If you love travelling as much as discovering new culinary delights, make Copenhagen your next destination. A city home to high-end restaurants and streets lined with affordable eateries, Copenhagen is simply the place to be for ardent gourmet enthusiasts. Learn more about this culinary hotspot and discover its best eats through this handy, not to mention mouthwatering, Copenhagen city guide.
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City of Michelin stars and street eats
Denmark’s capital city has long been in the food limelight primarily because of its array of recognised restaurants—15 Michelin-starred restaurants to be exact. In 2010, Noma, a world-renowned restaurant run by chef Rene Redzepi, was awarded two Michelin stars and voted best restaurant for three years running by Restaurant magazine.
This then paved the way for young, visionary chefs to open up more world-class food establishments in the city. In a way, access to a myriad of Scandinavian ingredients and the Danes’ inherent passion for art also played a part in placing Copenhagen in the gastronomy scene.
Not all good eats in Copenhagen are in fine dining restaurants though. In fact, when it comes to street food, the Danes definitely know how it’s done. From hot dogs to burgers to pizzas, tourists and locals alike can opt for familiar eats in more casual, bistro-like stalls.
Running out of food options is definitely the last thing you’ll have to worry about when you are in this city. But if you’re on a short holiday, our suggestions on what and where to eat in Copenhagen can help you make the most of your trip.
What to Eat
Smørrebrød (open-face sandwich)
Back in the 19th century, smørrebrød was a lunch favourite among Danish farmers. Danes now eat this bread dish from breakfast to dinner. Traditionally made with slices of buttered rye bread, this popular staple is enjoyed with limitless tasty toppings like pickled herring, smoked salmon, cured meats, egg, and vegetables. It’s a must-try to enjoy bursts of flavours in one bite.
If you aim to learn a recipe to bring home from your stay in Copenhagen, we recommend giving frikadeller a go. This simple yet well-loved local dish is mainly made with ground pork mixed in with milk, eggs, onions, and flour. The rounded balls of meat are then fried in oil or butter then served on top of a smørrebrød or with boiled potatoes and salad.
Flæskesteg (roast pork)
Pork is an all-important component of Danish cuisine. Locals love eating pork and using them in simple recipes. A popular favourite is flæskesteg or seasoned pork roasted with dry bay leaves. Its juicy meat and salty crispy rind are perfect in a sandwich with veggies and remoulade. If you are in the city around Christmas time, roast pork is also offered in flea market stalls.
Mørbradbøffer (fried pork tenderloin)
Mørbradbøffer is perhaps the Danish way of defining what comfort food is. Pork tenderloin is fried with lots of butter then cooked it in heavy cream. Slices of bacon, mozzarella cheese, fried onions, and mushrooms are usually mixed in this super yum dish. Season it with a pinch of cayenne pepper for some kick!
Fiskefrikadeller (codfish in lemon, onions, and herbs)
When you want fish for lunch rather than pork, locals recommend the fiskefrikadeller. This dish is made with ground codfish mixed with lemon juice, onions, dill, and parsley, then formed into patties and fried in butter until golden. It’s a fish cake with a Scandinavian twist that’s perfect when dipped in remoulade or served with vegetables and boiled potatoes.
Wienerbrød (Danish pastries)
Even your sweet tooth craving is easily satisfied when in this city through its exquisite array of pastry shops. From butter cookies to dream cakes, you’ll have no trouble ending your Danish food trip with something sweet. And when you’re in Copenhagen, make sure to have a box of delicious Danish pastries. Looking into beautifully shaped puff pastries topped with cream or jam is enough to make your mouth water.
What to drink
Gløgg (mulled wine)
Gløgg is a popular Danish drink made of red wine mixed with raisins, sliced almonds, and various spices like cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg. This Scandinavian punch is typically served during cold weather and a main component of the Christmas hygge.
For hundreds of years, Denmark has been making liquor out of grains and potatoes popularly known as akvavit. It’s a strong herbed and spiced drink with a distinct flavour mainly derived from dill or caraway.
If you love the taste of cider, then you will love warmed mead just as much. Mead is produced from combining water and honey then letting the mixture ferment. When ready to serve, fruits and spices are typically mixed in for added flavour.
Due to Denmark’s difficult weather, grape-based wine is not very common. However, the Danes’ creativity led to production of flavourful wines made with other fruits like elderberries, black currants, and cherries.
When you’re in Copenhagen, make sure to add the Carlsberg brewery tour in your itinerary and have your beer-loving pals tag along. A world-recognised brand and Denmark’s most common beer served in local bars, Carlsberg is known for producing a wide variety of Danish pilsners and stouts.
Where to eat
Food markets: Tivoli Food Hall and Torvehallerne
Sitting next to the Copenhagen Central Station is the 850-square metre Tivoli Food Hall. It houses 15 different food stalls offering everything yum for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This is a great place to have coffee with baked treats, crispy pizzas, or burgers without having to spend a lot. It even lets you take in the scenic view of the Tivoli Garden while dining.
Near the busy Nørreport Street is another great find in the city that is a market and a food hall combined. From the best catch to seasonal produce to colourful blooms, Torvehallerne is your one-stop shop for everything fresh and delectable. Once you’re done shopping, make sure to stop by its many food stalls, including Coffee Collective for their syrup-sweetened coffee and GRØD for a hearty bowl of porridge.
Fast food: DØP
Need a cheap yet tasty solution for a rumbling tummy? Let the lingering aroma of red sausages (rød pølse) lead you to hot dog stands scattered all over the city. And if ever you’re somewhere near The Round Tower, look for DØP’s hot dog van. DØP takes your average fast food favourite to a new level by giving it an all-organic spin, from meat to toppings. It even serves sausages made out of tofu.
Bakery: Sankt Peders Bageri
Known as Copenhagen’s oldest bakery, Sankt Peders Bageri has been a popular stop for tarts, muffins, and croissants since 1652. What makes this bakery special is their onsdagssnegle. These are their infamous snail-shaped cinnamon rolls baked every Wednesday. They only make 4000 of them every week, so make sure to buy some before they’re all sold out.
For high-class food in affordable prices, VeVe is the restaurant of choice. This Michelin-starred vegetarian restaurant offers a tasting menu that changes often, making each experience extra special. Never mind that there are no meat or fish in the menu as you’ll be enjoying delightful flavours of seasonal produce in a sophisticated setting.
Traditional: Øl & Brød
To get the best of both worlds—that is, enjoying a traditional Danish meal with good beer—Øl & Brød should be at the top of your list. This restaurant is known for giving the smørrebrød a modern twist by using new ingredients while preserving the familiar flavours of the bread dish. Menu choices are also changed constantly, depending on the season and beer options available. When you get the chance to dine here, pair your chosen meal with local and foreign aquavit and schnapps on offer for a satisfying Danish meal experience.
Phrases to know
Get around the city with ease using this list of common Danish phrases. These will surely come in handy when you want to greet someone hello or appreciate that first bite of smørrebrød!
|Hello!||Goddag! or Hej!||Go-day! or Hi!|
|You’re welcome.||Selv tak.||Sell tack.|
|What’s your name?||Hvad hedder du?||Ved hell-er do?|
|My name is…||Mit navn er…||Meet now-n air…|
|What time is it?||Hvad er klokken?||Ved air claw-gen.|
|How much is it?||Hvor meget koster det?||Vor my-et kaw-sta day?|
|I’m hungry.||Jeg er sulten.||Yai air sool-ten.|
|Is there a restaurant near here?||Er der en restaurant i nærheden?||Air dare een rest-o-rang ee nair-hilden?|
|That tasted very good.||Der smagte meget godt.||Dare smacked my-ell got.|
|How much is it?||Hvor meget koster det?||Vor my-et kaw-sta day?|
|Can I have the bill please?||Kan jeh få regningen tak?||Kai yah foe rye-ning-e tak.|
|Where is the toilet?||Hvor er toilettet?||Vor air toy-lee-tel.|
Good to know
- Michelin stars are prestigious ratings granted to restaurants based on anonymous reviews. Reviewers focus on food quality, cooking technique, and consistency. One star means a restaurant offering high-standard cuisine. Two stars are given to restaurants with excellent cuisine and skillfully crafted dishes. Finally, exceptional restaurants worth a special journey for their distinctive dishes are granted three stars.
- Hygge, pronounced hoo-guh, is a well-known Danish concept that represents the Danes’ love for all things simple, warm, and cosy. Going on bike rides, having picnics in the park, or simply lighting Christmas candles all count as hygge moments. In essence, it’s the same feeling you get when you’re curled up with a good book on a rainy day or sipping hot chocolate during winter.
Featured image credit: S-F / Shutterstock.com