Looking for the best cheap restaurants in Copenhagen? A weekend foodie break in the Danish capital can be affordable. Copenhagen is renowned for its Michelin-starred restaurants and clever Nordic cuisine, but we have wandered the city’s trendy neighbourhoods of Vesterbro and Norrebro to create our guide to the best value foodie spots.
Find out where locals eat and drink in Copenhagen – where they grab coffee on their morning commute, the affordable street food stalls from which they get their lunchtime fix, where they enjoy leisurely brunch at the weekends, and their favourite secret drinking dens.
Atelier September – for lunch
This pretty café and gallery is hygge at its best – Danish crockery in neutral tones sits snuggly in chic dressers, bottles of wine are elegantly aligned on white shelves, and stylish locals slouch around the large communal table at the café’s heart cupping polkadot mugs of Swedish Koppi coffee.
Order warm, cinnamon-infused apple juice and a traditional poppy seed-covered Te Birkes pastry. For lunch, harissa is stirred through a pumpkin purée sprinkled with crunchy toasted buckwheat and fresh coriander, while lemon oil, zest and fresh tomatoes add a citrusy kick to creamy straciatella.
Den Vandrette – for natural wine
You’ll find this cosy, candlelit wine bar, sunk down from the pavement, just around the corner from the colourful buildings of Nyhaven. Dried flowers hang from arched ceilings, fur throws are draped across wooden benches and vintage rugs add warmth to concrete floors. Sune Rosforth, Copenhagen’s pioneering natural wine importer, has selected an imaginative list of natural wines to choose from. Try elegant Nas del Gegant rosé, La Sorga’s sparkling Belzebrut, or orange wines from Georgia. Nordic small plates include smoked celeriac with oyster leaf and crisp black chickpeas, Norwegian scallops with sea buckthorn and habanero, and Christiansø herring with brown butter and crème fraiche.
Lille Bakery – for hygge bakes
Cycle across the river, past Noma’s greenhouses, to vibrant Refshaleøen where you’ll find this warehouse turned bakery. The airy building has had a lick of white paint, but its earthy interiors remain intact, putting the open bakery and prep area (where colourful salads are chopped on the counter and daily bakes sit on cooling racks) in the spotlight.
It’s difficult to choose between umami-rich Danish pork sausage rolls with apple and fennel seeds, cod with lentils, leeks and cavolo nero, and carrot, pumpkin and ricotta tart. All dishes come with homemade bread, and drinks – think hibiscus iced tea or iced coffee – are homemade.
Reffen – for street food
Refshaleøen island is home to Copenhagen’s most vibrant street food market, a flock of sea containers strung together by colourful lights and Nordic flags. Reduce and reuse is the mantra here, so food businesses serve organic, local ingredients where possible to create globally inspired dishes. Apartamento 16 serves Italian charcuterie and wines amongst washing lines of jeans, Baobab use local vegetables to make hearty Gambian peanut stew, domoda, and Thrilla in Manila does a brisk trade in spicy Philippine skewers. There are also Nordic Hotdogs made with South Jutland sausages and Crispy Pig roast pork sandwiches for those in search of classic Danish street food.
Vaekst – for a great-value tasting menu
Nordic veggies and herbs are at the heart of the menu at this plant-filled restaurant, where – to reinforce the message – tables are centred around a greenhouse that’s been constructed inside the building. The three-course tasting menu is excellent value, the dishes peppered with amuse bouches and palate cleansers to extend the experience. Sourdough with lovage butter kicked things off on our visit, followed by chive oil-drizzled mushroom soup, pickled celeriac with fried pork neck and lemon cream, and pan-fried halibut on parsley root purée with mussel sauce. Mains are accompanied by notable sides such as mash with smoked cheese and fried buckwheat, and crunchy green beans, green tomatoes and buttermilk dressing.
Barabba – for late-night Italian
Local chefs head to this buzzy Italian restaurant for post-shift plates of pasta, punchy cocktails and natural wines. The vibe is shabby chic, with ornate chandeliers on the rough walls, antique dressers on terrazzo tiles and wooden tables and chairs laid with vases of white flowers.
Try silky folds of pappardelle with rich hare ragu, juniper and taggiasche olives, gnocchi with wild mushrooms or spaghettone with savoy cabbage and mussels. For a more substantial meal, follow your pasta course with a small but perfectly formed piece of brill, cooked on the bone with quince and citrus cream. Then finish with a crunchy, chocolatey semi-frozen hazelnut “rocher” with sour cherry coulis. The kitchen stays open until 2am with a late-night menu and there are regular negroni-fuelled parties, so keep an eye on Barabba’s Instagram feed to be kept in the know.
Granola – for brunch
There’s an old-school feel to this popular brunch spot. Antique mirrors are embellished with faded stencils, waiters in bow ties navigate their way around the mahogany horseshoe bar, and jazz flutters up below decadent teal lightshades. Traditional breakfast wheels make a pretty array of all the Scandi favourites – whipped chocolate spread, thick golden pancakes, creamy Icelandic skyr with homemade muesli, a glass of freshly chopped fruit and a little slice of sticky almond cake.. Pancakes with blueberries and bananas or skyr with mixed seeds, cranberries and mango are also available. Or go for brunch dishes such as croque Monsieur, tuna tartare with soy sesame seeds and avocado cream or steak frites.
It also does a fab freshly squeezed orange juice and rich, dark Valrhona hot chocolate. Buy coffee, teas and chocolates from the old grocery counter on your way out before stopping at tiny plant oasis Blomsterskuret, down the road, to admire the blooms.
Where to stay in Copenhagen – Central Hotel og Café
The first floor of this wonky one-up, one-down building is home to a single-bedroom hotel. The pint-sized coffee shop below doubles up as the reception; pop in for a Risteriet coffee, old-fashioned milkshake or thick hot chocolate in the morning before mooching over to sister café Granola for brunch.
Coffee aromas follow you upstairs to a matchbox room, perfectly befitting of a hotel in Hans Christian Anderson’s hometown. Oak beams, dark green walls and a traditional writing desk add to the hygge vibe. Luxurious finishes are kept local – Geismars bed linen is woven in a nearby mill, bespoke Tromborg toiletries await in the tiny bathroom, and contemporary art by Danish artists hangs from sage green wallpaper. Borrow a yellow bike free of charge to explore trendy neighbourhood Vesterbro.
Meyers Bageri – for Danish pastries
No one should leave Copenhagen without tasting a snegl – a cinnamon-spiked, buttery, snail-shaped pastry coated with a thick swirl of chocolate. Buy one to take away at Meyer’s Bageri and pootle along Jaegersborggade dipping in and out of hip Norrebro’s trendiest food shops (Karamelleriet), boutiques (My favourite Things) and coffee shops (The Coffee Collective has a spot here). If you want a Danish pastry fix at home, try this cinnamon bun recipe from Danish bakery The Bread Station.
Dyrehaven – for brunch
With black leather booths, patterned tabletops lit by sunset-coloured lampshades and a wood-panelled bar this hip hangout has a distinctly retro vibe. On weekend nights the DJs come out and cocktails are served but head to this Vestebro café during the day and you’ll be rewarded with generous smorrebrods, the Danish open sandwich.
Try homemade rye bread piled high with new potatoes and smoked cheese mayo, crunchy asparagus, cucumber and mountains of crisp onions with peppery radish to garnish. Dyrehaven also does an epic Flaeskesteg – roast pork (complete with crackling) served with red cabbage, red onion and pickled gherkins on a toasted sesame-topped burger bun.
Or, pop in for breakfast and start the day with a red grapefruit laced with ginger syrup and mint, or one of Denmark’s breakfast plates – avocado on malt bread with lime, olive, radish and fresh chilli, eggs Benedict and Icelandic skyr.
Hija de Sanchez – for tacos
Rosio Sanchez is a Mexican, Noma-trained chef who’s now running a taco stand. This popular street food spot in Copenhagen’s Torvehallerne covered market does wonders with corn tortilla tacos – think spit-roast pork with little chunks of pineapple and onion topped with coriander, roast chicken in a rich chocolaty mole sauce, or grilled two month-aged, Mexican-style grilled cheese (albeit made from organic Danish milk) served with punchy guacamole and spicy morita chilli salsa.
For dessert try Mexican ‘paletas’ – ice pops that combine Danish and Mexican ingredients (frozen avocado with freeze-dried raspberries, hibiscus tea with mezcal and oialla chocolate with Lakrids liqourice), or sip on a silky Aztec hot chocolate.
Café det Vide Hus – for ice cream
A favourite of Noma chef Rene Redzepi, Café det Vide Hus is a tiny spot with a view of fairytale Rosenborg castle and a penchant for locally foraged finds. Such special ingredients are used to compliment homemade ice creams – go for sea buckthorn sorbet dipped in white chocolate or elderflower ice cream dipped in chocolate and bee pollen. On cooler days, climb up the spiral staircase and find a seat in the snug lounge to sip on coffee from Copenhagen’s renowned roaster, The Coffee Collective.
Grød – for porridge and risotto bowls
Grød is Danish for porridge, which is the speciality at this pared-back succession of rooms in Norrebro. Go for breakfast and choose between oat porridge with caramel sauce, fresh apples and roast almonds or gluten-free acai-chia porridge made with almond milk and topped with strawberries, roast nuts, banana slices, peanut butter and organic skyr yoghurt.
In the evening its custom-made ceramic bowls are filled with comforting risotto. Our favourite is dyed red with beetroot, thickened with parmesan and served with finely sliced rainbow beetroot, whipped ricotta and fresh thyme. If it’s a nice day, sit outside on wooden picnic-style benches.
Mikeller – for craft beers
When maths and physics teacher Mikkel Borg Bjergso taught two of his students to brew they ended up taking the lesson so strongly to heart that they opened this seriously cool bar, with a staggering 40 micro-brewed beers on tap, along with over 200 bottled beers from Mikkeller, To Ol and other small-batch breweries.
Shiny turquoise floors reflect onto bespoke pale wooden structures that create intimate corners and cubbyholes in the otherwise clean-lined canvas of this Norrebro bar. Being the only bar outside the US to serve Three Floyds draught beer and boasting 40 taps makes this a must for beer geeks.
For great-value dining from Michelin-starred chefs Manfreds wine bar and restaurant is our pick. Sit at the bar, at tables facing the open kitchen, or in one of the alcoves in the back and enjoy a tasting menu paired with natural wines.
Chefs at Manfreds use local, seasonal ingredients in simple and inventive dishes. Think tiny green strawberries with charred onions, grated cheese and crisp toasted buckwheat, poached eggs on fluffy cauliflower rice, and baby cucumber with an umami-packed seaweed emulsion. Their beef tartare is legendary, silky pieces of raw beef topped with fine breadcrumbs.
Cool ‘cocktail house’ Lidkoeb is set back from busy Vestebrogade (factor in time to find it!). Work your way up this three-storey building (previously a pharmacy) to the whisky den beneath the exposed beams of the attic, or stick to the lounge downstairs to watch mixologists create cocktails at a bar that spans the whole of one wall.
Sink into a low, stylish (we’re in the Danish design capital, after all) chair by the fire to watch Nordic ingredients and local spirits being shaken into superb cocktails.
To create Rimfrost, the braces-clad barman infuses Bulliet Rye whiskey with fresh dill and combines it with St. Germain elderflower liqueur and bitters then tops with Champagne.
Kiin Kiin Bao Bao
Danish chef Henrik Yde has recently opened a wallet-friendly alternative to his restaurant Guldbergsgade Kiin Kiin (the first Thai restaurant to be awarded a Michelin star). This more laid-back venture is a shimmering room that blends Thai and Danish design: soft grey walls, sleek tables and chairs, rounded sofas, globe lanterns and intricate teak panelling.
The menu is tapas-style and there are over 25 small plate options – try the classic milky, fluffy bao with braised pork, peanuts and sweet hoisin sauce; a bowl of crispy kale chips with vibrant miso and pea mayo; fat, creamy Norwegian scallops in a mild ginger broth; and the 62 degrees egg, so silky and soft, with XO sauce and dried shrimp.
Written and photographed by Alex Crossley
First published January 2017, updated November 2019
Here are some more photos from our trip to Copenhagen…
olive magazine podcast ep74 – coffee and Swedish baking and breakfasts
We embrace hygge for autumn with a chat about Nordic breakfasts, Swedish baking and cooking over fire with chef Niklas Ekstedt.