By OUTTraveler Editors
It's an article of faith among foodies that the best restaurant in the world is Copenhagen's Noma, Rene Redzepi's reinterpretation of Nordic cuisine where an emphasis on foraged ingredients such as reindeer moss and spruce needles has helped resuscitate the neglected art of the hunter-gatherer. But the real success of Noma is the burgeoning restaurant scene it has spawned. One place getting plenty of buzz right now is Nose2Tail (Flaesketorvet 13A; Nose2Tail.dk), in Kødbyen, Copenhagen's meatpacking district, where the focus is on pig, the whole pig, and almost nothing but the pig. (The tender-sweet mackerel, served hot off the outdoor barbecue, is among a few standout exceptions.) Ensconced in a white-tiled basement reminiscent of an abattoir, almost everything cooked at Nose2Tail comes from within a 50-mile radius (no olive oil or exotic herbs, plenty of potatoes) and is as organic and free-range as contemporary restaurant etiquette dictates.
One shudders to imagine how Copenhagen's famous Tivoli Gardens, the 169-year-old amusement park and pleasure gardens, would fare on this side of the Atlantic, but it's a fair bet that its complex of restaurants would be overwhelmed by McDonald's and Subway. There are fries on the menu at Nimb Brasserie (Berstorffsgade 5; Nimb.dk), an elegant brasserie overlooking the gardens, so order them as a side to gently poached sole, or with the white asparagus and crab appetizer, and still walk away feeling virtuous.
Over at the gay-owned Restaurant Kronborg (Brolaeggerstraede 12; RestaurantKronborg.dk), which dates back to 1784, the menu is strictly traditional, with an emphasis on smørrebrød, a form of open sandwich piled high with herring, seafood, and smoked meats. Wash down the herring with a glass of Aalborg Nordguld, a mature, deep aquavit that is unafraid to show off it piney, herbaceous roots. A crackling fireplace adds to the cozy ambience. Alternatively, update your smørrebrød at the Royal Café (Amagertorv 6; TheRoyalCafe.com), a neo-baroque café where the ancient Danish sandwich meets sushi in Smushi, a whimsical mash-up of two national dishes united by a devotion to fish. "We're breaking a lot of rules," Smushi inventor Rud Christiansen told Monocle magazine. "And we like that." So do we. -- Aaron Hicklin
Oscar Bar Café (Rådhuspladsen 77; OscarBarCafe.dk) has outdoor seating in summer and is a good place to start your evening. It also has the rare virtue of being smoke-free (small bars generally escape the ban in Denmark), but you'll want to move on as the night lengthens. Try Masken (Studiestraede 33; MaskenBar.dk), a mellow two-story bar, or Club Christopher (Knabostrade 3; ClubChristopher.dk) on Fridays and Saturdays if you want to dance. Centralhjørnet in Copenhagen is the oldest LGBT bar in Denmark and perhaps in the world. Here you can enjoy cheap beers and a cozy bar atmosphere every day of the week. Centralhjørnet is also known to put on a show or live music once in a while. Everybody is welcome at this bar, even though it is a declared LGBT bar. (Centralhjornet.dk)
What it lacks in the bustle of a real farmer's market, this shopping venue -- a covered market adjacent to Nørreport Station -- gains in range and diversity. Stop by Coffee Collective for the best brew in the city. Frederiksborggade 21; Torvehallernkbh.dk
This moderately priced boutique hotel is close to Kødbyen, Copenhagen's rapidly gentrifying meatpacking district, and a five-minute walk from the Central Station. Helgolandsgade 12; Andersen-Hotel.dk
The statue of Hans Christian Andersen's Little Mermaid is not the only show in town. Like most European cities, Copenhagen is wonderfully served by rail, making a day trip to nearby Louisiana -- a contemporary art museum that sprawls alongside the ocean near Elsinore (of Hamlet fame) -- an easy excursion. Sculptures by Alexander Calder and Henry Moore dot the landscaped grounds that sweep and swoop to the sea below. A spacious cafe offers an excellent Danish buffet for lunch. Grab a beer and take your tray to an outside table, weather permitting, for the greatest picnic spot in Denmark. GI Strandvej 13, Humlebaek; Louisiana.dk