In Copenhagen, it seems all roads lead back to Noma, with some of the city's best chefs, sommeliers, and pastry makers all logging time with René Redzepi—a golden ticket for launching a post-Noma venture. While it can feel like everything else gets lost in the shadows, Copenhagen is spoiled for riches with world-class dining options.
New Nordic cuisine dominates Scandinavia, but its roots are in Denmark, where chefs around the country have pledged to adhere to the cuisine’s guiding principles to prepare traditional dishes with innovation and a laser focus on sourcing and ethical farming and meat production.
But there’s more to eating out in Copenhagen than Nordic ingredients. There are authentic tacos, near-perfect pizza, ramen, and even hotdogs. And of course, despite Copenhagen’s physical detachment from European vineyards, there’s a premier selection of natural wines to pair with each dish. While there’s far more beyond these 15, here are some of the top tables in town to whet your palette and even prompt you to book a ticket ASAP.
Noma is Demark’s best-known restaurant, and there’s an argument to be made that it’s also the most notable restaurant in the world. The thrill, awe, and shock (especially during Game & Forest Season) that René Redzepi and his massive team of line cooks, servers, and sommeliers manage to produce keeps the world watching. After closing the original location and decamping with a pop-up in Mexico, Noma returned to an airy, waterside location in the Christianshavn neighborhood. Offering three seasons—Game & Forest, Seafood, and Vegetarian—Noma has something for everyone willing to pay $455 a head. Make the most of it and arrive early to see the greenhouse, ask for a tour of the fermentation labs, and linger for one more drink in the library.
With trippy 3-D murals (ask for the glasses!) and towering concrete walls, Amass’ home in an old shipyard building isn’t exactly a traditional fine dining location. But that’s just what Cali-born chef Matt Orlando set out to create. Amass is rooted in a sustainable approach, with most of their ingredients coming from the organic backyard garden or local producers. The restaurant’s innovative approach to reusing ingredients has netted them several global sustainability awards; their leftover bread is soaked in vinegar to make chips, and the fermented potato bread is worth the visit alone. The set menu changes based on ingredient availability. Stop by the AFC bar for their famous fried chicken sandwich.
Got noods? Take a break from New Nordic with a bowl of hand-pulled ramen from Slurp. Hot, inexpensive, and delicious, there are four types of ramen on the menu—including a mushroom-based veggie option and a miso base with rich pork belly—along with sides like kimchi, edamame, and Korean fried chicken. With only a dozen or so barstools, the vibe is cozy and the music is fresh.
Noma’s COVID-19 pivot transformed the fine dining restaurant into an outdoor burger and wine bar. With lines snaking around the block and daily sellouts, it was clear that René Redzepi and team had struck gold again. Taking over the original Noma space (and the home of the now-closed Restaurant 108), the now permanent Popl offers cheeseburgers dry-aged with organic beef, onions, beef garum, pickles, and mayo, along with a veggie burger made with a quinoa tempeh patty from the fermentation lab. Natural wines, local beers, and homemade cookies complete the meal.
Fans of what Paul Pairet has achieved at Ultraviolet in Shanghai will feel right at home in 28-year-old Rasmus Munk’s Alchemist. The 50-course meal is broken down into five acts, and diners are moved into different rooms for each act—including one that takes place under a changing planetarium ceiling. The dishes are challenging, complex, and perfectly technical—many of them are designed to get you thinking about social issues like climate change and how our meat is treated.
While brunch hasn’t gone mainstream with the Danes, there are a few spots in town that offer an outstanding breakfast, and Mirabelle Bakery is at the top of that list. The sourdough bread is baked in-house and cut into a thick slice for a perfect French Toast with handmade ricotta and organic jam. The weekends-only eggs Benedict is cooked Danish-style with a dense slice of rye bread. Still hungry? Their chocolate croissant is legendary.
Hungover from too much natural wine or sick of the sticker shock from eating out? John’s Hotdog Deli delivers in spades. The Danes love their hotdogs, and this build-your-own joint is fuss-free and one of the best in town. Its location in Copenhagen’s Meatpacking district is fitting because their sausages are made locally. Choose your bun and sausage before piling it high with classics like fried onions and spicy mustard or unique toppings such as shaved foie gras and black truffle. Mikkeller beers and sparkling sodas are available, too.
The secret to one of the best pies in town is the ingredients, including an epic sourdough for the thin crust, daily-made cheeses like mozzarella and ricotta, and homemade charcuterie from one of the best local producers. Hear us out, but you’ll want the tasting menu (yes, a tasting menu at a pizza joint). It has the best of everything: a delectable charcuterie board, organic veggies, fresh and creamy cheeses, slices of pizza, and dessert. Beers, a nice wine list, and a great spritz made with Danish cider add the perfect buzz to the meal.
You don’t have to care about Geranium’s long list of awards (3 Michelin stars; number 4 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants) to know that a meal here is a special event. Despite its location on the eighth floor of the National Football Stadium, that’s quickly forgiven in the airy dining room with sweeping city views. Local ingredients are the backbone of the meal and change with the seasons; all come so beautifully plated it’s hard to resist snapping a photo before digging in. The wine list, winner of Wine Spectator’s prestigious Grand Award, reads like a novel with 2,500 bottles.
2020 was brutal for the F&B industry, no doubt, but Kadeau seemed to roll snake eyes over and over. They filed for bankruptcy in March and their Bornholm location caught fire in July. But like a phoenix from the ashes, Kadeau 3.0 came to life again in Copenhagen in October. Expect the seasonal menus to wow with dishes like mahogany clams with white currants; raw shrimp with caviar, cream, and rosehip oil; and hot and cold smoked salmon with fig oil and plum juice.
Known for oh-em-gee-worthy pasta and a killer natural wine list, Barabba is a favorite after-work refueling station for Copenhagen’s best chefs. Don’t miss the grilled octopus or any of the rustic pasta dishes that arrive tableside with a modern presentation. While it’s never on the menu, be sure to ask for the spaghettoni with anchovy butter and caviar, or for the sommelier co-owner to pour you whatever he’s drinking. This is one of the few late-night restaurants in town.
Located in Vesterbro, Copenhagen’s former Red Light district and now uber-cool ‘hood, Sanchez is home to Denmark’s best Mexican grub. Chicago-born Rosio Sánchez, formally Noma’s pastry queen, capitalized on the success of her taco truck (Hija de Sanchez) and created a laid-back Mexican joint with Scandanavian attention to detail. There’s a set menu if you’re feeling flush, or order the tacos of the day and the Sanchez margarita. Or sip mezcal at the bar and watch the kitchen staff do their thing. No matter where you sit, don’t sleep on the churro parfait sandwich.
British baker Richard Hart cut his teeth at SF's Tartine before teaming up with René Redzepi (heard of him?) to open a sourdough bakery in family-friendly Frederiksberg. Beyond loaves of the signature bread, there are cardamom buns, croissants, whole grain mustard croissants wrapped around hotdogs, and a Basque cheesecake that will leave you speechless. In October 2020, the Hart empire expanded with a new shop across the Inderhavnsbroen bridge near Nyhavn.
Welcome to Copenhagen’s most famous food hall! With more than 80 stalls in two buildings, Torvehallerne is an expansive home for gourmet food, fresh produce, and gorgeous flowers. For food and drinks, there’s a Hallernes Smørrebrød, a Sanchez taco truck, beer-battered fish and chips, bakeries, cheese shops, ready-made charcuterie boards, a wine store, and a Mikkeller beer market. Most of the year there are picnic tables outside, but if the weather is nice, take everything to-go for a picnic in nearby Ørsteds Park or the neighboring skate park.
Admiralgade 26 was ahead of the design curve long before "Japandi" (the mashup of Japanese and Scandinavian design) entered the design lexicon. The vibe is neutral, casual, and intimate, and decorated with a mashup of Danish designer chairs. The owners run the hip wine bar Ved Stranden 10, so you can't go wrong starting off with a bottle of natural wine. The food is Nordic-Japanese and changes with the seasons, but expect dishes like smoked duck hearts with pickled rhubarb and pork with kimchi. With a full Japanese breakfast (available on Saturdays), along with proper Danish lunches and a comprehensive dinner menu, there’s never a bad time for Admiralgade 26.