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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The one-Michelin-starred Sushi Sho opened in 2014 to widespread critical acclaim and is now a must-visit for purist sushi lovers visiting Stockholm. Having honed his skills for over two decades, chef Carl Ishizaki shows his talents with his omakase menu that highlights local fish like Swedish tuna and mackerel. His brilliant creations change according to what seafood is available, but past dishes have included pollock with yuzu and smoked salt. The Edomae-style sushi joint features a simple décor to match the simple but exquisitely crafted courses, all of which are served on sleek black slate plates.
The Flying Elk
The gastropub sister restaurant to two-Michelin-starred Frantzén, the Flying Elk delivers a casual dining experience and Swedish-British fusion pub fare at reasonable prices. The goal of the restaurant was to provide the same five-star dining experience as Frantzén, but in a more approachable manner and simpler setting: the restaurant interior features worn wood floors, gleaming brass countertops and table settings with rustic cloth napkins. Blending pub culture with Swedish culinary tradition, the menu offers such indulgent dishes as macaroni and cheese with truffle and mushrooms and a burger with dried mushroom, caramelized onions and two kinds of cheddar. A savory take on French toast comes complete with parmesan, 25-year-old balsamic and truffle, and is best washed down with one of the craft beers on offer or followed up with a cocktail at the restaurant’s bar, located in an adjacent room.
The Swedish take on a speakeasy, Tweed channels a classic mens club vibe with tartan wallpaper, Turkish rugs, marine-inspired furnishings and plush leather Chesterfield armchairs, which can be reserved for an evening sampling the venue’s craft cocktails. The dimly lit, cozy Tweed has an extensive list of cocktails, spirits, aperitifs, craft beers and over 14,000 bottles of wine in the cellar, as well as a lengthy offering of cigars, which can be smoked on the terrace during the warmer months. Those who are looking to snack while they imbibe can enjoy snacks like charcuterie and olives or heartier fare like the indulgent burger or the cheekily named Naughty Mermaid’s Temptation: three variations of fish toast, including one with shrimp, egg, wasabi mayonnaise and lime.
Opened in 2015, Woodstockholm is one of the most talked-about places in Stockholm. Inspired by the founders’ other venture, a nature-inspired furniture line, the restaurant serves a changing menu that highlights seasonal produce in dishes like radishes served in a tiny ceramic pot filled with kimchi mayo and a dusting of “dirt” made from almonds and toasted rye bread. The tiny restaurant occupies a charming park-front corner in Sodermalm and has just a few seats for patrons, which fosters a communal vibe. The menu changes according to the chef’s whim and the freshest produce, so the menu ranges daily, with such offerings as miso roasted eggplant, poached haddock for two or a double fried egg with pickled chanterelles, roasted cabbage and burre blanc.