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20 Copenhagen Food Favorites You Will Love

Are you wondering what to eat in Copenhagen during a food-focused trip to Denmark’s capital city? Read on to discover twenty must-eat Copenhagen food favorites and the best places to eat (or drink) it all.

Morning Bun at Lille Bakery in Copenhagen

Copenhagen isn’t just one of the great food cities in Europe. Along with global megacities like New York, London and Tokyo, it’s one of the great food cities of the world. But Copenhagen isn’t a megacity.

It’s the charming, happy, fairytale city that inspired Hans Christian Andersen to write The Little Mermaid. Copenhagen streets are immaculate as are the city’s well manicured parks and neatly laid bike paths. The city teems with great old and new architecture.

Little Mermaid Statue with Smoke Stacks in Copenhagen
Copenhagen’s iconic Little Mermaid has perched atop rocks for more than a century. The statue’s wistful gaze is mesmerizing.

Additionally, the Danish capital city has a public transit system that’s the envy of the world with its electric powered buses and a well planned metro line where, with day passes, a passenger can literally ride a single elevator from the street to the train platform.

While we can imagine Andersen strolling down the Copenhagen’s cobblestone streets, we wonder if he ate well when he wasn’t writing. The Copenhagen food scene wasn’t much to write about in the 19th century since most meals involved meat or fish and potatoes.

Copenhagen Selfie 1
Nyhavn made us smile every time we walked by Copenhagen’s colorful waterfront strip.

What a difference a couple centuries can make! Today’s food in Copenhagen is both diverse and sophisticated. It’s the kind of city where almost any and every cuisine is available, albeit for a price.

Pro Tip
Copenhagen ranks as one of the most expensive cities we’ve ever visited… and we’ve been to hundreds of cities. If you plan ahead and budget wisely, you’ll be better positioned to enjoy your trip without sacrifice or sticker shock. In other words, come to Copenhagen with a well-funded credit card.

Spending a week in Copenhagen was just enough time for us to explore the thoroughly modern Scandinavian city. And, by explore, we mean sample a veritable smorgasbord of food at neighborhood cafes and internationally recognized restaurants.

Chef at Kødbyens Fiskebar in Copenhagen
Chef Jamie Lee is one of many young chefs who moved to Copenhagen over the past decade.

Similar to cities like Barcelona, San Sebastian and Paris, Copenhagen’s cutting edge food scene has attracted young chefs like a magnet. These eager young chefs have brought a sense of excellence and adventure to what once was a simple, utilitarian food spot. They’ve also brought a learned precision to what they cook in not just high-end molecular gastronomy but also to international favorites like ramen, barbecue and pizza.

Copenhagen’s food scene is young and vibrant like an early Beethoven piano sonata. We ponder with excitement where the city’s cuisine is headed in the coming decades as chefs grow through their life journeys. The food in Copenhagen is great and we anticipate that it will get even greater.

Heart Waffle at Restaurant Barr in Copenhagen
Served with mussels, Oscietra caviar, pickled mushrooms and sour cream, Barr’s heart-shaped waffles stole our hearts.

Following in Andersen’s footsteps, we sampled the city’s best pastries, coffee and adult beverages as we traversed the city’s cobblestone streets. And, in the process, we fell in love with Copenhagen one bite and sip at a time.

Without a doubt, our first trip to the Danish capital won’t be our last.

Discover Danish food favorites to taste in Copenhagen and the rest of Denmark.

Copenhagen Food Favorites

Herring Smorrebrod at Aamanns 1921 in Copenhagen
We checked two Copenhagen food goals off our list when we ate this pickled herring smørrebrød at Aamanns 1921.

We expected the food to be great in Copenhagen. We also expected it to be expensive. We were right on both counts except that the food was even greater and a tad more expensive than we anticipated.

We don’t use hyperbole when we share that Copenhagen has shot up to the top tier of our favorite food destinations along with cities like Lyon, Bologna, New Orleans and Bangkok. The city’s food is that great. It’s also diverse with options spanning the globe at a variety of price ranges. Yes, there are cheap eats in Copenhagen, with the word cheap being relative.

We ate it all in Copenhagen from street food to fine dining. We also drank a lot, mostly coffee, along the way. Read on to discover our favorites, i.e. the 20 things you must eat and drink when you visit Copenhagen.

1. New Nordic Cuisine

Marrow Dessert at Noma in Copenhagen
Cleverly plated in a narrow reindeer bone and topped with freeze dried blueberries and colorful flowers, this sweet, buttery reindeer marrow caramel ended our epic dinner at Noma.

With its focus on hyper-local, seasonal food, the birth of the New Nordic Cuisine coincides with the 2004 opening of Noma in Copenhagen. It’s not a coincidence. Claus Meyer didn’t just write the New Nordic Cuisine manifesto. He also partnered with René Redzepi to open Noma.

Sure, you can sample New Nordic Cuisine in Scandinavian countries like Finland, Norway and Sweden as well as at several of the best Copenhagen restaurants. However, there’s no better place to dive into the wonderful world of pickling, fermentation and extreme cuisine than at the Noma’s campus situated between Christiana and Refshaleøen.

After all, Noma is the restaurant that started Scandinavia’s culinary movement. Plus, it has three Michelin stars and currently tops the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Just plan way ahead to score a reservation and start saving now.

See What It’s Like to Dine at Noma
Check out our dinner at Noma and the Game & Forest menu that we experienced.

2. Top Copenhagen Restaurants

Schnitzel at Restaurant Barr in Copenhagen
Topped with chanterelles, lingonberries, pine and house butter sauce, Barr’s jägerschnitzel took our taste buds to new and exciting places.

Noma may be considered the best restaurant in the world but it’s not the only top restaurant in the Danish capital – which is a good thing. Most people who visit Copenhagen won’t dine at Noma due to its high price tag and culinarily adventurous menu. Plus, it’s practically impossible to score a reservation.

While Noma may be currently ranked #1 in the world on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants List, Geranium (which earned a third Michelin star five years before Noma) is nipping at its heels at #2. Then there are restaurants like Alchemist which offers cutting edge, transportive “Holistic Cuisine,” Amass which takes sustainable cuisine to new heights and Barr which puts new spins on classic Nordic dishes.

Fun Fact
Copenhagen is filled with chefs and bakers who ‘earned their chops’ at Noma and now have their own restaurants and bakeries. To us, Copenhagen feels like a company town… and that company is Noma. That being said, we have more to discover outside Noma’s realm during our future visits.

Copenhagen currently has 14 Michelin-starred restaurants. Geranium and Noma each have three stars. Two-star restaurants include Alchemist, a | o | c, Jordnær, Kadeau Copenhagen and Kong Hans Kælder. Finally, each of the following restaurants has one star: Alouette, formel B, Kiin Kiin, Kokkeriet, Marchal, The Samuel and Søllerød Kro.

Top Restaurants in Copenhagen
Discover our picks for the best Copenhagen restaurants.

3. Traditional Danish Food

Tartelet at Schonnemann in Copenhagen
We ate this traditional tartelette at Schønnemann. Filled with chicken and Jerusalem artichokes, it’s gooey, buttery, flakey texture reminded us of chicken pot pie.

It’s easy to get swept up with Copenhagen’s food scene filled with New Nordic Cuisine and other modern culinary trends. However, skipping traditional Danish dishes would be a mistake for food travelers taking a deep dive into the city’s food scene.

Make no mistake, traditional Danish food isn’t fancy. It includes ingredients found on the land and in the water, with typical meals featuring fish, pork and potatoes. Rye bread is often on the table too.

While we associated salmon with Denmark before our visit, the country’s national dish, stegt flæsk, features crispy pork in addition to potatoes and parsley sauce. To us, though, no traditional dish personifies Danish cuisine more than smørrebrød. It’s the dish that both started and ended our culinary journey in Copenhagen and the one that we plan to incorporate into our lunch repertoire.

Where to Experience Traditional Danish Food in Copenhagen
Lumskebugten, Palægade and Schønnemann

4. Smørrebrød

Tartare Smorrebrod at Aamanns 1921 in Copenhagen
This tartare smørrebrød at Aamanns 1921 was as tasty as it was unique.

In simple terms, smørrebrød are open-faced sandwiches that compare favorably with other global sandwiches. However, Denmarks’s humble smørrebrød has grown from a basic, nourishing, utilitarian, bread-based 19th century meal to a platform for modern day chef-driven creativity.

Pro Tip
Don’t attempt to eat Copenhagen smørrebrød with your hands. Instead, eat them with utensils like the locals do.

Copenhagen chefs top rugbrød, a dark whole grain rye, with a range of proteins that transcend simple slabs of pickled herring or sliced hard boiled eggs. Some of our favorite smørrebrød toppers in Copenhagen were beef tartare and a gravy teeming with chanterelles and oyster mushrooms. However, we also enjoyed eating smørrebrød topped more traditionally with herring and egg salad.

Where to Sample Smørrebrød in Copenhagen
Aamanns 1921, Møntergade, Selma and Sonny

5. Pastries

Cardamom Bun at Lille Bakery in Copenhagen
The only thing little at Lille Bakery is the cafe’s name which literally translates to Little Bakery. This flaky cardamom bun was generous in both size and flavor.

Ironically, Danish bakers didn’t invent the laminated pastries called danishes in the United States. That credit goes to Austrian bakers. However, it’s fair to say that Danish bakers have taken Austria’s layered pastry concept to new and exciting levels at bakeries throughout Copenhagen.

Cinnamon snail-shaped pastries called kanelsnegle are are easily the city’s most popular pastry and can be found at throughout the city. Many bakeries add bonus bits like chocolate to the kanelsnegle’s typical sugary glaze.

However, if you’re looking for a Copenhagen pastry that looks and tastes more like American danishes, that pastry is the spandauer. It’s a classic wienerbrød with flaky, laminated crust, a sweet marzipan filling and either fruit or cream on top.

Where to Devour the Best Pastries in Copenhagen
Check out our Copenhagen bakery guide with a round-up of the city’s sweetest spots.

6. Morning Buns

Morning Bun at Seks in Copenhagen
We took a moment to admire this morning bun at Seks Bakery & Eatery before we ate it.

In Copenhagen, morning buns are portable breakfast sandwiches that demonstrate the power of top quality bread. It didn’t take long us for us to fall in love with the popular Danish breakfast sandwich. Actually, it just took one bite.

Follow our morning bun recipe and make the tasty breakfast sandwich in your kitchen.

Magnificent artisan sourdough hand rolls provide a stage for excellent aged alpine cheese (in this case, Comté from France) and butter. While these three ingredients stand on their own, Copenhagen bakeries combine these wonderful ingredients to make a simple elevated breakfast.

Where to Fall in Love with Morning Buns in Copenhagen
The best Copenhagen bakeries all serve morning buns.

7. Hot Dogs

Hot Dog at DOP in Copenhagen
Hot Diggity Dog! This loaded rød pølse at DØP was big enough for us to share.

We’ve eaten Hot Dogs in American cities like Buffalo, Chicago and New York as well as in Nordic cities like Oslo and Stockholm. We can now add Copenhagen to this auspicious list now that we’ve eaten the wonderful Danish food favorite called rød pølse at both a gourmet pølsevogn (i.e. sausage wagon) and a 7-Eleven located right by our Copenhagen hotel.

Although Danes have been stuffing slender ‘red’ sausages inside buns for a century, traditional toppings keep Rød Pølser from being boring. Popular toppings include onion (both fried and raw), mustard, ketchup, remoulade and sliced pickles. We piled all of these ingredients on top of our first rød pølse and then did it again with our second. We’re nothing if not adventurous creatures of habit with a shared passion for street food.

Where to Eat Hot Dogs in Copenhagen
DØP, 7-Eleven and Hot Dog Stands Around the City

8. Seafood

Scallops at Kodbyens Fiskebar in Copenhagen
The seafood in Copenhagen is off the hook – pun intended – as evidenced by these meaty scallops served with cucumber, mild horseradish and lovage at Kødbyens Fiskebar in Copenhagen’s meatpacking district.

Considering that Denmark has coasts along both the North and Baltic Seas, you might think that seafood would be abundant in the country’s capital. You would be correct. Fish is available at all price points and in all shapes and forms including inside fiskefrikadeller (fish cakes) and on top of smørrebrød.

Seafood specialities like oysters and scallops are readily available at both upscale and traditional Copenhagen restaurants as well as at street stalls and in food markets. However, herring is the city’s favorite fish and the one not to miss. The bony fish is so abundant that it played a key role in establishing Copenhagen’s status as a European trading center.

Where to Eat Amazing Seafood in Copenhagen
Den Grønne Kutter, Iluka and Kødbyens Fiskebar

9. Porridge

Porridge at Grod in Copenhagen
New rule! All porridge should be topped with homemade caramel sauce, fresh apple and roasted almonds like this delicious bowl we ate at Gród in Copenhagen’s bustling Torvehallerne market hall.

Porridge is so popular in Copenhagen that local chain Grød, the Danish word for porridge, has ten locations throughout the city.

Nothing like instant oatmeal eaten in America or the gruel that Dickens’ Oliver Twist famously requested “more” of without success, Grød’s porridge is both rich and satisfying. The local chain restaurant takes the breakfast concept to the next level by topping bowls of steel cut oats with items like sliced apples, protein-filled nuts and caramel sauce.

Where to Start Your Day with Porridge in Copenhagen
Grød

10. Food Halls

Seafood Stall at Torvehallerne in Copenhagen
Shopping at Torvehallerne is fun… especially when purchasing oysters and other fruits of the sea.

Copenhagen food halls provide visiting foodies the opportunity to taste the best of Copenhagen without breaking the bank. We’re talking about oysters plucked from nearby waters and sweet treats produced by artisan chocolatiers and bakers.

These food halls are also a fun spot to mingle with vendors and locals who fill the halls. While the locals shop for fresh, high quality meat and equally fresh flowers, travelers can purchase edible souvenirs and gift items. We recommend bottles of Mikkeller craft beer for both now and later.

The Best Food Halls in Copenhagen
Bridge Street Kitchen, Reffen, Tivoli Food Hall and Torvehallerne

11. Burgers

Cheeseburger at Popl Burger in Copenhagen
We stopped to admire this juicy cheeseburger at POPL before we took our first bites.

While Danes have been eating Hot Dogs called rød pølse for a century, burgers are newer to the Copenhagen food scene. However, don’t count out burgers in one of Europe’s most expensive cities.

Sure, McDonalds has a presence but there’s no need to eat at the American burger chain. It’s way more fun to chow down on a juicy burger at a former gas station unless you’d rather ‘get your burger on’ at a burger joint owned by the folks who own Noma. However, if you feel the need to eat burgers at a chain, you can do this without regret at one with roots in Iceland. In case you didn’t know, blue lagoons are way cooler than golden arches.

Where to Eat Tasty Hamburgers in Copenhagen
Gasoline Grill, POPL and Tommi’s Burger Joint

12. Pizza

Pizza at Baest in Copenhagen
Topped with tomato pasatta, house made nduja, smoked mozzarella, spring onions and oregano, our sourdough pizza at Bæst was a stunner.

We have yet to visit a city that doesn’t love pizza and Copenhagen is no exception to this rule. But, just like with other foods, Copenhagen goes just a little bit further with pizza compared to other cities outside of Italy.

In Copenhagen, pizza lovers can eat pies at chain restaurants and in food halls. They can eat thin Roman style pies and doughier Neapolitan pies. However, the truly pizza obsessed can go to the next levels at pizzerias that utilize customized pizza ovens, ferment their dough and cure their meat. FYI, we fit in the pizza-obsessed category.

Where to Eat Authentic Pizza in Copenhagen
Bæst and Surt

13. Asian Food

Shio Ramen at Slurp Ramen Joint in Copenhagen
Slurping ramen is a must at Slurp Ramen. We were happy to comply.

While the distance from Copenhagen to Asia is daunting, finding Asian food in the Danish city is both easy and satisfying. Not only is it possible to find authentic Asian food in Copenhagen, the options span the Asian continent with options involving Japanese, Korean, Thai and Vietnamese cuisines.

Some of Copenhagen’s best Asian restaurants are fast and casual while others are more expensive. Most offer chopsticks to their customers but using them is optional.

Where to Use Chopsticks in Copenhagen
Barshu (Chinese), Koan (Korean), Kōnā (Japanese), Ranee’s (Thai), Slurp Ramen (Japanese) and Tigermom (Asian Fusion)

14. Mexican Food

Tacos at Sanchez in Copenhagen
We’re still dreaming about these corn tortillas toped with marinated organic Hindsholm pork and habanero onion at Sanchez.

The concept of eating great Mexican food in Copenhagen seems like an oxymoron. After all, it’s hard enough to find good Mexican food in Lisbon where we live and Denmark is even further away from Mexico.

Color us surprised when we took our first bites into homemade tacos at Sanchez, Chef Rosio Sanchez’s flagship Mexican restaurant in Copenhagen’s edgy Vesterbro neighborhood. By the time we took our last bites into Sanchez’s open churros sandwich, we were smitten.

Sure, we expected the food to be good based on Sanchez’s Mexican-American heritage and her tenure at Noma. But Sanchez exceeded our expectations. Her Mexican food isn’t just great by European standards. It’s great period.

Where to Eat the Best Mexican Food in Copenhagen
Sanchez

15. Italian Food

Pasta at Barabba in Copenhagen
This plate of spaghetti ai frutti di mare combined the best of Denmark and Italy on one blue plate.

We didn’t plan to eat Italian food in Copenhagen. That’s one cuisine that we can find anywhere and everywhere around the world. However, after eating great pizza at Bæest, we were intrigued to experience the city’s take on Italian food beyond pizzas and calzones.

As we discovered while eating pasta dishes topped with seafood and duck, Copenhagen’s Italian food game is strong beyond pizza. Many of the city’s best Italian restaurants have Italian chefs and some even have Italian servers. At the end of the day, Danes love Italian food and so do we.

Where to Eat Italian Food in Copenhagen
Barabba and Osteria Rufino

16. Specialty Coffee

Flat White at Sonny in Copenhagen
This cup of specialty coffee at Sonny made us feel special.

Thanks to Coffee Collective, Copenhagen is a mecca for specialty coffee drinkers who’ve enjoyed the roastery’s beans at coffee shops in cities like Amsterdam, Berlin, Dublin and Paris. However, Coffee Collective is just one of many excellent coffee shops that keep Copenhagen’s citizens both happy and caffeinated.

Fun Fact
Danes rank fourth in the world in terms of coffee consumption.

Copenhagen is a city that embodies the cosy concept of hygge. Coffee shops here are more welcoming and friendlier compared to most European cities. More important, the coffee at Copenhagen coffee shops is good most and excellent at others.

Where to Drink Flat Whites and Pour Overs in Copenhagen
Check out our Copenhagen coffee guide with the city’s best specialty coffee shops.

17. Craft Beer

Beer at Mikkeller Bar in Copenhagen
Drinking this Mikkeller beer at the original Mikkeller bar made us happy in Europe’s happiest capital city.

It seems like beer is all over Copenhagen for good reason – Danes produce, sell and drink a prodigious amount of lager. Not only do beer behemoths Carlsberg and Tuborg hail from Denmark as does the international craft brewer Mikkeller, but the city also has numerous bars and microbreweries that serve beer all day and into the night.

Although we were tickled by signs proclaiming Carlsberg to “probably be the best beer in the world,” we mostly drank craft beer at Copenhagen pubs and restaurants. A highlight was drinking Mikkeller at its original location. We’d previously visited a Mikkeller pub in Bucharest but there’s nothing better than drinking Mikkeller’s excellent beer at the source.

Where to Chug Beer in Copenhagen
Brus, Himmeriget and Mikkeller

18. Cocktails

Cocktail at Balderdash in Copenhagen
We lost track of time when we sipped Balderdash’s Midnight Oil cocktail with banana, black garlic, black truffle, coconut, hazelnut and vegan cream plus a dusting of chaga black pepper.

Finding cocktails in Copenhagen is easier than you might think despite Denmark’s commitment to beer. It makes perfect sense. It’s a slippery slope from using gastronomic techniques to create food to using those same techniques to create drinks.

The city has a variety of cocktail bars that rivals its variety of restaurants. Some of the best Copenhagen bars double as hotel lounges while others hide in plain sight as speakeasies. They all craft classic cocktails but also stretch their mixology muscles. It’s up to you whether you want to imbibe gin, vodka or whiskey.

Where to Drink Cocktails in Copenhagen
Balderdash, Barking Dog, Duck & Cover, Gensyn, Lidkoeb, Ruby and Tata

19. Wine

Fresh Cheese and Wine at Den Vendrette in Copenhagen
Drinking wine produced in Emilia-Romagna at Den Vendrette was a good idea. Pairing it with fresh Danish cheese and artisan sourdough was a stroke of genius.

While you can order a fine bottle of wine at Noma or another Michelin starred restaurant in Copenhagen, that’s not where all of the wine action happens. Much of the city’s best wine is served at neighborhood wine bars.

Catering to local oenophiles, these wine bars serve both natural and traditional wine. They serve red and white wine as well as pink and orange wine. They even serve wine produced in Denmark. However, in full disclosure, Copenhagen wine bars source most of their wine bottles from countries like France, Germany and Italy.

Where to Sip Wine in Copenhagen
Den Vendrette, La Banchina, Lille Blå, Nr. 30 and Pompette

20. Snaps

Snaps at Aamanns 1921 in Copenhagen
Communing with Danish nature is fun when it involves sipping snap.

Not to be confused with your granny’s peppermint schnapps, snaps is a potent potable that provides a serious kick. Produced in dozens, if not hundreds, of natural flavors, the traditional Danish drink harmonizes with traditional Danish food like butter on toast.

Aquavit, Denmark’s most famous Snaps, is flavored with either dill seed or carroway. We found our favorite snaps flavor, rye bread, at Aamanns 1921.

Where to Eat Savor Snaps in Copenhagen
Aamanns 1921, Schønnemann and Told & Snaps

Useful Copenhagen Facts

Grand Building in Copenhagen
The architecture in Copenhagen never bored us and often excited us.
  • Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark.
  • Denmark is in Europe. It’s both a member of the European Union and a Schengen country.
  • Denmark’s currency is the Danish Krone.
  • Danish is Denmark’s official language but most people speak additional languages including English.
  • Service is typically included but you can leave a ‘little something extra’ (5-10%) for excellent service.

Plan Your Copenhagen Trip

CitizenM Hotel Room in Copenhagen
Start planning your Copenhagen trip now. We planned ahead and stayed at CitizenM Copenhagen, a moderately-priced, centrally-located hotel close to Tivoli Gardens and the city’s Central Station.

Planning Checklist

Hungry for More Danish Food?

Check out our favorite Danish dishes after you visit our favorite Copenhagen restaurants, bakeries and coffee shops.

View the Web Story.

About the Authors

About the Authors

Daryl & Mindi Hirsch

Saveur Magazine’s BEST TRAVEL BLOG award winners Daryl and Mindi Hirsch share their culinary travel experiences and recipes on the 2foodtrippers website and YouTube. The married Food and Travel content creators live in Lisbon, Portugal.

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