Edible Copenhagen

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Edible Copenhagen
One of the best ways to understand Copenhagen is through its food. It is a city where the cuisine allows you to explore how Denmark blends new and old, exotic and domestic, relaxed and formal all into a distinctly flavored Copenhagen experience.
By Alex Berger, AFAR Local Expert
Photo courtesy of Lagkagehuset
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    Danish Bakeries
    Copenhagen is full of bakeries specializing in the treats which originally put Denmark on the pastry map—just don't ask for a "Danish pastry." When visiting Danish bakeries, remember that experimentation is key and don't be afraid to ask for recommendations. Lagkagehuset is a chain with reliable, high quality goods. You can also double up on shopping and baked goods at Illum's in-house bakery, which is located just off of Strøget. Another local favorite is Sankt Peders Bageri near Nørreport station.
    Photo courtesy of Lagkagehuset
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    Perhaps the most traditional of Danish foods and a staple of the Danish diet, smørrebrød typically consists of a piece of rich rye bread (rugbrød), a layer of butter, and savory toppings. Ingredients vary widely but often include veggies, boiled eggs, shrimp, fish roe, fried fish, smoked salmon, pickled herring, and potatoes. A meal usually consists of between three and six mixed pieces; price per piece can range from around $2 to $15. Try Rita's in Nørrebro for budget smørrebrød, or Schønnemann and Aamanns Deli for luxury offerings. Cafés often serve a do-it-yourself option.
    Photo by Alex Berger
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    New Nordic
    Famous for its locally sourced ingredients and creative, nature-inspired presentation, Copenhagen's iconic Noma restaurant led the emergence of New Nordic cuisine. With a nod to Denmark's past, New Nordic restaurants draw on more traditional ways of sourcing and preparing food, including foraging for ingredients and brining, smoking, and artfully curing meats. The result is elegant and refined, yet often surprisingly complex, with rich flavors and unusual smells that excite your taste buds and curiosity. There are numerous takes on New Nordic, and no two are quite the same. Good options to consider visiting include Noma (named The World's Best Restaurant in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014), Relae, Geist, Manfreds & Vin, and BROR.
    Photo courtesy of Columbus Leth/Visit Copenhagen
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    Floating Cafés
    During the summer months, one of the best places to spend an afternoon or early evening in Copenhagen is at a floating café along the canals. These coffee shops combine the city's clean waters with soothing natural sounds and views, making it easy to forget that you're sitting in the midst of a nation's capital. In addition to tables, Kaffesalonen in Nørrebro offers pillows and paddleboat rentals, while Christianshavn's Bådudlejning & Café, located right next to Christianshavn metro, offers a view of one of Copenhagen's most beautiful canals. Another popular spot is Kayak Bar, just around the corner from the Danish Parliament, which offers kayak rentals, grilled fare, and has a floating sand beach.
    Photo by Egmont Strigl/age fotostock
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    Pop-Up Restaurants
    If you want to add a touch of adventure to your culinary experience, check out one of Copenhagen's pop-up restaurants. These pop-ups take over a funky location—a garage, warehouse, park, or even another restaurant—and briefly convert it into a restaurant serving high quality meals. The events often sell out quickly, and can take some research to find, so make sure to plan ahead; two to watch are Silver.Spoon and Rødder. Another option for a local experience is to try one of the folkekøkken, such as Folkekøkken Vesterbro. While sometimes called soup kitchens, these are actually better translated as people's kitchens. They are open to all and usually offer a basic vegetarian meal at a budget price.
    Photo courtesy of Aleksander Thuesen/Silver.Spoon
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    Nordic Sushi
    Sushi is an immensely popular part of the Nordic diet. Given Denmark's historical relationship to the sea, this should not be as big a surprise as it might seem at first. Situated on a large island, Copenhagen has a vibrant sushi scene consisting of a mixture of takeout and high-end sushi restaurants. For quality sushi and an excellent view, try Sticks 'n Sushi. While they have multiple locations, the view from their Tivoli Hotel restaurant is particularly notable. Another popular option is Damindra, located within walking distance of the Nyhavn neighborhood.
    Photo courtesy of Xavier Bougouin/Damindra
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    Cozy Cafés
    In Copenhagen the concept of hygge—a kind of comfortable, low-key camaraderie—reigns supreme. It revolves around cozy time spent with friends, often in spaces reminiscent of traditional reading rooms and lit by candles. For a great hygge café experience, seek out the intimate and welcoming cafés scattered across the city. Nørrebro and Vesterbro in particular are famous for tiny restaurants and coffee shops that have tightly packed tables and lots of character. For something slightly larger but equally cozy, try spaces such as Paludan Bog & Café, with its book-lined walls, or The Living Room.
    Photo by Alex Berger
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    The Kebab Mile
    Copenhagen offers some of the best kebab in Europe. With combination kebab-and-pizza shops serving as the go-to budget food for busy Danes, enjoying a kebab, chicken, or falafel pitabrød is a must. Each shop also has its own special red chili sauce; while some are spicy, most pack more flavor than fire. The area along Nørrebrogade between the Lakes and just north of Nørrebro Station is famous for its numerous kebab shops. Quality between venues can vary a lot; seek out Torvets Kebab, Kösk Kebab, or Beyti for a reliable meal. If in doubt, look for the shop with the most patrons.
    Photo by Dorota i Bogda Bialy/age fotostock
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    Fine Dining
    Copenhagen boasts an impressive assortment of fine dining options in addition to its New Nordic cuisine. While many establishments highlight Danish influences, you can find everything from gourmet French to Southeast Asian. You'll see the same commitment to quality and excellence that has made Danes famous as craftsmen, but be warned that this excellence comes with a hefty price tag—meals in Copenhagen reflect Denmark's high cost of living. Try Brasserie Degas or Søllerød Kro for French, Kiin Kiin for Thai, Kokkeriet for seasonal Danish, and Krebsegaarden for a menu based on their current gallery exhibition. For an excellent view and a fun vibe, try Søren K—named for the philosopher Kierkegaard—located in the Black Diamond.
    Photo courtesy of Søren K