There is more plant-based food in Iceland than you might imagine for a country that serves reindeer, whale, caribou, puffin, and shark. All you need to know is where to look and when to ask. Here are my reviews of the vegetarian meals I've had in Iceland.
Vegetarian Travel in Iceland
You'd be surprised how accommodating Iceland is for vegetarians, even if you think Icelandic cuisine is fish with a side of fish.
Country Hotel Anna
Moldnúpur, Hvolsvöllur, South Iceland
I've stayed at this hotel twice (once is 2010 and again in 2012). The veggie "steak" is exemplary. On our second visit I was even more impressed with it. We told the hotel that we were vegetarian in advance so they had additional off-menu meals ready for us for our additional nights so we didn't need to have a veggie steak each night.
Búðir, Snæfellsnes, West Iceland
The vegetarian meal at Hotel Búdir was one of the best gourmet vegetarian meals I've ever had in my life. I would highly recommend arriving a couple of hours early as we did to relax in their panoramic lounge area as we did. We read our books and enjoyed wine, a beer, and a cappuccino between us. The decor inside was perfect, but the 180-degree views of the outside were spectacular.
We had made dinner reservations in advance (recommended especially in the summer months) and were glad we had emailed ahead of time to know that there was a vegetarian option. I glanced at the menu, saw caribou and a couple of other meats and knew to just close it and ask for the vegetarian meal. The waiter said many people are very happy with it (the woman at the next table was getting it too).
After an incredibly delicious leek soup appetizer (my husband got the salad which looked great), the main course arrived. The waiter tried to describe everything on the plate and almost succeeded, but not quite. It was essentially a platter of vegetables over some barley with some sauces around the plate, but the different taste of each of the dozen or more vegetables was amazing. Some were fried, some were raw, some were baked, some were dehydrated. Each of the four or five sauces was a delight. We recognized many of the vegetables as the ones popular in many Icelandic dishes but some were ones we had never seen in this region before.
Every part of the dining experience at Budir was perfect. A beautiful and luxurious place set isolated in breathtakingly pure nature. There is an extensive wine list, excellent desserts, and the bread and butter were one of the best culinary experiences I've had in Iceland. Forget about the price and don't miss this restaurant.
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Grundarfjörður, Snæfellsnes, West Iceland
I stopped in here after I found that it was basically the only place open for miles and miles around, but worried about what I could eat since I had heard it described as a fast food restaurant. I walked in and said "I know this is going to sound weird, but do you have anything at all without meat or fish?"
"How about the lentil loaf?"
Music to my ears! Ted and I both ordered that and found it to be quite good. I wouldn't call it a loaf, more like spicy pancakes. It felt great to get some protein not from cheese for the first time in days! There was a good salad on the side of the plate as well. We also indulged in the excellent ice cream bar before hitting the road.
Á Næstu Grösum
This is "the" Icelandic vegetarian restaurant. 100% vegetarian and very vegan-friendly. It's a buffet style little place but quite cute and right on the main street Laugavegur. Many of the dishes have Indian influence so you're not necessarily getting a "traditional" Icelandic meal, but that would be almost impossible to do vegetarian.
I enjoyed eating here in 2010 but when we tried to go again in 2012 it was closed for construction. It seems be a temporary closing for a renovation so definitely try to stop by when you go. No reservations necessary.
This little vegetarian cafe is near the Hallgrimskirkja downtown and is nothing if not consistent -- I had the exact same meal when I went back two years later! There isn't much choice of meals. There are basically two hearty pies to choose from - a rice-based Indian-spiced one and a spinach and cheese one. Both are great, and if you get the spinach and aren't vegan, definitely say yes to getting the feta cheese on top.
The infused waters are fun, too, so give them a try. Seating is informal and mostly high stools and there isn't much of a view, but I would still recommend this place for any vegetarian visiting Reykjavik.
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