René Redzepi’s celebrated restaurant will forever be synonymous with Copenhagen’s culinary revolution – and years after its radical relaunch in a former ammunition depot near Christiania, the city’s infamous commune, it remains the hottest ticket in town. The dishes are as dazzling as ever, with Redzepi’s team rebooting the menu three times a year to showcase the season’s finest ingredients: game in autumn, seafood in winter and spring, and vegetables in summer.
The Michelin guide made culinary history when it awarded Selma a Bib Gourmand (for ‘exceptionally good food at moderate prices’). It was the first smørrebrød joint to receive the accolade – and the man responsible for taking the traditional Danish lunch to the next level was a Swedish chef. Nationalist feathers were ruffled, but open sandwich fans cheered: Selma puts a contemporary twist on the classic, using creative toppings such as elderflower herring with crème fraîche and buckwheat.
This low-key fine-diner won a Michelin star in its first year – and it’s easy to see why. American chefs Nick Curtin and Andrew Valenzuela create seasonal dishes with global influences, like mackerel with fermented cucumber beurre blanc or charred pumpkin with caviar and mulberries. Located in an old factory in the post-industrial neighbourhood of Islands Brygge, Alouette is accessed via a graffiti-covered service elevator – a striking contrast to the restaurant’s glamorous décor and intimate vibe.
For years, the humble hotdog was the go-to snack for peckish Danes. While you’ll still spot pølse vans around town, for a truly authentic experience, belly up to the bar at Harry’s Place. Founded in 1965 and located in a cabin in Nørrebro, it remains as popular as ever despite the culinary revolution that has swept Copenhagen. To feel like a local, order a Børge – a thick, juicy sausage – and wash it down with a bottle of chocolate milk.
Take a break from touring the design stores of Bredgade for a meal at this neighborhood restaurant from chef Per Thostesen, favored by locals for its oysters and famous fried egg with pomme puree and truffles. Even if you’re not in the mood for a full meal, a draft beer and some fries at the bar make for a perfect pitstop
Every day of the week, Barabba offers a murderers’ row of Italian dishes more concerned with pleasure than tradition. Consider three recent appearances on the menu: an appetizer of grilled octopus with spicy radicchio and Pantelleria capers; a primo of spaghetti with butter, colatura, and caviar; and an entree of hamachi that’s salt-crusted, grilled, and fried.
Geoffrey Canilao serves some of the city’s most creative cocktails at this basement bar located in the historic town center. A rotating series of themed menus highlights novel applications of ingredients like truffles and ice cream. Despite Balderdash’s spirit of invention, the dimly lit drinking hole is more welcoming dive than hushed performance space.
Kong Hans Kælder
Located in the underground cellar of the oldest building in Copenhagen, Kong Hans Kælder is the place to visit for grand European fine dining: turbot cooked in a salt crust, whole-roasted duck, and an impressive cheese cart. Bonjwing Lee has covered the restaurant and chef Mark Lundgaard Nielsen extensively on the Ulterior Epicure blog if you want to get a play-by-play of the magic.
TATA Cocktail Bar
Copenhagen is slowly becoming a great hotel city. The current star is the Sanders, around the corner from the ballet. The rooftop lounge is most tempting, but head to the acclaimed cocktail bar on the ground floor if you can’t do both. The servers couldn’t be kinder and the pressed ham and cheese sandwich approaches perfection.
The common refrain about chef Rosio Sanchez’s Vesterbro cantina is that it serves some of the best Mexican food anywhere, not just in Copenhagen. Good luck calling that hyperbole once you start working your way through the fleet of mezcals and Sanchez’s food. The breakfast taco is the sort of thing Angelenos would gladly wait hours to sample. Dinner is just as memorable, with tostadas of octopus al pastor and carnitas topped with grilled brigante cheese. Sanchez recently opened a second Cantina near Østerbro, and the two locations of her taco stand, Hija de Sanchez, should also be on your radar.