CITY GUIDES | Copenhagen

CITY GUIDES | Copenhagen

Eat your way through every neighborhood of everyone's favorite food city.

December 19, 2018
CITY GUIDES | Copenhagen

CITY GUIDES | Copenhagen

Eat your way through every neighborhood of everyone's favorite food city.

December 19, 2018
By Aralyn Beaumont | Art by Cassandra Landry


If you want to experience a city with your senses on full blast, ask a chef.

Since we know a few, our city guides are devoted to uncovering the best ways to wander a new place through the eyes of its most talented locals.

It's high hygge season over in Denmark, so we're kicking it off with an unbeatable food destination: Copenhagen. Land of cozy dens stocked with small-batch natural wine, sparkling canals, herds of wild bikes, and slices of rye bread piled high with raw venison, pastel shrimp, or pickled herring.

Meet Your Guides

To aid in your adventuring, we turned to two North American expats with many combined years living in Copenhagen: Nichole Accettola, chef-owner of Kantine in San Francisco, and David Zilber, director of Noma's fermentation lab and co-author with René Redzepi of that book everyone you know is obsessed with, The Noma Guide to FermentationEven if Zilber spends every waking minute at Noma, he has a solid list of tried-and-true favorites; Accettola lived in Copenhagen for nearly two decades, and though she's lived in California for the last three years, she still manages to make an annual trip back to Copenhagen. 

First things first: Both of them recommend renting a bike—it's the most convenient way to get around the flat, highly bike-friendly city. You'll catch on to signaling turns and stops before you know it. After that, they both love smørrebrød, natural wine, Christian Puglisi, and swimming in the canals—though they're divided on what time of year is best for taking a dip. Accettola swears by the winter months when jumping in the freezing water can be immediately followed by a reprieve in a steamy sauna. "There are multiple places now where there are holes cut in the ice and you can jump in the water, get out, and go into the sauna. That’s something I did to get through the long winters," she says. 

When in Denmark, right?


Hot Spot
San Francisco
$$, Bakery, Breakfast, Scandinavian
2 Recommendations
Hot Spot
Freetown Christiania, København
$$, Reservations, Scandinavian
3 Recommendations



You know that section of colorful buildings lining a canal dotted with boats? That canal is called Nyhavn, and Accettola knows it sounds corny, but you should go catch a boat tour.  

"There’s one specific company, Havnerundfart, that is really low-key," she says. "There are some that are super touristy where they’re talking all the time, but this one is super relaxing and it takes you through all the canals and out by the queen’s palace. You see the city from a different angle than you would otherwise by bike or by foot. It’s just a wonderful way to get refreshed with the city, it’s super cheap, and it takes less than an hour."

Pre-or-post boat tour, you may want to get a classic Danish lunch of smørrebrød and schnapps. Accettola is a fan of Palægade, where she gets the warm pork liver pate. "Normally you'd get this fully composed, but they let you build your own," she says, "so you get the bread, the pate, and also pickles, mushrooms, and bacon, and create your own. It's so good—my mouth is watering just thinking about it."

Zilber’s all-time favorite lunch spot is Schønnemann. "It's just a classic Danish smørrebrød restaurant that's been open for over a hundred years. You go to enjoy schnapps and Danish open-face sandwiches. Little fjord shrimp, and plum schnapps. It's just the most authentic, unchanging experience you can imagine, and it always feels like the most Scandinavian thing you can do. It's fantastic."  

The indoor-outdoor food halls near the Nørreport station are great for sampling tons of different things in one spot. Torvehallerne is a part glass, part open-air market with a lot of stalls, many of which are outposts of popular vendors throughout the city, like Coffee Collective and Grød, a porridge place. Walk it all off with a stroll through King's Garden. "It's so easy to overlook if you're just biking to work or running errands all day, but it's right there in the middle of everything,” Zilber says. “It's absolutely phenomenal." 

When it's wine hour, make your way to two of the best natural wine bars in town: Den Vanderette and Ved Stranden 10. If you're new to the scene, follow Zilber's lead: "If you want something a bit refreshing with a [few] bubbles, ask for a pét-nat. I'm partial to most anything orange, which I know is kind of a cliché these days, but my mom only drank white wine when she'd go into a restaurant and I never held that against her. I find the range of drinkability of orange wines to be the perfect catch-all when you're thinking about what you want to have on a night out. That's what I love about natural wines: you're drinking alcoholic, delicious fruit juice with character. It doesn't feel like sitting down with something you have to think about—I mean you can in if you want to—but it's just really enjoyable."




Is Nørrebro Copenhagen's Williamsburg, or is Williamsburg New York's Nørrebro? Whichever it is, consider it that neighborhood with all the good food, coffee, and clothing that everyone always proclaims is totally over, but also remains unimpeachable. Don't you want a neighborhood where you can find a croissant stuffed with soft-serve? Nørrebro knew you’d like that. That's why it gave you Anderson & Maillard. 

"Milton Abel used to be the pastry chef at Noma and Amass, and he is phenomenal in the kitchen," Zilber says. "Anderson & Maillard is fantastic. The kouign-amann is amazing. It's traditional, simple, it's just incredibly well made."  

Even over the phone, when Zilber describes the aforementioned croissant concoction he knows our jaw has dropped.  "Oh shit, indeed," he says sagely. "You gotta put in some work, it's not easy to eat, but you get to eat the croissant at the end and it's absolutely delicious because it's soaked in ice cream." No arguments here.

Another beloved bakery in the neighborhood is Mirabelle, owned by local hero Christian Puglisi. It's Accettola's go-to for an easy, super high-quality breakfast. "Just get a board with really good bread, cheese, country ham, jam, and killer butter. I love it."

Right next door is another gem of Puglisi's empire, Bæst. "Whenever people ask me where I want to go eat, I always say Bæst," says Accettola. "What they do is so fantastic, because it’s not rocket science: There's a lot of love that goes into the food. The homemade buffalo mozzarella is to die for, especially if you ask for it with black truffles shaved on top. The pasta is wonderful, but like I said, the buffalo mozzarella, a good glass of wine, some cured meats… I’d keep it super simple." 

"If I wanted to treat myself, I would go to Bæst," agrees Zilber. "I'm a big fan of [Christian Puglisi’s], you can say that. He has this anchovy pizza, which is absolutely fantastic. His lardo toast with ramps and capers is to die for. I'll drink natural wine, of course, but he also does a really amazing Negroni."

Since you're treating yourself, you may as well head to Relæ. "You're going all in if you go to Relæ," says Zilber of the fine dining Puglisi outpost run by Chef Jonathan Tam. "For the average person living in Copenhagen, you go a couple times a year, or once a year. It changes so much, but I always love what they have at the end of their tasting menu—I remember this dessert of yogurt ice cream with a rhubarb compote underneath and sorrel dusted on top. You'd break into it, creating this moment of discovery. It was absolutely delicious."

Wine more your vibe? You've found your people. "Natural wine bars are the fucking rave in this town. Growing up in North America in my early twenties, I'd go down to the local former veterans' bar that had kind of been taken over by hipsters and chug Pabst Blue Ribbon," says Zilber. "Today, gracefully aging into my thirties, natural wine has, thankfully, replaced that. It's a bit more civilized. A new one that has opened up in the city and become my all-time favorite for its chill attitude is Pompette," says Zilber. "Fifty kroners for any glass. That is fantastic."

Depending on how fifty-kroner glasses you put back, you might just get hungry again, in which case, you could take yourself to Kebabistan, one of Zilber's post-service haunts. Specifically, the lamb kebab. With spicy pickles chilies on the side. 


Hot Spot
København N
$$$, Reservations, Scandinavian
7 Recommendations
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