September 13, 2017

Restaurants Serving Traditional Swedish Cuisine

Assorted herring plate at Sturehof.
One topic of discussion that often comes up with hotel guests is Swedish cuisine. Most visitors feel like they should try traditional Swedish cuisine when they are visiting Stockholm... but what is Swedish cuisine? There is a big difference between modern and traditional Swedish food culture. Modern Swedish cuisine often follows the same concepts as New Nordic Cuisine: innovative and using local, seasonal often organic produce. Traditional Swedish cuisine is something entirely different. This is our everyday food; traditional dishes that have been around for a long time (sometimes for centuries) and what we often call husmanskost. Our comfort food!
Löjrom Toast at Söders Hjärta
Many of these dishes will be familiar, like (Swedish) meatballs, marinated/cured salmon (gravad or rimmad lax), pickled or fried herring, fish stew, reindeer, black pudding and Toast Skagen. Other dishes will be less familiar, like kroppkaka, Biff Rydberg, löjrom, gubbröra and Wallenbergare (links take you to informative videos made by the Foodie List). Certain dishes or produce are more seasonal... moose, venison and chanterelle mushrooms often show up on menus in the fall, crayfish has a short season in August, goose in November while white asparagus is a spring delicacy.
Östermalms Saluhall.
Photo by: Carro Hjerpe
So, where can you try traditional Swedish cuisine when visiting Stockholm? You have quite a few restaurants to choose from, whether you want a high-end restaurant or a good, casual pub. Here are some that I recommend and which I have split up in three categories: high-end, mid-range and casual/budget. Some serve only traditional dishes while others mix them in their menu with more modern dishes.

High-end
  • Den Gyldene Freden - world's oldest restaurant with the same surroundings, Bib Gourmand rated.
  • Ulla Winbladh - famous restaurant in bucolic setting, Bib Gourmand rated.
  • Grand's Veranda - choose a la carte or try the smörgåsbord (see below).. 
  • Erik's Gondolen - on Södermalm with great views of the city. 
  • Fem Små Hus - historic atmosphere in the old town. 

Swedish meatballs at Den Gyldene Freden
Mid-range
  • Tennstopet - cultural landmark in Vasastan, celebrating 150 years. 
  • Operakällaren's Bakfickan - casual dining in the opera house, no reservations.
  • Prinsen - classic Swedish brasserie in the downtown area. 
  • Sturehof - Swedish/French, focusing on seafood. 
  • Tradition - as the name suggest, very traditionally Swedish. Menu, music, design. 
  • Tranan - another Stockholm culinary mainstay.
  • Östermalms Saluhall - indoor food market with several Swedish restaurants like Lisa Elmqvist, Gerda's and Tysta Marie. Main building currently under renovation, but they have moved everything into a temporary food market on the square. 
  • Rosendals Wärdshus - summer restaurant on Djurgården, also open on major holidays (like the Christmas season). 
  • Harvest Home - cosy, at home, restaurant in SoFo. 
  • Meatballs for the People - meatballs, meatballs and even more meatballs. 
  • Knut - Vasastan restaurant serving cuisine from Norrland (northern Sweden).
  • Rival's Bistro - our own hotel restaurant which always has a few traditional dishes on the menu. 
Casual/budget
Smörgåsbord at Grand's Veranda
Photo by: Magnus Mårding
The Swedish word smörgåsbord has made its way into many other languages and has come to be synonymous with "a wide variety of things to choose from"... and this is exactly what it is: a buffet style meal where you can choose from lots of traditional warm & cold dishes (including several of the above mentioned dishes). Swedes generally only eat smörgåsbord during major holidays like Easter, Midsummer and Christmas (when it is called julbord). However, you can try the smörgåsbord at the Grand's Veranda. The Christmas julbord, on the other hand, is served at many restaurants in the four weeks leading up to Christmas Eve. Feel like going even further back in Swedish culinary history? Try the medieval restaurant Sjätte Tunnan or the Viking restaurant Aifur, both located in the old town (Gamla Stan).
Toast Skagen at Ulla Winbladh
Restaurant Kvarnen
Photo by Staffan Eliasson/mediabank.visitstockholm.com


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