If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you’ll know by now that I recently spent a few days in Reykjavik and a few more days in New York City. As I tweeted earlier this week, May is going to be taken over by foodie recommendations and write ups from the double-destination trip and I thought where better to start than dinner on our first night in Iceland’s bloody gorgeous capital of Reykjavik.
After a (very) early morning flight, a (very) uninspiring encounter with a gluten free panini in the airport and more than 20,000 steps worth of exploring the Nordic city of Reykjavik, you better believe we were hungry. Ravenous, even. We had previously eaten breakfast at the lovely Egill Jacobsen and snacked strong at Hamborgarabúlla Tómasar but by about 7pm, the lure of Mexican food at El Santo Iceland was already positively unbearable.
Now I can almost hear you muttering something along the lines of… surely, little miss food blogger didn’t go to Reykjavik and eat flippin’ burritos but I’m sorry to tell you, not even tradition could tempt me towards grilled puffin or fermented shark. No sirree. We did have a delicious bowl of authentic Icelandic lamb soup after picking our jaws up from the stunning Gullfoss Waterfall later in the week. However, not being fans of obscure seafood meant my preliminary restaurant research was focused on a hunt for less traditional cuisine but which was still of noteworthy standard and I’ve got to say, I did smash it.
So yes, we did eat burritos and if it’s any consolation, it was the second best burrito I have ever had in my life. It stands only in the shadows of my beloved Lucha Libre back home which oddly enough, hasn’t actually made it onto my blog yet. The burritos at El Santo come in a choice of pork, beef, chicken or vegetable and are all packed to the floury brim with rice, salad, black beans, corn, guacamole, pico de gallo and melted cheese. The addition of peppery rocket leaves was a new one for me on the burrito front but a triumph in terms of flavour.
It was one helluva hearty portion and came served with a handful of crunchy nachos and some cheese dipping sauce on the side, all for the princely sum of 2,090 kr. which roughly translates to about £15. (You’ll soon learn this is pretty reasonable in the costly capital of imported goods!)
From the lively and well-thought-out menu of classic Mexican dishes (think Quesadillas, Enchiladas, Flautas) we also decided to put our party hats on and dive head first into the Taco Fiesta menu. For 2,490 kr. (or about £18) you get your pick of 3 meat or veggie fillings and your choice of 5 tasty toppings which eventually come served on a cute make-your-own board for you to stuff into some soft shell tacos. A nice concept I thought and not something I’ve actually ever come across before.
After much deliberation and some polite compromising which soon dwindled as the hanger grew, we settled on Three Chilli Chicken, Pulled BBQ Pork and Beef Chilli Con Carne for our fillings and parmesan, cheese sauce, sour cream, habanero mayonnaise and guacamole as our taco toppings. As you can tell, my other half and I are quite the carnivorous duo but Tempura Broccoli, Mexico Hummus and Slowcooked Sweet Potatoes are the perfect alternatives if you’re looking for vegan or vegetarian food in Reykjavik.
To be brutally honest, the habanero mayo was not to my taste at all and parmesan on a taco was neither here nor there but the rest was absolutely delicious. The pulled pork was sticky and sweet, the chicken was tender and not too fiery and the chilli packed an impressive punch of flavour in such a modest mouthful. Oh and that cheese sauce? Fill my tub with it because I’d happily bathe in it and eat my way back out again.
You might think that after two well-packed tacos, half a burrito and two frozen cocktails each we’d be feeling full but that’s where you’re wrong my friend. Well okay you’re right, we were feeling super full but when in Rome… or Mexico… or Reykjavik, it would have been rude not to share a portion of Churros really wouldn’t it? The finger doughnuts were dusted with cinnamon sugar and crushed nuts and served with chocolate dipping sauce, strawberry ice cream and blueberries. Their light texture, lack of oil and nutty flavour made them feel almost healthy so I’m counting them as at least one of your five-a-day.
Speaking of our five-a-day, we also sipped our way through a couple of Raspberry Margaritas and Pineapple Daiquiris which came as a choice of frozen or non-frozen. You’ll find happy hours are a big deal around the city and this place is no exception with a comprehensive cocktail list and beautiful, modern surroundings to enjoy them in. So all in all, if you’re looking for the best restaurants in Reykjavik that are affordable and most importantly, bloody delicious, give El Santo a crack of the whip.