How to Eat Your Way Through Copenhagen (Without Breaking the Bank)
Copenhagen isn’t known as the most budget-friendly destination, but the Scandinavian culinary mecca is more reachable than ever thanks to a growing number of more casual concepts opened by some of the city’s best chefs.
The team behind Michelin-starred Kadeau was one of the first to bring fine dining to a lower price point, opening PONY in a tiny Vesterbro space in 2012. Around the same time, chef Christian Puglisi opened natural wine bar Manfreds & Vin right across the street from his Michelin-starred Relæ in Nørrebro, followed by the pizza-gazing Bæst and charming café Mirabelle in 2014. Chef Rene Redzepi opened 108 last year, making new Nordic cuisine accessible, and just recently launched Barr, a beer and comfort food concept, in the former location of Noma.
In a city where 15 different restaurants boast 18 Michelin stars, an influx of talented chefs are proving that incredible cuisine can exist without pretention, formality — or a lofty price tag. As they continue to trade formal whites for indigo aprons, there’s no better time to eat your way through one of the world’s most exciting food cities.
After gaining much acclaim for his first restaurant, Kadeau, which celebrates the bounty of their native island of Bornholm, chef Nicolai Nørregaard decided to open a location in Copenhagen. Immediately realizing he would need a much bigger space, Kadeau 2.0 relocated and he decided to try out a more relaxed concept in the tiny Vesterbro space. PONY draws similar influence from their Baltic homeland, but offers two to four courses in lieu of Kadeau’s fifteen to twenty course tasting menu. And with prices starting at 325 kr, getting a taste of Bornholm is cheaper than flying there, just as it should be.
Manfreds & Vin
Chef Christian Puglisi opened Manfreds & Vin across Jægersborggade from his Michelin-starred restaurant Relæ, becoming the first wine bar to focus on natural wines. The simple and unpretentious menu focuses on family-style service, offering seven small dishes for just 285 kr per person, plus optional add-ons like Puglisi’s famous beef tartare with cress and rye bread. With a kitchen open daily and a laidback hygge vibe, it quickly became — and has remained— an industry favorite.
Puglisi drew upon his (half Italian and half Danish) roots when he opened Bæst, home to the best pizza in the city. The warm, wood-and-brick dining room offers more a la carte options than Manfreds, with menus of cheese, salumi and pizza, but the focus is still family style. Order a small Bæst for 375 kr (or a big Bæst for 450 kr) and get a little bit of everything. But whatever you do, don’t leave without trying the housemade cheeses made from raw milk from Jersey cows on Puglisi’s Abbetved farm.
Adjacent to Bæst is Puglisi’s first bakery and café, Mirabelle. Each morning, a line inevitably forms at the Nørrebro take out window for some of the best sourdough, rye and croissants in town. Or snag a table inside the café — an Instagrammer’s dream with its geometric tiles and fresh flowers — to enjoy organic breakfast dishes, fresh green salads and house-made pasta until late.
After Rene Redzepi announced his plans to shutter his world famous restaurant noma, he continued to wow the culinary world last summer by opening 108 to face the newly finished Inderhavnsbroen (inner harbor bridge). Chef and co-owner Kristian Baumann embraces the same seasonal sensibility by foraging, pickling and fermenting local ingredients, then presenting them with the same meticulous attention to detail as 108’s acclaimed older sibling. Dishes are offered a la carte (95-195 kr), with a few livretter, or family-style, options (300-900 kr), and an attached wine and coffee bar serves snacks, drinks and pastries throughout the day.
As Rene Redzepi prepares to launch the next chapter of Noma in a completely new part of the city, he partnered with chef Thorsten Schmidt to turn the restaurant’s former location into a casual new concept inspired by the eating and drinking traditions of the North Sea. The newly opened Barr (which translates to “barley” in Old Norse) offers a 17-item a la carte menu, featuring comforting dishes like sourdough pancakes and schnitzel. A menu of bar snacks —plus a long list of beer, wine and akvavit — invites passersby to stop in for a drink and conversation. With the opening of Barr, a corner of the city once reserved for culinary high rollers is now a community hub.
The first restaurant of its kind in Denmark, Llama marries Scandinavian products and design with flavors and inspiration from Mexico, Central and South America. The underground space is a kaleidoscope of shapes and colors which provide a canvas for vibrant ceviches, grilled proteins and snacks like fried green plantains with passion fruit mayo. Order a la carte or experience an eight course tasting menu, served family-style, for just 395 kr.
The pared down options at this Ravnsborggade eatery mimic the utilitarian minimalism of Danish design. Each day, 20a offers a rotating starter (95 kr), choice of fish or pork entree (165 kr) and a dessert (45 kr). But don’t let the simplicity throw you off: the food is high quality, as is the wine list, and the candlelit bistro is as hygge as it gets.
Christian Aarø and Søren Selin, the owners of AOC, Copenhagen’s only two star Michelin restaurant, opened No. 2 to serve unpretentious Nordic food with a focus on local seafood — and an appropriately expansive view of the harbor. Their commitment to sustainability is seen not only in the menu, but in the wine list and cocktail bar as well. Weekday lunch begins at 250 kr, while an evening menu of four courses plus snacks is offered for 450 kr.
This spin-off of Michelin-starred Formel B literally translates to “informal,” and this classy spot in the inner city accomplishes just that without skimping on integrity; they even source ingredients from the same Danish farmers and ranchers who supply their original restaurant. The dark, sleek dining room serves an a la carte menu, consisting of fifteen rotating dishes, or opt for the Uformel experience, which comes with four courses and wine pairings for 800 kr.
The same team behind Formel B and Uformel opened Restaurant Palægade last year, bringing classic Danish cooking to the city center. 40 different types of organic smørrebrod are offered for lunch, while dinner features traditional dishes like beef Wellington and fried fish filet with remoulade. Order a la carte or choose a three course menu for 450 kr.
Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, the Danish gypsy brewer with a cult following in the beer world, collaborated with 3 Floyds to open his first brewpub after seven years of brewing under the name Mikkeller with colleagues all over the world (which he continues to do). Warpigs features 22 taps of American style beer (at least six made in house) and serves slow smoked Texas-style barbecue, all to the sound of a raucous, rocking soundtrack.
Øl and Brød
After the immense success of Warpigs, Mikkeller opened up Øl and Brød, presenting traditional Danish cuisine in a bright, modern Vesterbro space. Open-faced sandwiches called smørrebrød are the focus here, and they start at just 85 kr. Dinner is also offered Thursday through Sunday, serving comforting, homestyle dishes which stand up to the lengthy akvavit menu — plus a range of housemade snaps.
Hija de Sanchez
After living in Copenhagen for five years, chef Rosio Sanchéz decided to open a spot specializing in the Mexican food she grew up eating as a first generation Mexican-American in Chicago. The former Noma pastry chef first opened Hija de Sanchez as a taqueria outside Torvehallerne, the city’s bustling culinary market, before opening a brick and mortar in Vesterbro, where she crafts traditional offerings like carnitas, al pastor and lengua, with Nordic touches like gooseberry salsa and licorice paletas.
Kiin Kiin Bao Bao
This Asian tapas concept is a spin-off of Kiin Kiin, the first Thai restaurant to earn a Michelin star outside Thailand. Three different tasting menus (500 kr) come with beverages, but diners may also order a la carte dishes like bao, laksa and duck pancakes, enjoy selections off the seasonal wine menu and bask in the sleek Scandi-asian design which is just as handsome as its predecessor’s.
Vegetables are the star of the show at Gemyse, the newly opened restaurant situated inside dreamy Tivoli Gardens, the world’s second oldest amusement park. Guests are free to meander with the peacocks through urban kitchen gardens before sitting down to dinner (in a massive greenhouse, if you wish). Order snacks a la carte or choose a light meal (175 kr) or the Grand Tour of the Garden (550 kr), which comes with daily special veggie dishes plus fish of the day, beef, cheese and dessert. Afterward, gather around the fire to roast marshmallows and twist bread, best enjoyed with housemade jam and ice cream.
Just opened this winter, Restaurant Mes lives up to their promise to provide affordable luxury. The intimate dining room, with its utilitarian furniture and lush living wall, is the setting for a beautiful five course experience priced at just 335 kr. Each fresh, seasonal dish is created to pair with a well-curated list of natural wines from Germany and the Jura region.