8 GOOD PLACES TO EAT IN HELSINKI5 min read
Finland is known for its saunas, its reindeer, its polar cold and its aurora borealis.
This year, it is the country’s appetite for sport that has been highlighted, since part of EuroBasket 2017 took place in Helsinki.
Summer is coming to an end, and maybe you’re already thinking about your next vacation . During each stay abroad, the same question arises: where to eat? If the Finnish capital tempts you, we offer a selection of addresses to keep in mind. Good to know: the cost of living is relatively high.
THE MOST ETHICAL: IPI KULMAKUPPILA
This Scandinavian restaurant , located in the Kallio district, displays a refined and modern decoration. If it is not the one we will remember for lunch (the dishes offered are quite ordinary, apart from the cereal bread and the pea mousse, offered as an “aperitif”), it is on the other hand a very good option. to have a snack.
Its homemade pastries (cookies, brownies, donuts, etc.) and wide selection of teas are its strong point. We also welcome the approach of the owners to employ for the service of people with mental disabilities. Around €15 per person for a lunch break.
THE MOST AUTHENTIC: THE HAKANIEMI COVERED MARKET
Meat, vegetables, fish, postcards, stamps, toys, old jewellery… Continue your exploration of the Kallio district by walking through this huge covered hall, which extends over two floors. The place is full of objects of all kinds.
If you want to immerse yourself in the local culture, eating the same thing as the locals, you will find what you are looking for. Vegetable quiches, soups, meatloaves or even smoked fish sandwiches await you, as well as the national dessert: the pulla (small cinnamon bun). Around €8 per person for a breakfast break and €12 for tapas served with a drink.
THE MOST BOHEMIAN: CAFE TAIDETERASSI
Hidden behind trees, a large mansion awaits. A small haven of peace in the heart of the Töölö district , the place offers a breathtaking view of the sea bay. Piece of savory pie, fragrant brioche, peanut butter brownie or vegan banana cake, make your choice before settling on the terrace.
Plants, flowers, butterflies, dragonflies, tables of arty inspiration… An environment pretext for daydreaming. Around €10 per person for a snack break.
THE MOST EXOTIC: VALIMO CAFÉ
Once in the Helsinki Market Square, which is near the Senate, you may take the ferry to reach the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Suomenlinna . After visiting its fortress, stop for a moment on the edge of the port. A small restaurant where locals meet awaits you. For €9.90 you will be entitled to an all-you-can-eat formula: salmon soup with vegetables, bread, butter, coffee, tea.
It is on a small wooden terrace, next to the boats that you can sit. It could even be that a seasoned duck, enticed by the smell of your dish, decides to keep you company… If you have the possibility, take the ferry back to Helsinki at the end of the day. The sun setting over the sea and nearby islands is quite remarkable.
THE MOST MYSTERIOUS: KAHVILA CAFÉ
The place could be reminiscent of a children’s room. Dollhouses, stuffed animals, old toys of all kinds… But these objects, sometimes from another time, rub shoulders with others that are a little more disturbing: on the paintings, unappealing faces seem to follow you with their gaze, animal figurines (in terracotta?) have been placed in jars, plants proliferate on the walls…
If you are not completely reassured when you enter, you should however be conquered by the kindness of the hostess, whose eastern accent and facial expressions will perhaps remind fans of the Red character of the Orange is the New Black series!
At Kahvila, you can enjoy small vegetarian or non-vegetarian snacks of the day. Like a feta-spinach mini-quiche, or savory carrot and tzatzíki pancakes. Final surprise: no price is displayed, and payment in cash is the only option! Small inconveniences largely offset by the excellent quality / price ratio. Count €9 per person for a savory snack, a café au lait and a cinnamon brioche
THE CUTEST: MOOMIN CAFÉ
In the Punavuori district, opposite the Saint-Jean Church, a funny café features the adorable little characters created by the Finnish Tove Jansson. Called ” moomins “, they are a family of friendly trolls with the false air of hippopotamuses.
The cocooning atmosphere of Moomin should seduce more than one: soft cushions are placed on benches, and a play area has been set up for children. Don’t forget to taste the salty licorice candies, which will certainly be offered to you. “Rarely appreciated by tourists” but much more by locals, laughs one of the managers.
A place to discover for a snack. Count around €8 per head for a latte, an organic iced tea and a slice of cake.
THE MOST SCANDINAVIAN: SAAGA
Right in the city center, in the Kamppi district, you will find the Lappish restaurant Saaga. It is in a subdued room, which usually hosts private events and business lunches, that you will be invited to discover new flavors.
The owner of the premises responds to the name of Marco Polo: that cannot be invented. The one who claims to serve “the best potatoes in the world” offers you gigantic platters to share as a starter, on which smoked and grilled fish, beef, veal liver or venison rillettes rub shoulders. Save room for the main dish: a piece of meat with starches and an assortment of vegetables.
Then comes the dessert, which is more worth the detour than the famous potatoes. For example cranberries brought in an ice cube, on which you can pour a caramel liqueur. To accompany your dishes, you will be suggested a red wine from the north of Portugal. Count around fifty euros per head.
THE HEALTHIEST: HEY POKE
Hello Helsinki! Between the districts of Punavuori and Ullanlinna, a small Hawaiian cuisine restaurant offers bowls with a base of fish, meat or vegetarians. For a very fresh, healthy and tasty result.
Open for a few months, the place is run by the very friendly Shalome Relander and Shirin Haider. Count around 15 euros for a small bowl (salmon, avocado, onions, rice, hazelnuts, coconut and lemon sauce…), an iced tea and a coffee.
For dessert, head to the Leipomo Keisari bakery, which is right next door. Their cinnamon rolls might just be the best in town…