The Best Hot Dogs in Reykjavik

Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, an unassuming hot dog stand located in the heart of Reykjavik, has transcended the simplicity of its offerings to become a symbol of Icelandic culture. It has garnered worldwide fame, luring food enthusiasts, locals, and travelers alike to its kiosk for a taste of what has been dubbed ‘the best hot dog in town,’ and even ‘the best in Europe.’

A Humble Legacy

Its intriguing name, ‘Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur,’ translates to ‘The Best Hot Dog in Town,’ and this humble hot dog stand has been living up to its name since its establishment in 1937. Over the decades, it has withstood the test of time, etching its legacy in Iceland’s culinary history, one hot dog at a time.

Bæjarins Beztu’s fame began to skyrocket after an impromptu visit from former American President, Bill Clinton, in 2004. The stand now has four locations in Reykjavik, each serving the same iconic hot dog that catapulted this modest business into stardom. It’s no wonder that Icelanders have a saying: “If you haven’t been to Bæjarins Beztu, you haven’t truly been to Reykjavik.”

An Unconventional Delicacy

At first glance, the Bæjarins Beztu hot dog, or pylsa, might look similar to its American counterpart, but a closer examination reveals its distinctive character. The pylsa’s distinctive flavor is largely due to the uniquely Icelandic sausage used. The hot dogs are made from a blend of Icelandic lamb, along with a bit of pork and beef. This lamb is free-range, grass-fed, and organic, lending a distinctively rich, natural taste that sets it apart from other hot dogs.

The sausage is nested in a warm, steamed bun. But it’s the garnishes that really set the Bæjarins Beztu experience apart. Locals typically order their hot dogs ‘eina með öllu,’ or ‘one with everything.’ This includes a generous array of toppings: raw white onions and crispy fried onions, ketchup, sweet brown mustard called pylsusinnep, and remoulade, a sauce made with mayo, capers, mustard, and herbs. This combination lends a symphony of flavors – sweet, spicy, tangy, and savory – all harmonizing to elevate the humble hot dog to something extraordinary.

More than a Meal

While Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur serves up delicious hot dogs, part of its appeal lies beyond the culinary. The hot dog stand is a microcosm of Icelandic culture and society, a living testament to the nation’s resilience and adaptability.

For many Icelanders, a visit to Bæjarins Beztu brings a sense of nostalgia, a remnant of simpler times. It serves as a warm, comforting constant amidst the fast-paced, ever-changing backdrop of life. The enduring popularity of Bæjarins Beztu, in a world increasingly driven by complex gastronomic experiences, speaks volumes about the Icelandic preference for simplicity, authenticity, and tradition.

The Experience

When you arrive at Bæjarins Beztu, you’ll likely find a queue, a testament to its popularity. Don’t let this deter you; the line moves quickly, and the wait only heightens the anticipation. As you inch closer to the stand, the tantalizing aroma of the hot dogs grilling teases your senses, intensifying your hunger and excitement.

While you might be tempted to find a quiet corner to relish your hot dog, do as the locals do – lean against the counter and enjoy your meal standing up. There’s something indescribably delightful about eating in the open air, amidst the bustle of the city, exchanging smiles with fellow hot dog enthusiasts.

After the first bite, you’ll understand why the stand has remained a favorite for so many years. The snap of the sausage casing gives way to the tender, flavorful meat within. The raw onions lend a sharp crunch, the fried onions a delightful sweetness. The trio of sauces – the tangy remoulade, sweet mustard, and ketchup – blend seamlessly, adding a succulent complexity to each bite.

A Global Icon

Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur may be a simple hot dog stand, but it has caught the attention of gourmands and food critics around the globe. From the renowned travel guide, Lonely Planet, to the celebrity chef, Anthony Bourdain, and even James Hetfield from Metallica, numerous global figures have recommended Bæjarins Beztu as a must-visit destination in Reykjavik.

This humble hot dog stand has made its way onto multiple ‘best of’ lists, not just for its food, but also for its cultural significance. It has played a crucial role in promoting Icelandic cuisine to the world, serving as an ambassador of sorts for Iceland’s culinary traditions.

Savoring Iceland

The appeal of Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur is not solely about the delicious hot dog it serves. It’s about the experience as a whole – the queue, the anticipation, the mingling aromas, the cheerful exchange with the server, and the joy of biting into a hot dog bursting with flavors that mirror the character of Iceland – earthy, honest, and unforgettable.

So, as you embark on your Icelandic adventure, remember to take a culinary detour to Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur. Here, you will not only taste the ‘best hot dog in town,’ but you’ll also bite into the essence of Icelandic culture, a gastronomic experience that is as enriching as it is delicious.

This is the magic of Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur – it’s not just a hot dog stand; it’s a delightful slice of Iceland, served in a bun, ready for you to savor and remember. A visit here encapsulates the spirit of the Icelandic people, their warmth, resilience, and their straightforward approach to life and food. It’s more than a meal; it’s a taste of Iceland’s soul.