Bergen may not be a very big city, compared to Oslo, but it certainly has a lot to offer when it comes to culinary options. From picturesque seafood restaurants that – like the rest of the city – look like out of a postcard, to modern takes on Nordic cuisine and all the fusion places in between, here are Bergen’s best places to have lunch, dinner, and many Instagram moments.
Lysverket, located inside one of the KODE Museums, is considered one of Bergen’s most revered restaurants – and will be an experience to remember. Owner and head chef Christopher Haatuft, whom Jamie Oliver calls ‘the punk rock chef’, won’t hesitate to chat with you about the dishes that are locally fjord-aged (foraged from the fjord areas) and prepared here. Opt for one of the tasting menus to try seasonal flavours like chanterelle mushrooms and succulent reindeer dishes.
This is probably the crown jewel of Bergen’s culinary scene. Focusing on traditional Norwegian cooking methods, the chefs at 1877 completely change the menu every six weeks to make the most of the local, seasonal produce available. There’s no traditional a la carte menu here; instead you can opt for the whole five-course evening menu (that always includes seafood, fish, meat, cheese and a dessert) or the three-course half-evening menu (where you can choose whichever of the five courses you want). The restaurant has four different spaces you can sit at. Whichever you choose, from the more relaxed veranda to the more formal business dining room, you can rest assured the décor is going to be as unique as the food on your plate.
You could say that Colonialen has taken over the city and you wouldn’t be entirely wrong. This elegant brand currently has five establishments in Bergen: a restaurant, a literary brasserie, a deli grocery that serves breakfast, a bakery and café, and a deli and cheese place that serves salads and lunch. To get the full Colonialen experience, however, you should start with the restaurant. Artistically presented, fresh and healthy dishes, and innovative food and wine pairings, really come into their own in the special six- and nine-course tasting menus. If you’re feeling less extravagant though, there’s also a more economical, weekly rotating menu with two or three different dishes each day.
Marg & Bein
Marg & Bein is a beautiful establishment of carnivorous inclinations (their name literally means ‘marrow and bone’). In this modern Nordic cuisine restaurant, you can feast on pork neck that’s been roasting for hours, enjoy fresh salmon or opt for their four-course menu.
It’s true that Munken Bistro doesn’t have that many vegetarian or vegan options, but if you’re a meat- or fish-eater you’ll just love this fusion ceviche restaurant. From their locally foraged vegetables and mushrooms to their exquisite ceviche dishes and quinotto, this place will become a new favourite soon. Their dessert game is very strong, as well – we recommend at least trying their sorbet.
Hidden near Bergen’s fish market is Bare Vestland – a place where you’ll not only find delicious, honest food, but also a great selection of beers to sip on. Specialising in giving tapas dishes a Norwegian twist, here you can taste several fish and seafood-based dishes garnished with fresh, (eco)locally sourced vegetables.
This Italian restaurant offers many yummy options, from pizzas and pastas to bruschettas, wraps and baguettes. Whether you visit Da Stefano for a hearty penne al Gorgonzola dish, or for a light wrap with squash, make sure to wash down your lunch or dinner with some fine Italian wine.
Rustic but also innovative, Potetkjelleren restaurant awaits you in a cosy, whitewashed basement room that dates back to the 1400s. The skilled chefs and waiters of this popular, gourmet restaurant work continuously to create and assemble tasty and exciting culinary combinations that will rank this place high on your list of favourites. Just a look at the roasted langoustine served on top of a smoking bottle will help you understand what we’re talking about.
Pingvinen in Vaskerelven is the ideal place to wait out the rain (as you may have noticed, it rains a lot in Bergen). In this cosy pub, you can enjoy authentic Norwegian food like kjøttkaker (meatballs with potatoes and jam) and homemade lammepølse (lamb sausage in stew), but also delicacies like reindeer neck stew and whale stakes. No matter what you order, make sure to wash it down with a nice cold beer.
Cornelius Sjømat Restaurant
No article about Bergen’s best restaurants would ever be complete without mentioning Cornelius Sjømat Restaurant. To be fair, it’s more than just a restaurant: it’s an institution, and a destination in itself. Situated on Holmen Island, just outside Bergen, with spectacular views of the fjord and mountains, Cornelius is accessible via a 25-minute boat ride that departs from Bryggen wharf at 6pm. Once there, you can enjoy the famous Meteorological Menu of seafood and trimmings, inspired by the weather of the day – either sitting outside, or by the cosy hearth in the winter.
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