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Copenhagen, once best known for its herring, is now one of the top culinary destinations in the world — for good reason. Not only is it the home of what many consider the world’s top restaurant, Noma, numerous other places to dine have followed suit with local ingredients, seasonal cuisine and some gastronomic flourishes. Here are the Forbes Travel Guide editors’ five best places to eat right now in Copenhagen:
1. Noma. Named the best restaurant in the world by Restaurant magazine for the third year in a row, Noma chef René Redzepi focuses on indigenous ingredients, including many foraged by its staff, in its legendary 20+-course tasting menu. You have to be extremely lucky (or persistent) to get in, though: Reservations are taken the second week of each month for dining times three months later — and are filled within minutes.
2. Relae. Started by former chefs from Noma, Relae is the second-hottest dining ticket in Copenhagen. In a casual atmosphere, Relae’s chefs turn out seasonal four-course Danish menus with a playful twist: Think a spring menu that pairs green asparagus with sunflower seeds and mint and a dessert of elderflower and rhubarb. We suggest booking as far in advance as you’re able.
3. Mielcke & Hurtigkarl. This formal restaurant brings the outdoors in to a gorgeous 18th-century space inside Frederiksberg Park with vines and flowers painted on the walls. Choose from the large, medium or small tasting menu. While not everything’s local (on the day we visited, they’d flown in bull kelp from British Columbia), the unusual combinations and high-quality ingredients make for a satisfying meal.
4. Restaurant Paustian. Most of Copenhagen’s hot restaurants are all about the new; Paustian is about the classic. The chef takes old-fashioned Danish dishes like prime rib and tartare of veal and prepares them with the freshest possible ingredients. Though a little on the heavy side, we think Paustian is the best place in Copenhagen to try old-school entrées you won’t see anywhere else.
5. Restaurant Schonnemann. The most classic place in Copenhagen to sample smørrebrød, Danish open-faced lunch sandwiches made with delicious toppings from Greenland shrimp to smoked halibut to Danish meatballs. Unless you have a tremendous appetite, it’s best to order just one — they’re large and very filling. Pair it with their famous schnapps-like aquavit; your server will recommend the best match from their extensive list. Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend making a reservation; the dark wood-paneled restaurant fills up with businesspeople and tourists in-the-know.