Torvehallerne in Copenhagen

The Danish cuisine

Seasonal ingredients. Organic. Innovative. These are just some of the words describing the Danish and New Nordic cuisine today. In the past, Danish food was not on anybody's lips, and certainly no one would travel to eat it. This has changed drastically with the manifesto for the New Nordic Kitchen. Nowadays, Copenhagen is one of the leading gastronomic destinations in the world. Dig in!

The restaurant scene in Copenhagen is an attraction in itself, from reasonably priced bistros to Michelin-starred places. One thing you can be sure of is the focus on high quality, seasonal ingredients and an unpretentious take on dining out.

Kadeau, photo Marie Louise Munkegaard

Just a decade ago Nordic gastronomy was not exactly talk of the town. Today, the perception of Nordic cuisine has changed dramatically thanks to the New Nordic wave, which has echoed around the world. As four times winner of the title Best Restaurant in the World, noma has been front runner for New Nordic food, which has since been interpreted by many excellent restaurants in the north.

The New Nordic Kitchen has its own manifesto, written in 2004 by the The New Nordic Cuisine Movement, comprised of leading Nordic chefs such as Claus Meyer and René Redzepi.

Musk ox and buckthorn

What is the essence of the Nordic kitchen? In short, it's the focus on mainly using the natural resources of the Nordic larder. Fresh seasonal vegetables, locally caught fish and cured or smoked fish and meats. These are some of the hallmark ingredients that have helped shape a modern local kitchen with international appeal.

New Nordic Kitchen, photo Palle Demant

When dining out in Copenhagen today – whether you're into Italian, the Singapore street kitchen or Nordic gastronomy – you will discover a restaurant scene in all price ranges which takes pride in serving fresh ingredients – often with a focus on sustainability.

Copenhagen has more Michelin stars than any other Scandinavian city (15 to be exact), and 10 Bib Gourmand restaurants, meaning restaurants of high quality which is also good value for money. See our guide to Michelin-starred restaurants in Copenhagen.

Hot dogs and smørrebrød

But it is not all Michelin-spangled when talking Nordic food culture, though. The Danes enjoy their hot dog (bread with sausage, ketchup and mustard) at the many hot dogs stands around the streets of Copenhagen, as well as smørrebrød (open sandwiches) which are usually eaten for lunch at one of the many old style restaurants. See our guide to top 10 traditional Danish lunch.

Smørrebrød, photo Columbus Leth

Both the hot dog and smørrebrød have gotten an upgrade in recent years. Now you can eat organic gourmet hot dogs at select stands. Smørrebrød has been given a revival and is a trendy lunch for young Danes today. Many of the chefs focus on high quality and innovation of this old traditional lunch, yet keeping the prices reasonable.

This illustrates the revolution of the Copenhagen restaurant scene in the last decade – it is all about high quality, seasonal ingredients and innovation.

Street food and fusions

One of the most popular foodie places in Copenhagen in recent years is Torvehallerne food halls, which is a luxury version of a food market with delis, bakeries, butchers, coffee shops, cheese chops, vegetable stands etc. Torvehallerne is located near Nørreport train and metro station and is always buzzing.

In 2017, another foodie hot spot opened: Tivoli Food Hall near Copenhagen Central Station. It is a budget-friendly place as an alternative to eating at a restaurant. You can choose between 15 differents food stalls with foods from breakfast to dinner and from all over the world. Grab the food on the go or sit down and enjoy your dinner while looking at the Tivoli garden.

One of the latest trends in Copenhagen is the fusion food and cocktail bar, serving food and cocktails till late. Popular examples of this is Foderbrættet, who specialises in gourmet hot dogs, champagne and cocktails, and Neighbourhood, who specialises in organic pizza and cocktails. Both places are located in the hip Vesterbro district of Copenhagen.

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Foodie facts

Danish chef, Rasmus Kofoed, from restaurant Geranium, has won best chef award Bocuse D’Or three times. Both the bronze, silver and gold medal.

Geranium holds three stars in Guide Michelin Nordic Cities 2017 and was also ranked the 28th Best Restaurant in the World in 2016. 

The Nordic kitchen has its own manifesto. The New Nordic Kitchen Manifesto was written in 2004 by Danish gastronomic entrepreneur and culinary ideologist Claus Meyer and some of the greatest chefs in Scandinavia.

Copenhagen has 15 Michelin-starred restaurants and a total of 18 Michelin stars. Geranium tops the list with three stars, while noma and AOC each hold two stars. 

Organic food make up 13% of the total food sale in Copenhagen, which is the highest in Denmark.

75% of the food consumption in the City of Copenhagen’s public institutions is organic.

In 2014, the American gastro magazine SAVEUR awarded Copenhagen Best Culinary Destination in the small international (city) category.

Traditional Danish lunch

Top 10 Danish lunch

Get a truly unique Danish food experience at lunch, when the unique smørrebrød (the open faced sandwich), is served. Both classic and the modern versions.