cafe’s selection of lamb stew, cheese toasts, or bread soup.
It also has a fantastic assortment of desserts, including apple crumble, chocolate cake, and sweet crepes. But the best part is its drinks menu, with many visiting Babalu for beer or wine.
And even people who don’t drink can relax with a cup of steaming chai latte, espresso, or americano – a perfect foil to Reykjavik’s cold climate.
If you traveled to Reykjavik a decade back and are going there again this year, you will find the city now has a booming cocktail culture. And the trailblazer in that regard was Slippbarinn, established in 2012, luring customers with its collection of fresh and high-quality cocktails.
The restaurant is situated on the Berjaya Reykjavik Marina and is regarded as one of the most popular places, owing to its handcrafted cocktail menu. Most drinks are served with a twist, thanks to the bold presentation and interesting flavors.
The restaurant has a large team, so the cocktails are inspired by their dynamic backgrounds and imagination. Moreover, the unique feature of Slippbarinn is that it’s never complete but an ever-changing and adapting dining destination.
Its interiors are modern, and the prime location by the harbor will give you a chance to reflect on your perfect day out. To nourish your thoughts, we recommend visiting Slippbarinn for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or brunch and digging into burgers, Charcuterie cheese, or other comfort food.
3. Krua Thai
From the outside, this restaurant may seem a bit cold, and drab owing to its gray color, but trust us – this oriental outlet is usually buzzing inside. The simple seating and large tables at Krua Thai are almost always packed, so they can’t take your order at the table. However, the food will be served to you hot and tasty.
Though there are several oriental places in Reykjavik, Krua Thai is unique due to its harbor-side location, fast service, and affordable dishes. And complementing the fast service is its fast-food-type setting and decor, perfect for an informal outing.
But despite its look and feel, the place has an extensive 41-dish menu to satisfy all taste buds. Rest assured that the food is super tasty, especially the Pad Thai, a stir-fried noodle dish complete with eggs, tamarind juice, fish sauce, and other garnishings. Customers can also choose from multiple shrimp, chicken, or tofu dishes.
Another unique cuisine is the Nam Tok, comprising beef, roasted rice, dried chilies, lime juice, fish sauce, shallots, etc. However, when you are in a hurry for a whale spotting tour, order a takeaway of its curry or oyster sauce dishes.
When you want to try authentic but select Icelandic dishes, go to an Icelandic Street Food restaurant, and you won’t be disappointed. Located in a quiet corner of the city, this little food joint is perfect for late-night birthday parties, dinner, or having lunch with friends.
While the decor or restaurant itself isn’t eye-catching, what stands out is the simplicity on offer and the friendly atmosphere. The menu is written on a blackboard on the sidewalk, allowing you to choose from its tasty Scandinavian dishes.
Moreover, the restaurant’s location in the Intercultural Centre is perfect, ensuring you can mingle with people from other countries while enjoying cooked rolls and shrimp soup. It also has exquisite, braised lamb, macarons, brownies, and doughnuts for all taste buds.
You will further love the drinks on offer, including craft beer, cordial, and ale, which are the most popular among tourists. Or you could have a nice conversation with a fellow traveler over a latte, break drink, or tea.
5. Cafe Haiti
Coffee lovers travel the world searching for the best brew, so don’t be surprised to find a buzz around Cafe Haiti in Reykjavik. Instead of just making coffee, this quaint cafe in Old Harbor sources its coffee beans from Haiti, which makes this place special. And the credit goes to the owner Elda, who is looking to spread her love for Haiti in Iceland.
After arriving from Haiti, the beans are roasted and ground in Reykjavik, with many claiming it’s the best coffee they have tasted in Iceland. Also, the calm and relaxed atmosphere is ideal, especially after completing a long day out in nature.
But it’s not just coffee that’s the center of attraction, as the cafe is well-known for baking its own cakes and quiches. Plus, if you are feeling hungry, try out its finger-licking fish menu featuring fresh and locally caught fish.
Or munch on the Haitian chicken, another specialty of the place, while pairing it with beer and wine.
When you are in the mood for something Asian, follow our recommendation and head to Kitchen Eldhus, offering a fantastic combination of Nepalese, Indian, and curry dishes. The Nepali dishes served by this place are based on the Newari cuisine, making them super delicious and healthy.
Best of all, you will find vegetarian dishes along with the usual Asian delicacies of tandoori, meat, and fish. We suggest you pair these with a serving of various rice items or try the Indian specialty of baked naan bread.
After having all these, if you are still craving something sweet, go with one of its many homemade sweet dishes. Interestingly, despite using fresh Icelandic produce, all the dishes retain their unique Asian flavors.
You can even stop by for the buffet during lunch, which comprises 25 set items available at an affordable price. Some of the more popular items include Shish Kebab Punjabi and Sag Chicken.
Touring Iceland is more than just going on wildlife tours or driving across the scenic landscape. All that’s important, but to truly experience the essence of a place, you must dig into the food! And don’t think you’re missing out if you don’t eat whale meat; most Icelanders don’t eat it either. ☺
You can try out the other local Icelandic dishes, interact with foreigners in a small cafe by the sea, or enjoy a taste of home at its many regional restaurants. So, be ready to walk the streets of Reykjavik and explore the culinary extravaganza on offer!
For the last 17 years, Niels Thomas has been working as a marine mammal specialist and wildlife expert. With his work, he focuses on aquatic wildlife conservation in Iceland. Protecting whales, dolphins, seals, and manatees and educating the public have always been a top priority for him.