Europe travel guidesFood & DrinkRestaurant reviewsTravel

Stockholm: eating and drinking among the beautiful people

18 August, 2015 — by Sarah Howson0

I went to Stockholm last week. It was expensive and everyone was better looking than me, but these were minor inconveniences in the face of what was a pretty cool holiday.

My husband and I were celebrating our one year anniversary. Plus it was my birthday. In my head, this equated to two extremely robust excuses for a trip to Stockholm. So, we found an Airbnb, booked our flights and away we went.

The following is an account of some of the places we visited, food we ate and drinks we consumed, which will hopefully be helpful for anyone planning to visit themselves.

So to Stockholm we proceed. Or more specifically, to Södermalm.

Sodermalm street, stockholm, sweden

Stockholm is made up of a group of islands and Södermalm is the island lying just south of the historical centre of Gamla Stan. It’s known for its cool restaurants and cafes and its excellent selection of vintage shops and stylish independent boutiques. If that’s your thing, then Södermalm is the place to stay.

Cafe stockholm sweden

Fika (coffee, often with cake) is a big part of the Stockholm lifestyle (Sweden drinks more coffee per capita than any other country in the world bar Finland and the Netherlands, I’ll have you know).

There are good cafes serving decent coffee all over the place. Of course you can find good coffee in London if you know where to look. And no doubt other coffee lovers in other cities have their favourites. But the fact is, in recent years I’ve found myself settling. Throwing in a spoonful of sugar to remove the bitter taste you get from a badly made espresso and sipping away like a fool with a twitchy eye and a bucket load of caffeine coursing through my veins. I’d almost forgotten that coffee didn’t have to taste bitter. That it could in fact taste just as delicious, nutty and rich as it smells. My new friend Stockholm hadn’t forgotten though. During my time there, I spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about, visiting and then planning more visits to Drop Coffee Roasters.

Drop Coffee Roasters Outside

These guys have won numerous awards for their coffee. They painstakingly monitor the temperature and expend much of their attention on the equipment, processes and sustainable raw ingredients when roasting their coffee, which they sell around the world. Their café in Södermalm is an excellent morning stopover, with plenty of tables and stools set out along a quiet street. They also make excellent cinnamon buns by the way, a staple in Stockholm.

Drop Coffee cinammon buns and coffee

But wait! You say. I’m not interested in coffee. I want proper, alcoholic grog to warm the cockles of my heart. Well, dear reader, I must tell you, drinking in Stockholm is expensive. If you want a beer you’re most likely to get it in a three-quarter pint sized glass (which is actually quite a nice size glass to drink out of if I may say so myself), but it will cost you the same as a pint and a half in London. If you don’t mind spending the money though, there are some good places to go out.

Trädgȧrden is a cool destination venue hidden behind a non-descript sports centre and encompassing a large outdoor space with multiple places to get food and drink. It’s a bit like being in a mini festival full of casually cool Stockholmers hanging around being all casual and cool. Geez.

Tradgarden outside

When we arrived early in the evening, the DJ was pumping out the dancehall and it felt like the place was gearing up for a big night. We had a dinner reservation that evening, otherwise we would most definitely had stuck around. There were food vans selling some good looking burgers but there was also a partially open-air restaurant serving exceedingly fresh looking vegetarian food.

Tradgarden inside

We also paid a visit to Snotty Sounds Bar – a bit of a Södermalm institution. As an aside, when I was six, eating my lunch and minding my own business, a boy at school looked me straight in the eye and said with palpable malice in his voice, “You’re eating a bag of snot.” It scarred me for life. But while the name ‘Snotty’s’ makes me gag, the bar itself is still an excellent place to while away the evening.

The walls are covered in album covers and magazine cut outs of bands, the staff are friendly and the music is good. And that brings me on to food. This was an interesting point of discussion. I had a few Swedish classics. Namely meatballs with lingonberries (Pelikan is a classic Swedish beerhall which does this dish well) and sardines and egg on toast with car-loads of dill (thanks to Lasse i Parken), but we also had some interesting meals that took the best of Scandinavian ingredients and turned them into something unique and delicious.

Nook is a dark, stylish restaurant full of good looking Stockholmers who have all been lit perfectly by a minimal amount of industrial style lighting. We were given two menus to select, so chose one of each. My starter was a mysterious, unidentifiable dish that ended up tasting amazing. As it turns out, it contained yellow chanterelle mushrooms, miso, burnt cream, baked eggs, chicken skin and truffle.

I ate it with a fork until I got towards the end at which point I really needed to use my spoon, but didn’t want to look like a nob with a spoon, so continued with my fork. Nevermind.

The main course was a sea bass dish with much dill involved and the dessert was a blueberry sorbet with sweet woodruff and roasted corn. And no, I don’t know what sweet woodruff is either. All was swell until I visited the bathroom and discovered my lips had been dyed a deep purple. Suddenly the minimal lighting made sense.

We also visited Barobao, a deeply pretentious yet studiously stylish Swedish/Taiwanese steamed  bun café with terracotta pots lining the walls and a little poster which I thought might tell me about the place but instead said something along the lines of Barobao’s food being impossible to define and to choose your food by following the pictures… at which point we picked up a menu and read through the options… I must admit, our meal was excellent – soft, pillowy buns filled with flavourful ingredients such as chicken and kimchi along with refreshing greens like pickled cucumber. The service was exceptionally slow and the chefs, who also serve the dishes, were a little on the smug side, but I’d still go back there for the food. It’s also worth noting that they serve beer in little jars which is all very amusing except that beer in a jar just looks like a urine sample.


There are few places in the world that successfully find a balance between edgy and wholesome, energising and relaxing. Stockholm gets it just right. Cafes serving good coffee everywhere. Interesting restaurants serving original, well thought out dishes. Stylish people and a plethora of cool shops. Easy access to nature – take a ferry for an hour and you’re in the archipelago (but that’s another story). Like I said, it’s expensive, but sometimes good things are worth the money.

Discover more of the world with our Europe travel guides, including this wayward guide to Porto.

Leave a Reply