Widely considered to be the national dish of Denmark, the great smørrebrød has become loved around the world in cities like New York, San Francisco and Singapore. Traditionally, the open-faced sandwich consists of rye bread that’s been buttered and topped with a variety of ingredients including meats, cheeses and, of course, pickled herring.
These six restaurants are serving up the best of the best—don’t miss out on enjoying this specialty on your next trip to Denmark.
What Our Inspectors Say: A charming 18C townhouse by Amalienborg Palace, with two tiny, cozy rooms filled with old paintings and elegant porcelain. The Danish menu offers a large choice of smørrebrød, herring, salmon and salads. Service is warm and welcoming.
What to Order: All types of herring, including pickled, curry-marinated and King Frederik’s (aka, Port-marinated and served with an apple and celeriac sauce). A selection of beef tartares are also available.
What Our Inspectors Say: Set in a 1797 building and family-run since 1910, this established restaurant sets the benchmark for this type of cuisine. The rustic inner is filled with portraits and city scenes. Go to the counter to see the full selection of smørrebrød.
What to Order: Shrimps and mayo piled high; smoked salmon; and liver pâté with bacon.
What Our Inspectors Say: A bright, busy café with a pavement terrace; fridges and cabinets display a tempting selection of desserts, cakes, biscuits and drinks. There are six fresh, flavorsome classics on the smørrebrød menu; two plus dessert should suffice.
What to Order: Veal with potatoes and horseradish; herring with fried egg and crispy onions; and Duroc pork with mustard sauce and pickled onions.
What Our Inspectors Say: An attractive terraced building with a traditional, rather quaint interior. There's a seasonal à la carte and a daily blackboard menu: prices can vary so check before ordering. The lobster and shrimp—fresh from local fjords—are a hit.
What to Order: Smoked Bornholm salmon with creamed spinach; fried herring in brine; and smoked eel with scrambled eggs.
What Our Inspectors Say: More than 40 classic smørrebrød are available at lunch—with plenty of local beers and snaps to accompany them. Things become more formal in the evenings, when they serve highly seasonal dishes in a traditional Northern European style.
What to Order: Tenderloin with mushroom cream sauce; traditional kartoffelmad with boiled potatoes, mayo and chives; and chicken salad with green asparagus and bacon.
What Our Inspectors Say: An informal smørrebrød café, popular with shoppers and open in the evening. They offer soups, salads, smørrebrød and pastries, as well as organic juices and top-notch teas and coffees. Monochrome pictures of Aarhus add to the charm.
What to Order: Kähler’s seafood salad of shrimp and crayfish with asparagus and cress; beef tartare; and the “Lucky Potato,” with lumpfish roe, fresh radishes and pickled onions.
Hero image courtesy of F-Høj Facebook page.