Unlike most travellers, we decided to leave Reykjavík until the very end of our trip. For almost two weeks prior, we had successfully scrimped on camp stove-appropriate meals from Bónus; the supermarket equivalent to Ikea, as Jim aptly pointed out, and so it was time to nourish ourselves with some much needed nutrients upon our arrival in the capital.
Just kidding – we spent a full day and a half gorging ourselves on carbs, sugar and caffeine. Jim is a pescatarian, but ate almost entirely vegan for the length of our stay – bar the odd panic donut and bag of crisps (I still can’t get my head around the necessity to add mjólk to the humble potato chip).
And so, after checking in to our studio apartment, we hit the colourful streets in search of food that, unlike the copious amounts of canned goods we’d consumed thus far, had seen the light of day for more than a millisecond.
Reykjavík, by the way, is lovely.
Our first port of call and probably the most popular spot for vegans in Reykjavík. Kaffi Vinyl is a record store-cum-eatery boasting an entirely vegan menu.
We both opted for the Breads ‘n’ Spreads bar snack and were pleasantly surprised with an exceedingly generous portion. The sourdough bread had a hint of garlic, the homemade pesto, hummus and olive tapenade were fresh and packed with flavour and the salad came with the best dressing either of us had ever tasted.
We loved Kaffi Vinyl so much, we actually went back for brunch the next day.
Veganæs is an all-vegan fast food diner located within the grungy dive bar and music venue, Gaukurinn. We headed here to celebrate Jim’s birthday night out and feasted on the best cruelty-free comfort food either of us had had since visiting Temple of Seitan in London, earlier this year.
My Fish-ish burger was so good, I don’t think I even stopped to chew. The style of food and vibe of the venue went hand in hand and we carried on our night drinking beers to the soundtrack of live Icelandic rap. It was strangely magical.
Based in the Vesturbær neighbourhood, this trendy hipster joint is a fair jaunt out of the centre. After reading some top-knotch reviews, we headed there in search of brunch, to help remedy our grease-lined stomachs. Unfortunately, we arrived a touch too early, so settled for caffeine and sweet treats instead.
Nothing will prepare you for Reykjavík’s prices, especially if you are feeling emotionally vulnerable from drinking too much beer the night before. Jim’s Earl Grey and vegan cupcake, for example, set him back by around £12. My coffee and peanut slice was only slightly less.
Luckily, Jim was adamant that it was the best damn tea he’s ever drank, and my coffee was on par with the stuff I used to guzzle when I lived in Australia – so high praise indeed.
I’m a bit of a cake fiend and wanted to treat Jim (myself) to at least one slice of the sweet stuff for his birthday. I’d read a number of complimentary comments about Café Babalú’s vegan carrot cake, so we headed there for an afternoon pick-me-up. It was everything I could have wanted.
We came here on our final evening in Iceland with the intention of it being a pre-dinner snack. Somehow, our greed got the better of us and we ended up ordering a large portion each (even the chip guy commended us).
I chose to dip my deep fried golden sticks of wonder in vegan mayo and satay sauce – the latter being a pretty poor choice. Needless to say, we waddled back to our apartment defeated and disgusted in ourselves, carrying our unborn chip babies with us. Worth it? Totally.
Overall, Reykjavík had some really excellent spots for us vegans and due to time constraints, this list barely scratches the surface. Another factor was the financial side of things; after living so frugally for the majority of our trip, it was incredibly hard to part ways with our money towards the end. This definitely had some effect on our dining choices (yes, I’m talking about eating purely chips for dinner).
Have you visited Reykjavík as a vegan? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below!