When you travel to other countries, one of the best ways to appreciate a new culture is through their cuisine. And if you head out to Denmark, there's no better place to do that than in Copenhagen. The Danish capital is regularly ranked among the best cities for foodies in the world, its streets brimming with cafes, bakeries, markets, and restaurants with a wide variety of cuisine from countries around the globe. In fact, Copenhagen is home to what has been voted the World's Best Restaurant on more than one occasion.
Even if you can't score a table at that acclaimed hotspot, it's easy to taste Copenhagen's delicious dishes. Get acquainted with this gastronomic capital through these five classics.
If you’re not up on your Danish lingo, fiskefrikadeller is a twist on another popular dish, frikadeller. Frikadeller basically means meatballs in Danish. You might be wondering how a meatball can be unique to a country. In Denmark, frikadeller is slightly different from traditional meatballs you might be used to, because they’re fried in butter rather than sautéed or baked.
So, what’s a fiskefrikadeller? The tongue-twister name refers to fish cakes (think crab cakes but made from fish). Fiskefrikadeller is typically made by mixing white fish, onions, parsley, lemon, salt, and pepper before combining them with egg and flour. The mix is fried in dollops in a pan and is often served with cucumbers and Danish remoulade.
Are you traveling to Denmark during the winter holidays? If so, you’re going to love this dish, because for the Danes, it practically screams Christmas. At a holiday meal, you can’t go wrong with roast pork, which is precisely what flæskesteg is. How is flæskesteg different from other versions of roast pork? The Danish recipe features a cut of meat that’s been marinated in spices, bay leaves, and cloves.
While you can certainly enjoy the dish paired with vegetables, it’s also just like a Thanksgiving turkey: It lives on beyond its initial appearance. You’ll routinely see locals eating flæskesteg sandwiches, and you can find plenty of quick-service restaurants and food stands that will serve you a tasty flæskesteg sandwich, so you can shop and chow down all at the same time.
Smørrebrød is ubiquitous throughout Denmark, from cafes to people's own homes. So, what is it? It’s an open-faced sandwich that consists of some type of protein and veggies topped with sauce—all set on a slice of rye bread. Although fish is most common, you can also find smørrebrød dishes where red or white meat is the main event.
This tasty meal first began as the lunch of choice for farmers across the country. Smørrebrød shifted over the years and has grown in popularity. Today, it’s considered something of a national dish that you can find pretty much anywhere in Denmark, including Copenhagen.
Yes, falafel is a traditional Middle Eastern dish. But over the years, Denmark has seen an influx of immigrants from the Middle East, and fortunately for locals, they brought their tasty dishes with them. Fast-forward to today, and you can stumble upon a falafel shop in Copenhagen as easily as you can find restaurants serving traditional Danish dishes. For extra points, find a restaurant that serves falafel with a twist. Fusion falafel is a thing in Copenhagen, and you can find countless spots that offer a beautiful marriage between Middle Eastern and Scandinavian cuisine.
How can a hot dog be cultural? It can be in Copenhagen! Throughout the city, street carts, food trucks, and fast counter-service takeouts are commonly found serving a variety of hot dogs and sausages. Among the most popular is the fransk hotdog, or French hot dog. This twist on what Americans might be familiar with places the hot dog inside a crunchy, hollowed-out baguette filled with sauces like ketchup, mayo, or mustard. It's a staple for late-night munchies.
Denmark is known for more than these five dishes, but this is a great start for feeling like one of the locals when you visit Copenhagen. If you think we might have missed any other popular or traditional dishes that you might discover, check out these popular and tasty recommendations.