To move, to breathe, to fly, to float,
To gain all while you give,
To roam the roads of lands remote:
To travel is to live.
— Hans Christian Andersen
Restrained. Thoughtful. Timeless. Discerning. Curious.
Quite possibly the coziest city to grace this planet, Copenhagen is compact but not cramped. Outdoorsy but not granola. Low-key but not lazy. I imagine when “effortlessly cool” became a colloquial term, the Danes looked at each other and thought, “um yes… we’ve been doing it for centuries.”
Besides the restaurants, design, architecture, how clean it is (!), Copenhagen has something else to offer. It’s inviting nature. Even when it’s raining in Copenhagen, there is a warmth about it. A tacit invitation welcoming you into Danish life. To relax, to enjoy, to explore, to try something new…
Simply put, Copenhagen stole my heart, reawakened my senses, and recalibrated my idea of “quality of life.”
La Banchina – this peanut of a restaurant had my dopamine at dangerously high levels. It’s the kind of place that is perfect in its weathered almost ramshackle state with an ease and quiet confidence about it that absolutely cannot be manufactured. La Banchina serves up just one dish and a couple sides, which change daily, beer, and wine all best enjoyed on their wonderfully peaceful dock and outdoor spaces sprinkled about. I would like to buy it but I have a feeling they’re not selling.
Atelier September – this cafe gets a lot of love and for good reason. The ideal way to start your day in Copenhagen. It sets the mood: inventive, optimistic, delicious, and healthy! I would include everyone is super friendly but that’s like saying everyone in New York is busy. Friendliness is pretty ubiquitous in CPH and Atelier September encapsulates that persona quite well.
Relæ – it’s a great sign when I feel physically fatigued and overwhelmed when I attempt to write one of these blurbs on a restaurant. Michelin stars and spots on 50 Best aside (both achieved) Relæ has something going on that’s even more impressive. Besides nailing design (personal cutlery drawers) and service (young, conversational, whip smart) for fine dining, Relæ also has its own organic farm outside Copenhagen. “We picked these this morning from our farm” is something you’ll hear a lot. Without question, one of my favorite experiences and meals of all time. Also, wine pairing = must.
Ved Stranden 10 – I’ll admit something right off the bat. Natural wines didn’t excite me before this trip. If we’re being really honest, the people most excited about natural and biodynamic wines seemed kinda whiney about wine. Turns out it’s delicious—when you have the right stuff. This wine bar is a must-stop and you definitely want to check out the interiors, even if just for a minute.
Manfreds – little brother to Relæ, located on the same is-this-street-real-when-can-I-move-here?? as its big bro, Manfreds is just really f.cking cool. Gang Starr and Del the Funky Homosapien playing (loudly), outrageous beef tartare and a five-course tasting menu with more veggies from the farm. Plus, it doesn’t hurt the staff is also really cool and generous with the wine tasting which, in my case, lead to a pretty buzzed trip to the CPH airport and no need for any in-flight food. (THANK YOU, Manfreds.)
Hija de Sanchez – mezcal and tacos. For me, these are always a “yes” but in Denmark? It all checks out. Perhaps because of this… Rosio knows a thing or dos. The carnitas were better than 99.9% of the carnitas tacos I’ve tried in NYC and could hang with East LA tacos.
Apollo Bar & Kantine – I summed it up on Instagram pretty well, I think. Apollo Bar, even 20 meters away from entering, you just know is the kind of place you’re going to love and already start to miss it and it hasn’t even begun. That might not make much sense but best believe spending a couple hours here, indoors or out, for coffee, snacks or a cocktail is an excellent use of your time.
Bistro Royal – this bistro was actually more of a life preserver. A sudden torrential downpour forced me into the nearest lunch safe haven. First impression: yikes is this going to be a bad riff on a Parisian bistro please god don’t let me see foie and escargot on this menu… Luckily, it wasn’t at all. It was lovely. My favorite parts: truffle fries and the decor en route to the washroom.
Ruby – cocktails are what Ruby is about. What Ruby is also about is making you feel at home—literally. Easy to miss (was there even a sign?), once inside it’s like you’ve arrived at your way-chicer-than-you Scandinavian friend’s apartment. Oh, she also has her own a private backyard and, you guessed it, impeccable taste.
If a hotel is preferred, the D’Angleterre is a very nice option. Perhaps even the nicest option.
If Nothing Else While In Copenhagen…
Hop on a bike, obey the traffic signals, and spend an afternoon cruising around the city making as many or as few stops to eat, drink, caffeinate, and relax while taking it all in.