Swedish chef of the year winner Martin Moses headed up Michelin-starred SK Mat & Människor before opening his own restaurant in late 2021. The small space has a particularly cosy vibe, with a velvet curtain at the entrance, brass oil lamps and a hushed but happy atmosphere; it’s as if you were dining in Martin’s home. A vintage drinks trolley stocking the likes of Hernö gin sits in the corner and a deep blue tiled counter provides a stage for Martin and his team to prepare new Nordic dishes. A succession of snacks to start include lamb heart grated onto buckwheat crackers, a picture-perfect mini hamachi fish tart, and tiny crab croquettes topped with langoustine emulsion. Next, some of which Martin brings to the table himself, comes Swedish peas and beans with burnt lardo, buttered onion beurre blanc and raw liquorice powder; fired Arkør prawns with tangy fennel salad and local tomatoes; and turbot on a bed of wild foraged mushrooms, crisp fava beans and dill flowers. Dessert on our visit was tart raspberry sorbet to cut through rich white chocolate mousse and a warm, silky caramel sauce to pour over the top. humanrestaurang.se
Da Matteo – for coffee
It’s hard to miss Da Matteo Coffee Roasters in Gothenburg, so many branches are there. Sit high on a stool in the original Victoriapassagen branch and watch people squeeze through the tiny passage while eyeing up sleek stationery in Rum for Papper opposite. Alternatively, recline on the terrace outside Da Matteo Panetteria, or hop over to Da Matteo Torrefazione to enjoy cinnamon and cardamom buns fresh from the on-site bakery and brews straight from the in-house roastery.
Interiors in each one fit their Scandi-cool clientele down to a T – concrete, exposed brick and stainless steel are cosied up with Swedish throws and cushions to sink in to. Blends rotate seasonally and, rather than ordering a flat white, cappuccino or macchiato, the house blend is served in three sizes only, along with filtered coffee by the cup.
Make sure you wind your way through the warren of coffee sacks to the sun-soaked courtyard at the back of Da Matteo Panetteria. Here you can enjoy your brew surrounded by potted trees and perfectly trimmed bushes spilling out from neighbouring plant emporium, Floramor & Krukatös. damatteo.se
Cum Pane – for eco Swedish fika
This organic eco bakery is worth the quick tram ride out of the city centre for some of the city’s most sought after cinnamon and cardamom buns and rustic sourdough bread. Slide into the single table to enjoy your fika (Swedish afternoon tea) with a front row glimpse into the small open bakery at the back. If you’re visiting with friends, buy a large cardamom, vanilla or dark chocolate poppy wreath to pull apart and share. cumpane.coop
Spike Brewery and taproom – for innovative Swedish craft beers
Gothenburg boasts 40 breweries, making it the Swedish capital of craft beer, as well as a destination for beer lovers across Europe and beyond. The city’s beer scene is primed for innovation – rather than seeing new breweries as competitors, established brands welcome them as colleagues and all the small breweries work together and share ingredients, customers and knowledge. It’s this kind of collaboration that allows creative thinking and quality to thrive.
Spike launched the first taproom in the city, and owner David has dedicated his time to transforming this area of the city, previously a collection of slaughterhouses, into a creative and fun hub for food, art and music. His brand-new brewery and taproom, next door to the original, will be the focal point for an eclectic mix of live music, pop-up kitchens and art exhibitions. His ethos is to open up people’s minds to great beers. Spend an evening at the taproom tasting the likes of Back in Business double IPA, refreshing Aciid lemon and lime sour and the vanilla and coffee notes of the velvety Doppler Effekt stout. spikebrewery.com
Vrå – for Nordic Japanese fusion
Nordic and Japanese influences fuse together in this glamorous restaurant at the lively Clarion Hotel Post. The restaurant stays true to its former life as a post office, embellishing original pillars, lights and ceiling with Icelandic lava tables and striking glass partitions above the circular booths, made by the same producer as the delicate glassware, Orrefores. Start by picking your sake cup from a selection curated from Tokyo’s Kappabashi Street. The four-course menu changes every season to work in ingredients grown on the hotel roof. Even the soy sauce is made from Swedish fava beans and umami-rich miso soup from locally grown yellow peas. Things kick off with sashimi, such as yellow fin tuna with Swedish autumn tomatoes and shiso leaves, both grown on the roof of the hotel. Next comes wild chanterelles and frizzled leeks in a mushroom soup, followed by butterflied pine perch with cauliflower purée, Savoy cabbage and homemade tare sauce. Dessert is a refreshing finish, on our visit raspberry ice cream, fresh cheese and yuzu with citron verbena oil, fluffy white chocolate and macademia nuts. restaurangvra.se
Wine mechanics – for urban wines
Sweden’s only urban winery celebrated its first vintage in 2017 and has been making unique bottles ever since. Grapes are transported from eight vineyards across Europe to press in Gothenburg city centre. Owner and former professional footballer Kenneth Gustafsson and his friends have a maverick attitude to wine, with plenty of fun involved, from the grape combinations to labels designed by local artists. Sustainability is important in Gothenburg, and Wine Mechanics is committed to popularising climate-friendly cans, including the funky Loire chenin blanc, Real Bad Looking.
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Wine tastings are held on Wednesdays and Saturdays, or you can try in various restaurants in the city centre, including at Clarion Post hotel. If you’re in town on the last Saturday of the month, join one of the leisurely lunches at the winery, with themes such as lobster and chardonnay or barolo and truffle. winemechanics.se
Koka – for Michelin-starred dining
Koka is Bjorn Persson’s casual and contemporary dining affair. The sleek, quintessentially Scandi, room is lined with planks of pale fir while dramatic panels of burgundy fabric framing an original, 19th century, glass ceiling hinting at more traditional influences. Cutlery sits on a little wooden box that slides open to reveal the menu of the evening. In the kitchen, Koka focuses on contemporary gastronomy from West Sweden, with many locally foraged ingredients. Sweet and crunchy charred white asparagus is served with butter mushrooms shavings, grated egg yolk and nettle emulsion. Juicy slow-cooked charcoal pork belly is sweetened with a purée of beetroot and Koka’s unique blackcurrant mustard (it’s worth going for this alone), or served on a bed of cabbage with an emulsion of blue mussels. Blueberries are semi-dried and soaked in Scandinavian spirit Akvavit.
Wine pairing is a must, perfectly complementing the excellent dishes – Chenin Blanc is fresh and fruity, terracotta-aged Chardonnay lets the grapes speak for themselves rather than adding oaky notes and a dessert wine has fig and plum notes with nuttiness from the oak barrels. Viktoriagatan 12, restaurangkoka.se
Kafe Magasinet – for lunch and aperitifs
Head through an archway off trendy Tredje Langgatan and transport yourself into a large conservatory brimming with plants and flooded with light from a glass ceiling. There are cosy seating areas everywhere you look, and shaggy fur throws to snuggle into. The café’s simple menu features bagels (brisket and mushroom, turkey and mango, salmon and cucumber), salads and inventive pizzas. We suggest the stunning vegan pizza slathered with silky artichoke cream and topped with crispy onions, crunchy asparagus, radishes, new potatoes and dots of citrus cream. Keep it vegan and tuck into a bowl of Asian-style coconutty tomato stew with lentils, crunchy toasted peanuts, cauliflower florets and tasty toasted nut crackers to finish. Head here in the early evening to make the most of the long summer nights and soak up the buzz of the beautiful young crowd sipping on Aperol Spritzes. Tredje Langgatan 9, kafemagasinet.se
HOZE – for Scandinavian sushi
With only six seats at the counter, this minimalist sushi bar is mighty difficult to get into. If you’re lucky enough to secure a spot, expect traditional sushi crafted using the freshest Scandinavian fish. Chef José Cerda was born in Gothenburg but marries this Scandinavian influence with a Mallorcan heritage – and has a passion for the Japanese concept of achieving kaizen (perfection). These three strands meet in a traditional omakase menu that leaves the choice to the chef but may well include the likes of seared halibut, mackerel roe, Scandinavian-style sushi and kakigori or strawberry dessert, all served on beautiful handmade Japanese crockery.
HOZE has a back-pocket dining concept, Bifangst, allowing just two diners at a time to enjoy a menu driven by the Nordic seasons, using home-grown and foraged ingredients alongside leftovers from the main restaurant to ensure that each ingredient fulfils its purpose. These may include elderflowers, unripe strawberries, spruce shoots and scallops. Stigbergstorget 17, hozerestaurant.com
This champagne bar was set up by two female friends who wanted to take the stuffiness out of the champagne world. The result is a tiny bar in a pretty flower-filled courtyard where locals sip from flutes under the shade of trees. The girls regularly visit the Champagne region to ensure they are bang on trend with the latest vintages and independent producers. There are currently over 775 bottles to choose from, with plenty by the glass (including a complex and briochy Guiborat).
Salty Swedish oysters from Grebbestad and a glass of champagne make a perfect pre-dinner pairing. Or indulge in a cheese and charcuterie board. Otherwise, you can enjoy a three-course seafood menu of mackerel with radishes and buckwheat, artic char with summer cabbage, beurre blanc, trout roe and delicate elderflower, and a Swedish-style eton mess of strawberries with meringue, crème fraiche and lemon verbena. The bar also has a reputation for live jazz, to the extent that last year they opened a jazz bar in the same courtyard, with live music every night. Kyrkogatan 13, forssenoberg.com
Tacos and tequila – for Mexican
This lively taco joint has a round-the-clock party vibe, with laidback staff carting a constant stream of sloshing margaritas (there are five varieties) back and forth between tables and out onto a suntrap terrace. The food is fresh and vibrant, focusing on ceviches (spicy tuna, scallop, salmon) and, of course, tacos. Tuck into roast pork belly, spicy pineapple, roast coconut flakes and grilled bell pepper cream; panko-fried cod with watermelon and ginger mayo; or grilled Portobello mushroom with black beans, roast almonds and chipotle salsa. There are sharing bowls of corn chips and guacamole, pimped up with unusual toppings such as strawberry and feta or papaya and pickled red chilli, and a house chilli for something a bit heartier. Tredje Langgatan 9, tacosandtequila.se
Folk – for vegetarian food in a theatre
Make like a trendy Gothenburg local and enjoy vegetarian food in the foyer of arts theatre Folkteatern below a glittering disco ball. The tasting menu at Folk is a great value way of trying the vegetarian small plates on offer – raw celeriac with basil pesto, hazelnuts and watercress; butter baked cauliflower with mushroom mayonnaise and punchy pieces of fried ginger; and fried butter ice cream with skin-on poached pear topped with bursts of pomegranate seeds and crunchy caramelised hazelnuts. Pair the food with natural wines: we enjoyed the delicate citrus and mineral notes of Domaine Montanet-Thoden Bourgogne Vezelay Le Galerne 2014. Olof Palmes plats 3, folkgbg.se
Alvar & Ivar Surdegsbageri – for sourdough and buns
Though these guys specialise in sourdough bread, this tiny neighbourhood café also sells the best cinnamon buns in town. In-the-know city dwellers queue round the block every morning to bag one of Alvar & Ivar’s organic, freshly-baked loaves. Try the fruktbröd sourdough packed with fruit and nuts, or indulge in a semla cream bun. If you’re lucky, bag one of the two seats inside, or take your bread to the pretty local park, apparently home to one of every type of tree in Scandinavia. Kastellgatan 11, alvarochivar.se
Café Husaren – for giant cinnamon buns
Take a stroll through the film set-worthy cobbled streets of Haga and you may well stumble across this café. Its large windows are piled with giant cinnamon buns and we strongly advise you go inside and try the doughy, sugar-sprinkled spirals for yourself. Slide your tray, canteen style, past display cabinets brimming with baked goods (including sweet vanilla drömmar biscuits and dense and sticky chocolate kladdkaka cake) and prawn sandwiches. Settle into a booth with a hot chocolate and take in the café’s stunning 19th century glass roof and stucco work. Haga Nygata 28, cafehusaren.se
Johan & Nyström – for coffee
This organic coffee roaster and tea merchant from Stockholm slid into the West Coast city in November 2017 with three new concept stores. Contemporary wooden interiors decorate a space where you can learn about beans and blends, as well as finding the perfect brewing method, from Aeropress to Syphon. Once you’ve found your preferred coffee, browse the sleek shelves for packs to take home, or linger over a cup and a cardamom bun at one of the jade green tables. Kungsportsavenyen 21/Östra Hamngatan 46-48/Nordstadstorget 10, johanochnystrom.se
Hagabion’s Cafe Kino – for Swedish craft beers
On busy shopping street Linnegatan, inside a huge red brick building, is this indie cinema with its own, pint-sized, cellar bar. The pull here is the Swedish craft beer and imaginative vegetarian food (goat’s cheese on homemade walnut bread and wild mushroom tortellini with a cream sauce). The bar’s arty customers perch wherever they can in the tiny room – at the bar, on a piano stool or around low tables on mismatched chairs. When it’s warm enough, extra pull-out chairs spill onto the wide cobbled pavement outside and the clean Swedish air fills with animated chatter. Linnégatan 21, hagabionscafe.se
At this specialist beer bar on trendy Tredje Langgatan there’s a rotation of international and local brews on tap, along with a wide range of bottles from across the globe. Some local breweries to look out for are Beerbliotek (try its Whoop Ass sour or the citrusy and aromatic Bobek citra American pale ale), Orebro Brygghus in central Sweden, and All in Brewing, offering a wide range from Hustle imperial chocolate hazelnut stout to the SOMA Indian pale ale. Participate in a two-hour beer tasting, and be guided through 8-10 beers, from treacly stouts to IPAs. Brewers Bar does pretty great sourdough pizzas too, so it’s an ideal spot for a casual evening out with your beer-loving mates. Tredje Langgatan 8/Magasinsgatan 3, brewersbeerbar.se
This traditional Swedish pub is extremely popular, so prepare to play sardines at its long, beer tap-lined bar while you wait for your ale of choice. The pub dates back to 1892, and nowadays hip young things squish in next to old timers. If it’s nice outside, line up on the wooden bench that hugs the building’s exterior, throw a blanket over your lap and enjoy the bar’s take on classic Swedish comfort food (try the meatballs!). Andra Långgatan 13, olstugan.se
Cielo rooftop bar
This rooftop bar on the seventh floor of glamorous Hotel Bellora, is the place to head for upmarket cosmopolitan vibes. Gothenburg’s party-goers pack themselves into the narrow space to enjoy the 180 degree views of the city and groove along to the live DJ. There’s a bar at one end, well-stocked with Italian liqueurs and aperitivi. Slide into one of the white cushioned seats set under a flower-strewn pergola. Sip a refreshing cielo summer cocktail of aperol, gin, elderflower, lemon and soda and watch the sun set over the city’s rooftops. Kungsportsavenyen 6, hotelbellora.se
Best place to eat in the Gothenburg archipelago
Catch a ferry out to tiny Styrsö island and head straight for Café Obergska, a charming café that sits in a picturesque white picket-fenced herb garden. Relax on a squishy vintage armchair on a raised platform set into a dramatic rocky backdrop and listen as reggae pulses through the air and children clamber over flowerpots to eye up their parents’ platters.
Order a burger from the bearded Swedish blokes on the BBQ and treat yourself to a G&T from the tiny wooden bar in the corner. Suited and booted gin master Olof crushes juniper berries, liquorice and peppery paradise seeds into a tea strainer before infusing the mix into Tanqueray gin and homemade tonic. Don’t miss pillowy, sweet, lightly spiced carrot cake, and make sure you visit the tiny pastel-coloured ice cream parlour inside for a DIY ice cream cone to accompany your stroll through the island’s woodland and fisherman’s houses.
Styrsö island, obergska.se
Where to stay in Gothenburg
This uber-trendy boutique hotel, in the centre of Gothenburg, combines an airy workspace, buzzy bar and comfy bedrooms. A circular white reception desk is the only feature that marks the entrance as a lobby; the space is dominated, instead, by a contemporary bar area that also serves as a breakfast room. Carve out a corner space on an evening and order a shrimp sandwich, or a simple, crisp pizza topped with Serrano ham, plus a cocktail mixed from the impressive collection of spirits behind the bar. In summer, the shaded terrace on the hotel’s first floor is a pleasant, secluded spot to enjoy some quiet al fresco time (at night it’s lit by flickering lanterns).
What are the rooms like? Lofty bedrooms are decked out to provide ultimate comfort – huge beds, bathrooms with monsoon showers and heated floors, side tables kitted out with Swedish teas and coffees. Furnishings are predominately monochrome (some have huge black and white photos, depicting scenes from Gothenburg’s past), with a few pops of colour in the form of a yellow bedside table here, a teal headboard there. There’s even a luminous pink room complete with dusty pink throws and a gigantic stencil of a metallic rose on the wall.
What’s breakfast like? Come morning, the breakfast counter is laden with cold meat cuts, tubes of Kalles caviar to spread on thin wheels of Leksands crisp bread, and freshly baked croissants from Johnséns in the city’s Haga district. Add in your choice of Bramhult Swedish juices, or speciality teas from Johan & Nyström. If you want to maximise snoozing time in the hotel’s cosy beds, Flora’s breakfast in a bag can be delivered to your room free of charge (a sandwich, a boiled egg, coffee, tea, juice, Turkish yoghurt with berries and homemade granola).
Grönsakstorget 2, hotelflora.se
First published May 2016, updated June 2018 and October 2022
Written by Alex Crossley
Photo credits: Semrén & Månsson, Tina Stafren, Sofie Flensburg Mantzaris
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