Helsinki food is more than herring and salty licorice! Discover our favorite Helsinki restaurants plus tips on what to eat in Helsinki. If you’re thirsty, we share our favorite Helsinki drinks too.
If you’re reading this Helsinki guide, then you’re probably heading to Helsinki this summer and we’re envious. Helsinki is a city that shines in the summer months with large green spaces next to expansive waterscapes and a sun that never seems to set.
That’s not to say that our winter trip wasn’t awesome. Helsinki’s populace warmed us with their hospitality, and the city’s food is great year round.
Upon our arrival to the Finnish capital, we found a young and exciting Helsinki food scene, filled with a promising emphasis on local ingredients and fresh fish. In the summer months, the city’s parks and thoroughfares come alive with some magnificent food options, but the winter months offer their own charm with holiday markets and hot toddies.
The Scandinavian food revolution that started in restaurants like Denmark’s acclaimed Noma has spread throughout the Baltic and has arrived with a bang in Helsinki. Not surprisingly, the city has its share of high-end eateries, with several of the best Helsinki restaurants sporting Michelin stars. But Helsinki fine dining is only part of the Helsinki food story.
Whether you visit Helsinki in the summer or winter, you will surely eat and drink well during your trip. Read on to find out where and what to eat in Helsinki without breaking the bank plus tips on some of the city’s best beverages.
Helsinki Food Guide | Where To Eat In Helsinki
We scoured the city to find great but affordable Helsinki restaurants, cafés, markets, coffee shops and bars. The more we looked, the more great food and drinks we found in various corners of Finland’s sophisticated yet compact capital city.
Although the Finland food scene may not get the press of Nordic neighbors like Copenhagen and Stockholm, the city has a rich culinary history with some the best restaurants in Helsinki dating back to the mid-19th century as well as a thriving coffee culture that dates back to the mid-18th century. Helsinki is a city where eastern and western influences collide.
It’s also a city that embraces style, creativity and artisans – all of which shows when you eat Helsinki food. Locals regularly shop at markets for seafood and produce, especially when the city comes alive on the seemingly endless summer days filled with festivals and street vendors.
Looking for a great Helsinki hotel? We stayed at two Helsinki hotels that we liked for different reasons. The Aallonkoti Hotel Apartments, an apartment-style hotel with an on-site sauna, is just a short walk from the central train station. Solo Hotel Albert is a stylish hotel located close to Kaffa Roastery. Find the best rates for hotels in Helsinki.
In addition to its handful of Michelin-starred restaurants, Helsinki boasts other well-reputed dining options like Emo, Farang, Gaijin and Sandro, not to mention the more touristic Savotta. In addition to having one-word names, these restaurants all require advance reservations, which are often difficult to score during the holiday season.
We needed to eat affordably during our Helsinki holiday visit, but we also wanted to eat well. With a little research and some guidance from our friends at Visit Helsinki and Helsinki Eats, we discovered a handful of Helsinki restaurants that we highly recommend in the following mini Helsinki restaurant guide.
When people list the great one-word restaurants in Helsinki, they need to add Shelter to the list. Though relatively new, Shelter is serving impressive food with local ingredients and international flair.
As much as we dug the atmosphere at this new-ish restaurant housed in an old warehouse at the Katajanokka harbor, we loved the creative tasting menu even more. After we opted for a 3-course menu with a wine pairing, each dish and glass was a revelation starting with the sweet malt bread known as limppu and ending with warming cups of Johan & Nyström coffee.
At Shelter, Chef Hanne Honkanen calls upon her culinary experiences in Copenhagen and South America to create dishes like the tender salted white fish with roe, ginger-flavored milk and daikon and the baby lamb loin served with porridge, slowly roasted celeriac and pear. However, Honkanen is not too refined to throw out a fun dessert like little doughnuts (known as munkki in Finland) in paper bags next to bowls of black tea ice cream and crumbled oats.
Treat yourself to a multi-course chef menu. Shelter offers different options at different price points.
Shelter is located at Kanavaranta 7, 00170 Helsinki, Finland.
Fisken På Disken
After we told Markus Veikkolainen, Co-Owner & Founder of Heleats, that we wanted to meet up with him somewhere new and fun, he didn’t miss a beat to suggest Fisken på Disken on the fifth floor of the centrally located Kamppi Shopping Center. This bustling restaurant has a hipster atmosphere, a shellfish bar and a menu with dishes like sugar salted whitefish, charred salmon, vendance roe with potato blinis and beef tartare.
Although Fisken på Disken loosely translates to fish on the table, there was no fish (or beef tartare) left on our table. Seriously, we scraped every last bite of food and washed it all down with local craft beer.
Don’t assume that Fisken på Disken isn’t the real deal because it’s located in a mall. The top floor of the Kamppi Shopping Center has a variety of quality eateries including this one.
Fisken på Disken is located at Urho Kekkosen katu 1, 00100 Helsinki, Finland.
We didn’t expect to eat tapas in Helsinki, so imagine our surprise to experience sapas, a Finnish version of tapas. At Juuri, we ate sapas in the form of small plates of Baltic herring with mustard and kohlrabi, whitefish with roe and arctic char with Jerusalem artichoke.
Juuri is a local favorite that proudly serves Finnish food cooked with Finnish ingredients. Their cleverly name sapas dishes are just part of the restaurant’s repertoire.
Though the small, shareable dishes are predictably fun, we also enjoyed larger plates like the cockerel with cranberry and the pike with fingerling potato and dill.
Our favorite dish of the meal was dessert – milk chocolate with carrot and gingerbread – ironically the only dish of our meal not featuring fish or seafood.
Juuri is located at Korkeavuorenkatu 27, 00101 Helsinki, Finland.
On a typical Helsinki day, the panoramic, waterfront view of the Säästöpankinranta would be reason enough to dine at Meripavilojonki. Despite the short-lived (but lovely) view on the shortest day of the year when we dined at the restaurant, we thoroughly enjoyed our leisurely lunch while floating in the water next to the Helsinki streetscape.
Although Meripavilojonki serves a full menu with dishes like game terrine and goose leg confit, Chef Mikael Kyyhkynen’s menu is laden with fish dishes. This should be no surprise with Helsinki’s local bounty of fish like salmon, herring and arctic char. Considering the elegant setting and food quality, our three-course meals were fairly priced at 42.50 € each.
Budget time to walk to Meripaviljonki. You won’t want to miss scenic views best seen by foot.
Meripaviljonki is located at Säästöpankinranta 3, 00530 Helsinki, Finland.
Proving that barbecue is a global phenomenon not limited to Texas cities like Lockhart and global hot spots like Paris, B-Smokery slow cooks its ‘cue in an industrial Teurastamo space that was formerly a slaughterhouse. Add a tragically hipster vibe and it all sounds too ironic to be true.
Think again – this bbq joint is serving top-notch dishes like spare ribs and hot wings. We became believers after sharing a plate of the glazed Finnish pork spare ribs seasoned Finnish style with paprika, chili and cinnamon. Thanks to B-Smokery, barbecue in Helsinki is for real.
Don’t avoid B-Smokery if you’re not a meat eater. The restaurant is vegetarian-friendly with meatless options.
B-Smokery is located at Työpajankatu 2 R1 C, 00580 Helsinki, Finland.
Just like we didn’t expect to eat burgers in Lyon, we also didn’t expect to eat burgers in Helsinki. As it turns out, burgers are very popular in Finland, with chains like Burger King dotting the city (whether you want to find them or not). If you’re on a budget, burgers are an option for a cheap lunch or dinner in Helsinki.
Discover the world’s best burgers.
After we heard that Chef Akseli Herlevi, a winner of Top Chef Finland, opened a trendy Helsinki burger bar, we hightailed it to his pedigreed hamburger joint and ordered some burgers and sides.
Did we like Naughty BRGR? Is Herlevi serving the best burger in Helsinki? Watch our YouTube video and see for yourself.
Putte’s Bar & Pizza
As huge fans of pizza in Naples, we were skeptical about the quality of pizza in Helsinki. Curiosity kicked in and we tried the pies at Putte’s, a purveyor of funky pizza made with traditional ovens, local Finnish ingredients and a sly sense of humor.
We ate at Putte’s more than once and tried a selection of pies. Though we really liked the Silence of the Lambs pie topped with flavorful ingredients like lamb and North African spices, it was the Baltic themed Arctic Char pie that made our taste buds sing with its fresh fish, fennel and mascarpone toppings.
Be adventurous and try a specialty pie at Putte’s. You can eat pepperoni or mushroom pizza back home.
Putte’s Bar & Pizza is located at Kalevankatu 6, 00100 Helsinki, Finland.
Some of the best places to eat in Helsinki are actually cafes, but this is nothing new. Helsinki’s love for cafés goes back to the 1850s and continues to this day. Day and night, the best cafes are filled with people talking, drinking and eating in Helsinki. Here are our favorites.
** Important Update – Fleuriste has permanently closed. **
We admit it – we love a good korvapuusti, the must-eat Helsinki pastry. For the uninitiated, this buttery, soft, Finnish version of the cinnamon bun is flavored with cardamom and is best paired with coffee.
Discover more than 100 of the best desserts around the world.
We ate a lot of korvapuusti in Helsinki, and Fleuriste’s Eija Limnell made the best we found. This shouldn’t be a surprise since Limnell learned to bake the sweet treat as a child and then refined her pastry skills after living in France and eating the best pastries in Paris.
Fleruiste offers a delightful respite from the busy city and shouldn’t be missed.
You can find the recipe for Fleuriste’s korvapuusti in the book “Helsinki – People Make the City”.
Fleuriste was located at Uudenmaankatu 13, 00120 Helsinki, Finland. The cafe has permanently closed.
A trip to Helsinki would be incomplete without a meal at Café Ekberg, the local dining institution that dates back to 1852.
In addition to its menu items, the casual Helsinki cafe serves hearty breakfast and lunch buffets with plenty of sweet and savory options. Whether you start your day at the café or stop for a break during a day of city touring or shopping, Ekberg is an ideal spot for a light bite or hearty meal.
Be sure to pick up a Champagne Cork pastry or a baguette at the adjoining shop.
Café Ekberg is located at Bulevardi 9, 00120 Helsinki, Finland.
Newer than Café Ekberg by almost 40 years, Fazer Café oozes with history despite having a history that “only” dates back to 1891. Joking aside, Fazer Café serves treats and meals in a convivial setting.
Sure, you can buy a Fazer chocolate bar at any Helsinki food market, but the chocolate somehow tastes better at the cafe. Be sure to try the salty black licorice, one of our favorite things to eat in Helsinki.
Buy some extra chocolate to give as gifts. There are no better Helsinki souvenirs than edible Helsinki souvenirs.
Fazer Café is located at Kluuvikatu 3, 00100 Helsinki, Finland.
Since Helsinki residents like to shop locally and seasonally, it’s no surprise that the city has a number of markets catering to these savvy Finns. In addition to attracting locals, Helsinki’s markets are also great spots for tourists who rent apartments and live like locals in Helsinki.
Hakaniemi Market Hall
Located in a grand two-story brick building, Hakaniemi Market Hall is a vibrant market with 70+ stalls selling products like seafood, bread and pastries. Ironically, many of the prices at this market are higher than in the city’s chain supermarkets.
Is the extra cost worth it? After one glance at the vibrantly red salmon, the answer is an easy yes.
Filled with character and characters, Hakaniemi Market Hall provides a wealth of photo opportunities for food travel photographers.
Hakaniemi Market Hall is located at Hämeentie 1a, 00530 Helsinki, Finland.
Kauppatori Market Square
Popular with both locals and tourists, Kauppatori Market Square is a great spot to buy seasonal food in Helsinki Finland that you can enjoy on the spot or later. This market also sells local crafts, making it a one-stop souvenir destination.
Kauppatori Market Squaret comes alive during the warm summer months. However, this market is a year-round destination and always features seasonal products.
Tired of hamburgers and pizza? Kauppatori Market Square is a great spot to try genuine Finnish fare in a casual setting.
Kauppatori Market Square is located at Eteläranta, 00170 Helsinki, Finland.
A modern department store housed in an iconic Art Nouveau building, the Stockmann department store is a mandatory destination for anybody who chooses to visit Helsinki – especially food lovers.
Why food lovers? It’s all about the downstairs food hall with its wide selection of savory foods, desserts, chocolate and liquor.
Don’t hesitate to buy food at Stockmann. The centrally located department store is just steps away from the train station.
Stockmann is located at Aleksanterinkatu 52, 00100 Helsinki, Finland.
St. Thomas Christmas Market
Recognized as one of Europe’s top Christmas markets, the St. Thomas Christmas Market comes alive each holiday season in Helsinki’s Senate Square. The Helsinki Cathedral provides a dramatic backdrop to the 100+ vendors selling some of the city’s best foods and souvenirs.
If you’re lucky enough to celebrate Christmas in Helsinki, you may even bump into Santa Claus making one of his daily visits from the nearby North Pole. It could happen.
Be sure to try a cup of warming glögi, the traditional Finnish holiday drink made with mulled wine, almonds, raisins and sometimes vodka.
St. Thomas Christmas Market is located at Senate Square.
Helsinki Coffee Shops
Similar to nearby Stockholm, Helsinki is a city that fully embraces the fika concept of daily coffee breaks. With its residents drinking an average of 12 kg of coffee each year, more than anywhere else in the world, Helsinki has a burgeoning world-class coffee scene (or should we say kahvi scene?) with new roasteries and cafés elevating the city’s brew selection.
We drank a lot of good coffee during our week in Helsinki, and these were our favorite Helsinki coffee shops.
Located in Helsinki’s trendy Punovuori district and relatively close to the Solo Hotel Albert, Kaffa Roastery was our first and favorite coffee shop in Helsinki. We stumbled into Kaffa, tired yet eager, on our first day in the city and immediately jived with the roastery’s beans and attitude.
As self-proclaimed coffee connoisseurs (code word for coffee snobs), we know good coffee when we taste it, and Kaffa Roastery makes good coffee. The aforementioned attitude came from Alan Grosvenor, a transplanted roaster from Portland, who provided us with a more colorful introduction to Helsinki and its coffee scene than we expected when we walked through Kaffa’s friendly doors.
Kaffa Roastery serves a selection of handcrafted pour over coffees as well as the normal array of espresso-based drinks, all made with beans roasted on site.
Kaffa Roastery is located at Pursimiehenkatu 29A, 00150 Helsinki, Finland.
We often find the best coffee shops by word of mouth, and that’s exactly how we found Papu Cafe. Since the word came from Kaffa Roastery’s Grosvenor (see above), we made a point to hoof over to Papu to try their coffee drinks, not the easiest of tasks in icy weather.
The slippery walk was worth it though for Nha Truc’s third wave coffee drinks made with a Vietnamese twist and Kaffa Roastery beans. In fact, Daryl enjoyed Nha’s Vietnamese coffee far more than any of the condensed milk coffees we drank in Vietnam.
Additional Helsinki Coffee Shops
Although Kaffa Roastery and Papu Cafe share our vote for the best coffee in Helsinki, we enjoyed plenty more good coffee during our visit.
To fuel our energy and warm us up during our winter strolls, we enjoyed coffee breaks at centrally located Torrefazione and Think Cafe. Both of these Helsinki cafes serve quality cappuccinos and tasty treats.
Good Life Coffee Oy is located at Kolmas linja 17, 00530 Helsinki, Finland.
Johan & Nyström is located at Kanavaranta 7 C, 00160 Helsinki, Finland.
Tiedekulma Cafe is located at Aleksanterinkatu 7, Helsinki, Finland.
Torrefazione is located at Aleksanterinkatu 50, 00100 Helsinki, Finland.
Liquor is sold for a premium in Helsinki, so it’s key to find good spots to drink your favorite tasty beverages whether they be cocktails, beer or wine. Here are a few bar suggestions to get you started.
** Important Update – A21 has permanently closed.**
A little time can make a big difference. Such is the case with A21, a trendy cocktail bar located in a former sex shop. Instead of selling sex, A21 serves sexy drinks crafted with local ingredients and top-shelf liquors.
Sample the bar’s signature Sex in the Forest concoction with classic Nordic ingredients if you’re feeling adventurous. Otherwise, settle down with your favorite cocktail (or two) while you enjoy the bar’s classic ambiance.
Not sure how to enter A21? Just ring the bell for entry. Shh – it’s a secret.
A21 was located at Annankatu 21, 00100 Helsinki, Finland. The speakeasy has permanently closed.
Like many cities around the world, Helsinki has a happening craft beer scene. Unlike many of these cities, Helsinki’s beer history goes back 2,000 years.
Don’t let this history scare you away from trying Finnish beer for fear that it’s boring. And when you do, there’s no better spot than Bier Bier where customers can order craft beer from the tap and then enjoy it in the bar’s bohemian setting.
Order cider if you want a break from beer. Despite its name, Bier Bier has an eclectic cider selection including bottles from France.
Bier Bier is located at Erottajankatu 13, 00130 Helsinki, Finland.
Just down the block from big brother Juuri (see above) and a few steps below the busy cityscape, Latva is a cozy wine bar for grown-ups. This is the kind of bar where friends can meet up and pair glasses of sparkling wine paired with plates of sapas and cheese. Sporting a sophisticated yet relaxed atmosphere, Latva is a great spot in Helsinki to enjoy drinks with benefits.
Be sure to try a sapas or two. We especially enjoyed Latva’s locally sourced salmon sapas.
Latva is located at Korkeavuorenkatu 25, 00130 Helsinki, Finland.
Tislaamo Distillery Bar
Gin is quite the rage all over the world from Spain to South Africa, and Helsinki is no exception to this rule. For those wanting to try gin beyond the standard Bombay Sapphire varietal, Helsinki’s Tislaamo Distillery bar serves its own Helsinki Dry Gin distilled with local Finnish lingonberries as well as house-made whiskey and Applejack.
Could there be a better way to act globally while drinking locally? We think not.
Grab a bite at nearby B-Smokery (see above) before ordering cocktails at Tislaamo Distillery Bar to avoid drinking on an empty stomach.
Tislanmo Distillery Bar is located at Työpajankatu 2A R3, 00101 Helsinki, Finland.
Frequently Asked Questions
Most Helsinki restaurants serve excellent seafood but don’t miss eating korvapuusti pastries at Helsinki cafes too.
Yes. Helsinki restaurants are expensive compared to restaurants in other European capital cities.
No. Tipping is optional in Finland.
Anthony Bourdain visited the following spots while filming the eighth season of No Reservations: Bar Moscow, Cafe & Pub Päämaja, Jaskan Grilli and Kokomo Tiki Bar (permanently closed).
Phil Rosenthal visited the following spots while filming the fifth season of Somebody Feed Phil: B-Smokery, Cafe Regatta, Finnjavel, Kot, Löyly, Old Market Hall and Savoy
People typically eat dinner at or around 7pm in Helsinki.
Yes. Reservations are necessary for Helsinki’s better restaurants.
Helsinki currently has six Michelin-starred restaurants including one two-star restaurant (Palace) and five one-star restaurants (Demo, Finnjävel Salonkim, Grön, Olo and Ora).
Things To Do In Helsinki
Beyond being one of the most walkable cities in the world, Helsinki has lots of culture starting with its majestic churches and art-filled museums. Here are some ideas if you’re looking for something different to do in Helsinki:
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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. Since launching the site in 2012, they’ve traveled to over 40 countries in their quest to bring readers their unique taste of the world.
Original Publication Date: May 8, 2017