Home Blog A Chef’s Guide to Iceland’s Top Restaurants

A Chef’s Guide to Iceland’s Top Restaurants

Sunday, 2nd April 2017

Destination Specialist

iceland reykjavik restaurant dill ragnar eiriksson

Updated June 2020

Why is Iceland a haven for fine dining?

Over the last few years, Iceland has been winning the praise of gastronomes across the world. We spoke to Ragnar Eiriksson in 2017 when he was Head Chef at DILL, a restaurant in Reykjavik that was awarded the first ever Michelin star in Iceland. Whilst he no longer works with DILL, his restaurant recommendations still stand and are some of the top establishments to frequent on any trip to Iceland.

Ragnar Eiriksson is cooking up a storm in Iceland. “We’re definitely up and coming on the world’s foodie hotlist,” says the ex-Head Chef at Reykjavik’s DILL restaurant – the recipient of Iceland’s first-ever Michelin. “It was obviously a huge honour and I am very chuffed, but it should be kept in mind that this is not something achieved by one little hairy dude from Reykjavik; it is the combined effort of a small but awesome team at DILL. I am just very excited to see Iceland finally on the culinary map.”

That’s right, Iceland – where hundreds of years ago hardy settlers established a gastronomic legacy of dried fish, smoked puffin and fermented shark – has become one of the world’s most desirable destinations for food lovers.

“There are nice restaurants popping up all over now, and so many young and talented chefs graduating from culinary school every year.”

iceland reykavik dill restaurant mikael axelsson

The dishes at DILL look stunning. Every week the restaurant devises a new seven-course menu, each dish paired to perfection with a fine wine. Expect little clay pots housing mouth-watering delicacies such as Arctic char with fennel or pork belly with honey and parsnips.

“Flavours, it’s as simple as that,” says Eiriksson when we asked him where he found his inspiration. “I try not to spend too much energy on plating. Let the ingredients keep their natural shape and allow them to shine.”

You can never go wrong with seafood in Iceland – the coastline is riddled with fishing harbours where lobster, sea trout and cod are landed daily – but the Iceland’s volcanic interior is also a source of delicious ingredients. Grazed on mountain slopes where wild herbs infuse their meat with rich flavours, organic lamb and reindeer frequently appear on menus, along with wild berries plucked from the tundra and freshwater fish like Arctic char and salmon.

Combining traditional recipes with state of the art methods, Eiriksson and his team are on a mission to rediscover their Nordic culinary roots while exploring new ways to create their dishes. Seasonal ingredients are top of their agenda.

Spring is long awaited in Iceland, I’m looking forward to going foraging for wild herbs and mushrooms; it’s my nerdy little hobby! One of my favourites is angelica, a hardy northern plant that has a taste profile somewhere between fennel and celery.

hotel ranga gourmet dining

Ragnar’s Top Restaurant recommendations:


Inside Hlemmur Mathöll, an old bus station turned food hall, you’ll find Skal!, a collaboration between Björn Steinar Jónsson, Gísli Grímsson, and chef Gísli Matthías Auðunsson. Bar stools wrap around the counter and open kitchen, serving small plates of charred arctic char tartar and spiced pork cheeks livened up with fermented and foraged ingredients from around the island. The bar is one of the city’s best, with herb cocktails, natural wines, and local craft beers.

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Hotel Ranga near Hella, South Iceland

Ranga’s gourmet restaurant is based on the concept of a farmer’s market. “My main goal is to use local ingredients that are in season,“ says head chef Karl Johann Unnarsson. Modern Nordic in style – with a hint of French and Italian – beautifully presented dishes include melt-in-your-mouth seafood and mountain-reared lamb. The restaurant‘s floor-to-ceiling windows provide spectacular views across Iceland‘s beautiful south.

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Matur og Drykkur

Translated, this means “food and drink,”. The cozy dining room inhabits an old saltfish factory attached to the Saga museum. Here, you can find classic Iceland recipes with a modern twist,  with fried cod tongues battered in beer tempura and foal turned into croquettes with blue cheese and rhubarb jam.

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Hotel Husafell Borgafjordur, West Iceland

Contemporary, eco-friendly Hotel Husafell is fast developing a reputation for fine dining in Iceland’s Wild West. Bursting with local flavours, the menu features sophisticated and imaginative dishes using seafood, lamb, wild game and other Icelandic delicacies, while the restaurant’s picture windows frame stunning views of the surrounding fells and woodland of Borgafjordur.

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Hotel Siglo Siglufjordur, North Iceland

Gaze out of the restaurant windows of this stylish new harbour-side hotel and you might catch a glimpse of one of its chefs selecting seafood from local fishermen. Freshly-caught fish, simply grilled and served with a light creamy sauce, is a highlight here. Across the marina, and popular with locals, Hotel Siglo’s bright red Kaffi Raudka serves everything from coffee and cake to traditional Icelandic hashed fish.


If you were looking for pizza in Reykjavik, most locals would point you in the direction of Domino’s. However, at Flately’s you can find Nepoli-style pizza topped with tomatoes and mozzarella important from Italy.

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You can combine all of these foodie highlights in our nine-night Iceland in Style holiday, which includes stays at each of the hotels above, as well as an overnight in Reykjavik’s brand new Hilton Canopy, just a couple of minutes’ walk from DILL restaurant.

Feeling Inspired?

You can combine all of these foodie highlights in our nine-night Iceland in Style holiday, which includes stays at each of the hotels above, as well as an overnight in Reykjavik’s brand new Hilton Canopy, just a couple of minutes’ walk from DILL restaurant.

Contact one of our dedicated Travel Specialists on 01737 214 250 or send an enquiry.