Iceland Mag

11 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

Food & Drink

A humble little bistro in Reykjavik’s west side

By Sara McMahon

  • Friendly affair. Pétur Marteinsson, Gísli Marteinn Baldursson and three of their friends felt the need for a local café in the Vesturbær neighbourhood of Reykjavík and decided to open Kaffihús Vesturbæjar. The bistro will open for business in September. Photo/Jerel Lai

A new bistro, named Kaffihús Vesturbæjar, opens in the Vesturbær neighbourhood of Reykjavík in September. The highly anticipated café is the first one to be opened in the area. Five friends, who all reside in Vesturbær, had long felt the need for a spot where locals can meet up and have lunch, dinner or a couple of drinks, and eventually took it upon themselves to open such a place.


Gísli Marteinn Baldursson, a well-known television personality and former member of the city council, Pétur Marteinsson, former professional football player turned restaurateur, Kristinn Vilbergsson, a restaurateur, Hálfdan Pedersen, an interior and set designer, and Einar Örn Ólafsson have spent every spare moment over the past month transforming what used to be a pharmacy on Melhagi into a cosy bistro and café.

“We kept hoping someone else would undertake this task – but no one did. So, we ended up doing it ourselves,” explains Gísli Marteinn. The group found the perfect location on Melhagi 20 a month ago and that’s when the wheels really began to turn.

 “We are a modest group of people and our bistro will also embody that quality.

“We noticed that the local pharmacy had shrunk in size and was only using half the space it did before. We contacted the pharmacist and promoted our idea: To take over the other half and turn it into a bistro. And he gladly agreed.”

The group then began to recycle and upcycle the space under designer Hálfdan’s supervision. They decided to keep the building’s original features and most of the furniture is a mixed bag of wonderful vintage items provided by generous neighbours.

According to Gísli Marteinn the menu will consist of lovely seasonal soups, slow cooked lamb shanks and other tasty treats created by chef Gunnar Karl Gíslason, who also happens to run Dill Restaurant and the pizzeria on Hverfisgata 12.

The bistro will open for business in early September and Gísli maintains it’ll be a quiet event that will largely go unnoticed.
“We are a modest group of people and our bistro will also embody that quality. We have already received more media attention than we had anticipated. Our wish is that our neighbours will take notice when the bistro opens and pay us a visit,” he concludes. 

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