Located just back from the waterfront in downtown Stockholm, B.A.R. is a lively seafood grill housed in a spacious, industrial-style dining room with white-tiled walls, a long bar and fish tank and sprawling ice counter proffering the day’s freshest catches. Most tables are punctuated by overflowing shellfish platters, but diners can also order a BYO entrée (select a fish or meat, sauce and sides like risotto or avocado salad) or one of the prearranged dishes, including fish n’ chips or vegetarian ‘quinotto.’
Serving Stockholm’s best pizza, Babette is a casual neighborhood restaurant that has managed to stay a bit off the radar of tourists despite being one of the hottest spots in town. Located just north of Ostermalm and a few blocks from the Ett Hem hotel, the low-key eatery is owned by four restaurant vets (including one who worked at foodie favorite Frantzén) and offers such dishes as a simple buffalo mozzarella pizza as well as more inventive pies, like one topped with anchovies, lemon and mint. Additional rustic dishes (white asparagus with prosciutto and toasted hazelnuts) change daily, and pair well with the excellent wine list.
Buzzy and brooding, and centrally-located within an old cinema, Brasserie Astoria is the restaurant of the moment in Stockholm. The atmosphere here is as delicious as the international-with-a-Scandinavian-twist food from chef Björn Frantzén (of three-Michelin-starred Frantzen).
Reservations are difficult to secure so make them in advance or walk in early for a gin martini in the Art Deco bar. We recommend ordering the halibut, arguably one of the best dishes on any menu in the world.
This is simply the best café in Stockholm. The quality of the food, the attentive service, the constant happy hubbub of the room—it’s a near-perfect café. It’s known for its freakishly huge cinnamon rolls, but opt instead for a slice of one of the cakes (the French cheesecake is outstanding). During the week when it’s calmer, it’s an ideal place to idle away an afternoon with a newspaper or a book; at the weekend it’s more bustling and you’ll be lucky to squeeze in. Regardless of when you visit, it’s a pleasure.
Tucked at the intersection of two cobblestoned streets in Stockholm’s Old Town, Corner Club bills itself as “a spirited establishment.” Opened in 2013, the cocktail-only drinking parlor is modeled after a 1960s London pub and serves a curated list beverages that can be tailored to individual preferences. The negroni is one of the best drinks on offer, but those looking for something more experimental should opt for the Buttercup, made with rum, lime, pineapple, caramel and browned butter, or the Cool Runnings, a concoction comprised of rum, port wine, chestnut and lime.
The unique selling point at Niklas Ekstedt’s tasting menu–only (four or six courses) restaurant is that it is, quite literally, on fire. The only electricity in the kitchen is for lighting and refrigeration. All the cooking is done over a stove or in an oven heated by birch logs. This back-to-basics approach is reflected in the décor in the dining room, which is all wood, leather and copper. While the cooking methods are old-fashioned, the food is New Nordic, with dishes such as lobster with chimney-smoked tomato, or hay-baked pork with smoked cauliflower and truffle. The best seats are those with a view of the kitchen where you can watch the chefs working the flames.
Maybe we can blame the dominance of crispbread, but for years Sweden was a barren wilderness when it came to really great loaves. Fabrique, and a handful of other bakeries that have sprung up in recent years, have changed that. This is the perfect place to get a snack (don't miss the chokladboll, a local treat made with chocolate, coconut and oats) or a sandwich to go for a picnic lunch. There are several locations throughout the city.
Stockholm’s Fotografiska has always been a must-visit, but with the addition of a fine-dining restaurant in 2015, it is even more of a draw. Located on the third floor of the photography museum, in an old brick customs house on the waterfront, Fotografiska Restaurant focuses on organic produce, with meat and fish playing second fiddle to vegetables and grains. The stunning dining room features industrial chic décor with an open kitchen, exposed beams, black wood chairs, matte black lamps and a hint of color in the green water glasses at each table. The sleek, minimalist design allows the restaurant’s main draw—sweeping views of the quay and Gamla Stan through oversized windows—to take center stage. Since the museum is open every night until 11, visitors can tour the gallery before a meal filled with such dishes as red beets with ramson capers and an oyster emulsion, Amandine potatoes with smoked sour cream and bleak roe and chocolate mud cake with caramelized rye and lingonberries. There is a small café located on the same floor, but the food at the restaurant is better for a proper meal. In summer, the restaurant moves to the outdoor terrace.
This popular coffee chain has several locations throughout Stockholm and is a favorite with locals, who come to work on their laptops throughout the day. Il Caffe is the perfect spot to grab a cup of excellent coffee and a light bite – the kanelbulle (cinnamon rolls) are fantastic, as are the array of salads and sandwiches on offer.
Lilla Ego is a small, unremarkable room on a boring street, but yet it is booked solid for months in advance. The reason? The food. It’s staggeringly good, and served up without any fuss or nonsense. The menu is written so simply that it is a surprise to then be presented with a plate of some of the finest food in the city in terms of taste and presentation. The best way to try to get a table is to phone at 3pm for reservations later that day, or turn up around 8pm when you may be lucky. It’s certainly worth trying.
At Lisa Elmqvist, shellfish, fresh salmon and perch are displayed on ice like precious jewels. Smoked salmon with creamy wild mushrooms; crayfish with garlic, leeks and parsley; and pickled herring with boiled potato, red onion and sour cream are highlights. The tasting plates are a seductive introduction to traditional Swedish cuisine.
This is the first choice for a sunny day—a waterside café with a floating bar. It can be paradise in the Swedish summer, when you can sit with a bottle of rosé and watch the tour boats chug by on their way to the royal palace at Drottingholm. Daytime brings a cross-section of locals, but the later it gets, the gayer it gets.
Swedish chef Mathais Dahlgren’s most casual venue (his other two, Matsalen and Matbordet, are also located at the Grand Hotel) is a must-visit for all foodies visiting Stockholm. With a name that translates to The Food Bar, the one-Michelin-starred restaurant serves delightfully relaxed dishes in a welcoming dining room with an open kitchen, U-shaped bar and eclectic furnishings including bright red wooden chairs and a retro floor with blue, red and black tiling. Diners are greeted at their table with a parcel of crisps and butter, and paper placements detailing the day’s dishes, with sections devoted to selections “from our country,” “from other countries,” “from the plant world” and “from the pastry.” Rotating based on seasonality and the freshest produce, the menu might highlight such fare as Scandinavian ceviche and white asparagus and nettles with rye bread, grapefruit and brown butter. One standout item that often makes the menu (with some variation) is the steamed buns with fried chicken, avocado and coriander.
Set in the trendy Sodermalm neighborhood, Nook is an innovative dining venue that attracts both highbrow foodies and local hipsters. The restaurant offers an upscale culinary experience that is also affordable and casual, and features a menu that is inspired by both Nordic fine dining and Asian street food. Diners can choose to start with a few light snacks before selecting one of the two three-course set menus, which might include such dishes as seared scallops with pickled daikon, hollandaise and Chinese spinach.
Always bustling, Nytorget 6 is located in the trendy SoFo neighborhood and attracts a crowd of loyal regulars, visiting shoppers and local families. The corner restaurant is open from the early morning to late evening, welcoming diners with a cozy atmosphere and classic Swedish menu with hints of European influence. The chic neighborhood bistro features an open-kitchen, marble bar, red leather sofas and copper trimming, all of which contribute to the casual ambiance. The menu boasts a wide range of dishes, including everything from lobster gratin and mini sliders to reindeer heart and meatballs. In the summer, the outdoor seating is a lovely spot for a morning coffee and croissant.
This downtown restaurant is fashionable, formal and fun for dinner before the opera or ballet or for a long, leisurely meal. Situated in the magnificent old Royal Opera House, it’s a portrait of traditional Stockholm style. For a more relaxed bite, the lively Bakfickan bar, popular with locals, serves light Swedish salads and salmon. The hidden Opera bar, in the upstairs warren of the house, is like a late-night club where opera singers and musicians drop in after the performance.
Stockholm locals have long valued fresh, organic ingredients, and most of the city’s neighborhoods feature at least one saluhallar (market hall). One of the first of its kind, Östermalms Saluhall opened in 1888 in the posh Ostermalm nave and has been a Swedish icon ever since. The stunning brick structure houses vendors (many of which are family-owned and have been there since the food hall opened) selling regional specialties like pickled herring, smoked salmon and lingonberry and cloudberry preserves. Those looking for a full proper meal can stop at one of the market’s restaurants, like Lisa Elmqvist.
PA & Co
This no-reservations spot is routinely packed with a friendly mix of local artists and writers as well as in-the-know visitors. With a convivial neighborhood vibe and unpretentious atmosphere, PA & Co occupies a charming corner in Ostermalm and serves bistro classics like fried goat cheese salad and one of the best bacon cheeseburgers in the city. The Swedish-French fusion restaurant has a simple décor, with crystal chandeliers, a blackboard menu and just a few small tables and compact bar. Stop by for the excellent Saturday brunch before shopping in the surrounding area.
Inspired by Sweden’s first pharmacy, which opened nearby in 1575, Pharmarium takes creates cocktails with scientific precision. Located on the main square in Gamla Stan, the cocktail bar incorporates Swedish elements like licorice, cloudberry jam and birch and moss smoke in its concoctions, which can be paired with seasonal dishes for a full meal. Favorites from the lengthy cocktail menu include the Opium, which is served in an antique medical jar with a lid to trap in birch smoke, infusing the liquid with an earthy intensity.
Next door to design mecca, Svedkst Tenn, along Strandvägen, this intimate Swedish bistro serves Scandinavian versions of European classics with views of Nybroviken. I loved the veal schnitzel salad (and the cocktails) for a quick lunch or brunch in this bright, art-filled space.
A favorite with Stockholm’s fashion and art crowds, this institution has been around since 1893, having served as an exclusive club as well as champagne bar and restaurant, which it is now. The elegant bistro, modeled after Café Riche in Paris, lures a stylish mix of elite locals and visitors—making for spectacular people watching—and serves a lengthy menu featuring both French brasserie staples (truffle chicken, moules-frites) as well as traditional Swedish fare including meatballs with lingonberry cream sauce. Open for breakfast during the week and lunch and dinner everyday, Riche is best for a cocktail while taking in the scene or before heading upstairs to the livelier space with a DJ spinning tunes.
Designed with an open kitchen to encourage interaction between the chefs and patrons, Rolfs Kök focuses on husmanskost (“everyday Swedish cooking”). Commissioned to style the interiors, famed Swedish architects Jonas Bohlin and Thomas Sandell infused the dining room with an industrial aesthetic, with grey concrete walls that are lined with chairs instead of art (throughout the course of the night, the seats are taken down for arriving dinner guests). Meals at Rolfs Kök begin with the bread service—a heaping of rolls served one atop another on a skewer—and continue with homey classics like potato pancakes with roe from Piteå, red onion and sour cream and cavatelli with scallops, pork belly and chanterelles, all of which pair excellently with one of the over 450 wines in restaurant’s wine cellar.
Located on a quiet side street off the city’s main road, Sveavagen, Smak, which means taste in Swedish, stays true to its name. Rather than list dishes by their ingredients, all items on the menu are named after their primary flavor (lemon, wasabi, ginger, etc.). The small portion sizes are intended to allow guests to sample an array of courses—each of which can also be paired with a complementary sample size wine. The concept provides an interesting dining experience in a chic yet cozy atmosphere.
Opened in 2008 by Texas-bred Nicole Emson (who was nicknamed StikkiNikki for her slender legs as a child), this family-run gelateria has grown to be Stockholm’s most popular ice cream purveyor. After working in kitchens all over the world (including a stint making gelato in Italy), Emson opened her own place with the goal of creating a welcoming, healthful ice cream store. Using only organic ingredients and raw sugar, StikkiNikki’s flavors are made fresh daily, and include such options as salty caramel, fatty vanilla and vegan chocolate. The company now has several locations throughout Stockholm, but the main outpost and factory occupy a shock-pink storefront in Sodermalm.
This is one of the coolest places in town to grab a drink or some food, which is both good and bad. The good is that when the beautiful people of Stockholm assemble, it is quite a sight. On the other hand, service is wildly uneven. The room is attractive, and the outdoor seating in the summer months offers Grade A people-watching. Come for a drink before dinner elsewhere.
Located in Stureplan, a large square in the center of Stockholm, this Swedish institution is famous for its shellfish and offers consistently lovely food and a great scene throughout the year. The large terrace outside draws locals after work and late into the night (it’s open until 2 a.m. every day). Try to sample Swedish specialties such as herring, prawns or their famous Swedish crayfish (kräftor).