Delicious Nordic cuisine: The best Finnish food in Helsinki

By |2017-04-29T15:00:33+00:00February 28th, 2016|Destination, Europe, Finland, Food, Tips|14 Comments

The best Finnish food in Helsinki

Do you know Nordic cuisine? It’s innovative, simplistic and rustic, and the food we have in Denmark, Sweden and Norway is very similar. Finnish food also falls under the Nordic theme, but it comes with a twist –  an interesting combination of East and West. Helsinki is a great place for foodies, and the capital has no less than six Michelin stars that has been awarded to four restaurants (Chez Dominique, Demo, Carma and Postres).

I found some great food stops during my trip to Helsinki this summer, and I’d love to share them with you. Here’s an introduction to the best Finnish food I had in Helsinki.

BREAKFAST: KARJALANPIIRAKKA

Where to get it: At bakeries and most cafes

For breakast I mostly had Karjalanpiirakka, which is a Finnish rice pie from the Karelian region. It has a thin rye crust with a filling of rice and butter mixed with boiled egg. Good stuff!

Finnish food

BRUNCH: FAZER CAFÈ

Do you know Karl Fazer? Oh, he’s just the KING of candy! Among other things, he’s the mastermind behind Marianne peppermint crisps, Dumle soft chewy toffee and smooth chocolate, and the most important one: salmiakki liquorice. He’s so popular that he has a café named after him, right in the heart of Helsinki. It’s a great place for brunch, deserts or sweets. The prices are a bit high, but the experience is well worth it.

Map | Website

Helsinki, Finland

LUNCH: GARLICKY PASTA PENNE

Where to get it: Ristorante Il Siciliano

During my first day of sightseeing, I ended up at Ristorante Il Siciliano. And before you say anything, I know it’s not Finnish as promised. However, it is a really nice restaurant with relatively cheap prices, located just a few blocks from the Helsinki Cathedral. If you’re in the mood for comfort food, this is where to go.

Map | Reviews

Helsinki, Finland

STREET FOOD

Where to get it: Street Gastro

This street food is tasty, and the setting is really cool and hip. Street Gastro focuses purely on sandwiches, and the menu is easy with just four different kinds: Kana (chicken), Härkä (beef), Possu (pork), and Vege (vegetarian). Go here for the experience. They’re based at three different locations around Helsinki.

Map | Website

DINNER: REINDEER PIZZA

Where to get it: Restaurant Manala

“But… but it’s Rudolf!” was the first thing Thomas blurted out when I told him I’d had reindeer pizza. Yeah, well, it was just so delicious. Very dark, strong flavored and salty. Reindeer meat (poronkäristys) is quite popular in Finland and according to recent studies it’s one of the healthiest foods you can eat. It’s high on B-12, omega-3 and omega-6.

I had this reindeer pizza at a friend’s house, but you can get reindeer meat at many restaurants in Helsinki or even at the supermarket.

Map | Website

Finnish food

SNACKS: FRESH VEGETABLES 

Where to get it: Market Square

Right next to Helsinki Cathedral and the harbor, you’ll find the market square. It’s an excellent place to find local food, vegetables & fruits, and souvenirs. As you might have picked up, I love European fresh peas, and guys, the Finnish peas did not disappoint! I went to get fresh peas every morning during my stay → what an excellent habit.

Map | Reviews

Finnish food

DINNER: THE BEST BURGER IN HELSINKI

Where to get it: Kuja Bar and Bistro

I was recommended this bar for the burger so my expectations were sky high upon arrival. I had the Kuja burger with beef steak, bacon, fried egg, Emmental and cheddar, pickles, mixed salad and garlic mayo. And. I. Loved it! If I were to recommend you one food stop in Helsinki and only one, this would be it.

Map | Website

Finnish food

DINNER: FINNISH GOURMET

Where to get it: Chef & Sommelier

Chef & Sommelier ranks high among Helsinki’s best restaurants. The flavors are superb and the presentation is a work of food-art! They’re devoted to organic ingredients and offer five fixed menus of three, four, five, seven or nine courses.

Map | Website

SALMIAKKI – THE WORLD’S BEST LIQUORICE

Where to get it: In every kiosk and supermarket

As a Scandinavian, I was born and bred to love liquorice. Finland invented it, and they’re known especially for their salmiakki;  a very salty liquorice. Up until this summer there was a whole kiosk in Helsinki devoted to Salmiakki products and you could get things like salmiakki coffee, chocolate and ice cream. But it’s closed now unfortunately.

Tip: If you’re in Finland and want to try liquorice, start with the sweet kind (Pepe and Panda). It’s not as salty as salmiakki.

Finnish food

Finnish food

Tyrkisk peber and Lakrisal are salty, and Pepe is sweet

Finnish food

This is my second salmiakki ice cream. Today.

Many thanks to Visit Helsinki for generously hosting me in Helsinki and helping me find these restaurants via this brochure. I paid for my own meals and salmiakki, and all opinions are my own, as always.

Have you tried Finnish food? What’s your favorite?

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Nordic cuisine is innovative, simplistic and rustic, but Finnish food comes with a twist: an interesting combination of East and West. Helsinki is a great place for foodies, and the capital has no less than six Michelin stars that has been awarded to four restaurants (Chez Dominique, Demo, Carma and Postres). Here’s an introduction to the best Finnish food I had in Helsinki, Finland.

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14 Comments

  1. Melanie Messerli February 29, 2016 at 5:16 pm - Reply

    I love pizza and that pizza looks amazing! I would love to try it sometime!

    • Miriam March 1, 2016 at 1:30 pm - Reply

      Best pizza I’ve had in ages! You should definitely try it if you’re going to Finland someday 🙂

  2. Bea @ Our Wanders March 2, 2016 at 11:26 am - Reply

    Yammy! 🙂 I guess if I am able to pronounce Karjalanpiirakka correctly then I deserve one 😀

    • Miriam March 2, 2016 at 12:37 pm - Reply

      Haha, you absolutely do! I just called them Karjal cakes and that worked, too 😀

  3. Cindy Hoffman March 2, 2016 at 1:14 pm - Reply

    wow, seems you really had the best when it comes to food in your visit to Helsinki. I might also be visiting Finland before the end of the year, so thanks for giving me a heads up on what to expect. Thanks and keep up the great work.

    Cindy

    • Miriam March 2, 2016 at 9:14 pm - Reply

      That sounds great! Finnish food is really interesting, especially salmiakki. It’s amazing 🙂

  4. Audrey March 3, 2016 at 10:15 pm - Reply

    Aghhh! I cringe whenever I see salmiakki! My husband loved it – he basically tried it in every form imaginable during our trip to Finland. I don’t think I’ll ever grow to like it.

    • Miriam March 3, 2016 at 10:27 pm - Reply

      He might be the first non-Scandinavian I’ve heard of that loves salmiakki. Most people feel the way you do 🙂 Try the sweet liquorice (Panda and Pepe) next time you’re in Finland. It’s quite different from Salmiakki so I think you’ll like it better.

  5. Laura @Travelocafe March 26, 2016 at 7:30 pm - Reply

    Such a great introduction to Finnish food! Thank you very much for taking the time to put this together for us.
    Now all we have to do is get there and try it out for ourselves.

    • Miriam March 27, 2016 at 1:12 pm - Reply

      You’re welcome, Laura. Thanks for reading! 🙂 Try the liquorice if you ever head to Finland or Denmark. It’s the best!

  6. Outi July 1, 2016 at 10:49 pm - Reply

    My American husband and son like salmiakki, too. Here in FL I’ve found Dutch salmiakki for my cravings and it’s OK.

    • Miriam July 2, 2016 at 12:46 am - Reply

      Salmiakki is the best! I didn’t know it was available out of North Europe and least of all in the US. I’m happy that you found it 🙂

  7. Desiree March 6, 2017 at 1:31 am - Reply

    Wow that pizza looks amazing, I’m going to Helsinki tomorrow and I’ll definitely give a go to reindeer meat if is in a pizza (YUMMY!!), but, I have to say, my last pizza was actually in Denmark, Stefanos pizza in Nørrebro, and it was actually one of the best pizzas ever (I rank it #2 after a forno restaurant in Italy). I’m looking forward to see what is going to be this reindeer one like.

    • Miriam March 8, 2017 at 12:11 pm - Reply

      That makes me kind of proud as a Dane 😀 I will have to try Stefanos Pizza next time I’m in Copenhagen!

      Have fun in Helsinki and enjoy the reindeer meat 🙂

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