Ad for Oslobukta
If you’ve never heard of the “Oslobukta” neighborhood, you’re not alone – the official name was actually only launched less than a month ago. But the neighborhood should be very familiar to you – it’s part of the Bjørvika area that stretches from the Opera House along Barcode and the waterfront, past the new Munch museum, and out to the tip of Sørenga. Historically, this part of town was called “Opsloe bugten” (Oslo bay) – it was the city center of Oslo until the Middle Ages and where King Harald Hardråde lived. The spelling of Oslobukta has changed slightly since the old days, but the meaning is the same, and this part of town is once again a cultural hub bursting with restaurants, museums, and things to do. We spent last week exploring this vibrant neighborhood of Oslo, visiting old favorites and discovering new gems to create our ultimate guide to eating your way through Oslobukta! Keep reading to see our favorite spots.
Looking for more great spots for food and drinks in Oslo? Check out our city map of Oslo!
Barcode – Oslo’s Central Business District
Oslo Central Station is the gateway to the city. As a visitor, you’ll likely enter the city’s borders by train, either from the airport or from elsewhere in Scandinavia. When the train approaches the station, the idyllic landscapes turn to cityscapes, and tall buildings fill the windows. Stepping off the train you’ll see The Acrobat Bridge, a pedestrian walkway which stretches over the train tracks from the Grønland side (where the old Maaemo was located), to the Barcode Project, a strip of black and white buildings named for its resemblance to a barcode. The architecture here is mesmerizing to look at, especially around sunset on a clear day, when the sky is an ocean blue canvas painted with waves of yellow, orange, and pink, which is reflected in the thousands of windows and shiny surfaces of the buildings.
Barcode is the central business district of Oslo. Walking the streets and looking up at the tall buildings, you could almost think you were in New York or in the Ginza district of Tokyo. A lot of finance and tech companies have their offices here, but Barcode is also home to a lot of great restaurants. Åpent Bakeri has an outpost here, and it’s hard to miss Nodee Sky, famous for its glass elevator that climbs diagonally up one side of the building. But our favorite restaurants in Barcode belong to chef Christer Rødseth, the captain of the Norwegian culinary team.
Vaaghals was one of the first restaurants to establish in the Barcode area many years ago, serving modern variations of rustic Norwegian dishes. Co-owned by Norway’s ski legends Bjørn Dæhli and Vegard Ulvang, together with chefs Arne Brimi, Jørn Lie, Eirik Lillebø, and Christer Rødseth. With skilled chefs in the kitchen and a good vibe in the dining room, Vaaghals is simply a pleasant place to be. On our most recent visit, the food was the best its ever been. The concept is family-style, so we shared a bunch of dishes – to start, an open-faced sandwich of perfectly caramelized veal breast, yellow beets, and a tarragon emulsion on rye bread. Skrei was in season, and Vaaghals served it in a creamy butter sauce with kale and onions. A celeriac pasta with butter sauce and løyrom was another standout for us – we slurped up every bite of those vegetable noodles! To finish, we shared the entrecote, really flavorful steak served with a rich (but not too heavy!) sauce.
Restaurant Code is the brand new playground of chef Christer Rødseth, located just a few doors down from Vaaghals. The food here leans more classical, with dishes like onion soup and whole roasted duck, but the ingredients are all Norwegian and everything has a modern feel to it. A few of our favorite dishes on the menu are the beef tartare, the lobster roll, the mountain trout, and the crab risotto. Save room for the freshly baked financiers, served with warm chocolate and vanilla dipping sauces.
Munch Brygge – Home of the New Munch Museum
If you walk from the Opera House, along the waterfront, and cross the bridge over Akerselva (Oslo’s river), you will arrive at Munch Brygge. Like you might have guessed from the name, this is where the new Munch Museum is located, as well as a vast selection of new restaurants, including Brasserie Rivoli, Munchies, Koie Ramen, Godt Brød, and soon Villa Paradiso, one of Oslo’s best Neapolitan-style pizzerias.
Brasserie Rivoli is the new restaurant from Kari Innerå, who used to run restaurant BA53 in Frogner. When Munch Brygge opened, Chef Innerå took the opportunity to move down into the exciting new neighborhood. Her food is French-inspired, focused on the classics, but using Nordic ingredients. We really enjoyed the blinis topped with løyrom, the spring pea soup, a scallop dish with black truffle and Jerusalem artichoke, and the popcorn ice cream dessert. The restaurant’s name is inspired by the famous Rue de Rivoli in Paris, the main street that leads up to the Champs-Elysees.
Godt Brød, an Oslo-based bakery chain known for their bread and traditional Norwegian buns, also decided to open a new shop in Munch Brygge. Anders used to live next door to the Godt Brød in Grünerløkka, and it was his go-to place for breakfast or a quick bite during the day. He especially loves their sandwich station where you can design your own smørbrød. Kaitlin’s favorite thing here is the mandelbolle, a bun filled with cream and almond paste.
When Koie Ramen first opened up near Torggata, they drew long lines of hungry people. Koie was Oslo’s first “real” ramen shop – the first to proudly make their own broth and noodles from scratch. Now they have opened a second location here at Munch Brygge in Oslobukta, and have expanded their menu to include a few new exciting items. We love the addition of the Mazemen, an almost brothless noodle bowl with an egg yolk on top, and the Tantanmen, which is based on a tonkotsu broth topped with pork and edamame. We couldn’t leave without a bowl of their signature chicken karaage!
The striking new Munch Museum stands overlooking the harbor, where the Akerselva river meets the fjord. This feat of a building has been anticipated for years, and is set to open in September of 2020. The museum houses the largest collection of Edward Munch’s modern art, and includes The Scream, his most famous painting.
Bispevika – The Cultural Hub & Shopping Center
Directly across from Munch Brygge, a playground and an open square signal the start of Bispevika, the cultural hub and shopping center of Oslobukta. Also opening in this area are the much anticipated new restaurants from Chef Esben Holmboe Bang – Maaemo 2.0 (opening this week) and its casual sister restaurant, The Vandelay (opening in May). We can’t wait to visit these spots when we return this spring!
Starting this summer, you’ll also find the second outpost of Talormade in Bispevika, the colorful doughnut and coffee shop. We visited their Storo location, where neon signs and bright lights illuminate the fun space, and the shelves are filled with a vast selection of doughnuts topped with candy and flavorful glazes. We sampled the strawberry sprinkle, the chocolate cream-filled, the raspberry pistachio, and the Nonstop candy-topped doughnuts. Kaitlin’s favorite were the fruity, pink doughnuts, while Anders loved the chocolate varieties!
Sørenga – Oslo’s Beach!
The fourth and final section of Oslobukta is Sørenga – Oslo’s beach! This man-made peninsula sticks out from Bispevika and into the Oslofjord, connected to Munch Brygge by a pedestrian bridge that floats on the surface of the fjord. In the summer, thousands of Oslo-ites flock here to enjoy the sun and swim in the sea. However, there are some great restaurants here you can enjoy all year round.
Bun’s Burger Bar was highly ranked on Anders’ test of the best burgers in Oslo some years ago, and it was Kaitlin-approved during our taste test this week. We customized their classic cheeseburger by adding caramelized onions on top – the burger was cooked a perfect medium-rare and was bursting with umami flavor. The truffle parmesan fries were also a hit, and we enjoyed a chocolate milkshake on the side.
Paradis Gelateria is an Oslo-based chain with three gelato shops in the city: Tjuvholmen, Mathallen, and Sørenga. Their homemade Italian ice cream is made with only the best Norwegian and Italian ingredients, and it’s available all year round (unlike most spots in Oslo which close during the winter). Our favorite flavors were the Sicilian pistachio and Piedmontese hazelnut.
All the way out at the tip of Sørenga, you’ll find Hakkaiza. This Chinese crossover restaurant has been open for three years and specializes in dumplings. On our visit, we tried the spicy Korean wings, the brisket bao buns, and the Szechuan dumplings, but our favorite bites were the king crab gyoza and fried chicken dumplings.
Sightseeing & Accommodation
Operaen, the Oslo Opera House, is perhaps the most iconic piece of architecture in Oslo. Slanted marble walkways criss-cross diagonally up the sides of the building, allowing visitors to climb to the top and take in a spectacular view of the fjord. We’ve come here many times before for the view, but on this trip we decided to step inside the magnificent building and see a show. We loved the sleek, all-wood interior design of the theater (a stark contrast to the all-white marble exterior), and the acoustics were spectacular. Madama Butterfly was playing during our visit – a breathtakingly beautiful opera by the Italian composer Puccini. We felt transported to another world as the music from the live orchestra and voices of the singers swirled around us.
During our week in Oslobukta, we stayed in the Bjørvika Apartments, fully furnished, rentable apartments in the Barcode district. All 300 of their apartments are located just a few minutes’ walk from Oslo Central Station, and are equipped with a full kitchen, living room, bathroom, washing machine, and a private balcony. Our favorite feature was the rooftop terrace, which had a breathtaking view of the Barcode buildings and the fjord! Situated in the midst of many great restaurants, coffee shops, and stores, this was the perfect home base for us to explore Oslobukta.
What’s your favorite restaurant in Oslobukta? Feel free to leave a comment below with your best recommendation for us.
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Anders Husa & Kaitlin Orr
This is paid promotion by Oslobukta. The selection of places to feature was curated by us.