Sponsored by Region Stavanger
SStavanger is Norway’s third largest urban area and is quickly becoming one of the country’s most interesting destinations for traveling foodies. The Michelin Guide honored that last year, and rumor has it they may sprinkle the town with even more stardust this year. From bakeries, coffee shops, take away joints and neighborhood bistros, to fine dining and highly exclusive and innovative concepts – Stavanger’s got your covered! I’ve eaten my way around town, and these are the 10 ultimate eats if you’re a serious foodie!
Where to Stay in Stavanger
Comfort Hotel Square
I chose Comfort Hotel Square for three reasons: it’s 1) central, 2) modern and 3) equipped with a gym. That’s all I need for an urban holiday. As an added bonus it turned out they had very professional and helpful hotel staffers as well, and lots of space to sit and work. I was greeted by a huge smile from the girl in the reception when I arrived. Sometimes you can tell immediately that a person loves his or her job.
If you appreciate this guide and would like to support my work, please book your next stay in Stavanger at Comfort Hotel Square (ad: affiliate link) through my affiliate link. At no extra cost to you, I will receive a small commission which helps me make even better guides to your next travel destination as well. Thank you!
Where to Eat the Best Dinners in Stavanger
Re-naa is currently Stavanger’s only Michelin-starred restaurant (with four days to the next guide will be launched). When I paid them a visit last summer we experienced outstanding service and left late at night with a unique story to tell. The New Nordic fine dining restaurant Re-naa is run by head chef Sven Erik Renaa and his lovely wife Torill. They also have a more casual eatery next door called Renaa Matbaren, as well as a bakery and pizzeria across the road – Renaa Xpress.
In 2016, Re-naa was the first restaurant outside of Oslo to be rewarded with a Michelin star! The French guide was conservative and restrained as always, and content with one star, but I think Re-naa is definitely closer to two stars quality. My second visit further strengthened that opinion. Chef Renaa is doing magic with the top quality produce available from Jæren and the Norwegian coast. I can’t wait to share the full foodie story from this visit in a separate post.
Sabi Omakase is the hottest candidate for a new Norwegian entry in the Michelin Guide this year. Inside the tiny, anonymous, wooden building in Pedersgata, there’s a 9-seat bar counter, one highly trained chef, and one skilled sommelier awaiting you. For three to four hours you are taken exceptionally good care of and guided through approximately 20 different bites, accompanied by seven or more glasses of refreshments to match. Head chef Roger Asakil Joya secured 4th place in the World Championship of Sushi two years in a row, and might just be able to decorate himself with a prestigious star or two next week. Sabi Omakase has already won the Nordic Prize in Norway 2016, and was categorized at the Global Masters Level and named the 26th best restaurant in last year’s Nordic White Guide.
This was my fourth visit since they opened in 2015, and I can honestly say that Omakase is one of my favorite restaurants in Scandinavia. Check out my first visit to get an even deeper inside look of chef Joya’s exceptional universe of authentic Japanese edo-style sushi interpreted with world-class Norwegian seafood from the cold waters of Rogaland. Everyone should reward themselves at least once with this totally unique experience.
Not only does Stavanger have one of the countries finest New Nordic restaurants, and the best Japanese restaurant without comparison, but they also have the most authentic Italian eatery! Casa Gio is a small and intimate restaurant with 20 seats, situated just a block away from Sabi Omakase in Pedersgata. It seems this street is as hot on new places to eat as Torggata in Oslo! Peruvian-born Giovanna Ordonez was trained at Restaurant Toscanini in Amsterdam, but like her charming Italian waitress told us “she has taught me more about Italian food than I learned from being born and raised in Italy!”
We brought my parents here to dine on a Friday night and were all completely blown away from start to finish. Tagliatelle with a duck ragu that had been cooked for several days, black ink risotto with lobster, and not to mention the ravioli filled with sweet potato and topped with almond shavings, orange zest, and butter – all so rich in flavor and cooked with tremendous love. Hearty, Italian home cooking has never been better in Norway than it is at Casa Gio. As a finish, we enjoyed a tiramisu so soft and creamy and packed with the right flavors that it just barely beat the incredibly airy and light pannacotta with fresh berries. Mamma mia!
Tango Bar & Kjøkken describe their style of cooking and service as rough fine dining. Under the lead of co-founder Kjartan Skjelde and general manager Tommy Raanti, the restaurant has become somewhat of an institution in Stavanger. Tango did an exceptional job at the Gladmat food festival in both 2015 and 2016, which is when I visited the restaurant prior to this trip. Finally, I got to enjoy a regular dinner at Tango, along with Hedda and our good friend Sonia and her husband. In hindsight, I can say that Tango truly managed to uphold their quality even during a hectic food event like Gladmat.
Restaurant manager Pål Gøran Stolt-Larsen Pettersen, who was just back in Stavanger from a week of helping out at restaurant Noma in Copenhagen, welcomed us inside. The six-course tasting menu was kicked off with some favorite flavors of mine: slow cooked and caramelized celeriac with truffle mayo! Next, a delicate squid and cucumber “pasta” was paired excellently with a HJM Vineyard Riesling. A refreshing palate cleanser of iced tea with apple cleared the path towards a classic Tango dish: duck breast, beets, and kale. Once again, I was reminded what a solid kitchen Tango has, even though they are not breaking new grounds. The service level and ambitions are right in the center – not too formal and not too stiff.
Egget is probably the kind of place where I would hang out most often if I lived in Stavanger. It’s dark, the music is loud, the ambiance is great, bottles of natural wine are shared between the tables and the kitchen makes whatever the f*ck they feel like serving based on today’s available ingredients. Roy serves the wine and Tony makes the food. Until recently, a French guy called Anthony was in charge of the pots, but when he left, Tony Martin took his place. Don’t get fooled by the knit cap and hoodie he wears at work, though, Mr. Martin has experience from restaurants like Bagatelle, Tango, and Renaa.
Grilled naan bread, hummus, a ceviche and fried cod sticks arrived at our table almost before we sat down. Two glasses each were filled with different white wines. You’re not left hungry or thirsty for a second in here! On a board on the wall was a hand-written menu, from which we tried to order ox dumplings next. Tony just laughed: “We don’t have that. That thing there [the menu] is more of a joke.” Instead, some tasty pork dumplings arrived at our table shortly after. Egget has been compared to Pjoltergeist in Oslo and I can see why, but to me, it’s more chaotic, even more hipster and less refined. Pieces of crispy chicken arrived last, juicy as hell, slapped on top of some tarragon mayo and served with a help-yourself bottle of fermented Midsummer sauce. So simple and tasty!
Be warned, though, Egget may not be for everybody. This isn’t your average restaurant experience. No one here will ask you what you want to eat, whether you liked the wine or not, nor give you any hints during the evening on what you’re actually paying in the end. How do they even count the number of glasses you are drinking? I have no clue – but they somehow charged almost four full bottles of wine to our table. At least it was some seriously refreshing wine and tasty bites, but next time I’m gonna check the bill more thorough.
Where to Eat the Best Lunches in Stavanger
To run a restaurant at such a high level as the one Michelin-starred Nordic fine dining restaurant Re-naa in Stavanger is extremely costly. That’s when having a less formal sister restaurant and even a café that supplies freshly baked bread and sweets is a stroke of genius. Why don’t more restaurants in Norway do this? However, Renaa Matbaren is not just any old side project, it’s a remarkable eatery on its own. I dare to say they serve the best Danish-style smørrebrød in Norway! The style and quality even reminded me of the best open-faced sandwiches from Copenhagen – the ones you get from top places like Aamanns and Palægade.
On the blackboard this afternoon was a veal chop with truffle, served with a linguini pasta with egg cream and even more truffle. I also had a taste of the whole cooked mountain trout with butter, green herbs, and confit lemon peel. The flavors of the latter brought me straight back to my childhood, when we would get fresh fish from the fresh waters of Årdal in Ryfylke and my great grandmother would cook it up country style. Renaa Matbaren may be a casual bistro, but the cooks are holding back on anything. Go here for lunch or dinner – it’s easily the best-value-for-money eatery in Stavanger.
Fisketorget is one of Norway’s absolute best seafood restaurant – maybe the best. It’s run by the highly passionate chef Karl Erik Pallesen, who has competed on the national culinary team and won the prestigious competition Hellstrøm’s Masterchef a few years back, facing a lot of up-and-coming young chefs in Norway at that time. Fisketorget consists of an exclusive fish market called Torjå (local word meaning the marketplace), and Vågen (the bay) which is the actual restaurant.
Our lunch kicked off with a glass of Champagne and these beautiful oysters served on a custom-made Figgjo plate. Topped with tapioca pearls, jalapenos, green tabasco, green tea and ponzu, which supplied acidity and a sting, but without masking the clean oyster flavor. Furthermore, Pallesen made us one of the best fish soups I have ever had and surprised us by serving herring as the main course. I will share the full foodie story from this visit soon.
Renaa Xpress is the café, bakery, and pizzeria by Sven Erik and Torill Renaa. Located within Sølvberget community center smack in the middle of Stavanger city, the Xpress allows Sven Erik to explore his Italian roots as well. Even though it’s the youngest brother of Re-naa and Renaa Matbaren, it’s definitely not less focused on quality. The partially woodfired oven assures freshly baked sourdough bread every day, in addition to the most crispy and airy croissants you can imagine. From 1 PM you can enjoy the sourdough pizza, which has a thin, crunchy pie, and a thick crust brushed and sprinkled with sea salt. I got the classic pizza Margherita with a sweet tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella from Osteverket in Lillesand.
Villa 22 Trattoria & Bar is a casual Italian eatery with Nordic influences, located on the waterfront in Vågen. I immediately noticed some similarities to restaurant Bæst in Copenhagen, and it turned out the assistant head chef, Daniel Lund, had, in fact, worked there previously. Head chef Nina Sviland cooks food with great flavor combinations and top quality produces. Like the homemade tagliatelle in a creamy mussel sauce with huge chunks of king crab, squid from Denmark, black olive tapenade and dill. The pizza was no less perfect, with those delicious burnt spots from the woodfired oven, spicy n’duja sauce, potatoes and the same mozzarella from Osterverket in Lillesand that Renaa Xpress also used. You can go to Villa 22 for the pizza alone, or have the full Italian sharing experiences with lots of small dishes and antipasti.
Sabi Sushi in Pedersgata is where the sushi adventure started in Stavanger in 2011. This much cheaper and simpler take away franchise restaurant is what allowed the Sabi group to create the most innovative and interesting sushi restaurant in Norway. Before Roger Joya opened Sabi Omakase he worked next door at Sabi Sushi. Today, the restaurant is lead by a new talent: Arturas Novickis. With the news of Sabi moving into Oslo and Bergen full speed, it seems he won’t be the last superstar to come out of the Sabi empire.
Also Worthy of a Mention
The restaurant scene in Stavanger is moving fast forward, new concepts are popping up, and old restaurants are upping their game. I visited a few more restaurants on my journey that I think are worthy to keep an eye on in the future. Spiseriet is the restaurant of the concert venue Stavanger Konserthus and has a panoramic view towards the city. Although Spiseriet has had a change of both leadership and chefs recently, the new restaurant manager Christoffer Ingebretsen did an exceptional job as our host and sommelier. I’m sure the kitchen will follow shortly. Another veteran restaurant, N.B. Sørensens Dampskibsexpedition, has hired experienced chef Filip August Bendi to run their upstairs fine dining restaurant Annen Etage. Bendi has previously worked at top restaurants like Mathias Dahlgren Matsalen in Stockholm, Noma in Copenhagen, and Daniel in New York. His cooking is passionate and artsy and will be exciting to pay attention to in the years to come. The interior design could need a big makeover, though.
On the east side of Stavanger, the area of Storhaug is experiencing a restaurant boom similar to Tøyen in Oslo. Most exciting is the street food restaurant Fortou, led by Arnt Skjerve. You can get international dishes like ramen, bánh mì, and Cuban sandwiches either to take away or enjoy at the beer bar ØST (Øl, Svette & Tårer) next door. In the same area, you also find Ostehuset Øst, a new pasta restaurant called Basil & Co, and Kaffekanna which serves as a coffee shop during the day and a wine bar in the evening.
Back in the inner city, the city’s most exclusive wine cellar, for connoisseurs and those with a bit too much money to spend, is found in the wine bar of Gaffel & Karaffel. The guys from ØST have also opened På Kornet – a beer bar that serves everything from simpler pub dishes to set menus. The latter is a cooperation between people from the local brewery Lervig and The Shack burger joint around the corner. On the topic of burgers, you also find the Oslo chain Døgnvill in Stavanger. Lastly, Tango has a casual sister restaurant called Fish & Cow, which I’ve tried a few times, and some people are also speaking about 26 North, who describes themselves as a restaurant and social club. Stavanger has many passionate talents – let’s hope the locals also welcome this culinary wave and helps it grow!
What’s your favorite restaurant in Stavanger? Please share in a comment below.
This travel guide is sponsored by Region Stavanger. All the places were selected by me, and the sponsor had no influence on the recommendations or content of this article. I received no monetary payment. The guide contains an affiliate link to booking.com.