Where to Eat on the “Cheap” in Copenhagen
Nothing in Copenhagen is cheap. Let me just preface this post by saying that. Unless you plan and budget very well, a trip to Copenhagen could quickly devour your travel budget. When planning our trip to Copenhagen this past March, once I found a place to stay that was within our budget, the next priority was finding Copenhagen restaurants that also fit comfortably within our budget.
I knew that neither of us would be willing to subsist on fruit and crackers during our trip, especially since trying local cuisine is such an essential part of travel. Plus, Jave is a chef, so unique and local food experiences are always a huge factor when planning our travels. So I turned to Yelp’s Copenhagen site and filtered all Copenhagen restaurants within reasonable walking distance from our hostel that fit within the single-$ range.
While all of our food finds weren’t exactly “cheap” in the backpacker sense of the word, the prices were definitely reasonable. Plus, we’re not backpackers. In any case, here are some of our favorite finds…
After spending several hours being incredibly lost while looking for our hostel shortly after arriving to the city, Jave and I were tired, frustrated, and starving. After checking in to our room, we headed back out again for a short walk to Madklubben Bistro-de-Luxe.
We found the restaurant tucked away below ground level in a building that our waiter later informed us was once a stable. It was a Monday night, and with the exception of about three other parties, the huge restaurant was all but empty. We were immediately impressed by the restaurant’s clean, modern décor and open kitchen. But we were even more blown away by our meals and the quality of the food.
I ordered the veal breast with Jerusalem artichokes, onions, and cheese served with a rye bread cracker and a rich, beef-stew like sauce while Jave opted for the pork cheeks with celery cream, glazed beets, and pepper sauce. We shared a side of crushed potatoes which came to the table in a pot. They were beyond delicious! Jave and I agreed that our meal at Madklubben was one of our best ever, and it was definitely a great start to our time in Copenhagen.
But one of the best things about Madklubben are the prices. Diners choose from one to four courses with prices ranging from 100 – 250 kroner/$17 – $42. In an effort to minimize our spending, Jave and I each opted for one course. With our shared pot of potatoes (25 kroner/$4) on the side and two drinks, our meal ended up being quite affordable, especially considering that it was so gourmet and so good!Caveat: We returned to Madklubben on our last night in Copenhagen in hopes to have a repeat dining experience. This time, we arrived on a weekend night and the restaurant was packed. Unfortunately, the quality of the food suffered. We each ordered the exact same thing and agreed that it was nothing like the first time around. With that said, I’d still recommend Madklubben, but go during a weeknight when the chefs seem to be more consistent.
It would be a bad idea to go to Copenhagen and not try Danish smørrebrød. Simply put, smørrebrød is a traditional Danish open-faced sandwich that’s made with a piece of buttered rye bread and topped with cold cuts, meat, fish, cheese, or the like. In Copenhagen, you’ll see that sandwich-making is an art – a far cry from Subway’s $5 foot-longs.
We knew that we wanted to eat this traditional meal without paying an arm and a leg, so I was happy when I found Lækkerier, a cute, artsy café that was just a short five minute walk from our hostel. I ordered the salami smørrebrød while Jave went with the mortadella. Please believe me when I tell you that these were the best sandwiches we’ve ever had. Ever! Jave couldn’t stop raving about our meal which is saying a lot since he’s extremely critical when it comes to food.
Our sandwiches were served on the freshest, buttery rye bread and topped with the perfect pairing of ingredients including red hot chili peppers, basil leaves, and a garlicky, pesto-like vinaigrette. I seriously never wanted to stop chewing – it was that good!
Our smørrebrød lunch fest set us back about 70 kroner/$12 each, not including our rhubarb sodas. Again, not bad considering we were in pricey Copenhagen, and considering that our sandwiches were so ridiculously good.
If you plan on visiting Rundetårn (Round Tower) while in Copenhagen, don’t you dare leave without getting a hot dog from Døp. Døp is a small hot dog stand set up adjacent to the Round Tower, but it’s almost insulting to call these delightful wieners hot dogs.
First, choose your sausage style: traditional, French, a sausage served with mashed roots, or a deconstructed hot dog. Next, choose a meat of your choice. I believe we both went with the chicken sausage. Lastly, choose your dressing and toppings. We opted for ketchup, mustard, pickles, fried onions, and beets. When we were told that fried onions and beets were an option, at first I was a little skeptical, but man, oh man! Hands down, Døp served up the best hot dog I’ve ever had!
At the end of the day, a Døp dog with toppings of your choice and a drink will likely set you back about 120 kroner/$20. I know, I know – quite pricey for a hot dog! But remember, this is Copenhagen!
When researching typical Danish breakfast fare, I kept reading that the Danes like porridge which can be eaten either sweet or savory. Upon investigating further, I learned that Grød is a porridge chain that just so happens to have a shop in Hall 2, Stall 8A at Torvehallerne, one of my favorite markets.
So prior to meeting up for our walking tour on our first full morning in Copenhagen, Jave and I hightailed it to Grød for a grab-and-go breakfast. I was pleasantly surprised to see the lady behind the counter chopping up fresh mangos to include in my bowl. Imagine that! Most restaurants of the same caliber in the U.S. would most likely throw frozen fruit into the bowl. But not at Grød. A bowl of porridge from Grød made for an excellent start to my day. Although my porridge was sweetened with a caramel-like sauce, it was so full of fruit and nuts that I felt like I was doing something good for my body.
Unfortunately, I didn’t write down how much a bowl of porridge and a bottle of juice from Grød set us back, but I believe it was close to 143 kroner/$24 for both me and Jave.
A meal at Sporvejen wasn’t in our itinerary, but we were forced to find a dinner alternative when we realized that we were too late to revisit Lækkerier for another round of smørrebrød. So a quick Yelp search led us to Sporvejen, a burger bar designed to look like an old school tram.
We were warmly greeted at Sporvejen, and we both quickly decided to order bacon cheeseburgers with French fries. Lots of locals were eating there – many of them looked like college students.
Considering that the restaurant only has a 3.5 Yelp rating, I was totally expecting to be underwhelmed by our burgers, but once again, we fell in love at first bite. It seems that the secret to their bacon cheeseburgers are the high quality ingredients along with the dark red homemade dressing that the burgers are served with. I can honestly say that Sporvejen served me the best cheeseburger of my life – even better than my beloved In-N-Out.
Our burger meals and two sodas cost us 216 kroner/$36. Although our burgers were much pricier than most burgers you’ll eat here in the U.S., again, we didn’t have any complaints because the quality of our meal was superb, and in Copenhagen, this meal was relatively cheap.*Note: All USD prices are approximations.
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