Copenhagen is a city where Renaissance towers and turrets meet architectural Scandi designs in a colourful patchwork held together by bike paths, cobble-stone streets, waterways and lively parks. Driven by a reverence for understated simplicity, the Danes are also savvy, effortlessly cool, eco-conscious, artistic and independent. Yet, at the heart of this city’s vibrant culture is a state of mind called “hygge,” the Danish word for coziness or contentment that is best experienced first-hand.
The Nordic dining scene illustrates this comfortable conviviality with attitude. In just over a decade, Copenhagen has gone from a dining orphan to culinary prowess, claiming more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other Scandinavian capital. Traditional dishes such as Frikadeller (meatballs) and Flœskesteg (roasted pork with crunchy pork skins) remain deeply connected to the Danes’ palates, as much as rye bread and licorice candies.
But, throughout Copenhagen, from the Indre By (inner city), to the Nørrebro and Frederiksberg neighbourhoods to industrial parts of Refshaleøen, eateries and cafes generously shower diners with creativity – borrowing from global fare – and offer plates of wholesome, organic produce from their own greenhouses and gardens. Where beer has always been ingrained in Danish culture, the wine experience has seen a shift, mostly reflective of locals leaving their homes to seek social minglings at wine bars and restaurants with thoughtful wine lists and pairings. With Copenhagen’s conscious effort toward sustainable, organic lifestyle, naturally, “natural” wines have gained attention.
Located near the Christiansborg Castle, the wine shop and wine bar offers an impressive selection of European wines with an emphasis on Austria. A homey and comfortable spot clearly illustrates the concept of “hygge” with options to sit at the bar, backed by vintage tea shop cabinetry, or relax at a coffee table in one of the small living rooms with a viewing window to one of the city’s famed areas. There is no wine list at Ved Standen 10, which helps to promote conversation. Ask, taste, discover and enjoy with charcuterie, cheeses and their famous croque monsieur.
- Address: Ved Stranden 10, 1061 København K
- Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 12noon-10pm
Recently opened in the autumn of 2019, Safari offers an approachably-priced menu with an honest wine list that mixes classics and natural wines. Safari highlights the owner’s personal favourites, leaning towards selections from France and Eastern Europe. A dozen bar seats invite a sit-down opportunity to grab a glass or bottle. Or, find an intimate spot to dine on a range of dishes, such as the baccala served with homemade bread, or try the eight-course meal decided by the kitchen, intended to be shared family-style and sent to the table at “jaunty tempo.”
- Address: Baggesensgade 9, 2200 København N
- Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 5pm-12midnight. Sundays closed
Located in the hip, industrial corner of Copenhagen, the chic, fine dining spot is run by chef/owner Matt Orlando who leads his team to push sustainable food to its most delicious and creative limits. Take for example the potato crisps made from yesterday’s fermented potato skins, or ribbons of beet salad made from not one season in the adjoining garden but two, including the freezing winter – all to be made sweeter and larger, then sliced, smoked, dried then rehydrated again to be enjoyed anytime of the year. Amass offers a solid wine list that blankets Europe and makes it easy to navigate, distinguishing “safe and solid” selections from “wild and crazy” bottles for the more curious.
- Address: Refshalevej 153, 1432 Copenhagen
- Opening hours: Lunch, Saturday 12noon-3.30pm. Dinner, Tuesday-Saturday 6pm-midnight
A no-frills natural wine bar located in trendy Nørrebro neighbourhood stands by the idea that they are the final step in the wine producer’s journey and therefore, commit to pay respect and honor the craft. Keeping things as simple and natural as its distressed bare walls, the menu reads: white, red, orange, pet-nat, bubbly. Pompette, which means “tipsy” in French keeps quality natural wines at prices that entice another glass or two. When hunger strikes, choose from a variety of snacks, including cheeses and charcuterie.
- Address: Møllegade 3, 2200 København N
- Opening hours: 7 days, 2pm-midnight
Secure a table at this boutique dining spot in the inner city, known for its excellent wine program and an ever-changing menu that celebrates the seasons. Guests won’t find a signature dish or a concrete concept behind the food, but that’s because Frank makes whatever they feel like, as long as it’s delicious. The menu consists of eight-courses with options to pair with wine and/or choose to go a la carte. Co-owner Anders Vendelboe describes the wine list as classic with modern aspects. Everything they like goes on the list, no matter the region, grape variety or winemaking style. Go to appreciate the list’s great vintage depth and spot a few rare finds along the way.
- Address: Ny Adelgade 3, 1104 København K
- Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 5.30pm-midnight
Located on Fiolstræde, a pedestrian-only street in the old Jewish quarter of Copenhagen and close to Copenhagen University Paludan Bogcafé is a cozy space filled with wall-to-wall books for contemplation and relaxation. Brunch is a focus, where wholesome, traditional and international bites come together. Beer, Champagne and cocktails are offered, but coffee drinks go particularly well with brunch and books.
- Address: Fiolestræde 10-12, 1171 København K
- Opening hours: Monday-Thursday 9am-10pm, Friday & Saturday 10am-11pm, Sunday 10am-10pm