Helsinki is Finland’s foodie capital, home to more than 1,000 restaurants serving everything from reindeer and Arctic berries, to fresh fish and pizza topped with pickles. (Seriously.)

Here you’ll find traditional Finnish delicacies like salmon soup, homemade rye bread, and deer meatballs. Russian diners dish out borscht and schnitzel, and thanks to an influx of foreign restaurants in the 1990s, you can also feast on sushi, kimchi and falafel.

Helsinki food and drink

The reindeer section at a Helsinki butcher. Finland’s strong game hunting traditions make for some interesting dining experiences.

This city enjoys a high standard of living and thus nothing’s really “cheap”. But rest assured, the following Helsinki restaurants are all high value and high flavor.

Here are our top nine Helsinki restaurants.

Traditional Finnish food

Konstan Molja

Skip the a la carte menu and go straight to the buffet at this maritime-themed restaurant. Here you’ll find hot pots of ground reindeer and vorschmack, a lamb and anchovy meatball. Homemade fish soup steams in a cauldron next to plates of pickled herring, lingonberries and beets.

It’s traditional Finnish food at its best: simple and delicious. Konstan Molja is also incredibly high value. The buffet cost 18 euros, about $25 USD, and a glass of wine ran 5 euros, the lowest price we paid in Helsinki.

We were so impressed with this place we reached out to Konstan Molja’s chefs to learn more about Finland’s culinary history. Learn why Finnish dishes use hardly any spices »

Helsinki_fish

Fish and herbs in a Helsinki market. With fresh ingredients like these, who needs spices?

Juttutupa

Juttutupa’s revolutionary roots go deep. The restaurant opened more than 100 years ago as a men’s-only cafeteria in a workers’ union. Vladimir Lenin reportedly drew up plans for a communist uprising at what today is called the revolutionary table. In 1930, the building was shuttered by city officials who feared a mass rebellion after a 12,000-strong “peasant march” through Helsinki.

Today, Juttutupa serves Finnish food, pizzas and burgers to radicals and obedients alike. We ordered the house pizza, topped with pineapples, pickles and blue cheese (it was a little strange for our taste), an appetizer of pickles, honey and sour cream (it was … unique), and escargot (cheesy and delicious). All the ingredients were fresh and homemade. One of the employees at our hotel confided the salmon soup here is almost as good as her grandmother’s recipe.

Our dinner cost $55 USD and was more food than we could handle.

The restaurant was right next to our hotel and we popped in multiple times during our trip for a nightcap. One night we stumbled on a live rockabilly concert. Everyone danced. It was awesome.

Russian food

Pelmenit

With its eastern orientation and history of Tsarist rule, we expected to eat some good Russian food in Helsinki. Pelmenit delivered. The menu is short and written in chalk on a board next to the kitchen. I figured you couldn’t go wrong with the dish the restaurant was named after and ordered pelmenit, a Russian dumpling served with chili sauce, sour cream, dill and lingonberries. Greg ordered the stroganoff. Both plates were huge, hot and delicious.

We paid around $40 for the food and a round of beers.

Helsinki restaurant Pelmenit

Pelmenit from Pelmenit. It’s usually a safe bet to order the dish the restaurant is named after.

Helsinki restaurants Pelmenit stroganoff

Stroganoff from Pelmenit. Dig the pickles and sour cream side!

BLINIt

Still on our Russian food kick, we walked a few blocks from Pelmenit to BLINIt, a fast food restaurant where the stars of the menu are sweet and savory blinis, or Russian pancakes. Stuffed from our overflowing plates at Pelmenit, we split a blini topped with roe, sour cream and raw onions. It was cheap (about $10 USD), tasty, and proved to be one more reason you should bring gum to Helsinki.

Helsinki_Blinit restaurant

A blini, or Russian pancake, served with sour cream, roe and raw onions.

Asian restaurants

Korea House

Korea House is Helsinki’s first and only Korean restaurant. The kimchi was spicy, just as we like, and the egg that topped the bibimbap was fluffy with a runny yolk. The night we visited, the restaurant had been booked for a local company’s recruiting event. Despite the fact we were the only ones not wearing suits and ties, the service was friendly and attentive.

We paid about $65 for two main dishes and two drinks each.

Korea House Helsinki bibimbap

Bibimbap from Korea House. Check out the metal chopsticks!

Sushibar + Wine

I originally went to Helsinki for a press trip with Nokia. I arrived on a Sunday, a night the city usually shuts down. I couldn’t find anything open so I asked the hotel staff for a recommendation. They pointed me here. I figured a country that specialized in fish dishes would know how to do sushi. I was not wrong. Sushibar + Wine was so good, we went back when Greg arrived a few days later. The sushi was tasty but the service was slower than I prefer. Plan for a long and leisurely meal. The bill was $85 for four rolls and two rounds of wine.

Bargain Helsinki restaurants

Gran Delicato

Let’s be honest. What originally drew us to Gran Delicato was the price. It’s the highest rated Helsinki restaurant in Tripadvisor’s single dollar sign category.

Gran Delicato serves Mediterranean food with a Finnish twist. I had a smoked salmon sandwich on ciabatta that could hold its ground against any bagels and lox in NYC. We paid about $38 for two sandwiches, coffee and soup. (You could have skipped the soup.)

Helsinki_gran delicato

Our platter from Gran Delicato. The sandwiches were delicious.

Helsinki_gran delicato interior

The Greek island-themed interior of Gran Delicato

Bar No. 9

When Greg arrived in Helsinki this diner was the first place we hit up. Again, the appeal was the high rating and high value. Bar No. 9 is the number two single dollar sign restaurant on TripAdvisor. I ordered the Archipelago, a salmon, tomato and mustard sandwich, and Greg ordered Kill Bill, a red curry served with peanuts and noodles. Both were delicious and cost about $10 USD.

Fafas

This trendy Middle Eastern restaurant is located near the Kamppi shopping center. Just look for the storefront window covered in slogans like “falafels for the people” and “free kisses”. Fafas serves wraps and falafel platters. They make their own pitas and the ingredients tasted fresh and unprocessed.

The waitress asked us if we wanted chili on our wraps. The answer was of course yes. We paid $36 for two wraps, one Coke and some sweet potato fries (which we could have skipped.)

Helsinki_Fafas falafels

Falafel pitas from Fafas. Mine, in the foreground, had feta and olives. Greg doesn’t remember what he ordered, but it was tasty.

All that falafel, blinis and reindeer got you thirsty? Here are our favorite Helsinki bars »

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