A few years ago, the Washington Post, published a piece titled ‘Helsinki’s food scene, coming on strong’ , and it was in that moment that I knew the modesty of the Finnish would only work to my benefit when exploring the relatively uncharted food scene in Helsinki when I finally had the chance to journey to the great north. As they have begun to catch up to their Nordic neighbors in notoriety, it’s no surprise that Helsinki is becoming less and less of the “best kept secret in Europe” when it comes to cuisine, and more of a seasoned hand as it will.
But! That didn’t stop me from doing some serious exploring, trying to find some of Helsinki’s best gems – largely with the help of a team of local Finn’s who pointed us in the right direction. Below, I’ve listed out some of the best cafes, lunch spots, and decadent dinner hotspots that are all worth a look on your next trip to Helsinki.
Kappeli Cafe – Eteläesplanadi 1, 00130 (Pictured above)
If you’re looking for a little nook in the heart of Helsinki, look no further than this Kodak-worthy cafe. Located literally smack dab in the center of town, Kappeli offers a tasty variety of pastries, coffees and tea. Try to snag one of the round booths completely encased in glass for a 360-view of the city moving around you!
SIS. Deli+Cafe – Kalevankatu 4, 00100
For a traditional Finnish breakfast, SIS offers a cute little buffet style option. If you’re gearing up for a big day of exploring, this casual cafe is one of the best ways to start your day. Also, this is a great spot to post up should you want/need to do a bit of work on your travels. You won’t be the only person with a laptop open, which is always a good feeling.
Cafe Regatta – Merikannontie 8, 00260 (Pictured above)
Known for their famous hot chocolate and rustic abode, this has to be one of the most photogenic places I visited during our stay. As a non-coffee drinker, this was a particularly enjoyable reprieve for me, and the fact that they had a crazy ice sled on the water outside that we could push with our new Finnish friends was an extra bonus! To make the experience even more special, take your hot chocolate outside to the fire pit to circle around and swap travel stories with friends.
Café Köket – Aleksanterinkatu 28, 00170
This café, bar and lunch spot by the Seante Square in the Kiseleff House is another great casual spot that won’t break the bank. Köket serves a yummy breakfast buffet and a lunch buffet during weekdays , and for those who are brunch-inclined, they have you covered on weekends.
Bronda – Eteläesplanadi 20, 00130
With a heavy-handed Mediterranean influencer, Bronda offers an amazing 3-course (and sometimes 5) tasting menu at lunch!. The space is found on the corner of Eteläesplanadi and Korkeavuorenkatu with massively high ceilings and large windows, making it any food Instagrammer’s dream, but also just a cool spot to pull up a chair for an hour or two. Many dishes here are meant to be shared, so the more the merrier!
Juuri – Korkeavuorenkatu 27, 00130 (Pictured below)
You will thank me later for this one! If you are interested in trying fine Finnish cuisine, look no further than this unpretentious little spot. The staff is super knowledgeable and was able to assist with questions and making some key selections that are sure to melt in your mouth. The a la carte menu is good, but the real treat is the sapas, small tapas-like dishes excellent for sharing. By Finnish standards this place is not super expensive for the quality of food, but be prepared to spend more than a few dollars for this tasty experience. Note: Menu changes every second month.
EGG – Kanavaranta 7 B 3, 00170
Looking for faster and lighter fare for lunch? This healthy hot spot is great for those on the go, searching for a tasty option that leaves you feeling energized and satisfied. The wild board omelette is a great choice, and they have an ‘all day breakfast’ if you didn’t quite make it in time for your hotel’s spread. Bonus: this spot is close to the Uspenski Cathedral!
Fat Ramen – Hietalahti Market Hall, Lönnrotinkatu 34, 00180
Ohhhh how I love ramen. I once squealed meeting one of my favorite ramen chefs like I was meeting Mick Jagger or something, so know that I take this dish seriously… but not too seriously. This place fast casual noodle bar located in Hietalahti Market Hall – which is a cool spot worth checking out regardless. It is the first ramen shop in Helsinki focusing its menu solely around ramen. During lunch this quaint restaurant offers a variety of hand-made ramen bowls, which are known for always having the best ingredients of the season and ambitiously combines Asian and Nordic flavors.
Savotta – Aleksanterinkatu 22, 00170 Helsinki (pictured below)
If you’re looking for a more traditional, and fun, Finnish experience, Savotta is a great spot to try. With a step through the threshold, it’s no question that the decor is meant to pay homage to Finland’s roots. The name Savotta means ‘logging site’, so servers are dressed to play the part of men and women who would work in the forests and thousands of lakes over the years. The food and decor tap in to local nostalgia and showcase decades of tradition right at your table. The street level dining rooms face the Helsinki Cathedral by the Senate Square, so it’s a perfect spot to end a day of exploring the city!
Ravintola Werner – Bulevardi 12, 00120 Helsinki
Set in what used to be one of the biggest publishing houses in Helsinki, Werner boasts a massive open fire grill, perfect for all the needs of preparing Nordic-style fare. Don’t miss their beef tartar or mussels to start the meal, and then be sure to grab anything that you could wish to have cooked over an open flame. Stick with classics like the salmon, or if your traveling with a hungry companion, the beef entrecôte for two is a must!
Restaurant Savoy – Eteläesplanadi 14, 00130 Helsinki
Last year this Helsinki staple celebrated 80 years of service! Located right in the heart of town, Restaurant Savoy isn’t just a place to have dinner, but rather to have a dining experience. This popular locale oozes old world glamour, and is perfect for anyone who wants dinner with a view. Situated on the top floor overlooking the park, and featuring classic fare, makes this the ideal setting for a special occasion, but is also great for ambitious diners who enjoy meticulous plating, top notch service, and just overall good food. If the price tag scares you, they also do a fabulous three-course lunch worth taking a look at.
Have any dining recommendations in Helsinki I didn’t mention? There are so many good places that I know I missed a few. Leave me your favorites in the comments below!