Copenhagen's Best Fast Food Restaurants When You Can't Eat at noma

The World's 50 Best Restaurants List was announced yesterday, and yes, Copenhagen is home to some of the top dining spots.

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Apr 29 2014, 5:57pm

Photo by Lars Eriksen

noma was just deemed the world's best restaurant (again), if you believe the zeitgeist poll that is The World's 50 Best List. Obviously, that's all nonsense. The world's best dining establishment is the pizza joint or the health code violation toting hole-in-the-wall you visited at 3:30 this morning when you were tanked out of your mind. Yes, Copenhagen is home to some of the world's most notable restaurants, but here is my advice on the really noteworthy places—the fast food gems and artery-clogging eateries that are more popular with locals and Michelin-starred chefs alike after a long, grueling night of service.

Photo by Lars Eriksen

Photo courtesy of John Jensen.

Hot dogs. Lots of Them. If you visit one of Copenhagen's ubiquitous hot dog stands, nobody will bat an eyelid if you ask for a "dead Indian in a canoe," a boiled red wiener served in a sliced bun. That kind of sausage slang may seem like esoteric vernacular, but the hot dog stall menu is a predictable formula: boiled red or grilled sausages served in a bun with mustard, crispy onion, ketchup, pickled cucumber, and remoulade. The latter is an estranged Danish relative of the French sauce, rémoulade, but in Denmark, it has the color of a yellow Day-glo vest and the addictiveness of crack.

One of the hot-dogs stands worth travelling for is Harry's Place in northwestern Copenhagen, where the grilled beast of a sausage (the Børge) is served with a homemade chili sauce known as krudt ["gunpowder" in Danish]. Much more central is John's Hotdog Deli, which pitches up every other week on the doorsteps of the city's main train station. John, a sausage slinger with the mindset of a punk and the beard of a metal band roadie, has gone rogue and pimped hot dogs out with toppings such as beer-pickled onions, miso mayonnaise, and mustard made with imperial stout from the microbrewery Mikkeller.

Photo by Lars Eriksen

Photo by Lars Eriksen

Isted Grill Remoulade sauce is not a delicacy exclusive to the hot dog stand. Isted Grill normally has a small bucket of the good stuff sitting behind the counter to feed the gaggle of revellers roaming the streets of Istedgade in the early hours. The Chinese takeout and burger joint has been around for more than 40 years, and its chunky fries, chop suey, and pork sandwiches have been a constant amid the Vesterbro neighborhood's transformation from red-light district to gentrified fixie haven. The pre-cooked roast pork sitting on the worktop next to the deep-fat-fryer might look dry and desolate, but after a quick flip on the griddle, the pork slices spring into life with crispy crackling and unctuous fatty bits. Mixed together with pickled cucumber and red cabbage, the pork is stacked in a soft sesame seed bun, which has that perfect cloudlike texture you can only get from really cheap bread. For the adventurous soul, Isted Grill's pølse i kimono ["sausage in kimono"] is as sublime and bonkers as fusion food gets: a wiener draped in a puff pastry-like pancake that's dumped in the fryer and served with—what else—remoulade. It is the most incongruous food-themed fancy dress since Gaga wrapped herself in raw beef.

Photo by Lars Eriksen

Photo by Lars Eriksen

Falafel in Christiania Drugs, cargo bikes, and falafel. Those may be among the cornerstones of life if you ask people who've grown up in Christiania, Copenhagen's self-governing hippie commune along the city ramparts. At the start of Pusher Street, where blocks of hash and pre-rolled joints in plastic tubes are sold with the same level of scrutiny as a sweet shop, the best falafel in Copenhagen can be found at Christiania Falafel. Between stalls selling Bob Marley tracksuits and bongs stands a knackered white kiosk, which has been around for 30 years, and whose bargain-priced pita with falafel (25kr, or about $4.50) is as tasty as they come. The light and crispy falafel balls are packed with herbs and a touch of garlic, then deep-fried in an authentic wok-like pot. The rest of the ingredients remain a trade secret.

Photo by Lars Eriksen

Photo by Lars Eriksen

Copenhagen's Not-Quite Chinatown The city may seem desperately short on authentic Asian cuisine, but there is a golden trio of restaurants behind Copenhagen's central station, where you can order tongue-numbing Sichuan, cheap and cheerful dim sum, and handmade noodles. Noodle House has the interior decorating ambition of a janitor's office, there are typos on the sign outside, sun-faded photographs of the food in the window and the odd Chinese trinket dangling on the wall. So of course the food is fucking awesome. The extensive menu covers spiced tripe, pig's feet, and congee, but the pick of the bunch are the egg noodles in a steaming hot broth, preferably with wonton dumplings.

Photo via Wiki Commons

Photo via Wiki Commons

The Shawarma Belt The "whiskey belt" north of Copenhagen has avantgarde art, designer beach huts, and very posh people, but the "shawarma belt" in bohemian Nørrebro has something much richer: the most generous sprinkling of kebab shops you will find in Denmark. Some locals favor the homemade bread at Dürüm Barwhile others swear by Kebabistan's lamb shawarma, served in a roll or on a plate with fries and salad. Kebabistan's sibling and namesake in Vesterbro is also a hugely popular spot and counts gastro glitterarti such as the Franks from Spuntino's among its fanbase.