Good Food, Drink and Coffee in Gothenburg, Sweden
I have always loved Gothenburg. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest close to the water, Gothenburg has always had that wonderful mixture of saltwater air and lush greenery that makes me feel right at home. I spent a year living in Gothenburg during high school, and it has remained a favorite place of mine to visit.
I was there in June to attend the World of Coffee event, a crazy three-day specialty coffee event full of coffee, coffee and more coffee. Did I mention coffee?
It was also the occasion to explore the local food scene. This area of Western Sweden is renowned for its seafood, no surprise given its location on the water, and I think my favorite discovery of the trip was Strömmingsluckan, a food truck that serves pan-fried herring. In my mind, that’s exactly what a food truck should be; a celebration of local food, not a coopting of other (often boring and overdone) global food trends. I’m looking at you artisan hamburgers. I think we have seen enough of you now.
Actually, I take that back. I can’t choose a favorite, because the other winner of the trip was Syster Marmelad, recommended to me by Viktor at Viktors Kaffe. This vegetarian restaurant had opened just a few weeks before we went, and what I liked about it was that it wasn’t branded as a vegetarian restaurant. It was simply good ingredients done well. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I was so impressed by creative cooking. There were a variety of vegetables pickled and then baked (like carrots and fennel), which is a method I will definitely be trying at home soon, and there was care put into incorporating local ingredients in new and different ways. Not to mention that they served locally brewed beer, which is always a winner in my book, as well as rounded off the meal with good coffee.
Of course, beyond checking out a cafe or a restaurant, I personally think the best food experience in Gothenburg that you can have is a fika or a picnic in skärgården, Gothenburg’s archipelago. Pack a simple lunch – cheese on knäckebröd for example – and a thermos of coffee, and hop on a ferry to go out an explore one of the beautiful islands. We made it out to Vrångö on a sunny day, and had a wonderful time hiking around the island on the nature trail and sitting on a dock enjoying our open-faced sandwiches.
If you’re visiting Gothenburg, here is a list of a few of my favorite discoveries:
A cozy cafe at the top of Avenyn, a bit hidden off the main street, which makes it nice and tucked away. The coffee game here is strong and the kanelbullar are some of the best in town. Which means you should probably get two, one for now and one for later.
I didn’t have time to make it to Alkemisten, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t! They were lovely enough to support an Art of Fika signing and word on the street is that they are one of the best new cafes in Gothenburg right now.
Go here for breakfast. Kale’i Kaffebar’s owner Elin makes an incredible sourdough bread, and serves a buffet with it and a block of cheese that you can take a few slices from, greek yogurt, fresh fruit, juice and coffee. They serve coffee from local roaster Per Nordby, whose coffee is amazing.
A coffee roaster and sourdough bakery. What’s not to love? I almost fell off my perch when I tried their Coffee Lemonade (sounds weird, tastes amazing), and the kardemummabullar are some of the best I have ever tasted. And I have tasted a lot.
As mentioned above, Syster Marmelad is all about highlighting the beauty of vegetables. Everything is served as small plates, so you’re encouraged to share and try a lot of different things. When a rhubarb compote came out for dessert and as topped with thin slices of dried rhubarb – something I must try to replicate at home – I knew this place was a favorite.
Craft beer and sourdough pizza, what more could you want in life? Often, when a restaurant tries to go creative with pizza toppings, it can quickly be overdone. Not so at Brewers Beer Bar. My favorite was the Popeye, made with a cauliflower cream, feta, spinach and topped with pea sprouts.
A small food and drink joint focused on natural wines. The selection is comparable to any natural wine bar in France, which is exciting to see so far north.
If you want a true Viking food, go to this food truck. Pan-fried herring served with mashed potatoes and lingonberry jam. It doesn’t get much more Swedish than that.
Local beers to try:
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