Looking for a good restaurant in Copenhagen - where is it?

Looking For A Good Restaurant In Copenhagen

One of the problems we had last year in Paris was that we didn’t know where to eat, we went out of our way to find a good place and ended up spending a lot of money. With that in mind and knowing how expensive it is to eat out in Northern Europe, I spent a couple of evenings after work to research good and affordable restaurants. Now, Copenhagen is the city with the most Michelin stars, for 15 restaurants, but when you’re on a budget (and you’re not a pretentious snob), finding a place to eat can be tricky. Luckily, I have managed to make a list with quite a few reasonably priced restaurants but guess what: in the end we haven’t been to any of them. Curious to see how it went?

You could say that our first moments in Copenhagen weren’t the best, after realizing the hotel wasn’t nowhere near the train station. My bad. You see, there are five with the same name in the city and I was under the impression that ours was the one closest to the train station and the Tivoli Gardens, since I didn’t book it myself. It wasn’t. So we went from “yay, we’ll walk to the hotel, then explore the city” to “wait, we’re paying THAT much, the room is THAT small and it’s THAT far from the city center?!”

So you see, the visit to Copenhagen hadn’t started on the right foot. After finding the hotel (the right one!) and checking in, we went out to see the city. But first some food, because we were starving. Luckily, I had a whole list of places with great lunch buffets for around 100 DKK (€13) which is a great deal for Copenhagen. So we set out to find a Greek restaurant, but after walking down a street with many options to choose from, my friends said they didn’t like how the restaurant I picked looks like and wanted to go somewhere cuter. I was so hungry, I didn’t care and told them to choose whichever they want.

Looking for a good restaurant in Copenhagen
Would you like some potatoes….WITH YOUR MASHED POTATOES?

We settled on Nova, a restaurant with an outdoor terrace (which, if you ask me, was pretty ordinary, not cute at all) and while we were looking through the menu, a waiter was incredibly rude to a customer, telling him that “it’s a restaurant, not McDonald’s” because he was waiting for food for a long time. That should have triggered some warnings, but we were so hungry! My friends ordered some fish & chips from the lunch menu, while another friend and I got “fish with white wine sauce, mashed potatoes, vegetables and salad”, the waiter calling it “an excellent choice” so I was excited. The result? The fish & chips my friends got came from a supermarket frozen bag as to what I ordered….well, you can see it above. The fish was ok (nothing special), the vegetables described were potatoes and the mashed potatoes, well….they were sour. No, no, not because it was bad, but because it had sour cream in it. Yuck! But it was “a matter of personal taste”, as the waiter explained not-so-nicely. Ironically, this restaurant has a very similar name to the best one in Copenhagen / the world. I wonder if there was ever anyone who stumbled on this place by accident and expected haute cuisine. In retrospect, we should have gone to McDonald’s instead! And I don’t even eat from McDonald’s!

Looking for a good restaurant in Copenhagen
Delicious smørrebrød, one of the few good things I had in Copenhagen

Later that day, we were wandering around Nyhavn when we decided to eat, but after the previous experience and knowing how expensive the area is, we checked prices and TripAdvisor reviews beforehand. We settled on Hyttefadet to get some smørrebrød, which was quite good. My friends got one with salmon and I got a DIY version with three different types of herring, bread, butter and egg. Later that evening we bought waffles with ice cream so all was good again. 😀

Looking for a good restaurant in Copenhagen
Lovely aquarium. Not a good place to have lunch.

Until the next day. After visiting the Den Bla Planet, my friends said we should eat at the restaurant of the aquarium because it’s cute. I died a little inside. They got fish & chips again, which turned out to be great, but as I try to stay away from fried things, I got something that sounded good: shrimp sandwich with egg salad. It wasn’t. The egg salad with curry was absolutely gross and I’m surprised I didn’t throw up. I’ll be right back, I need a lemon.

So after a canal cruise, we finally went to check out a place that I picked with great reviews, claiming to have the best burgers in Copenhagen, a restaurant called Banana Joe with very nice owners. Owners who were on holiday the whole month and have closed our one chance to have some above average food. With an imminent rain, a street without many options and hunger induced crankiness, we sought shelter in the only place on the street that was open and had tables indoors: The Laundromat Café. I got a burger and a cider, which I liked so much that I didn’t even have time to take a photo of. The place is really cozy and quirky, you can eat and do your laundry at the same time. We should have come back, because after we left, the rain started again and we got soaking wet while we ran to the bus stop. Umbrellas? Who needs umbrellas, their place is obviously in the hotel room. 😛

Looking for a good restaurant in Copenhagen
Greek food in Denmark prepared by a Romanian chef. It was great!

On our last day, we went to a Greek restaurant called Bakaliko Greek Deli because when we first passed it someone was eating a dish that looked good. Not only was the food delicious, but the chef was Romanian and he offered us some Ouzo on the house after our meal. That was quite a nice surprise at the end of the trip. 🙂

So if there’s one thing I learned from the experience it’s this: stop researching and making lists before a trip and just check out TripAdvisor reviews before going to a restaurant. Somehow I think this may not be the right lesson…

Have you ever had a strike of bad experiences with food in a city you’ve visited?

You may also like

  • Wander Mum

    Thanks for sharing this – has made me giggle….sometimes you just can’t escape bad food when abroad. We have had a few unusual dishes in our times. We are planning to go to Copenhagen sometime this winter. I will make sure we choose the right Nova! #mondayescapes

    • It’s so disappointing when you go to a restaurant and you realize you don’t like the food. This can happen anywhere though, even your own home town 🙂

  • I think we did ok when we visited Copenhagen. Our hotel, Kong Arthur, had three different restaurants attached to it so we ate at two of them – an Italian and a Spanish one! On another evening we had steak in Tivoli Gardens which, though a bit pricey, was excellent.
    Love your chips and mash combo – reminds me of a chip pizza I had in France…!

    • Those restaurants sound great! They weren’t chips, they were oven baked potatoes, on top of mashed potatoes, haha 🙂

      • Chips, to me, are French fries or oven baked potatoes (not the crunchy snack in a bag which I would call a crisp!) Either way, you got a double dose of potato there :-))))

  • I’ve lunched in the Aquarium too…it wasn’t bad, but expensive. I also dined in a pizzeria called Gorm and was really nice and all…but you paid essentially 13 euros for a small pizza (enough for one person) and around 10 euros for salad. But even Mc Donalds are much more expensive than anywhere else. I remember that when I first visited Copenhagen in 2000 the price of a burger was 2,5 the price it had in Greece!

    • Yeah, my friends liked what they got at the Aquarium so maybe it was just my bad luck. The prices in Copenhagen for food and accommodation are indeed higher than everywhere else, it was impossible to find a good hotel at a decent price 🙁

  • Oh dear – definitely a bit mixed! I know what it’s like when you’re starving (or with someone starving) and the next place will just have to do… I did like Torvehallerne in Copenhagen, where you could pick up bits and bobs of food from the different stalls, which all seemed delicious. #mondayescapes

    • The restaurants I had picked had buffets like that too, but we didn’t go to any of them. Maybe next time!

  • Amanda & Brian

    Wow, quite a string of bad luck on your food choices. Sorry you didn’t like the mashed potatoes with sour cream, they sound lovely to me! Using TripAdvisor is a great idea, we also like to ask the hotel staff or tour guides for recommended restaurants once we get to a place as well. We find they direct us to more local spots and are typically good.

    • I should do that too (ask the hotel staff), I always like local small restaurants. I got used to the mashed potatoes by the time I was done eating, they went well with the fish, but it’s definitely something I don’t want to try again, my first thought was that the potatoes were old and they’ve gone bad.

  • hahaha, so sorry about that Vlad!!
    The hotel thing was very unfortunate, I have had a similar problem before.
    As for food, I certainly have had bad experience with restaurants before. In many places. And I hate when it happens!

    • To be honest, I was more upset about the hotel, haha. Accommodation in Copenhagen is so expensive! Hopefully I’ll have better luck with restaurants on my next trip 😀

      • I know!! Accommodation in CPH is really expensive, that’s why we decided to stay in an Airbnb, since we were in 4 it was worth it.

  • Believe it or not, but I just had that in Italy – and Bologna, its culinary capital, of all places! The worst moment was paying 45 euros for a lunch that was written up by Bloomberg, The Guardian, and a bunch of local publications, trumpeting one particular dish, which was so over-salted, it was actually inedible!

    • Yikes! I’ve learned I shouldn’t go with high expectations with restaurants that everyone is raving about. I did go to a restaurant in Malta with great reviews and the food was absolutely delicious!

  • You have the funniest experiences! 😛 Thanks for sharing this, Vlad! Apart from comic relief, it can be useful someday when I’m in Copenhagen. 🙂

    • I’m happy I could make you laugh, it means I’m doing something right, haha. Hope you’ll have better luck if you visit Copenhagen 😀

  • contented traveller

    I love smørrebrød because they are a mix of lots of little things and there nearly has to be something on there that is appetizing.

    • I loved smørrebrød too, it was the best thing I ate in Copenhagen. 😀

  • Vlad, your post made me smile. If you only knew how in-depth I research good places to eat before I go anywhere. It’s my #1 priority exactly because I hate to spend a great deal of money for a fancy plate on which the food is hard to see with a magnifying glass. But eating Greek food in Copenhagen prepared by a Romanian chef and being happy… well, I’m not surprised. We have very many Greek influences in our Romanian cuisine.

    • You perfectly described my feelings about fancy plates. The Romanian chef has actually lived in Greece for many years before moving to Copenhagen. He was quite excited to talk to us at the end.

  • Ah it’s such a shame when the culinary side of things don’t go to plan on your travels, it’s such a big part of the experience after all. I do find we’ve had the same issues in major cities that should know better when we’ve been away (and funnily enough the only restaurant I enjoyed in Copenhagen was a Mongolian one!). We’re off to Venice next week, last time we were there every single meal we had was awful, and we actually DID end up in McDonalds one night simply because we at least knew what to expect. Agree that Trip Advisor is really helpful in deciding where to go, and it’s often better to not go with a ‘list’ beforehand. At least it finished on a good note with the Ouzo 🙂

    • I’m always struggling between my desire to find delicious local specialties and playing on the safe side by eating things I know, haha.

  • Copenhagen is my *least* favorite city in Europe. It’s so expensive (we paid about 15 EUR for a mug of gluehwein at Christmas) and we find it a bit sterile. The best meal we had was a blow-your-head-off hot kebab on the pedestrianised area not far from Tivoli Gardens.

    • Everything in Copenhagen seems so expensive to me! From the accommodation to the food, it definitely was more expensive than Stockholm.

  • Rachel -The World in a Weekend

    I’m sorry that you had some bad experiences in Copenhagen, and hope you did manage to enjoy some aspects! I did find your reviews very refreshing and honest, most of the time I find that people only write about the good stuff and leave the “bad” parts out. Thanks for sharing, Rachel

    • I’m glad you liked it, I like posting travel stories from time to time that don’t just paint a really perfect picture. 🙂

  • Oh Vlad! I know it feels terrible to visit a place and have one bad eating experience after another. What you have described here sounds like a comedy of horrors (I do not understand the cute restaurant thing, btw). Lately, I have found tricky the process of finding a good place to eat in a foreign city. At the beginning of the year, I made a list of places to eat, based on Yelp reviews, for our Northern California trip. I was excited because when we arrived to certain places they were full of locals. I though that was a good sign. But, then, the food was underwhelming and overpriced in many occasions. I got so bad that I gave thanks when I got back home and was able to have good food again. Some, I am not sure if I trust review where the “majority” approves a place.

    • Haha, I love that “comedy of horrors” saying, I’ll remember it for next time 😀 They just meant they wanted to pick a restaurant that looked better, as if that was the most important thing.

  • Jo

    Eating can be so hit and miss……I always rely on a good guide book, and don’t eat near tourist sites or in touristy areas. Having said that, I find in Europe that museums often have very good cafes where you can eat well at a modest price. What a comedy of errors – I think I’d be tempted by McDonald’s in this case too!

    • I haven’t found any good cafes in museums yet, at least not ones that aren’t overpriced as well.. 🙁

  • Finding good places to eat can be tricky, wherever you are! Lucky for you, you found the Greek restaurant in the end 🙂

    • The Greek restaurant was better than I was expecting, it was a nice way to end the trip, haha.

  • JustGoPlaces

    definitely!! we always check out trip advisor for reviews on the foods, especially we have one child is a fussy eater.

    • I’m not too picky when it comes to food, but some of my friends are and finding a place we all agree with can be tricky sometimes.

  • I love researching where to eat – one of my favourite parts of the holiday but I also like wandering and seeing what’s about. Although that can end up costing you more! I like the idea of doing laundry while scoffing food! Thanks for hosting #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • Thanks for liking up to #TheWeeklyPostcard, I had your article opened for a few days, but only now I found time to read it. Can’t wait for the next part!

  • Dang. Food is such an important part of a trip that I could well consider a series of experiences like yours enough to put me off returning to Copenhagen. Ever. And wonder what’s wrong with the Danish sense of taste.

    That said, I might also reconsider traveling with anyone who judges a restaurant by how “cute” it is. What a random and subjective criterion, especially since no one is eating the décor. Lol. How about looking at the menu? *That,* I’d understand.

    I am a mega-huge fan of trying new things – as long as I can eat them! Fast food restaurants, on the other hand … well let’s just say I agree with you on that. Not a fan. There’s a reason I refer to it as McDogfood’s. 🙂

    • Hahaha, McDogfood’s! I don’t judge restaurants by their looks as well, but I was trying to let things go on this trip and not be bothered by the little things. Luckily, I didn’t get an indigestion, lol.

  • John Pilkington

    This is such a shame – I had some really good food experiences in Copenhagen last year. Hopefully you’ll still go back one day to find something better? Glad you had some cider though 🙂

  • Pingback: A Foodie's Guide To Eating in Northern Bulgaria - Eff It, I'm On Holiday()