Think of Copenhagen restaurants and most people instantly think of Noma, now well established in its new location on the edge of Christiania. Given the difficulty of bagging a table (not to mention the cost), most of us will never get to sample René Redzepi’s creations – but with many Noma alumni having gone on to open up their own places, and other talented young chefs having been inspired to follow suit, there’s never been a more exciting time to eat out in this city. From a six-course tasting menu that puts locally grown vegetables centre stage, to a trendy Mexican taco joint, Telegraph Travel expert Suzanne King shares some of her favourite places to eat.
Smørrebrød is a Danish classic and everyone you ask will have their own view on where to find the best version of these artfully constructed open sandwiches. You can’t go far wrong, though, if you opt for this well-respected, traditional, place tucked away on a side street off Strøget. Expect a few dozen topping options to choose from, including multiple takes on herring. If in doubt, make sure at least one of the dishes you order is the pan-fried fillet of plaice for perfectly cooked fish served with remoulade and lemon.
A few years ago, the team behind excellent wine bar Ved Stranden 10 opened this restaurant just round the corner. Inside the high-ceilinged, big-windowed room, the look is simple but not stark, with mostly white walls, and mismatched wooden furniture. The menu takes influences from Asia and the Mediterranean as well as Denmark, so expect anything from a lunchtime dish of Iberian pork with cauliflower and kimchi to a dinner dish of potato noodles with lumpfish roe and mussel sauce. On Saturdays they also serve Chushoku (a Japanese breakfast tray) at lunchtime.
There’s a satisfyingly secret feel to this lovely little cafe, hidden away through an arched doorway opposite Kongens Have. Its pretty cobbled courtyard, filled with plants, is particularly appealing but there’s also a very chic indoors space - Lille Petra is owned by Danish design company &Tradition and stylishly furnished with the brand’s own furniture and lighting, in tastefully muted shades. The short menu of breakfast and lunch dishes includes the likes of chia porridge, savoury waffle, burrata, and skyr with berries, or you could just drop in for a coffee and freshly baked cookie.
Reservations: not essential but recommended, especially at weekends.
The owners of Marv & Ben (a city-centre restaurant with a Michelin Bib Gourmand) are also behind this newer venture, opened in 2019 in an elegant 18th-century mansion near Kastellet and hotly tipped to get some Michelin attention of its own. As the name suggests, fresh seafood plays a starring role but they’re nothing if not flexible: both of the two set menus (four or six courses) can be made either entirely vegetarian or, with a bit of notice, 100 per cent vegan. You could also just pop in to the oyster bar for some snacks and a glass of wine.
This old-school patisserie – a Copenhagen institution – has been pulling in sweet-toothed punters since the late 1800s and is still so popular there are days when the queues stretch back on to the street. Once you’ve secured a coveted table in one of its cosy rooms, gleaming with retro mahogany and brass, waitresses in green pinafore aprons swiftly serve up layer cakes, homemade ice creams and the most decadently rich hot chocolate. On the mezzanine floor, you can buy takeaway goodies, such as the marzipan pigs that are a Danish Christmas tradition.
Reservations: Walk-ins only
This burger bar offshoot of noma was born during lockdown in summer 2020, originally launching as a short-lived but hugely popular pop-up in the restaurant garden before being given its own permanent home in Christianshavn, just across the harbour from Nyhavn. Noma burgers may be a tad pricier than the burger norm but then they’re not your average fast food. The beef comes from organic farms on Denmark’s west coast and preparing the vegan option involves a two-day process in the noma fermentation lab, transforming steamed quinoa into umami-flavoured patties.
Reservations: recommended, especially at weekends, but they save a few tables for walk-ins. Take-away is also available.
Vegetables and grains take centre stage here, with a tasting menu built around locally grown produce. Wooden tables, potted plants, and the odd decorative gardening implement lend a suitably rustic feel to the surroundings and the daily-changing dishes might include anything from crispy beetroot crackers and edamame falafel to kohlrabi ravioli and black sesame ice cream. You can also have drinks in the greenhouse next door, or order bread twists or marshmallows to grill over the firepits in the garden.
Reservations: Recommended (and essential at weekends)
Need to know: It's found within Tivoli, so you will need an admission ticket to access the restaurant. Also, it's only open when Tivoli is open, and so it closes between seasons
Since leaving her pastry chef job at Noma several years back, Rosio Sanchez has been introducing Copenhagen diners to the delights of top-notch tacos, with her Hija de Sanchez taquerias in Torvehallerne and Kødbyen and a cool new cantina in Nordhavn. The first, though, is only open in summer, the second is so tiny it can be hard to get a seat inside or out, and the third is a little out of the way for most tourists. Hurrah, then, for this Vesterbro outpost, which opened in November 2017. The interiors are classically Nordic but the menu is all Mexican, ranging from huevos rancheros to octopus stew. 'It’s so amazing,' tweeted former boss René Redzepi, 'Just go.'
Reservations: Recommended and can only be done online - they don’t take phone or email bookings
If you’re in Nørrebro checking out Jægersborggade (a trendy street), nip round the corner to Café Taxa – a laidback neighbourhood bistro that’s a popular place for locals to hang out over a leisurely brunch, lunch or dinner. There are plenty of outside tables that catch the sunshine, while inside is all candlelit and cosy, with nice little nooks and crannies to hide out in. The menu isn’t huge but includes good burgers and some of the best chips in town; the moment you see a perfectly cooked batch being delivered to the table next to you, you’ll want to order a portion for yourself.
Reservations: Mainly walk-ins only, but inside tables can sometimes be reserved
There are days when all you really fancy is a fantastic pizza. Cue a trip to Christian Puglisi’s organic restaurant in Nørrebro, where they make their own mozzarella, cure their own meats, grow vegetables on their own farm, and make the best pizza dough. From the restaurant (all bare brick walls, wood-topped tables and stylish white lamps) you can see through to the open kitchen, where the wood-fired oven turns out thin-crusted and slightly charred pizzas that are invariably delicious, from the basic tomato, garlic and oregano version to others topped with seasonal veg, charcuterie and home-made cheeses.
Reservations: Recommended but they always have walk-in tables too
Football grounds and high-end dining don’t generally go hand in hand – but here, in Denmark’s national stadium, is a notable exception. Step out of the lift on the eighth floor and you find yourself in bright, light, Scandi-chic surroundings, where chef Rasmus Kofoed shows off the skills that have won him three Bocuse d’Or trophies and made this one of just two restaurants in Denmark (the other is noma) to hold three Michelin stars. There’s no dithering about what to choose – you just go for the multi-course set menu, and 'ooh' and 'ah' with every exquisitely plated dish of food that’s set before you.
Wulff & Konstali
With its designer lighting, cool colour palette and artistically arranged flowers, Wulff & Konstali could easily pass for an interiors showroom. Instead, it’s a bakery and restaurant, and a hugely popular brunch spot – especially in summer when they fold the windows back and have trestle tables outside. You're given a menu of 20-odd brunch components (ranging from skyr and croissants to organic scrambled eggs and fried sausages), and you tick the five or seven you fancy; soon a procession of dishes starts arriving at the table. Suitably fuelled, you can then walk from here to the beach at Amager Strandpark 10-15 minutes away.
Reservations: Walk-ins only
Across the harbour from the Little Mermaid is a very different kettle of fish: the old shipyards of Refshaleøen, a dilapidated urban area that gets more interesting by the day as cool new places open up. Among the forerunners was Amass, where organic, sustainable produce (much of it grown on site in big wooden planters) is transformed into deceptively simple but flavour-packed dishes such as hay smoked lobster with preserved vegetables and their famously delicious potato bread. The look is industrial, the vibe relaxed and they light bonfires outside where you can sit and chill after dinner. If you’re not up for a full tasting menu, check out Amass’s latest venture: as of summer 2020, half the restaurant has been given over to AFC, serving more casual, ‘faster’ food, including their speciality, crispy fried chicken, to eat in or out.