Let's be honest, traveling with celiac can be a huge pain in the ass. You just want to see new things, get lost in neighborhoods amongst the locals... that is until you realize you're starving and there's nowhere around to eat safely. Yes, we gluten-free folk know the importance of scouting out the right establishments and planning our touring around them. And in all honesty, how bad is it to plan a trip around the best places to eat? Even before I knew I had celiac, this was how I preferred to travel.
This was my first big trip somewhere new post-diagnosis, mainly because I heard such great things about the gluten-free options here. And I wasn't disappointed, though some surprisingly early closing hours meant careful planning was necessary (do check current times when you visit so you don't get left with an empty belly and nothing but packaged food to snack on). Whether you have to be gluten-free or not, these spots are worth a stop for something better than just whatever happens to be around.
So without further ado, these are the 10 best things I ate when I was in Copenhagen:
1. Caramel-apple oat-quinoa porridge from Grød
I ate breakfast here on three occasions, and frankly, I could have eaten here every day I was in town. There's a reason this place is talked about all over the internet, Instagrammed like crazy and even sells its own cookbook: Because it's a bowl of warm, satisfying love. The shop is a tiny little spot in a half-basement, with a kitchen so small you wonder how they even manage to serve up all that they do. Breakfast porridge, sweet porridge, savory porridge and some of the most lovely juice of apple and sea buckthorn you could ask for. Best of all: a gluten-free oat and quinoa porridge! Add the homemade, thick gooey caramel, apples and roasted almonds and it's pretty much the best breakfast ever. I gave it a shot with another topping combination, but it just didn't make my tastebuds sing the way this salty-crunchy-sweet concoction did. I still pine for it daily back in Berlin...
Jægersborggade 50, Nørrebro
also at Torvehallerne
2. Apple-cinnamon roll from Naturbageriert (Landbageriert)
Living in Germany I admit I'm much more easily bowled over by pastries that ever before. Pastries here are fine, but growing up with sugary American treats, I find them too often unsweet, dry and frankly, boring. Add to that the limited availability of gluten-free options, and I've all but given up. But this Danish swirl of apples and cinnamon was a satisfying surprise. It definitely has the whole gluten-free texture and taste, but it's done in the very best way possible. It had just the right moisture and sweetness - and I'm still kicking myself for not stocking my suitcase full of them to bring back to Berlin.
One thing to note: This place is a bit hard to find, both on the internet and in real life (but don't let that deter you - it's worth it, I promise!). It appears that it used to be called 'Naturbageriert', but is now 'Landbageriert', though it's still called Naturbageriert on the shop itself. The shop is also very understated and the signs aren't obvious. I walked past it twice and didn't realize it was there. Look for the gold pretzel and the piles of baked goods in the window. This bakery is a life saver for any celiacs in Copenhagen, complete with bread and sweet and savory pastries and rolls (most are also vegan). I enjoyed a really lovely tørkage hindbærsnitte there as well.
Frederiksborggade 29, Indre By
3. Duck fat fries from Copper and Wheat at Copenhagen Street Food
A favorite of a very kind four-year-old I know, duck fat fries were not something I was about to pass up while on holiday. Apparently it sounded enticing enough to the rest of my foodie travelling group, and we headed over for an afternoon snack before our dinner reservations one night. Turns out Copenhagen Street Food is quite the lovely spot just across the water from the Nyhavn, an interior filled with food trucks and stalls, along with plenty of cozy indoor - complete with a stone fireplace - and picturesque waterside outdoor seating.
But we didn't go there to eat - we went to snack, on double duck fat fries. Three of us shared two orders of crispy goodness with an assortment of dips, but when the fourth member of our traveling band of food-lovers joined, another order had to be made. Perfectly crisp and delicious, these are my new gold standard for fries, the regular ones forever falling flat for me now. I'm sure there's a lot more great food at this spot, but I can't imagine visiting again without a cone of fries from Copper and Wheat.
Copenhagen Street Food
Trangravsvej 14, The Paper Island, Christianshavn
4. Pizza at Costa D'Hellerup
There's a rather annoying thing about Copenhagen that I really don't care for: Everything closes early. Sure, nicer restaurants will stay open all hours as they drain the entirety of your savings account with those infamously high Danish prices, but regular cafes and food establishments are mostly closed by 6pm. So what is a traveling, gluten-free girl like myself to do? Enlist her friend who has paid for roaming internet on her phone look up a safe option that stays open later than the early-bird specials. Enter my saviour: Pizzeria Costa D-Hellerup.
Just outside of the boundary of the zones for our train tickets, my friend and I walked through the suburbs of Hellerup to get to what was my last hope for a hot dinner that night. Like most people I encountered in Copenhagen, the guys behind the counter were ridiculously friendly and charming, answering all my annoying questions about the safety of their gluten-free pizza (considering there were regular, gluten-filled pizzas to be had here as well). The owner was really passionate about serving the best and safest option for celiacs: A dough made from wheat-based flour - with the gluten removed. He said he had never had a celiac customer get sick, so I was on board, though skeptical.
Since we trekked all that way, we splurged on one of the gourmet pizzas to share, with potatoes, pesto and pancetta. After a bit of a wait considering the long line of people queueing that evening, I was blown away. This was far and away the best gluten-free pizza I had tasted. The crust, I suppose unsurprisingly, was just like what I remembered of gluten-containing crusts: light, white and with the perfect amount of flakiness. Even my gluten-eating companion was impressed. The thing that won it for me? No resulting illness or even so much as a bloated belly. This pizza is the real deal.
The only downside for travelers at this great spot? It's really more of a storefront than a restaurant. There was a couple of seats and a lone tall table set up outside (humorously right next to a bus stop, which meant every bus slowed for us until the driver realized we were eating, not waiting for a ride), but that's about it. If you've got a car, I would recommend picking up a pizza, or four, and bringing that hot, cheesy goodness back home to enjoy.
Kildegårdsvej 15, Hellerup
5. Tacos at Hija De Sanchéz
When a former Noma pastry chef opens up a taco stand, you go. Sure, we ate at Relæ and Manfred's, which were lovely, but there's something about a taqueria that makes me come running. The simplicity of a well-made corn tortilla with simple fillings made with love and care is just about my favorite thing to eat - and these ones did not disappoint. Opened earlier this summer, this stand at the far end of the outdoors stalls at Torvehallerne serves up not only tacos with tortillas off a most lovely tortilla machine that I really wanted to steal and take home, but quesadillas, the most amazing chips and salsa, along with an assortment of inspired drinks like various punches or Micheladas. A little pricey for how much you get, but these are more than worth the splurge.
The taco fillings seems to change up regularly (yeah, I ate here three times) so be sure to inquire about any possible gluten ingredients, like meat braised in beer, or the like. Otherwise, the offerings are for the most part naturally gluten-free, so enjoy!
Hija De Sanchéz
TorvehallerneKBH, Frederiksborggade 21, Indre By
6. Pulled pork wrap at Palæo
Sadly, I never managed a photo of the very first thing I ate in Copenhagen after hopping off the plane and trekking out to our airbnb, but it was certainly not for it lacking in deliciousness. The pork had a nice spicy kick, a bit of a surprise coming from spice-averse Germany. Add to that the good crunch of a cabbage slaw and richness of a cashew-pesto and you have one tasty, though rather messy, lunch or snack. I will say the egg wrap was a bit paleo for my tastes (to be fair, I'm a die-hard tortilla fan), but it was altogether a tasty, good-for-you option. And since paleo is by nature gluten-free, celiacs can eat here without a care in the world.
Pilestræde 32, Indre By
also at Torvehallerne
7. Goat sausage at Den Økologiske Pølsemand (Døp)
This famous sausage truck was mercilessly gluten-free-friendly in its offerings. While I mostly stay away from sausages (who knows what additives and casings and environment they've been in!), DØP thankfully stated their sausages were all gluten-free on their website (which was contradicted on-site, so be sure to ask which are safe) and even offer to serve them alongside vegetables instead of the ubiquitous gluten-y bun. There's even a veggie option!
I'm the first to admit that German sausages on-the-go are not what I miss most with being gluten-free, but these were some of the most impressive cart sausages I'd ever had. After being told the spicy beef and cheese options were off-limits, I opted for the award-winning goat sausage, set in a tray with mounds of pickled beets and root vegetable mash, along with mustard and ketchup. Even the pouring rain couldn't put a damper on my enjoyment.
stands at the Round Tower and the Church of the Holy Ghost, Indre By
8. Caramels at Karamelleriert
I admit, caramels are one of my favorite sweets. Since I've butchered it every time I've tried making them at home, I'm OK with indulging in some pricy store-bought ones. And indulge I did at this fantastic little shop! My friends and I visited not once but twice to fill bags full of an assortment of flavoured caramels - from regular and licorice (both in sweet and salty), special ones like citrus-mango, cinnamon-caramel and peppermint - each time engaging with the lovely guy at the shop about everything they make and kindly answering all my gluten-related questions (FYI, there was only one of the hard licorices that might contain a smidgen of gluten). He even offered us to taste every batch of licorice powder he had made to understand the nuances of each one. Clearly, they are passionate about what they do here.
On our second visit, we lucked out that it was production day, the relatively tiny shop bustling with far too many workers for the space, frantically scooping, boxing and shipping, machines cutting and wrapping long, snake-like tubes of caramel, whirring and humming. Once I gaped open mouth at the positively massive chunk of caramel resting on a work table at the window and went to take a photo, our new caramel-making friend in the prep area grabbed my phone and took a few shots from his much better vantage point. After loading up more bags and picking out a special gift for my mom (happy birthday, Mom!), not to mention getting some samples fresh out of the packaging machine, we finally bid farewell to this most sweet shop. I'm doing my best not to order online, as I'm pretty sure that would become a regular occurrence...
Jægersborggade 36, Nørrebro
9. Ice cream on a stick at Olufs
I first discovered this gem of a shop like so many wonderful things these days: via Instagram. Not one who needs any persuading for ice cream, I was equally enthralled with their gourmet execution. These are not your childhood summertime ice pops. In fact, they're not really popsicles at all, but more creamy ice cream encased in chocolate with beautiful, edible adornments on the outside. I wasn't even plotting a trip here, but when I spotted the wall displaying its logo and larger-than-life popsicle image on the side of a building while I was walking to breakfast on my own one day, I thought: Ice cream for breakfast. I mean, why not?
Somehow I lucked out and arrived just as they were opening up (again, team ice cream for breakfast) and I was overwhelmed by the freezer case full of a rainbow assortment of coated ice cream on sticks. The man behind the counter assured me they were gluten-free and asked if I needed any translation help. Luckily, Danish is so often close to German, I understood enough to identify a gorgeous-looking white chocolate and cherry pop I had to have. It melted quicker than I would have liked - after all the photos, of course - but it was thoroughly delicious and once again, I was sad I was not able to make it back for more flavors. It was also especially a treat since most gluten-free ice cream situations involve a boring cup rather than licking from a cone, I got to have my summery ice cream experience just like everyone else.
OLUFs frisklavede italienske ispinde
Olufsvej 6, Østerbro
10. Ice cream at Østerberg
I owe a huge debt of gratitude to friend and Copenhagen local Melanie for this recommendation. Aside from an unexpected stop at Olufs, my ice-cream-loving self somehow neglected to scout out any of my favorite summer (or let's face it, any time of year) treat. As soon as she explained how the gorgeous interior had blown up on Instagram, I was immediately intrigued. And so on our very last day, we made this our final stop before carting ourselves to the airport - and it did not disappoint.
The interior, with its crisp white punctuated with gorgeous watercolors of fruit, was indeed Instagram-worthy, but it was the flavors that had us swooning. Danish staples like licorice and hazelnut were joined with exotic choices like dragonfruit and aloe vera-pomegranate. I indulged, as I do, with no less than three different flavors and thoroughly enjoyed each one. The lovely girl working there - who funny enough, happened to be an American with Danish family who had relocated to this amazing city, because, why not? - swore their licorice was one of the best in Copenhagen, and while I had only tasted this one, I could swear she was right.
Østerberg Ice Cream
Rosenvængets Allé 7C, Østerbro