In the summer of 2013, I boarded a plane from London to Copenhagen nursing a raging hangover. Meeting up with my best friend from college, we spent a weekend exploring the best Copenhagen has to offer – we saw sights like Tivoli and Christiania, we ate incredible food, and we soaked up the sunshine in one of the happiest places on earth. Little did I know that I was there just two weeks after Anthony Bourdain!
Anthony Bourdain visited Copenhagen, Denmark to film episode 2 of season 4 of Parts Unknown; it was his one visit to Copenhagen on screen. But he makes it clear: he’s there primarily for Rene Redzepi, the famed chef behind Noma, which has been named Best Restaurant in the World four times (2010, 2011, 2012, and 2014), and topped the World’s 50 Best Restaurants lists in 2021.
In addition to spending time with Redzepi and enjoying a multi-course meal at Noma, Bourdain also eats his way across the Danish capital, enjoys a fresh foraged meal at a local polyculture farm where the two chefs and farmer make a meal together, and takes a sunset cruise meal to mark the midsummer. Many people say that Copenhagen is one of the best food-focused episodes in the series, and after watching, it’s hard to disagree.
If you’re planning a trip and want to eat at the same places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Copenhagen, Dermark, you obviously want to get a reservation at Noma. But there are also a few other spots you might want to eat (and drink) as well, and I’ve included them all in this post. As the Danes say, skål! (Cheers!)
For those not familiar with the concept, Noma is famous for its highly foraged menu; the goal is to use entirely regional ingredients, mostly within 60 miles of the restaurants. This means it’s often unusual – and even Bourdain is challenged to eat with an open mind.
Among many dishes he tries, some highlights I loved included reindeer moss with mushroom;æbleskiver (round pancake) with pickled cucumber and herring filling; sourdough bread with “virgin butter”; potatoes cooked in fermented barley with Finnish sturgeon roe; fermented herring stuffed with molded grains with juniper and lingonberry; and pork skin and chocolate with freeze-dried blueberries.
He also has a chance to visit the test kitchen and try some of the food experiments they’re working on – including mummified food and using insects as ingredients – as well as to stay for the Saturday night new dish taste-off; two dishes that earn rave reviews from the collection of chefs are cepe ice cream with barley and strawberries pickled in rose vinegar and crème fraîche infused with burnt roses and rose pollen.
With Chef Redzepi, Bourdain explores the gardens of Tivoli before sitting down to enjoy a meal at Restaurant Grøften; Rene things that tasting traditional Danish dishes will better help Tony understand the dishes at his own restaurant.
There, they try smoked eel, pickled herring, and fjord shrimp (a seasonal dish I also had during my Copenhagen visit). While Noma is obviously where we all want to eat, I have to say that this restaurant tops my list of the places visited by Anthony Bourdain in Copenhagen, and I’ll be eating here next time I visit – to try those traditional flavors.
Never one to pass up the opportunity to sample local drinks, Bourdain then meets up with Niels Sømand, a renaissance man: he’s a sailor, charter tour boat operator, accordion player, and drinker. They sit down at Funchs Vinstue, a century-old Copenhagen pub.
The two discuss Redzepi’s success and his rejection of Danish Janteloven, over glasses of beer and tasters of Gammel Dansk, a Danish multi-herb bitters. This scene is intercut with more scenes from Noma including a dish using Gammel Dansk
John’s Hot Dog Deli
After getting properly lubricated, Tony and Niels head out in search of Copenhagen’s traditional late-night snack: sausage, of course! They head to John’s Hot Dog Deli, a small food stand. Bourdain opts for “The Deluxe,” an organic sausage with wild garlic and bacon with house-made mustard and beer-pickled onions.
As Tony describes it, the perfect day in Copenhagen includes “Noma for lunch, John’s for dinner” – “with Gammel Dansk and beer” chimes in Sømand with a laugh.
Copenhagen Food Tours to Try
If you want to sample the variety of Danish cuisine that’s now on offer in Copenhagen and/or don’t have the budget to visit Noma, there are some great food tours you could opt for instead. Here are some that caught my eye:
Have any other questions about the places visited in Anthony Bourdain in Copenhagen? Let me know in the comments below!