While Copenhagen’s Noma is famed for reinventing Nordic cuisine and has been lauded with many honours including a four-time winner of Restaurant magazine’s Best Restaurant in the World there is a wealth of unique dining options throughout the Danish capital beyond this Michelin-starred gastronomic glitterati that are worth experiencing one slow bite at a time.

For the foodie fans crushed at the news of Noma’s closure there is a silver lining in that across the street Restaurant 108 has opened and is headed by a former Noma chef. The new venture will be more casual with less set tasting menus and more à la carte fare but a quick scan of its menu found entrée pricing almost as much as my hotel so will give this newcomer a pass even if that risks disqualifying me forever as a “foodie”.

I pointed my rented bike instead toward PapirØen or Paper Island, a nickname given due to the number of paper warehouses used by the Danish press but which sat idle in this electronic era until an impromptu food hall sprang up in Spring 2014 and has been embraced for its raw, rustic charms and stunning harbour views. Copenhagen Street Food is the city’s first and really only authentic street food market and has an eclectic choice of food stalls and food truck delicacies from Oink Oink to Duck It with its duck burgers to a Cow Bar, Indian to Moroccan and to wash it all down a beverage from the Cocktailbaren which advertises beer ‘as cold as your ex-girlfriend’s heart’. There’s a full list of stalls here but the hard part is narrowing down which delights to sample.

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After a few circuits of the warehouse I settled upon a funky gourmet hot dog unlike any I’d ever seen or tasted from Pølser Kompagniet.

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My Superdog came loaded with so many potatoes and dressing the sausage was well hidden in its organic bun.

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To say the Superdog is a meal unto itself is a massive understatement as this is definitely not the kind of hot dog you wolf down in a few minutes on the run nor would you want to for the price which roughly converts to CAD$17. Thankfully I had the foresight to order an ice cold pint of beer from Cocktailbaren as anything less would’ve likely left me dehydrated as I washed down this mountain of a meal. If consuming this colossus be prepared with plenty of napkins as it can get fairly messy. Note that seating is at one of a dozen wooden picnic tables which reminded me of an outdoor German beer garden.

Upon leaving the street food market I paused to read a few of the wishes written on paper cards at an art exhibit sponsored by Beatle widow Yoko Ono.

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A few of the wishes were for commendable goals such as world peace or lifelong happiness but a few were more prosaic such as new electronic gadgets. My wish for a memorable meal and visit to Paper Island having been fulfilled I opted not to participate in Yoko’s art project.

Coincidentally my accommodation, the Ibsens Hotel, was within a few blocks of Copenhagen’s only permanent food hall, Torvehallerne, with its non-chain fresh brewed specialty coffees and diverse assortment of fresh produce and tempting treats indoors out of the cool, rainy Autumn weather.

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If variety is the spice of life at ASA Spice Specialist they have such a wide variety of exotic spices from every corner of the globe to spice up many lives. The quote about travel and the powerful aroma both drew me in for a closer, longer look.

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Around Copenhagen hungry travellers are likely to encounter the Danish delicacy of smørrebrød, which is an open-faced sandwich topped with everything from cold meats to smoked fish, eel, shrimp, veggies, cheese and garnished with colourful herbs. At Hallernes Smørrebrød they have an extensive menu in Danish but as everyone spoke English they guided me to something fairly safe, a roast beef and cucumber sandwich topped with shredded horseradish, onions and a sprig of water cress. It’s a handful and felt almost as if a garden salad and sandwich got mixed up in a lunch bag. There are a number of stools to perch on at Hallernes Smørrebrød while you down this Danish delicacy.

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As most smørrebrød average the equivalent of CAD$12 it’s a different but not too expensive a lunch option every traveller should try at least once.

Nyhavn Canal has gone from being a seedy sailor section of Copenhagen to a popular dining destination for locals and visitors alike drawn by its picture postcard maritime scenes and colourful historic shops and restaurants. I opted to enjoy some comfort food in the form of a gourmet burger at Nyhavns Hereford House but expect this meal to work out to around CAD$40 with beer and gratuity. Steak and fish dishes make up the bulk of the menu which is posted on a chalkboard outside the restaurant.

Warmer weather allows outdoor dining but with grey days and scattered showers the patio tables were closed.

For a better burger I would recommend Halifax Burger Restaurant, a growing chain with a Canadian connection as founders Peter and Ulrich met while business exchange students at Dalhousie Univeristy in Halifax, Nova Scotia and shared a love of hamburgers that lead them to launch their own burger joint in Copenhagen in 2007. I visited the location on Frederiksborggade around the corner from my hotel on a quiet weekday evening and scanned the menu which allows diners to select the type of bun, one of seven burgers with toppings on the menu, a side dish and even dip for the fries. With a trip to Texas weeks away I opted for the Lone Star burger with BBQ sauce, bacon, onions and cheddar and  washed it down with Halifax’s house brand pilsner. It qualifies as a gourmet burger and was hands down better than the one I’d had in Nyhavn. Tax and tip included the meal runs around CAD$35 but there aren’t any discounts for being Canadian as I’d jokingly asked my waiter.

For a quick and inexpensive bite on the run there’s always the hot dog stalls or pølsevogn in Danish meaning “sausage wagon”, a Copenhagen street food institution that happily resists modern commercialism.


Pølsevogn by MGA73bot2 is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

There is usually a choice of different types of grilled or boiled wieners, franks and sausages but not all come wrapped in a bun as North Americans are accustomed to with their hot dogs so if that’s your preference order an American otherwise you’ll receive a basic boiled red wiener with a small white bun on the side. Some like the Fransk or French are long, skinny little sausages with sauce that is stuffed into a round hole in the end of a long bun. My favorite is the grilled medister which is a thicker, spicy sausage you dip in ketchup or mustard.

It’s a cheap and probably low nutritional value bite on the go but I found it fun to linger in the heat of the wagon around dusk and chat with the vendor or people watch the other patrons who while mostly male make up a broad cross-section of Copenhagen from businessmen to construction workers. The wagons are often found in busy crossroads such as Nyhavn, Norrerbro, City Hall Square and are open well past midnight to serve the bar goers heading home after a night of drinking.

While Copenhagen became a Scandinavian culinary capital over the past decade thanks to its innovative haute cuisine haunts such as Noma it will retain its status because of the wealth of unique dining choices catering to all budgets and found in all corners of this city that have followed in its wake. Copenhagen is a moveable feast and best explore by bicycle as the locals do which helps burn off some of the calories consumed. That is at least what I kept telling myself.