The Stockholm Guide
First settled in the Stone Age, Stockholm wears its ancient history well, deftly blending it with all the innovations of a modern city, from New Nordic cuisine to one of the most exquisite hotels, ever. Sprawling over fourteen islands in the Scandinavian archipelago—it sits where Lake Mälaren flows into the Baltic Sea, making it a strategic harbor back in the day—it’s actually shockingly easy to navigate, whether by train, boat, car, or bike. There are ample opportunities to make use of all modes, though in warm months, we prefer getting around by bike, as there’s a city rental program with plenty of drop racks (you can buy cards at all 7-11’s). If you hail cabs, keep in mind that there is no standard fare, so check the car’s window before hopping in.
While Stockholm is the perfect destination for aimless wandering, it is dotted with must-sees to punctuate the days, including Moderna Museet, the Vasa Museum, Rosendals Garden, and a world famous amusement park and ABBA museum if so inclined.
BromsKarlavägen 76, Östermalm | +46.826.371.0
Occupying a sunny corner space with windows on two sides, Broms is part restaurant, part deli, with a full sit-down experience available three meals a day, plus a fully stocked pantry and counter of takeaway options. The menu offers a mix of Swedish dishes and influences from abroad. For breakfast, try one of their acai bowls, or go for it with a sandwich made with Kalles Kaviar—a fishy Swedish spread that's purchased in graphically appealing toothpaste-style tubes. For dinner, regulars recommended the Swedish meatballs and the salmon sashimi with mango and avocado.
Restaurant HjertaSlupskjulsvägen 28B, Skeppsholmen | +46.086.114.100
The island of Skeppsholmen is one of this island city's smallest, housing several museums (our favorite is the Moderna Museet which has an incredible international collection including a Picasso or two), the lovely Skeppsholmen Hotel, and this little restaurant with a patio that looks out onto the sea. As a result, the vibe here is quiet and relaxed, almost as though it's removed from the city; you'll find lots of kids and dogs hanging out on the patio. The pared-down menu offers a few starters and five excellent mains (we're partial to the mussels and the burger) for dinner, and a two-item menu of daily specials for lunch.
Nosh and ChowNorrlandsgatan 24, Norrmalm | +46.850.338.960
A partner property to the Berns Hotel, which is only a short walk away, Nosh and Chow occupies a four-story townhouse that includes a restaurant and a speakeasy-style bar called Bernie's. The interiors were famously handled by Catalán designer Lázaro Rosa Violán, who decked the place out in velvet banquettes, leather stools, and deep-blue tiles that contrast with white walls and wide windows in a way a friend described as "industrial meets colonial." While it's a lively place for lunch or dinner, it really comes alive at night, when you'll find locals drinking cocktails by the bar well into the late hours.
RutabagaSödra Blasieholmshamnen 6, Norrmalm | +46.867.935.84
Mathias Dahlgren first became famous for his restaurant Matsalen in Grand Hôtel, which earned him two Michelin stars; now, he's opening restaurants all over the city. Rutabaga is his stab at vegetarian cuisine, though the restaurant is quick to clarify that they're serving lacto-ovo-vegetarian, which means that cheese, butter, and eggs are still very much in play. Though Dahlgren's creative takes on veggie-forward dishes are the real draw, the light, calming interior, with floor-to-ceiling arched windows looking out over the city, is a definite part of the appeal.
TakBrunkebergstorg 4, Norrmalm | +46.858.722.080
Nordic-Japanese fusion sounds strange but Tak has us convinced. Located on the rooftop of the design-conscious Hobo hotel, Tak is really four individual spaces—a restaurant, raw bar, booze bar, and terrace. Charcoal is the order of the day with many of the entrees and appetizers coming off the grill (the josper grilled bread is particularly good, especially paired with the miso butter). Skip the wine and go straight for sake, taken very seriously at Tak—Sweden's only two sake sommeliers both happen to work here.
The Flying ElkMälartorget 15, Gamla Stan | +46.820.858.3
Chef Bjørn Frantzen is the brains behind this Nordic gastropub. Named after a Swedish folk tale (involving an elk, obviously) this space is warm and cozy, with a menu that is pure comfort food. Try the wild mushroom and Jerusalem artichoke casserole, or go classic with the fish and chips (with house-made pickles and grilled lemon) and wash it all down with a beer from their thoughtfully crafted list.
Oaxen KrogBeckholmsvägen 26, Djurgården | +46.855.153.105
The ever-creative Magnus Ek doesn’t play it safe. Case in point: At Oaxen Krog, there are only two menu options—a six- or ten-course tasting, no substitutions. The industrial space is a former boat shed, and the restrained but warm, dark-wood décor is a refreshingly understated setting for what is fundamentally a fine dining experience. Wines are selected from small European vineyards and most of the vegetables come from Oaxen's own farm on Djurgården. Expect fresh riffs on Nordic-style dishes like roasted cabbage in potato miso with soured Jerusalem artichoke cream and rhubarb with celery and fresh herb sorbet.
Oaxen SlipBeckholmsvägen 26, Djurgården | +46.855.153.105
The more laid-back sister to Magnus Ek’s Oaxen Krog, Oaxen Slip brings the drama with triple-height ceilings that have old fishing boats suspended from the rafters—an ode to the building’s origins as a boathouse. The food is a type of new Nordic gastropub fare with plenty of inventive vegetarian options like Swedish beans with roasted flax seeds and Jerusalem artichoke, or a grilled then baked whole celeriac. It's open all week, but the weekend brunch is especially good, featuring cold cuts like cured ham, smoked salmon, and the potato-heavy dishes traditional to Sweden. Bring credit cards; no cash accepted.
Rolfs KökTegnérgatan 41, Vasastan | +46.810.1696
In the late '90s, the original restaurant founder, Rolf, wanted a more interactive experience with the people he was cooking for rather than the behind-closed-doors kitchen that was the norm at the time. The resulting open kitchen means guests can watch all of the action and feel involved in the creation of their dishes. The menu is completely seasonal and features plenty of fish (both cooked and raw), less-than-traditional cuts of meat favored by Scandinavians, and thoroughly Swedish desserts like gooseberry cream. With more than 450 wines on the list, the booze is reason alone to stop by and take a seat at the bar.
Nytorget 6Nytorget 6, Södermalm | +46.086.409.655
Södermalm is essentially Stockholm’s Williamsburg or Silver Lake equivalent, and similarly, the food offering does not disappoint. Nytorget 6 is an urban deli that’s open all day, but it’s their breakfast that’s really worth going for. The menu is long and has everything from an assortment of toasts and croissants (try one with Nutella), to the creamiest oatmeal with apple compote. The walls are dark wood-paneled, the sofas are red leather, the tables are marble-topped, and the food is good—really good.
MatbarenSödra Blasieholmshamnen 8, Norrmalm | +46.867.935.84
Chef Matthias Dahlgren has been one of Stockholm’s culinary forces for over twenty years. Matbaren, situated in the Grand Hôtel, is self-described as "casual fine dining," which doesn’t do justice to the Ilse Crawford-designed, wood-paneled, red-accented dining room. While the food is Nordic bistro-style fare, inventive vegetable dishes often take center stage. Dahlgren grows much of the restaurant's produce himself on his plot at the beautiful Rosendals Garden.
PA&CoRiddargatan 8, Östermalm | +46.086.110.845
In a city of ever-evolving New Nordic cuisine, PA&Co is refreshingly old school and has obstinately served essentially the same dishes for three decades. While the food may not be cutting the culinary edge, this bistro still attracts Stockholm's perennially trendy fashion and media crowd night after night. Serving up classics like meatballs and beef Rydberg (beef tenderloin, crispy potatoes, and rich onion marmalade) in a cozy space with leather sofas, chandeliers, and marble-topped tables, PA&Co definitely requires a reservation (unless you're a regular, in which case you get to walk in).
PelikanBlekingegatan 40, Södermalm | +46.855.609.090
Famous for traditional Swedish cuisine (including Swedish meatballs), Pelikan has existed in one form or another in the city since the 1600's. The wood-paneled interior, with tall ceilings and long tables, has the feel of a dressed-up beer hall, and the newly renovated bar is known to stay lively into the late hours.
B.A.R.Blasieholmsgatan 4A, Norrmalm | +46.861.153.35
This is Stockholm's third restaurant from Henrik Norström, Peter Johansson, and Daniel Frick—three decorated chefs who've been an important part of the past decade's Nordic food renaissance. B.A.R. is seafood-focused, with a market at the front of the restaurant where fresh fish (delivered daily) is displayed for visitors as they make their way through. The chefs curate the menu based on what you see out front, but guests can also buy fish to take home, or pick something out and have it prepared to-order. P.S. There's a solid selection of digestifs and Swedish-made schnapps on the menu for those who prefer a stiff drink over a sweet dessert.
Bar AgrikulturSkånegatan 79, Södermalm | +4.670.880.1200
Hyper-seasonal, organic Swedish small plates and custom-created gin make Bar Agrikultur—located in hip Södermalm—a destination worth pushing past the tourists for. The food is inventive but still authentically Swedish and includes tapas-style dishes like wild boar salami and beets, watercress, and fried potatoes. Every aspect of this little bar has been carefully considered with sustainability in mind: The gin is a custom blend from local distiller Stockholm Bränneri and even the house champagne is bio-dynamic.Images courtesy of Niklas Nyman.
Rosendals TrädgårdRosendalsterrassen 12, Djurgården | +46.085.458.1270
So much more than a market garden, Rosendals is a complete farm-to-fork concept with an orchard, vegetable fields, greenhouses, a vineyard, and rose garden, with sustainable, biodynamic farming practiced throughout. Aside from supplying many of the city’s best restaurants with their organic produce, Rosendals has a wonderful educational component where adults and kids can take cooking and gardening lessons throughout the year. Stop by to admire the flowers, pick some fruit, or just do as the Swedes do and forego lunch for coffee and the obligatory cinnamon bun from their excellent greenhouse café.
FalafelbarenHornsgatan 39, Södermalm | +46.729.072.637
Stockholm has in recent years experienced a wave of new cultural diversity, benefitting the food scene enormously. Falafelbaren is one of those under-the-radar spots the locals are desperate to keep secret. The menu is mostly vegan, the kombucha is great, and the falafel is the best in the city. All the pita used is sourdough-based and baked in a traditional stone oven. Don’t order anything without getting one or both of Falafelbaren’s ridiculously good sauces on top—the skhug is chili, garlic, and spices, and the amba (our favorite) is pickled mango and fenugreek.