Despite the high prices in Iceland, it is possible to eat on a smaller budget, especially in Reykjavik, where you’ll have many more options for cheap eats.
If you’re on a very small budget and are staying at accommodations with a kitchen, you can eat quite cheaply while still sampling some of the local cuisine. Head to the 24/7 (ironically not open 24 hours a day) or the Bonus supermarket and you can pick up fresh eggs, milk, skyr (a locally-made type of yogurt that is high in protein and virtually fat free), cheese, bread, and pre-packaged soups, salads, sandwiches, and pastas. The 24/7 also has a make-your-own hot dog stand.
Icelandic hot dogs are among the best in the world. If you have an image in your head of the typical American ball-park frank, forget it. Icelandic hot dogs are made of locally-raised lamb and covered with fried and raw onions, a kind of gravy, mustard and remoulade. At Baejarins Beztu Pylsur (a small stand by the harbor, which once served former President Bill Clinton) it’ll cost you around 250 kronur. Order two.
Icelandic Fish and Chips is an“organic bistro” located near the harbor and serving up super fresh fish battered in barley and spelt (and baked, not fried) with a variety of dips made from skyr. Hearty servings of haddock, wolf fish, cod, and halibut cost about 1000-1300 kronur for 2-3 large pieces. Beers here are also on the cheap side, at just 500 kronur for a local Kaldi. There’s a bit of a self-serve atmosphere here. Customers order at the counter, serve their own water, and then the food is brought out to them when it’s ready.
Tapas Barinn seems an unlikely place to try Icelandic delicacies, but it’s actually a great place to try dishes like puffin and whale on a small budget. The plates are small (enough for two to share if you order five or six). Along with Icelandic specialties, you’ll also find plenty of seafood and some more traditional tapas dishes like patatas bravas. House wine by the bottle is about 4000 ISK and the fresh-made sangria is under 3000 kronur for a large pitcher.
It’s easy to find cheap pizza all over Iceland, with several carry-out and counter-service spots in Reykjavik city center. If you want something a little more upscale, but still affordable, check out Eld Smidjan. 10-inch pies start around 1000-1500 kronur and offer toppings like pepperoni, shrimp, chicken, and scallop. Beers cost about 600-800 kronur each, and take-out is available.
Photo by jayneandd