Where to eat on the cheap in Copenhagen

In a previous instalment, Alex Berger aka the Virtual Wayfarer gave an introduction on finding budget-friendly food in the Danish capital. He's back now with a list of the best places to fill your stomach with good food without emptying your wallet.

Where to eat on the cheap in Copenhagen
If you weren't hungry before you started reading this, you will be by the end. Photo: Alex Berger
After more three years exploring Copenhagen’s budget eateries, this list highlights some of my favourites. The rules are simple – that the food is good, the portions are large, and that the price for your meal is less than 100 kroner (and ideally significantly cheaper than that).  Prices change, as does quality so I make no guarantees that the information in this post is up to date but I make every effort possible to keep it accurate and reliable. This list is also divided into two sections: The City Centre and Nørrebro. Vesterbro may have won the 'hipster war', but it isn’t an area I typically turn to for cheap eats.
And if you missed it, be sure to check out the first part of this two-part instalment, 'How to eat on the cheap in Copenhagen', where I discuss different genres of budget friendly food in the capital area.
Where to eat for cheap in the city centre:
Restaurant Ankara – Situated along Strøget on the first floor, this restaurant offers a fairly extensive buffet. The food is usually fresh, ingredients are decent, and there is a relatively large selection of salads and meat plates with reasonable flavour. The lunch buffet runs 69 kroner+drink while dinner will cost 89 kroner+drink.  The food has a heavy Mediterranean/Turkish influence.

Dalle Valle – Home to the nicest budget budget buffet in Copenhagen, Dalle Valle has a lunch buffet at 79 kroner and a dinner buffet for 119 kroner. The buffet is large, fresh, has a variety of local Danish dishes, and is immensely popular with locals. The restaurant also offers specials that allow you to purchase most entrees at a 50 percent discount with the purchase of a drink (20 kroner for a tap water works). This makes it one of the cheapest traditional restaurant experiences in Copenhagen. The deal is not available on the weekends, however. Dalle Valle has been widely popular and now has locations in Amager and Taastrup in addition to the one on Fiolstræde, and a new location will open in Glostrup on October 28th. Be warned that drinks are quite expensive and that Dalle Valle has repeatedly raised prices on its buffet, quickly counteracting all of the positives that made them so attractive to begin with. I've left it on the list because it is still a good buffet, but technically their dinner pricing is now outside the range of this post with lunch prices nearing what their dinner prices once were.
Samos Greek – With a lunch buffet that costs just 50 kroner and a dinner buffet that runs 79 kroner, the food selection and quality isn’t amazing but is definitely tolerable. If you need to re-fuel on a tight budget and enjoy Mediterranean food, this is a good spot for you.
Magasin Cafe – Situated right off Nyhavn and Kongens Nytorv the large department store Magasin has a cafe located on the top floor.  While still slightly pricey, you’ll be able to find a good selection of traditional Danish foods for less than 100 kroner.
Tria Deli – This bagel and salad shop makes fantastic sandwiches at very reasonable prices (typically less than 45 kroner) and is located just next to the 7/11 on Gothersgade, making it one of the best budget friendly options in the immediate vicinity of Nyhavn.
L’Appetit – Situated on Fredriksborggade just north of Nørreport Station this tiny salad place has a number of delicious salad options and is obviously vegetarian friendly with heaping portions, great menu items, and delicious samosas. Even if you’re not a salad person (I’m normally not) this is well worth the visit. Prices vary based on what you get, but items such as samosas can be purchased individually or as part of a meal. Expect to pay between 30-60 kroner.
Where to eat for cheap in Nørrebro and Nordvest:
Rita’s Smørrebrød – This is my favourite smørrebrød shop in Copenhagen.  With a wide assortment of 'budget' options starting at 12 kroner, Rita’s is always fresh, tasty, and is very popular with local Danes. With just enough room for three people to eat in (or two tables outside if the weather is nice) this is usually a good spot to order the smørrebrød to go. On a nice day, take it to the nearby bridge across the lakes and join Danes for sunbathing and good eats.  Rita’s is open from 10am-2pm Monday-Friday.
Banana Joe’s – My favourite budget burger shop in Copenhagen. I discovered Banana Joe’s a couple years ago and am thrilled that people are starting to catch on to it.  With an extremely affordable menu, this little hole in the wall cranks out some of the best burgers in town. The Banana Joe special burger is particularly good and consists of a hulking burger with an egg on top. It may not look like the type of place you should try fish from, but Banana Joe’s also has the best fish burger (real salmon fillets, perfectly cooked) in town. 'Joe' is also a fantastic host – so make sure you try and grab one of the small tables and stay for a chat. Prices range from 35-75 kroner.
Harry’s Place – It doesn’t get more Danish than this tiny place. This shop is just wide enough for one person, and embodies everything you want in a tiny undiscovered local’s eatery.  Prices are good, and they’ve got some of the best hot dogs and traditional Danish eats in Copenhagen. If you’re itching to try a traditional Danish flæskesteg sandwich (and you should), this is definitely the place to do it.
Mama Africa – If you want heaping portions and are itching for a good meat plate at a rock bottom price this is a great option. I usually opt for either a #4 or #6 but most of the menu is good. The food is African in nature and the staff and majority of their customers are Somali. For 65 kroner you’ll find tasty lamb or beef options served with a heaping serving of flavoured rice and a couple of small sides. The meat is good quality, though often second tier cuts – so be prepared to use your fingers and work your way through a tender shoulder or knee cut if you opt for the #4. The menu’s weak spots are the Ethiopian platter and chicken offerings. The kaka is also a tasty vegetarian (?) option if you wan’t something more exotic.  Most mains start at 65 kroner and go up to 80 kroner. It’s worth noting that it can be slightly intimidating for non-Somali’s when you first walk into the place just because you feel a bit like an outsider.  Don’t let that dissuade you though, folks are friendly and the atmosphere is vibrant! A knife and fork is optional and make sure to try their delicious green chilli salsa.
Torvets Kebab – Nothing fancy or complicated about this place. Just one of the best kebabs in Nørrebro. Good prices, and fresh meat with a high turnover. The kebab place next door may look more promising, but this is where you want to go.  Also, as a fun quirk, check the place’s counter out – it is decorated with verses from Machiavelli’s The Prince.  I strongly suggest opting for the mixed pita or durum, especially if you’re hungry, but they’ve also got tasty falafel. Pitas and dürüm range from 20-33 kroner.
La Centrale – While the majority of what these guys do focuses around kebab and pizza, they have recently diversified into a wide assortment of Middle Eastern food. This includes rotisserie chicken, a wide selection of Middle Eastern dishes, and other tasty eats. They have good daily specials and make a tasty chicken burger (about 60 kroner for a meal plus a drink).
Maed Ethiopian – One of Copenhagen’s only Ethiopian restaurants, this place also has a decent menu.  It’s not the best Ethiopian you’ll ever try, but it is definitely good enough to return to repeatedly and some of the best in Copenhagen.  With a very authentic vibe, the best bet for folks on a budget is to visit for their lunch special which will serve up a hearty portion with a couple flavours for about 50 kroner. If ordering off the regular menu expect to pay between 60-80 kroner for a filling meal.
Kosk Kebab – Quite possibly the most popular kebab shop in Copenhagen. While a little ways from the city centre (lines 350S, 5A both drop you off nearby at Nørrebro Station) it is usually worth the trip. With large servings and addictive rice, their plates are well priced and the quality is quite high. Expect to pay between 60-70 kroner for a plate which includes two skewers, rice, and salad.
Eating cheap in other areas:
Føtex, Kvickly & Super Brugsen – These supermarkets are found just about everywhere and typically have deli sections. As with any deli, freshness varies widely. However, these provide a super cheap and convenient opportunity to get access to and sample some traditional Danish food on the cheap.

Green Mango – With a weekday lunch special that drops the price of a main to 59 kroner, this Christianshavn joint is some of the cheapest and best Thai food in Copenhagen. I always opt for the Pad Thai which is super fresh, a hearty portion, and has great flavour and presentation. The location makes it a super convenient stop on the way to Christiania or the city centre.
Magasasa Chinese – Despite what I said earlier, one Vesterbro eatery did find its way on the list. If you ask Chinese folks in Copenhagen where to go for budget friendly semi-authentic Chinese food, they’ll almost all tell you Magasasa. It is located right next to Copenhagen Central Station and has a large menu. Prices vary but mains usually start around 60 kroner with the bulk falling in the 70-80 kroner range.
Have your own suggestions? Post them in a comment so residents and visitors alike can have even more options for eating cheaply in Copenhagen. And don’t forget to check out the first part of this post, 'How to eat on the cheap in Copenhagen', where I talk about eating out in Copenhagen on a budget in more general terms.
Alex BergerAlex Berger is an American travel writer, photographer, and digital communications professional currently based in Copenhagen. He authors the popular travel and culture blog VirtualWayfarer while documenting daily life in Denmark on Instagram as @VirtualWayfarer and on flickr.

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Why does Denmark produce so much cheese?

From Danbo to Danablu and the Danish feta that can't be called feta - Denmark produces over four hundred thousand tonnes of cheese each year and exports it across the world. So why is Danish cheese so popular, and what are the country's best-loved cheeses?

Why does Denmark produce so much cheese?

Cheese-making is a serious business in Denmark. In 2021, the country produced a total of 454,500 tonnes of cheese and Danish cheese has won awards at the World Championship Cheese Contest.

The tradition goes back to the Viking era and today, the country’s climate and pastoral land make it ideal for producing cheese (ost). About three quarters of the country’s milk production is turned into cheese, butter and milk powder.

Not only is cheese popular in Denmark, where it’s eaten with pretty much any meal and snack (can you even have a bolle [bread roll] without ost?), it is also eaten around the world in countries including South Korea, New Zealand, Canada, Nigeria and even France.

In 2021, Denmark exported a total of 401,845 tonnes of cheese, making it one of the top cheese exporters in the world. The biggest importer of Danish cheese was Germany (94,419 tonnes), followed by Sweden (52.924 tonnes) and the UK (42,905 tonnes). 18,097 tonnes of cheese was exported to Japan and 5,657 to the United States.

What types of cheese does Denmark make?

The different types of cheese in Denmark can be hard to distinguish and there are a lot of them. You can quite easily end up with a fridge full of strong smells that you weren’t expecting. 

Danbo, often called ‘Denmark’s national cheese’, is the most produced and consumed cheese in Denmark. It has Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status, meaning it can only be made in Denmark to specific Danish standards.

Danbo is sold under various trade and brand names, including LillebrorGamle Ole, and Riberhus. Lillebror (meaning Little brother) is very mild and often sold in childrens’ packs, whereas Gamle Ole (meaning Old Ole) is matured for a long time, which means it’s strong and smelly. Caraway seeds are sometimes added to this cheese.

Esrom also has Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status and is made from pasteurised cow’s milk. It is semi-soft with small holes and is pretty pungent.

Havarti is one of the most famous Danish cheeses. It’s a bit like a cheddar in that the taste can be mild, but the longer the cheese is stored, the stronger it gets. 

Danablu is a Danish Blue soft blue cheese, similar to Roquefort. It has a strong aroma and a sharp and a little salty taste. Danablu is often used in America to make blue cheese dressing for salads and blue cheese dip for chicken wings. 

A dairy farm in Klemensker, Bornholm has twice been named world champion in cheese making. Photo: Morten Juhl/Ritzau Scanpix

Mycella is a veined blue cheese made from pasteurised cow’s milk on the island of Bornholm and is similar to Gorgonzola. It goes well in a salad or cheese platter or even crumbled on top of an open sandwich.

Blå kornblomst, meaning ‘blue cornflower’, is a creamy blue cheese with a mild, slightly salty taste. The cheese is white to yellowish with blue tinges and is made from pasteurised cow’s milk on North Jutland.

Danish rygeost, meaning ‘smoked cheese’ is mild, light and smokey. It originates from 19th century Funen, with some believing it dates back to the Viking Age. 

A dish of potato, monkfish and smoked cheese.

A dish of potato, monkfish and smoked cheese. Photo: Thomas Lekfeldt/Ritzau Scanpix

Vesterhavsost, meaning ‘North Sea Cheese’, is a semi-hard cheese with a slightly salty taste as it is ripened in the sea air of North Jutland. It’s referred to as the Danish version of Gouda. 

Fyrmester or Fyrtårnsost, meaning ‘The Lighthouse Keeper’ or ‘Lighthouse Cheese’, is an extra-mature version of the vesterhavsost, aged for at least 52 weeks.

Samsø cheese is similar to Emmentale and made on the island of Samsø in Kattegat.

Hvid ost, meaning ‘white cheese’, is Denmark’s equivalent to feta cheese but uses cow’s milk rather than the goat or sheep’s milk used in Greek feta cheese. It’s milder and doesn’t crumble like Greek feta cheese because it’s made differently, using something called ultrafiltration.

There have been debates as to whether this actually makes it feta cheese. Earlier this year, Denmark lost a case at the European Court of Justice over its farmers exporting cheese outside the EU labelled feta, something only Greece can do. The cheese is sometimes labelled in supermarkets as ‘salad cubes’ (salat-tern).

There is, perhaps, one thing that unites almost all Danish cheeses: they are sliced using the characteristic ostehøvl (cheese slicer), the quintessential Danish kitchen utensil.

There are two types of ostehøvl: a wire-based type and a version that looks a bit like a trowel, with a raised edge and a gap in the middle for the sliced cheese to pass through.

Cheese vocab:

Blød ost: Soft cheese

Halvfast ost: Semi-soft cheese 

Fast ost: Semi-hard cheese 

Hård ost: Hard cheese

Ekstra hård ost: Extra hard cheese

Frisk ost: Fresh cheese

Ostehøvl: cheese slicer