Smørrebrød is the famous Danish sandwich that every Dane will insist you try when you’re in Copenhagen! I’ve spent the past year searching for the best smørrebrød in Copenhagen. The list below is a collection of the best smørrebrød in Copenhagen with styles ranging from traditional to modern.
But first, let’s dive into a quick background on smørrebrød and its emerging role as a staple in the Danish culinary scene.
What is Smørrebrød?
Smørrebrød, pronounced smuhr-broht), is a Danish open-faced sandwich that directly translates to butter (smør) and bread (brød). A slice of buttered whole-grain rye bread is the base with different combinations of seafood, meat, vegetables and herbs piled on top.
Who invented Smørrebrød?
Smørrebrød became a lunchtime staple for farmers and factory workers in Denmark during the 19th century. Farmers would take the leftovers from yesterday’s dinner and pile them on the top of a bread slice that served as a substitute for a plate.
It wasn’t until 1888 when Oskar and Petra Davidsen began serving smørrebrød to hungry pub customers that the Smørrebrød as we know it today was born! Soon customers lined up not for a drink, but a chance to try the Davidsen’s smørrebrød!
Traditional vs. Modern Smørrebrød
Smørrebrød has provided a bridge between new and traditional styles of Danish cuisine. Fifteen years ago, most people didn’t give much thought to Danish cuisine! It wasn’t until René Redzepi paved the way for what became Nordic cuisine that helped put Denmark on the map as a culinary destination. You might have heard of Redzepi’s famous restaurant, Noma, that most recently won World’s Best Restaurant in 2021.
As new Nordic cuisine swept across the country, we saw restaurants adapt traditional smørrebrød to and take a modern approach. What makes smørrebrød “modern” is when chefs take the traditional recipes and adapt them for a more creative approach. For example, instead of regular mayonnaise, you’ll find mayonnaise infused with oysters or charred garlic.
- Smørrebrød is eaten in one order: Herring first, followed by other fish, then meat.
- Whatever you do please do not eat smørrebrød with your hands!
- Before you have a sip of snaps, you must raise your glass first and look everyone in the eye yelling “skol” (cheers in Danish)!
Tipping Culture in Denmark
Tipping is not required in Denmark. However, if you’ve enjoyed the service, it’s always appreciated to leave a 5% to 10% tip. Waiters in Denmark are paid a standard wage, which means they don’t have to rely on tips as a main source of income.
Best Smørrebrød in Copenhagen – Traditional
If you’re looking for the most traditional Danish smørrebrød experience, look no further than at Restaurant Kronborg. Unique to Restaurant Kronborg is the opportunity to build your own smørrebrød at the table. The homemade rye bread, butter, herring, fish, or meat are served separately for the fun experience to assemble your smørrebrød at the table.
Restaurant Kronborg is tucked off a side street of Strøget (the main shopping street in Copenhagen). The atmosphere is warm and welcoming – the perfect place to embrace Danish “hygge”.
The restaurant is a favorite of Danes for their signature “Easter Lunch” and “Christmas Lunch” in which all the favorite holiday foods are prepared in the traditional style! These holiday lunches at Restaurant Kronborg book up fast, and I suggest you reserve them 30-60 days in advance.
Order The: For fish lovers, the curried herring with “smiling” eggs, onion, and capers are one of Kronborg’s signature smørrebrød. If you’re a meat-lover, go for the Danish meatballs served the traditional way with red cabbage and pickled cucumbers.
Christianshavns Ferry Cafe
My top recommendation if you’re looking for a memorable smørrebrød experience in a fun and lively atmosphere. The head chef and owner, Captain Erik, opened Christianshavns Ferry Cafe in a beautiful historic area of Copenhagen’s Christianshavn waterfront. You can choose to dine inside the restaurant or hop aboard the two-story boat for lunch that’s floating on the canal.
At Christianshavns Ferry Cafe you can choose from over 30 homemade snaps that Captain Erik has created. I recommend letting your server guide your snaps selection to pair best with the smørrebrød you choose.
Order The: Don’t leave without trying the ferry cafe’s curried herring and pan-fried plaice smørrebrød topped with homemade remoulade. However, if you haven’t tried herring before, this is a great one to start with! It’s my favorite herring smørrebrød.
Practical Info: Christianshavns Ferry Cafe is open every day for dinner and Monday through Saturday for lunch. You can book a reservation through the link here. The boat is available for dining during the summer months (May-September), and during Christmas season when they add heat lamps and cover the top.
Restaurant Shønnemann is where you go to experience one of Copenhagen’s oldest smørrebrød restaurants that dates back to 1877. The current owners are dedicated to preserving Shønnemann’s history and the incredible quality of smørrebrød and the over 140+ homemade snaps that keep Danes coming back.
The interior of Schønnemann’s is just as iconic as their smørrebrød. You’ll take steps down into the basement and find the restaurant decorated with dark wood paneling, green crisp walls, and beautiful antique lamps dangling from the ceiling.
Order The: For a great presentation and taste, try the Virgin Midnight Snack. Made with a chicken mayonnaise salad, smoked potatoes, and topped with bacon and fried carrots. For a flavorful take on herring, order the Ramsons herring with pickled herring drizzled in a homemade sauce, served with capers onions and a breaded fried egg.
Told & Snaps
If you’re looking for a traditional pub-like feel, and the chance to lunch with the diplomats and government officials of Copenhagen Told & Snaps is your place.
Located just around the corner from Nyhavn (another Copenhagen landmark) Told & Snaps opened in 2000 and quickly became the go-to lunch spot for hungry business men and women looking for high quality smørrebrød. Their homemade snaps list is just as long as their smørrebrød menu! For example, you can choose from adventurous flavors to accompany your smørrebrød such as walnut, horseradish and browned butter.
Order The: Told & Snaps does the classics best! I recommend the pan-fried fillet of plaice with hand-shelled Greenland shrimps with their homemade remoulade. If you haven’t tried fried herring yet with onions and capers, this is the place to do it!
Best Smørrebrød in Copenhagen – Modern
One of the most talked-about smørrebrød restaurants in Copenhagen is founded by Swedish chef, Magnus Peterson! Selma has my favorite take on modern smørrebrød with a rotating a la carte menu that changes daily! Instead of ordering snaps with your smørrebrød, try one of Selma’s 12 rotating Mikkeller beers they serve on tap.
Stepping inside Selma, and your eyes are immediately drawn to the bright pops of color from their signature patterned wallpaper, flowers, and colorful ceramic plates. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming. You can’t help but feel happy inside a restaurant as beautiful as Selma.
Order The: Because Selma’s menu is constantly changing daily based on the season. The smørrebrød I ordered is no longer available. I recommend that you ask your waiter what they recommend based on what’s in season.
Adam Aamanns, founder of Aamanns 1921, pioneered the emergence of modern smørrebrød. At Aamanns 1921 the chefs are pushing the envelope to create new and innovative smørrebrød. For example, Aamanns 1921 you’ll find smørrebrød topped with unique pairings such as grilled kale, fermented cucumber, and pickled rose petals. The combinations are interesting, fresh, and so delicious – which is why Aamanns 1921 is my top choice for foodies.
The design of Aamanns has a minimalist modern design. The neutral color palette, high ceilings, and brass chandeliers all compliment this beautiful space.
Order The: The Chicken Salad smørrebrød with grilled kale and pickled onions was delicious, as was the butter-fried plaice with a root vegetable remoulade. Unique to Aamanns 1921 are the craft cocktails that are made using their homemade snaps.
Have you heard of the Danish Island Bornholm? The inspiration for Restaurant Koefoed comes from the beautiful island of Bornholm! Bornholm is famous being one of the sunniest places in Denmark with sandy beaches and charming villages. At Restaurant Koefoed, you’ll see hints of Bornholm everywhere in the design of the restaurant and of course in the smørrebrød and snaps!
Restaurant Koefoed is in an old coal cellar with white stonewashed arched walls to resemble the iconic round churches found on Bornholm. Koefoeds smørrebrød has a modern touch incorporating popular dishes and ingredients that are common to the cuisine of Bornholm. The atmosphere of Restaurant Koefoed is romantic and relaxing with hues of white and blue.
Order The: Sol over Gudhjem for a Bornholm inspired smørrebrød. Sol over Gudhjem is made using Bornholm-smoked herring with a raw egg yolk, chives and radish, served on freshly baked rye bread. Choose from one of the local Bornholm beers, or one of Koefoed’s seasonal homemade snaps.
At Restaurant Palaegade you can choose from over 40 different types of smørrebrød during lunch. The relaxed atmosphere lets visitors enjoy themselves with the wonderful decor I like to call “Scandinavian chic”. Save room for the dessert trolley that comes around at the end!
Order The: Cold smoked salmon with creamed spinach and a panko-breaded fried egg. This smørrebrød is unique and it reminded me of something you would order during brunch!
Practical Info: Smørrebrød is served during lunch every day at Restaurant Palaegade from 11:30 -3 p.m. You can reserve a table here.
Meyers in the Tower
For smørrebrød and a view in a truly memorable location, it doesn’t get more special than from the tower of Christiansborg Palace. From Meyers in the Tower you’ll have breathtaking views of Copenhagen, and you’ll be able to see the bridge to Sweden in the distance. The restaurant serves classic seasonal smørrebrød that changes frequently.
Order The: Because the smørrebrød changes depending on what’s in season, ask your waiter for their recommendations.
Practical Info: Reservations can be made here.
Best Smørrebrød in Copenhagen – A Map
Save this map of all the locations I listed above for quick reference before you visit.
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