Eat Your Way Through Copenhagen

February 14, 2023
By Lisa Abend

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In less than 10 years, Copenhagen went from being a non-starter on the food scene to luring gourmands for its experimental, edgy and influential dining. But where do the locals eat in the capital of haute cuisine?

When I first moved to Copenhagen, not quite a decade ago, it sometimes felt like there was nowhere to eat. Of course, there were excellent high-end restaurants; Noma had launched roughly 10 years earlier and, with its Nordic cooking, had literally put the Danish capital on the map for the kind of deep-pocketed food-lover who travels the globe to dine in the most acclaimed places. Unsurprisingly, the announcement in January of its closure, scheduled for 2024, made headlines.

There were also plenty of great spots serving smørrebrød – the open-faced sandwiches that are Denmark’s proudest (some would say sole) contribution to world cuisine. But for anything else? A pizzeria serving serious pies, instead of the cardboard crusts that takeaway joints dispensed? A kitchen turning out something decently spicy, whether that’s enchiladas or dan dan noodles? The kind of neighbourhood bistro you could drop into on a Tuesday night and be certain of a good meal? There was a reason why Danes only went to restaurants for special occasions.

Turns out it was only a matter of time. When the streams of ambitious young chefs, servers and sommeliers who flocked to Copenhagen to work at Noma and its ilk eventually started opening their own eateries, they initially clung pretty closely to the upscale Nordic model – all foraged plants, acidic flavours and expensively sleek timber furniture.

But gradually, their vision expanded to include other types of cuisine and ways of serving them and that transition, in turn, drew yet more talented young chefs and somms. Today, the city’s restaurant scene encompasses exciting versions of everything from Caribbean seafood to burgers to tacos to kaiseki. And Danes themselves, delighting in the newfound abundance, have even learnt how to eat
out on a Tuesday night.

So, while some visitors come to do a World’s 50 Best Restaurants crawl (in 2022, Copenhagen took out numbers one, 18 and 38 with fine-diners Geranium, Alchemist and Jordnaer, respectively), here’s what the locals are actually eating – and where.


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