From Puffins to Hot Dogs: An Icelandic Food Review

At this point in my life, I would be pretty open to it if someone called me a foodie. I take pleasure in eating and trying new foods. So when we headed over to Iceland, I was on the hunt for some good local fare.

A bit of light research led me to believe that the following food selections were Icelandic delicacies: hot dogs, ice cream, puffin, whale and fermented shark.

Out of that list, I was really not okay eating puffin, because I mainly wanted to adopt one, not eat one. Once my uncle gave us a puffin for Christmas. Sounds really cool, right? Except for when you’re a child and think you’re really getting a puffin. Not only didn’t we get a puffin, just the paperwork to one, the last time our puffin was spotted was a few years before we got him. So I’m pretty sure my puffin ownership was over a dead puffin. I digress though, since this is a post about food. But let’s kick it off with my experience of eating puffin.

Puffin Filet

We met this couple from Atlanta, and they told us to go to this restaurant in Iceland that serves puffin sushi. My friend Jenn seemed alright with trying puffin, and maybe I would have been alright with it too should I suffer amnesia first. We also couldn’t remember what the restaurant was called, so we weren’t actively seeking it out.

My second course of "Treat-yo-self" night, which was smoked salmon.

My second course of "Treat-yo-self" night, which was smoked salmon.

On our Tom Haverford night a.k.a. ‘Treat-Yo-Self’ a.k.a our final meal, we went to a fancy seafood restaurant. There was puffin on the menu. I already knew I wanted the four-course lobster, lamb, salmon and mousse feast, so I wasn’t planning on the puffin. However, curiosity got the best of me, so I asked our waitress, “Is puffin really an Icelandic favorite?” And she smirked a bit a said she’d never had it until she worked at that restaurant.

So my interpretation of that is that they serve puffin to tourists who want to do local things and don’t know better to not eat the puffins.

Fermented Shark and Whale

I also didn’t eat either of these. They simply weren’t on the menu. What was on the menu everywhere was burgers and pizza. Basically, picture a diner rendition of both of those in America and that’s what they are. And most restaurants are attached to gas stations. If I had to review the pizza, though, it would be not good. It’s very expensive and very not good. Much like cardboard with ketchup on it.

Icelandic Ice Cream

I have a sweet tooth. Wait – that might not be strong enough. I have a mouthful of sweet teeth. I’m pretty sure my mom could have made me do anything as a child by threatening me with losing my ice cream privileges. So Icelandic ice cream was a must.

At one dinner we had attached in a gas station, we saw they had their soft serve still working, which isn’t the case in February across Iceland. So we start asking her a ton of questions, and she excitedly helped us. I think our happiness over ice cream rubbed off on her. I got a small cup of soft serve with mocha sauce, Icelandic whoppers (not whoppers but like them) and a dark chocolate drizzle.

I like all ice cream – really – like all of it. But Icelandic ice cream is really, really good. I want to say creamier, but it’s not too creamy that it overwhelms you. It was a strong vanilla flavor, but not one that overwhelmed you.

We ran a red light to get back to this ice cream the next day. It was worth it both times.

Icelandic Hot Dogs

icelandic hot dog

Full disclosure: I really only like hot dogs off the grill at a baseball game or drowned with a cold glass of beer. I don’t ever fancy them. But when in Rome.

So we go to a gas station to get our decadent hot dog. Icelandic hot dogs aren’t just hot dogs. They are bigger, wrapped in bacon, covered in fries, slaw and 3-4 different sauces. What did I eat? I have not the slightest idea, but it was better than a normal hot dog. I did have an overwhelmed palate while eating it, and I couldn’t tell what any of it was, but at least you couldn’t taste the hot dog.

Apparently the best hot dogs come from the BP looking gas station (it's green and yellow and starts with an O). Literally on the way to the airport we decided to get another hot dog just to make sure we had the best possible one. The second one was definitely better than the first, if you couldn't surmise that from Jenn's face.

I am glad I tried the famous Icelandic hot dog, but it’s nothing to write home about like the ice cream.

Overall, the food is Iceland is wildly expensive, like the chicken quesadilla I bought for $18. Perhaps it’s from needing to import everything, but I was unimpressed with the large amount of American food available. The sushi we got (which hopefully didn’t have puffin in it) was really fresh, probably because Iceland is right on the water. And the treat-yo’ self-dinner is good enough to merit its very own blog post. Coming soon!