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Home » Restaurant News Selects Best Helsinki Eateries – Part I

Submitted by on August 4, 2018 – 8:48 amNo Comment

Where to Eat: Helsinki, Finland Special to Road Trips for Foodies

Helsinki, like the Finns themselves, was long seen as the shy introvert among its Nordic neighbors. But that’s changed.

Today there is a dynamic new energy pumping through the streets of the capital of Finland, and it’s evidenced in the city’s thriving food scene, old and new.

Historic dishes such as Savoy’s vorschmack or Wild’s Karelian pie are getting new love, while the seasonal-food trend — particularly challenging in a country where nothing grows most of the year — thrives at a spate of ambitious, locavore-leaning newcomers.

Here are the first half of the restaurants, bars, and dishes that define the cozy Finnish capital.

1. Olutravintola Pikkulintu, Klaavuntie 11, Helsinki
Located in Puotila shopping center in Eastern Helsinki, Pikkulintu is a destination for lovers of craft beer and small-batch whiskey. The bar is conveniently located near Helsinki’s easy-to-navigate metro line, and once there, guests can taste Finnish brews or sample a dram of whiskey from the bar’s impressive selection, more than 300 strong. Kippis! (That’s “cheers” in Finnish.)

2. Helsinki Coffee Roastery’s Coffee Bar, Päijänteentie 29, Helsinki
Finland has the highest consumption of coffee per capita in the world, and this compact cafe takes a “less is more” approach to the ubiquitous beverage. Helsinki Coffee Roastery’s Coffee Bar is small in size and a little out of the way, but for fans of well-sourced brew, it’s worth a visit. Located near the quaint Puu-Vallila, an old working-class district, the cafe purchases beans direct from farmers around the world, with no middlemen, and roasts them in-house. Grab a cup to go, or stay and warm up in this intimate corner of Helsinki.

3. Gastro Cafe Kallio (pictured), Flemingsgatan 7, Helsingfors
The Kallio neighborhood is mostly known for its dive bars and rowdy nightlife, but a wave of new restaurant openings are changing that reputation. This snug cafe and restaurant is located on Fleminginkatu, a street that is quickly becoming Helsinki’s bona fide food strip, and features a daily and sometimes hourly rotating line-up of dishes like fish cake with remoulade, ox tongue with horseradish veloute, and herring steaks with mashed potatoes. Perfect for a casual weekday lunch.

4. Lentävä Lehmä at Hakaniemi Market Hall, Hämeentie 1A, Helsinki
Hakaniemi Market Hall (temporarily housed in an adjacent pavilion while the hall is being renovated) is the city’s most popular market among Helsinki locals. Inside, among the swarms of top-notch food stalls selling everything from thinly sliced gravlax and smoked fish at Kalakauppa Rosendahl to all things meat at Reinin Liha, you will find cheese shop Lentävä Lehmä (or Flying Cow) and the region’s favorite cheesemongers, sisters Hanne Hirvonen and Laura Mauno. Ask for a selection of cheeses from Finnish cheesemakers such as Helsingin Meijeriliike, Juustoportti, and Peltolan, or choose from the large selection of international varieties. Grab a baguette or loaf of dark rye bread from a bakery stand nearby, such as Leipätori, for the ideal picnic in the nearby Tokoinranta park.

5. Wild, Mikonkatu 6, Helsinki
This Nordic cafe and restaurant can be easy to miss if you don’t know where to look. In the back of a high-end design shop, chef Jouni Toivanen created a hidden gem full of Finnish flavor. As the restaurant’s name suggests, the menu highlights wild and locally sourced ingredients to create an ever-changing slate of unpretentious dishes. The forest mushroom pie makes for a craveable snack, or go for the Karelian pie, a Finnish classic, with smoked egg butter on top.

6. Putte’s Bar and Pizza, Kalevankatu 6, Helsinki
Putte’s Bar and Pizza serves as a casual living room of sorts for restaurant workers, food lovers, and pretty much anyone looking for a relaxed night out. Here, locals kick back with a mix of quality music, wine, and pizzas, like the puttanesca, a classic Neapolitan pasta dish transformed into a pie, or Silence of the Lambs, a spicy pie with lamb, mozzarella, tomato, and arugula. This is a place to linger; don’t come in a hurry.

7. Vorschmack at Savoy, Eteläesplanadi 14, Helsinki
Restaurant Savoy is a Finnish dining institution if there ever was one. For more than 80 years, heads of state and hungry locals alike have admired Savoy’s view over the Esplanadi park. Modern tasting menus change with the seasons, but for an authentic Finnish experience, try the vorschmack, a tasty but unusual mix of minced lamb, herring, and loads of garlic; served with baked potato, a big dollop of sour cream, and pickles, it was the favorite dish of Baron Mannerheim, the marshal of Finland, who was a regular at Savoy and is said to have given the recipe to the restaurant himself.

8. Story at Old Market Hall, Eteläranta, Helsinki
Helsinki’s Old Market Hall has been around for around 130 years, but inside the historic exterior you will find Story, a bright cafe and restaurant with a fresh Baltic vibe. Located in the South Harbour near the bustling Esplanadi park and Market Square, the cafe is the ideal place to stop for a quick cup of coffee from the local Kaffa Roastery, or a full breakfast like oven-baked porridge with berry compote or perhaps an eggs Benedict with smoked salmon, spinach, and hollandaise sauce. For lunch, avocado lovers opt for the Wögä burger, which ambitiously features avocado halves as buns, and wash it down with a glass of rosé.

9. Gaijin, Bulevardi 6, Helsinki
The second restaurant from local celebrity chef Tomi Björck and Matti Wikberg combines elements of Japanese, Korean, and northern Chinese cuisines for a menu that has Helsinki buzzing. There’s a tasting menu (69 euros), or diners can choose their own courses from menu, featuring everything from sashimi to dim sum to pork buns and daikon kimchi.

Tomorrow: the rest of the list!

(Photo courtesy of Gastro Cafe Kallio)

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