Every now and again, I travel to a city that really surprises me. After seven years in Europe, I often feel that I’ve seen it all. But I was wrong with Helsinki. It was one of those cities which surprised me in a really good way. I had no idea what to expect and now I’ve walked away with my appetite fully satisfied, great memories and a wonderful impression of Finland.
For now, sit back and prepare to salivate. The following cafe and Helsinki restaurant recommendations are the places I visited (and loved). There is one thing to add: I discovered that Helsinki is a Nordic foodie capital with plenty more to discover.
If you’re still hungry for more at the end of this post, you’ll see a link which will send you to my top 20 spots and things to do in Helsinki on the My Helsinki site. I’ve created a must-see food and drink list on their website, which also includes places I didn’t manage to see.
So let’s begin!
Cool and casual modern cuisine
Korkeavuorenkatu 27, 00130 Helsinki
firstname.lastname@example.org, Tel: 09 635 732
This was one of my first visits to find the best restaurants in Helsinki and for sure one of my most memorable! We walked in for lunch and it was lovely and calm inside. We got a table right by the window and a very friendly waitress who knew a lot about the menu, the local ingredients and the wine. It’s no wonder Juuri is recommended by the Michelin Guide. Their food presentation is top quality, as is the taste.
On the top right, I enjoyed a typical Scandinavian dish of dill, salmon, pickles, capers and breadcrumbs. This was such a light combination of flavours and quite frankly, I wished I’d had a little more! The top left was a combination of pickled onions, parsley and pork with a jus reduction and some broth.
The thing that I really liked about Juuri was the interior. It was modestly decorated and had a really relaxed but modern-cuisine atmosphere. There’s nothing worse than walking into a high-end restaurant and feeling like it’s stuffy. Not at Juuri! It’s casual-cool while also serving very beautiful food. A Helsinki must!
Juuri is also across the road from a popular vegetarian hot spot in town called ‘Yes Yes Yes.’ While walking to Juuri for lunch, I realised the entire quarter is full of cute little bars and cafes, so make sure you look around!
Like my quilted black jacket above? It’s by one of my new favourite brands, Theo and George. (Click here to see the jacket.) I asked them for a discount code for my readers and I’m thrilled that you can use Kaptain10 to get 10% off.
Traditional Finnish Cuisine
Aleksanterinkatu 22, 00170 Helsinki, Finland / Tel. +358 9 7425 5588 |
I’ll tell you a little secret. I’m not normally someone who always has to try local food but this restaurant is a best Helsinki restaurant gem! It was a fantastic insight into Finnish cuisine and the ingredients were all local. Vegetarians and vegans: please don’t listen when I say that they even served Finnish bear. Needless to say, I opted for the more traditional reindeer. (Pictured above right.)
For the starter (top left), I had a salmon and vegetable soup and on the top right, I had reindeer, potato mash and wild Finnish lingonberries. My dessert (below) was a lingonberry tart with ice cream. Oh quick! I’ll get a tissue. I can see you drooling through the screen.
Restaurant Savotta is conveniently positioned at Helsinki’s Senate Square which is a spot in town you’re likely to visit. The service here was astoundingly good! We had a very sweet waitress who came from Lapland (up north) and she had a bubbly disposition and was happy to answer our questions about Finland.
Latva Bar and Lounge:
Modern cuisine and bar
Pohjoinen Makasiinikatu 9, 00130 Helsinki
email@example.com, +358 50 381 8544
HOT OFF THE PRESS….
Latva only opened in January! This is one of the most impressive restaurants I’ve been to. Full stop.
I couldn’t believe their lunch special. You could opt for two, three or four courses. Even the four-course option was around €35. Throw in a glass or two of vino (as I did) and of course, it’s more expensive but you just can’t beat Latva on their delicious menu and stylish interior.
The top left was a wild floral salad with raw Finnish fish underneath and delicious burrata. On the top right, I had sole with roasted cauliflower and pak choi.
Above was the linguine with cured egg yolk, flowers, lemon rind and parmesan. As you can see from the photos below, this place is where you would go for after work drinks too. Latva’s bar is beautiful and their entire interior makes the space feel very welcoming and modern.
Eatery, rotisserie and bar
Fabianinkatu 17 – 00130 Helsinki +358 9 6128 5100
There’s a new cock in town
The Cock is an Eatery, Rotisserie and Bar. We’re open six days a week, serving good food and drinks from lunch until late night. We do things our own way and a bit different.
‘How positively rude!’ I thought. Great branding though, to have a name like that. It’s certainly not one I’ll ever forget. This was one of the only Helsinki restaurant stops we visited at night and while I’m sure our lunch destinations are pumping after work, I can assure you this place was alive! Their space is gorgeous, with exposed brick and high ceilings. It’s also conveniently right across the road from Latva.
The top left was my poke bowl with torched salmon and edamame beans and the top right was my entree of broccolini, almonds and parmesan. Delicious!
Cinnamon buns and hot chocolate
Merikannontie 8 – 00260 Helsinki
tel. +358 40 076 0049 or +358 40 414 9167
Want to come down to Helsinki’s seaside area and sip on hot chocolate and whipped cream? If you come in winter, it’ll be frozen and you can even do a 45-minute walk across the water to Seurasaari, one of Helsinki’s many hundreds of islands.
This wooden red cottage-cafe is mainly famous because of Instagram and because of its cinnamon buns. I didn’t know anything about it until my travel mate Leah from Gringa Journeys showed me a photo of it. Its bright red paint is obviously the key photography aspect here but I also quite liked going onto the frozen ice to see it from this perspective.
The queue may be quite long as the cafe is pretty small but there’s ample outdoor seating, assuming the weather is good!
Löyly Sauna and Restaurant
Combine relaxation with gourmet food
Hernesaarenranta 4 – 00150 Helsinki
+358 9 6128 6550
I wish I’d had some more time to eat at this top Helsinki restaurant. I looked at Löyly’s menu and nearly died. Elk meatballs, Finnish marble sirloin and Jerusalem artichoke, duck confit & green apple and beetroot tartar are just a few things worth mentioning. Plus, you get THIS view. This particular spot was one of my favourite Helsinki moments actually. On the second last night of the trip, I decided to go down to Löyly and enter the sauna. It had been the most miraculously perfect day and with the sun setting against the white frozen ocean, the entire horizon was pink and purple.
Pictured (above) you can see big pieces of glass – that’s the restaurant. Do yourself a big favour: go to the sauna, have a shower, and then go to their restaurant for dinner and really treat yourself.
Gourmet pizza, cider and craft beer
Fleminginkatu 8 – 00530 Helsinki
Tel. 050 505 2655
I was really lucky that my local Swedish/Finnish friend Wilma was available to show us around while we were looking for great Helsinki restaurant options. Skiffer was one of her recommendations when we told her we wanted something cool, casual and tasty but not expensive.
I could be wrong but I have the feeling that during my trip, I saw another couple of ‘Skiffer’ locations in Helsinki. In case you are not planning to be anywhere near ‘Kallio’ (one of Helsinki’s hipster districts), then you should be able to find another location. From memory, there was one near the Design District too.
Mannerheimintie 22-24, 00100 Helsinki
Tel: +358 20 7424290
Ravintola (Finnish for ‘restaurant’) Lasipalatsi was another Helsinki restaurant we went to for lunch. The interior was more traditional but the space was huge and very packed for lunch! We had a three-course menu: the starter was a roasted capsicum/bell pepper soup with almonds and parmesan and the main was (pictured above) a mixture of scampi and Finnish fish with lentils and cauliflower.
If you happen to be interested in Finnish history and architecture, ask them for their history book! I sat there during lunch reading all about this particular building and the metamorphoses it’s gone through during the last (almost) 200 years.
Coffee, coffee, coffee!
It’s time to move on to cafes.
Albertinkatu 6 – 00150 Helsinki
Tel: +358 40 6755727 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Café KUUMA is an urban living room in the heart of Punavuori, Helsinki. In addition to our regular menu, we serve our popular All Day Breakfast. We believe that every day is a good day for great coffee and tea.
Kuuma was another recommendation from my local friend Wilma and it’s really in the heart of the Helsinki Design District. (Once you’ve spent a little bit of time in Helsinki, you’ll realise most cool cafes and restaurants are in this part of town!)
From the moment you walk in, you really feel like you’re in somebody’s living room. It’s super cosy and casual. On the inside of the cafe, there’s a door which takes you to a small clothing and homewares store too.
Kanavaranta 7, 00170 Helsinki
Tel: +358 50 3485 417
Goodio is one of those Helsinki restaurant / cafes that you will need to visit at some point in your trip. It reminded me of something straight out of Byron Bay in Australia: it was just missing the beach! The interior was really inviting, the staff members were all very healthy people who were passionate about acai bowls, smoothies and vegetarian food. Goodio is also a chocolate and liquorice manufacturer in town, so while you’re there, be sure to stock up on their delicious products.
We offer our signature coconut milk ice cream, smoothies, raw cakes, smoothie bowls along with other delicious treats. All dishes are guaranteed Goodio quality, good for the mind, body and our beloved planet.
Read about their sustainable Finnish concept here: https://goodiochocolate.com/pages/about-us
El Fant Cafe
Katariinankatu 3 – 00170 HELSINKI
Tel: +358442369953 / email@example.com
El Fant was a recommendation from a fellow Instagrammer who said it was one of her best coffee experiences in Helsinki. She wasn’t wrong! I ordered a flat white and took some of their beautiful beans home for our coffee machine. I did see a lot of locals inside eating lunch so I’m quite sure they have a lovely menu too.
This cafe is very conveniently positioned right near Market Square which is where you’ll take the ferry over to the island of Suomenlinna. It’s also really close to Savotta, the traditional Finnish restaurant I wrote about above and almost across the road from the Uspenski Cathedral, one of Helsinki’s most famous landmarks.
If you walk another five minutes by foot, you’ll also reach Goodio Cafe (mentioned above) and Johan & Nyström, another very famous Helsinki restaurant / cafe.
Want some more food and coffee recommendations?
If you’ve made it this far, great! You receive 10 Kaptain Kenny points. As promised at the start of this article, I know there are many fantastic Helsinki restaurant destinations I didn’t have the time or money to visit. I know they’re great based on the research I did and I also happen to have a couple of Helsinki-based friends who told me. If the above list has you feeling hungry but wanting more, I’ve also made a list of Helsinki’s best 20 places for food and drink:
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A big thank you to my friends at My Helsinki for the invitation to come and visit.
Without these kinds of invitations, I wouldn’t be able to create as much travel content for my audience to enjoy.
Although from time to time, I may work with partners, you can be assured that everything I recommend is geuinely something I enjoyed and want you to see too.