The ultimate culinary insider’s encounter with the Swedish capital.

Stockholm is a destination with the WOW factor on so many different levels and it’s also one of the coolest gay friendly cities to visit, embracing the best of positive global influences. The added bonus is there is lots of eye candy—the people are striking, attractive, friendly and deliciously sophisticated.

Dynamic, elegant and edgy, Stockholm will dazzle and delight. A city that straddles an archipelago of islands that sprout like a jigsaw puzzle from the Baltic Sea, its physical beauty is enchanting and romantic.

The city offers diversity in each district: Sodermalm with its ethnic communities, bohemian vibe and home to innovative fashion and many of the city’s museums and cultural centres; Norrmalm and Ostermalm with their well-heeled, elegant, aristocratic air, a bourgeois district dotted with parks, green squares, broad tree lined avenues and established high-end fashion and design stores; Gamla Stan with its old world charm, the historic center that is home to the Royal Palace and a labyrinth of narrow, bustling cobblestone streets, an island that separates the central city districts of Norrmalm and Sodermalm,

No longer defined by pickled herrings and smorre, Stockholm is a great city to experience the essence of New Nordic cuisine—food that is distinctively Swedish with a contemporary approach, where the provenance of what is cooked is of paramount importance, choose what takes your fancy and go for it—you’re on holiday so don’t hold back. This is what’s hot and happening in Stockholm right now.

For that essential morning injection of caffeine, check out Coffice (Tjarhovsgatan 5) if you are in Sodermalm, with its uber-cool industrial design and damn fine coffee. In Gamla Stan, seek out the funky Albert + Jack’s (Skeppsbron 24) and join the locals who flock here for fabulous breads, sandwiches, baked good and terrific coffee–an ideal pit stop for brunch.

Across in Ostermalm, I like Taverna Brillo at Sturegatan 6 (there’s also an entrance on Humlegardsgatan). Open for breakfast with great espresso, delectable pastries and really decent bread, it morphs effortlessly into a bistro for lunch and dinner with an Italian tavern style menu from wood fired pizza to grills, pasta and risotto plus a wine bar with small plates and a charcuterie deli for takeout.

Around the corner at Ostermalms Saluhall on Ostermalmstorg, step into a wonderland, the city’s premium indoor food hall covering a city block is foodie heaven, a feast for the eyes. Just inside the main entrance on your right is Robert’s Coffee with an amazing green tea menu.

Choose from one of the gold tea tins—Yung Ching and the Gront&Skont scented with wild strawberry are my favourites. Thankfully, no teabag territory here—a measure of the sophistication of the city and the deep respect it has for its food culture.

The shops sell everything from fruit and vegetables, condiments (grab a jar of lingonberries from Husmans Deli), fish and seafood, meat, poultry, cheeses, pickles and chocolates at Betsy Sandberg Choklad. While you are here, be sure to have lunch at Lisa Elmqvist Fish (T: 553 40400), a city institution that holds pride of place within the hall.

The menu is a showcase of everything from the sea, traditional cooking and classic in style at this seafood deli and fish restaurant. Try local oysters, a plate of different herring preparations is inspired, the laxtartar—tartare of samon, raw, cured and smoked minced and mixed together with red onion and anchovy dressing garnished with trout roe and small bowl of almond potato chips made from the very small almond shaped potatoes when they are in season.

Autumn will see crabs, lobster and scampi on the menu. A perennial favourite is Janssons temptation – anchovies and potato batons cooked with cream, topped with buttered breadcrumbs and cooked under grill, hearty and irresistible.

Another classic is laxpudding where layers of potato slices and salmon are cooked with cream and dill, like a classic gratin. I recommend sharing either of these dishes lest you fall into a food coma. Portions are large so bring an appetite.

Several blocks away near the Hotorget Metro station off Kungsgatan in the central city area is Hotorgshallen, another covered food market hall with outdoor market stalls (not in winter) with seasonal produce, flowers and all things gastronomic. Taste the seasonal fruits, some of them unique to the Nordic region—cloudberries, cranberries, elderberries, lingonberries, tiny round luscious strawberries, raspberries, apricots and peaches in late summer, satsuma citrus—like small mandarins with pronounced lime flavor, sweet and sour at same time.

While you are in the area, check out K25 on Kungsgatan (Kings Rd), an arcade of food outlets from gourmet burgers, Chinese dumplings, Turkish, Sushi and Italian. This is ethical fast food for those in a rush.

If you are hanging out in Sodermalm, head to Urban Deli (Nytorget 4, Nytorgsgatan), a cool food emporium with wine bar and a casual restaurant (think Dean + Deluca). One of my favourite places to visit (not in winter) is Rosendahls TrÄ€dgård (Rosendalsterrassen 12), biodynamic organic gardens with a delightful garden café that espouses the philosophy of think green eat green, everything on the menu is organically grown produce, the sourdough bread is baked in their stone oven over birchwood, even the wine and beer is organic.

It’s 10 minutes by taxi from Ostermalm (or a 30 minute walk), or a 15-minute walk from the ABBA museum. It opens every day from 11am and the garden plots and greenhouses yield a wide selection of biodynamically grown vegetables, flowers, herbs and pot-plants.

Many of Stockholm’s restaurants are approachable and casual by nature yet stylishly designed in the cool Nordic aesthetic, with environments that invite interaction and the chefs deliver experiences and new ideas.

If you are serious about what you put in your mouth, then these places are a must to visit.

Speceriet Gastrologik (Artillerigatan 14, T: 08-662 30 60) Essentially two shopfronts next to each other with a shared kitchen at the back—one open for lunch (Tues to Fri) serving lunch (no bookings) from a concise a la carte menu of daily specials, the ambience and style is casual chic. The service is knowledgeable and friendly. Every dish celebrates the season, whether it’s a deep and moody mushroom soup or a tarte flambée (a Swedish style pizza with black kale caramelized onion and sweet corn) that was to die for.

A dessert of baked apple clafoutis with silky smooth vanilla ice cream is wickedly good. Next door, it’s all about the theatre of dinner (Tues to Sat), an intimate dining space that is as pared back as its food. The menu is produce driven and written each day, starting with a series of inspired snacks, the execution, precision and artistry of the chefs shine through. Every morsel is elegant, considered and absolutely delicious.

Matbaren at the Grand Hotel (Sodra Blasieholmshamnen 6, T: 08 697 3584) is home to Mathias Dahlgren, one of Stockholm’s most acclaimed chefs who has championed natural cuisine in Sweden. This is his more casual bistro style food bar. It’s fun, light-hearted, approachable and damn delicious, starting with crispbread baked that day and served in brown paper bag, stamped with the date.

The opposite room houses Matsalen, his fine dining, modern gastronomic restaurant with a more formal, yet clever menu that is a showcase of regional produce and natural cooking. Green Rabbit is his bakery, so drop by to stock up on some of the city’s best breads, pastries and crispbreads.

Oaxen (Beckholmsvagen 26, among the shipyard docks of Beckholmen (20 min by taxi from city center) is another gastronomic temple where owners Agnetha Green and Magnus Ek offer brilliant food showcasing Nordic ingredients defined within its relaxed and minimalist, industrial design. Another venue that is divided into two parts with the intention to broaden the mix of guests, Oaxen Slip is their casual bistro that you enter from the street and beyond that room, hidden beyond a sliding door is the more formal fine dining set degustation menu at Oaxen Krog.

Take your pick, bookings are essential for both rooms such is their popularity. Flavors are fresh, intriguing and knockout. If you fancy an overnight stay, book a room on their houseboat (floating hotel with 6 en suite rooms) parked dockside by the restaurant.

Eckstedt (Humlegårdsgatan 17, Ostermalm E: [email protected])

Facing the square, this contemporary restaurant is all about cooking over birchwood on the wood fire–smoke and hot coals are their thing. Open for dinner only, choose either the 4 or 7 course set menu, be sure to try the smoky grilled oysters. The small team are culinary enthusiasts, their cooking is intuitive, rustica Viking style, the place is hip and happening, there’s a lot to like.

Wedholms Fisk (Arsenalsgatan 111 T: 08 611 7874) To the other side of the coin and to get a fix of classic establishment food and ambience, book a table at this formal, fine dining fish restaurant with an a la carte menu that highlights different species of fish and how they are cooked (salmon, cod, turbot, prawns etc), with 3 or 4 dishes in each section, accompanied by a fine champagne list.

Café Facile (Luntmakargatan 99 A typical neighborhood bistro in a quiet side street with gay friendly staff serving typical French food from an open kitchen. Order from the blackboard menu when you arrive and before you sit down.

I can recommend the steak frites, grills are their specialty, the duck livers are delicious as is the pan-fried sole. The room is cozy chic, service is brisk, it’s popular with locals, wines are by the glass or bottle and it’s easy on the pocket. You will need to book in advance to secure a table.

Looking for a hip place to have a cocktail or two? Mix it with the well-heeled locals at Nosh and Chow (Norrlandsgatan 24,, owned by the same people that have the popular Berns Bar. Loud and boisterous most nights, this sumptuous fit out ticks all the right boxes for the smart set.

The bar serves great cocktails, the kitchen cooks modern European style comfort food, with dishes like salt baked beetroot, wheat berry salad—romaine lettuce, onion, carrot, grilled tuna, chickpeas and chervil, or a charcuterie plate of pate, duck rillettes, cornichons, mustard and Comte cheese with brioche toasts. Check out the designer toilets in the basement, a DJ plays there at night, every space gets into the groove.

There’s more than enough in Stockholm to keep you amused and entertained for a few days whether its food, design, fashion, art or history—the art of perfect balance perfected by the Swedes. So much to do, so little time! Bring your appetite and your curiosity, you can’t go wrong.


Where to sleep: I choose either the Diplomat Hotel (Strandvagan 7C, Ostermalm, a quayside art nouveau hotel that is also home to city favorite TBar, where the city’s money comes for afternoon tea, or Hotel Hellsten (Luntmakargatan 68, Norrmalm with its sexy dark wood and stylish ambience.

Pop culture and design culture: The best initiation into Swedish pop culture with a sense of whimsy is a visit to the Abba museum (, an experience not to be missed. It’s feel good, camp, fantastic, interactive, inclusive—so get on stage and perform with heliographies of Frida and Agnetha, better than karaoke and you leave with a huge smile on your face. Retail therapy rates high on anyone’s travel agenda, Stockholm is design central and it’s easy enough to just wander around any of the main districts and discover some of the city’s gems.

Getting around: The metro is affordable, easy to navigate and gets you about the city quickly.

Useful LGBT info:–drink/Guides/Gay–lesbian-Stockholm/