Hunger was on my mind on a cold October day in Reykjavík recently. After arriving early in the morning and only sleeping about 90 minutes before heading out to ride Icelandic horses, then scaling Hellgrimskirkja church, I was so hungry I couldn’t stand it. I am pleased to report that finding a vegetarian restaurant in Reykjavík was fairly simple. Reykjavik has more vegetarian and vegan restaurants in its 106 square mile city than I have back home in Boston and as such, I had a few choices that day. First on my list was Cafe Garðurinn or Ecstasy’s Heart Garden, depending on who is telling you the name, a vegetarian restaurant located at Klapparstígur 37 in Reykjavík, Iceland.
You might miss the restaurant altogether while walking by it because of its small and unassuming appearance on this street. If there’s a line or a wait for tables, be patient as it’ll absolutely be worth it.
Cafe Garðurinn has less than ten tables, which only adds to its charm and is decorated with local artwork. Go up to the counter, look over the items in the baked goods case, and order. There were only two employees working during my visit and both spoke English far better than my extremely limited Icelandic so all was well with the world. Since they only have one entree and one soup per day, deciding on your meal should be easy and fast. For me it was super fast as they had run out of the entree for the day. Pay at the counter, find a seat, and your food is brought to your table.
We grabbed a seat by the window under what was a sign to me that clearly meant I was supposed to be there.
My rutabaga soup with bread and hummus arrived and although I was slightly hesitant to try it, I dove right into the large tureen of soup. Why was I hesitant? Some veggies are somewhat foreign to me like rutabaga, which isn’t so much of an excuse, but more of an explanation.
The soup was velvety, super hot just the way I like it, and unbelievably delicious. Considering I hadn’t eaten all day, I wanted to dive right into it and bathe in that rutabaga goodness. In fact, it was so good that I’ll never say another bad word about rutabaga again. I’ll reserve all my negative vegetable comments for beets alone. Soups come with bread and butter or bread and hummus and I think the hummus was definitely the way to go. So good! Whether or not you exist on vegetables alone, everyone will enjoy the soup at this vegetarian restaurant in Reykjavik.
Remember the baked goods case I mentioned earlier? After you finish your entree or soup, you might have a little room left for dessert. Be it a vegan coffee bite, vegan brownie, vegan snickers, carrot cake, or caramel cake, these desserts are super popular and were flying off the shelves. Grab a hot cup of coffee or tea and enjoy!
All ingredients are listed on their baked goods and the carrot cake contains carrots, spelt flour, oil, eggs, cane sugar, icing sugar, butter, and cream cheese. While not necessarily the healthiest thing I could’ve eaten, I can’t tell you how delicious it was! It was moist, light, and full of flavor. The frosting was sweet, but not sickly sweet like you find on cakes most times. I had a cup of tea with it and then I was ready to roll back to my flat to sleep off my sugar high.
Other desserts included the Caramel Cake, a dense cake with what appeared to be a strip of caramel over the top. Unlike a Sunshine Cake, which has a sponge cake for a base, this cake has eggs, cane sugar, spelt flour, dates, coconut, cream, butter, peppermint, chocolate, and agave. It was like no other cake I’ve ever had so definitely worth trying.
As for price, it’s important not to compare prices from home with what you will pay in Iceland. Accept the fact that everything is more expensive in Iceland and move on. You can do what I do and simply forget the exchange rate, which will allow you to shop and dine to your heart’s content. Well, maybe I don’t forget entirely, but sometimes I like to pretend that I do.
Overall, I had a delicious meal in a comfortable little cafe. Finding this vegetarian restaurant in Reykjavík more than met my expectations. I highly recommend paying a visit to Cafe Garðurinn whether or not you’re a vegetarian. If you’re looking for a quick and tasty lunch or dinner, Cafe Garðurinn can’t be beat.
Klapparstígur 37 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Phone: +354 561 2345
Hours: Open 11am-5pm Monday-Friday, noon-5pm Saturday. Closed in August for vacation