One of the many highlights of traveling is certainly all of the food experiences that come along with heading somewhere new; Gamla Stan, Stockholm is no exception. In a country where fika, enjoying coffee with a pastry, is a common workplace practice, cafès litter every street. In a world where every dollar and second matters, why waste your hard earned money and limited travel time on cafès that are simply not worth it?
Top Three Favorite
#1 Grillska Huset can be found in stortorget, Gamla Stan. Our host shared this Cafe with us as ‘the best’ cafe in Gamla Stan and I must say, I wouldn’t disagree! The pastries looked amazing and the menu had many options. From delicious sandwiches to soups and salads and all at a very fair price. Included with my beet and chèvre sandwich was a salad bar containing various beans, fruits, sprouts, fresh bread and dressings for around $11.00 US Dollars. For a rather inflated city such as Stockholm, and even more specifically on the touristy island of Gamla Stan, this was an incredible price for delicious food, attentive staff, and a cozy atmosphere. The line may be out the door, but it is certainly worth the wait!
# 2 Chokladkoppen is a cafe that will receive some mixed, but mostly positive reviews from me. Our very first meal in Gamla Stan took place here, in stortorget. Our first experience was great! Despite the space being small and many of the tables being filled with customers, we were seated and attended to quickly. I enjoyed a large Chai latte and a chicken salad; our table shared a Valrhona chocolate ball for dessert, which cost about 5 US dollars. Overall, our experience good enough that we had hoped to return before we left Stockholm.
On our second visit to Chokladkoppen we showed up about 5 minutes prior to opening. The door was unlocked, and we were unaware of their opening time so we walked in. We were met with angry employees who were short of being polite when telling us they were not open yet. After being ushered out the door, we returned 10 minutes later, hopeful for an experience like we had our very first day in Stockholm. The small space was not filled to the brim like it had been previously so we chose to sit in a cozy back corner. My Chai Latte was watery and not as delicious as it had been previously, however, my Salmon and Spinach pie (approximately $10.00) was delectable! Catching the attention of a server to have our coffees and waters refilled was difficult, despite the small cafe being empty, and our server was quite rude to us when we asked to each pay separately. Now understand, I spent 3 and a half years as a waitress and completely comprehend the difficulties associated with waiting on tables and providing pristine service, however, our first dining experience had been a walk in the park compared to this one. The food here did not disappoint, either time so I will leave it up to you! This cafe can also be found in the Stortorget, directly across the square from Grillska Huset and it has a walk-up/takeaway window as well. You have to try the Valrhona chocolate ball.
#3 Our third favorite cafe stop was Cosy Cafe located at Stora Nygatan 42, Stockholm, Sweden. The decor was bright and cozy. It was certainly a tighter space, but there was more than enough room for the four of us to sit and maneuver around a table. The older woman who I am assuming is the owner, or at least in charge of the joint, was a tad rude and quite honestly, unfriendly, however, the rest of the staff were incredibly kind and personable. I ordered a sandwich and a ‘healthy plate’ to share with a friend and the food was really, really good; we felt as though there were ample options for us to choose from on the menu and that everything sounded pretty delicious so it was difficult to pick just one. We enjoyed a corner seat, with a cozy cubby, good service, tasty food and great people watching!
Cafe Nova was by far my least favorite cafe in Gamla Stan. Located right outside our Air bnb in Järntorget. We stopped here for breakfast before heading out for the day to explore Djurgarden. The gentleman behind the counter was terribly rude and went as far as to tell us false information after realizing we were clearly tourists; after we finished our stale pastries and drank our weak coffee we walked up to the counter and kindly asked the worker what we should do with our trays. He told us to dump our trash and bring the trays up to the counter, separating dishware and silverware; as he told us this a gentleman waiting to order started shaking his head and proceeded to exit the line and leave the store. The more time we spent in Stockholm, the more we realized why that gentleman in line seemed so upset with the workers actions; in every other cafe we dined in, the locals leave the items stacked neatly on their tray on their table and it is the worker’s job to clear the table (similar to any restaurant in the United States).
Café Gråmunken takes a very close second to my least favorite cafe. Located on the busiest street of Gamla Stan, this cafe doesn’t have to do much to earn customers and it is obvious. The staff seemed irritated that they had to serve guests their overpriced food. We were specifically looking for a place to get waffles and Nutella after seeing them in so many store windows and we settled on this storefront. Looking back, we wish we had kept on walking! The crepes and waffles had clumps of sugar in them and the portions were exceedingly small for the amount of money paid. The downstairs architecture is relatively cool, however, not enough to make dining here worth your time.
We also didn’t love Cafe Cronan. The gentleman behind the counter was warm and friendly, however, the decor and overall atmosphere felt cold and unwelcoming. We stopped in briefly after a ghost walking tour for coffee and a pastry before heading in for an early night and were only mildly satisfied. I enjoyed my berry pie, while my travel companions could not say the same for their desserts. The cafe was fairly empty, however, where we decided to sit provided us with a continuous, foul ‘bathroom odor’ filled breeze. We finished our food and beverages quickly and left!
The Outskirts of Gamla Stan
All of the above-mentioned Cafes are located right on the small island of Gamla Stan and it is crazy to think that there are at LEAST a hundred more that you may stumble upon as well! We also made quite a few stops outside of Gamla Stan whilst exploring all the city has to offer and there are cafes we feel are certainly worth a mention!
We hit up Cafe Pascal on our walk back from Haga Park located in the District of Vasastaden. It appears to be a hot spot for local students and has a very laid back, hipster vibe. The staff was friendly and helpful as well! My friends enjoyed Semla, a traditional Swedish pastry consisting of a wheat flour bun flavored with Cardamom and filled with almond paste and whipped cream, while I went for a more substantial chia pudding. Not a single complaint about any of our food or beverage choices here! The only negative we found was that despite the space being fairly large, it was difficult to find seating arrangements once our food was ordered!
A quick stop at Lofbergs Stockholm on Kungsatan street to warm-up led us to enjoy 20 minutes of incredibly charming peace and quiet. The style of this cafe was just too cute! Woodgrain tables with a bench full of comfortable pillows lined the wall closest to the window. We enjoyed light items such as coffee and yogurt parfaits while people watching and planning our next step for the day. The staff was friendly and the atmosphere was welcoming while providing a quiet place to think and escape the hustle and bustle out on the busy streets!
Make sure you enjoy your Fika somewhere that is worth your while! Because life may be short but a good cafè can help make it sweet for certain…