The Most Compelling Way to Experience Iceland Is Through This Tasting Menu

This restaurant is reason enough to plan a trip to the capital city of Reykjavik simply for a meal.

<p>Courtesy of Dill</p>

Courtesy of Dill

You can split the people who have visited Iceland into two very distinct groups: those who have been to Dill and those who have not. It may sound like an obvious divide, but stick with me for a moment. Ask most visitors to the island nation what their favorite experience was, and they will wax poetic about an afternoon spent chasing waterfalls or descending into a dead lava tube. But if you ask someone who has snagged a table at Dill, you’ll suddenly find yourself pining for a trip to the capital city of Reykjavik simply for a meal.

Boxing Iceland’s dining scene into its historical — and much-photographed — delicacies is a misstep. Sure, puffin, fermented shark, and whale steak are unique to the island and may entice one-time samplers. Smoked lamb is perfected in dishes around the country, and the hot spring bread that’s made underground with the power of geothermal energy is an adventure in itself. But ignoring the innovation happening in Dill’s kitchen means you’re missing out on one of the region’s biggest cultural ambassadors: founding chef Gunnar Karl Gíslasson and his team.

After winning its first Michelin star in 2017 — only to lose it and regain it in 2020, this time with a sustainability-focused Green Star in tow — the restaurant introduced the world to a deeper, more nuanced version of Icelandic cuisine. In a space featuring a wall of windows overlooking Reykjavik’s main shopping strip, the staff at Dill perform a nightly dance of plating, friendly banter, education, and pouring wine. From the street, it’s an easy place to miss; its second-floor location is inconspicuous and unpretentious.

While a fine dining tasting menu might seem a little intimidating, a night out at Dill is a joyful and delightfully welcoming crash course in Icelandic culture. The first lesson is delivered in the ambiance, which will only expand your definition of cozy or, as it’s called here, hygge. A spiral staircase surrounded by weathered, dark-stained wood leads you to the bright dining room. Here, the expo kitchen becomes the focal point — a space where the kitchen team calmly and meticulously puts together dishes almost too pretty to eat.

This leads to the second lesson: an unwavering national support of the farmers who raise the sheep and grow vegetables in the historically stubborn soil. The disarming staff, who help set the tone for a more relaxed tasting menu vibe, will drop details about each dish, and where the elements come from before you dig in. There’s a good chance you’ll be treated to a story about the farmer who nurtured the potato, rutabaga, or cauliflower if you ask.

And the personal connections don’t stop at these collaborations between restaurant and farmer—guests celebrating big moments like birthdays, engagements, or anniversaries have been known to leave with a memento of congratulations from the staff, such as a bunch of dried flowers and a hand-written note discreetly delivered during the meal. The third lesson is more subtle, pulled from Gíslasson's understanding of ingredients. The chef grew up in northern Iceland, a childhood dotted with memories of his family’s garden. His expertise is found in the details: While goose leg may not seem like the most Nordic of centerpieces, it’s the supporting acts of bilberry and brown butter that deliver a taste of place.

The restaurant has existed for 13 years in two locations, and over that time, there has been a constant evolution at play. Gíslasson may have been a pioneer of Icelandic fine dining, but he continues to build on his expression of it. The seasonal menu is agile and perfectly paced, delighting diners with unknown flavors in between comforting bites of the more familiar. To taste this Icelandic passion and pride for yourself, make a reservation a few months in advance before you book your flight – then welcome to the club of Dill devotees.

Global Tastemakers is a celebration of the best culinary destinations in the U.S. and abroad. We asked more than 180 food and travel journalists to vote on their favorites, including restaurants and bars, cities, hotels, airports, airlines, and cruises. We then entrusted those results to an expert panel of judges to determine each category’s winners. In many categories, we’ve included a Plus One, hand-selected by our expert panel, to shout out more culinary destinations we don’t want our readers to miss. See all the winners at

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