There are some that would have you believe Oslo isn’t a place for foodies; that Norwegians can only really do seafood and reindeer well. These people are wrong, but don’t tell them – this way we can keep the joy of Oslo cuisine to ourselves.
The Norwegian capital is home to hundreds of great eateries, and the best restaurants in Oslo are as good as anywhere else in the world, including nearby haute cuisine mecca, Copenhagen. The city has a whole variety of international cuisine on offer, and Norwegian food itself has plenty to explore beyond dried meat and line-caught salmon. If you love food, you’ll love Oslo – especially the restaurants that we think serve up the best breakfast, lunch, and dinner in this city.
The Nighthawk Diner
Open for over a decade now, this American-style diner serves gut-busting meals that wouldn’t be out of place over the Atlantic. Focusing on big breakfasts and brunch classics, you can get sweet or savoury dishes (or both, if you’re feeling peckish). If you’re looking for something lighter they have that too: heavy, grease-laden dishes are delivered to tables alongside yogurt and muesli, and even salads. With that said, we’d recommend The Nighthawk Breakfast Brunch – a massive plate that will fill you up for the entire day.
Aside from great food, the clientele are chatty and the atmosphere relaxed, with friendly staff buzzing around without being intrusive. The décor is warming, with classic wood-panels that betray a hint of the Scandinavian.
As you’re on holiday you’ll also be pleased to know you can get breakfast cocktails here. All in all, The Nighthawk Diner have a dish for everyone, making it one of the best Oslo restaurants for grabbing a good breakfast.
Le Pain at Mathallen
This family-run bakery is homed in Mathallen, a vast food and drink market in the heart of Oslo. Perched on the banks of the Akerselva, the massive building is full of excellent eateries and stalls, and Le Pain is one of the best. The French and Swedish founders should inspire confidence, as they are two of the best bread-producing nations on earth, and when you add in the focus on local ingredients and the sublime baking techniques the workers use, it’s easy to see why this spot is so popular.
If you want a sit-down breakfast there are probably better places to go, but if you love pastries and other baked goods, you’ll be hard pressed to find somewhere that makes them better.
Everything is baked fresh, and if you’re early enough you can get things while they’re still warm – a mouth-watering experience.
In an area replete with excellent burger bars, Illegal Burger manages to be the best. In fact, as far as Oslo restaurants go, it’s probably one of the best in general, despite its no-nonsense aesthetic and reasonable (for Oslo, anyway) prices.
The burgers are all made from prime meat, excepting the vegetarian options which are phenomenal. They also serve items for people who are gluten free, and everything is made fresh to order. Although the location is small, you can get takeaway, but you will have to sit somewhere to eat, such is the size of the meal. Illegal Burger also lives up to its hipster credentials with a wonderful selection of craft beers.
All in all, if you’re looking for a quick, high-quality bite, there aren’t many better restaurants in Oslo.
Lofthus Samvirkelag Tranen
This pizzeria has a few locations but the one at Tranen bar is our favourite. Don’t be put off by the boozy location: there’s no doubt that Lofthus Samvirkelag bake some of the best pizzas in Oslo. The homemade dough is hand-stretched, and the ingredients are all as local as possible, meaning a freshness that’s reminiscent of Napoli. With that said, there is a distinctly Norwegian edge to this Oslo restaurant; the reindeer pizza is an astonishingly good (and hearty) meal, worthy of any restaurant. Not open on Mondays and Tuesdays, but the wait is worth it.
This once triple-starred restaurant is the peak of Norwegian fine-dining. If you want a classy experience grounded entirely in local cuisine, there isn’t a better Oslo restaurant than Maaemo Oslo. The restaurant, run by Dane Esben Holmboe Bang, has a hint of the Copenhagen about it. All the food is local and organic, with much of it being foraged by the chefs who create the wonderful dishes on offer here.
Since moving to a new location at the end of December 2019 Maaemo Oslo has lost its stars, but the quality is still just as high, and it’s sure to win them back again soon.
The food is delightful, with the ever-changing tasting menu a cornucopia of delights, paired perfectly with wines or juices, depending on what you’d prefer. The staff are professional and friendly, with a deep knowledge of the dishes. A must-visit if you’re a foodie.
34th Restaurant and Bar Oslo
It takes a lot to beat the panoramic, rooftop views at The Top Restaurant and Bar in Oslo plaza, but the food manages to do it. Located on the top floor of the Radisson Blu, the classy eatery serves pan-European cuisine, with a focus on Nordic dishes. The restaurant is starred, and the food shows why. However, when combined with the general ambience and the subtly flavoured yet perfectly made cocktails the bartenders produce, it’s hard to see why it doesn’t have more than one from Michelin. The perfect Oslo restaurant for food with a view, and a great dining experience for a special evening.
If you’re prepared to try something new, there aren’t many better places in Oslo to head than Lulu. This fusion restaurant only serves omakase (chef’s choice), utilising Japanese, South East Asian, and Latin American cuisine to create an unforgettable blend. The restaurant focuses on fish and seafood, which is all delicious and fresh in Oslo, with its numerous waterways and proximity to the coast.
The restaurant itself is stylish, decorated in an understated yet refined manner. The staff are all highly trained, and well-versed in the dishes that the chef is serving up that night, while remaining friendly. Lulu does focus on seafood and fish, but as long as you book ahead dietary restrictions can be accommodated, meaning the astoundingly good food is accessible to anyone.