|Copenhagen Travel Guide|
These days you don’t have to look far for a decent meal in Copenhagen - the city is full of stylish, alluring, cool and creative kitchens, all eagerly competing to offer the tastiest modern French, Italian and Scandinavian cooking. You could easily find a meal to rank with the very best Europe’s restaurants have to offer every day of the week in Copenhagen.
But of course, it isn’t all passionfruit and pancetta; traditional Danish staples like herring and frikadeller (meat balls) are still readily available, and many of the best venues often juggle both the finest fresh local ingredients and the classic French techniques. Fusion is still hot too, though thankfully the excesses of the ’90s have been tempered, and sushi of varying quality is also widely available. Copenhagen does lack decent Chinese and Indian restaurants, at least in any number, but it more than makes up for it with its cheap but authentic Thai venues.
Most tourists head instinctively for the quayside restaurants at Nyhavn where they find traditional but largely uninspiring Danish and seafood restaurants. Though the quality is variable and the prices high, it is still a nice spot for an al fresco beer if the weather’s friendly, and even in winter the bars and restaurants are the very definition of hygge . The finer French and modern Scandinavian restaurants are mainly to be found in the area just west of Kongens Nytorv, though there are notable exceptions scattered throughout the city. Vesterbro has a number of Thai and Asian restaurants, while Nørrebro is quite good for cheaper dining in trendier settings.
Traditional lunch cafés are a unique element of the Danish restaurant scene: open only for weekday lunch, and serving smørrebrød (open sandwiches), herring, frikadeller and other Danish staples. You’ll find them all over the city, and though they usually have all the aesthetic charm of a dentist’s waiting room, they are the best places to sample old-fashioned, traditional Danish food.
The down side of all of this choice and quality is that eating out can be an expensive proposition here, and some of the cooler venues do try to get away with murder when it comes to value and service. However, Copenhagen’s restaurant staff tend to be paid far more highly than those in other European countries and so, while a tip is naturally appreciated, don’t feel obliged to load on an extra 15 per cent for each meal; five per cent or 10 kroner for meals under 100 kroner will do fine. Danes themselves tend to be thoroughly mean tippers; many don’t tip at all.
It is always worth asking for an English menu in restaurants: more have them than don’t. And note that, bizarrely, some of the better restaurants close in July for a holiday. Be aware, too, that many cafés and bars serve excellent food, from snacks to full meals. See chapter Cafés & Bars.
For a truly authentic Danish dining experience, nothing beats eating with Copenhageners in their own Copenhagens. Two organisations, Meet the Danes and Dine with the Danes, can arrange dinners with locals the Danes).