01 Dec Junk Food Guide: Great Burgers In Copenhagen (Updated 2016)
Looking for great burgers in Copenhagen? More now than ever, the world needs a guide to great burgers in Copenhagen. When I first published this article over a year ago, I had no idea about to which extend the burger scene in Copenhagen would since blow up, but evidently it has.
The burger scene in Copenhagen is absolutely thriving these days with new burger joints popping up almost weekly. Some are good, some are bad. For locals, it’s an absolute joy. For visitors such as myself it’s a bit of a challenge. Where do you go for the best burger In Copenhagen? Which Copenhagen burgers are worth your time and which are not?
The idea to this article originally came about when I received an e-mail from a young man from Norway. He was arranging a boy’s nights out in Copenhagen, so he decided to use my contact form for advice on good places to grab a few burgers or similar on the cheap. I wrote him back with a few suggestions and before I even got around to thinking this information might well be relevant to others as well, more people started writing and asking for advice on where to find a proper burger in our nation’s capital… That led to the first version of this article and, well, it’s all sort of escalated from there.
Over the past year, I’ve tasted a fair number of burgers on my trips to Copenhagen – some great, some not so great – and as a service to loyal readers and curious Googlers, I thought I’d offer my take on some really great Copenhagen burgers.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the best burger joints in Copenhagen, though I do hope to be able to expand the list during upcoming visits. This is merely a roundup of memorable burgers I’ve found worthy of mention during my own travels. Your favorite not on the list? Be sure to let us know in the comments below and we might just include it in our next update.
With that out of the way, let’s get going, starting with an institution on the Copenhagen burger scene and a pretty controversial one at that.
Cock’s and Cows – 2016 Reader’s Choice: Best Burger in Copenhagen
Inner Copenhagen: Gammel Strand 34, 1202 Copenhagen K
Ah controversy, thy name be Reader’s Choice! Cock’s & Cows is a fairly seasoned player on the Copenhagen burger scene. A crowd favorite for years, it recently won the 2016 Reader’s Choice Award for best burger in Copenhagen from AOK magazine which, as could be expected, spawned a certain amount of reactions. Long-time fans were happy, “Scandal! Bah, humbug!” cried others. Who’s right? Who’s wrong? And what does it all taste like to an out-of-towner with no preset opinion? To find out, I took shelter from the storm at the original Cock’s & Cows location at Gammel Strand 34 on a particularly rainy Sunday afternoon to check things out for myself.
Compared to others on the list, Cock’s and Cows probably offers the most private restaurant/cocktail bar dining feeling with its spacious interior and setup of small tables, chairs and booths. Primary colors include dark wood, red (faux) leather and exposed brick walls in a pretty cozy mix. They call themselves a burger and cocktail bar and boast a rather extensive cocktail menu, a decent beer list and a couple of wines by the glass. I splurged and ordered their signature cocktail, a “Perfect Serve G&T” – Bulldog Gin, Thomas Henry Tonic water and a hint of licorice – to sweeten my day and pass the time while I waited for my burger to be cooked to order.
Speaking of burgers, your choices are many: You’ve got your choice between buns – classic sesame, whole grain or Sweet American (brioche) – and your choice of burger: Classic over bacon cheese to classic veggie, burger of the month and several more options. There’s a wide selection of sides as well from which I picked some decent, spicy chili fries and aioli for dipping.
My gin and tonic arrived first, crisp and refreshing as promised, and gave me something to do in the twenty or so minutes the staff scrambled in the open kitchen to fill my order. When my cheese ‘n’ smoke burger finally arrived, fashionably late, she was far from humble, standing there on the plate, loaded with lettuce, tomato, onion, pickles, condiments and the likes – and a few skewers to keep her together. A high-rise of a burger, very cleverly served with cutlery on the side. Attacking with your hands would’ve been a fruitless mess.
Inside the brioche bun, she proved a pretty mess. The patty was tender and juicy with nice char marks and great, beefy flavors. The bacon provided a nice smoky punch and the cheese a soothing creaminess. The brioche bun was of the bake-off variety but not a bad one at that. The salad and veggies were crisp and fresh as should be, but I’ve always found such nonsense useless in a burger. Sorry C&C, it’s probably me, not you!
All in all, I would describe Cock’s & Cows an interesting acquaintance and certainly better than the slightly bad rep bestowed upon it by some. If this is an absolute travesty, then for sure my Copenhagen friends are spoiled. There are cheaper, better, greasier burgers in Copenhagen for sure, but for a non-rushed, sit-down, slightly upscale burger meal and a pitcher of beer with friends on a Saturday night, you could certainly do worse. Cock’s and Cows certainly gets the job done at a reasonable price.
Gasoline Grill – No Fuzz Authentic Americana
Inner Copenhagen: Landegreven 1o, 13oo Copenhagen K
There are a lot of small hole-in-the-wall burger joints in Copenhagen, but few, if any, are just that: holes in the wall. Except maybe Gasoline Grill. Housed in a converted gas station with functional pumps still right out the door, Gasoline Grill is perhaps the smallest burger joint in Copenhagen comprised of a griddle, a few feet of prep space, a deep fryer, a beer/soda fridge, a walk-up counter to place your order and a hole-in-the wall pick up counter.
From such humble confinements, owner and burger aficionado Klaus Wittrup along with his crew produce what many, including star chefs and junk food aficionados, consider Copenhagen’s best burger.
The menu is limited, the ingredients few and the opening hours delightfully mysterious: 11 AM – SOLD OUT – but by God what magic they make. Gasoline Grill demonstrate to perfection that you do not need a lot of ingredients, time or space to make great burgers. All you need is a hot griddle, a few minutes, top ingredients and a bit of passion.
Focusing on few menu items using few, quality ingredients really ups Gasoline Grill’s burger game and serves to really put the two main components of a burger in focus: the patty and the bun!
The patties are made fresh daily from freshly ground, well-seasoned, all organic beef. They start out their life as little pre-measured balls which, using the so-called smash technique, are then pressed flat against a blazing hot griddle to create a juicy patty with an awesome, flavorful crust and a unique charred flavor.
The charred beauties are put to rest on a bun, but not just any kind of bun. Gasoline Grill use extremely fluffy and tasty potato rolls for a much softer, sweeter and mushier bun that suck up the juices from the meat. Everything else – and there’s not a whole of it –onions, pickles, sauce and cheese (optional) are just accents, adding sweetness, acidity and spice to the mix without overpowering the main players. The finished product is a nice contrast of textures and flavors with a soft, sweet and buttery bun giving way to the crunchy char of the patty’s exterior which, again, gives way to a juicy interior, bursting with beefy flavors. It’s not overly complicated – it’s simplicity done well. It may not win any beauty contests, but by God it’s beautiful to me.
On an interesting note, Gasoline Grill offers one of the more tranquil dining options in Copenhagen, and it’s not the place itself: Rather ironically for a place measuring a total of maybe 12 square meters on a good day, I was offered the option to have my burger to stay or to go. Not really feeling like enjoying my meal on the curb outside, I ventured in search of a better option. If weather permits, I suggest you do what I did: skip the cozy looking curb outside and take a short brisk walk to nearby Kongens Have (King’s Garden) public park and enjoy your burger overlooking the park or the change of guards at central Copenhagen’s iconic Rosenborg Castle.
Grisen: A Burger By Any Other Name
Lake District / Nørrebro: Fredensgade 5, Copenhagen N
Purists will argue that Grisen – that’s Danish for “The Pig”, by the way – is not really a burger joint. And in all fairness, they would be right. Grisen represents a new addition to a dying breed: the Danish “Grill Bar”, a name coined for greasy spoons serving up a variety of hotdogs, burgers, fries and everything else not really grilled. Grisen also serves as the home of some really creative interpretations of a few Danish sandwiches that are as close to burgers as can be while still maintaining a unique Danish feel.
Staples at Grisen include the Frikadellesandwich, a juicy pork burger topped with red cabbage, remoulade and pickles. The Beef Steak, a beef burger with gravy, pickled beets, onions and pickles, and most famously what in my mind constitutes the Danish national sandwich: the roast pork sandwich with crispy cracklings, condiments and a slew of pickled things.
Chances are neither of these will sound particularly appealing to foreigners, but believe you me, they are Danish classics for a reason and at Grisen they’re served not only with a certain finesse but also with a couple of unique twists making them, well, more Danish than Danes themselves. Grisen, you see, is the delightfully twisted brainchild of Turkish-born Umut Sakarya (and his
girlfriend fiancée Kathrine) who recently rose to Masterchef (the TV show, that is) fame and subsequently decided on opening up his own place as a tribute to everything Danish.
Grisen is traditional Danish junk food with an artisan-like twist served amongst rickety tables and chairs, painted china, pictures of the royal family, Danish flags and everything kitsch. Even a picture of Danish People’s Party chief ideologist Pia Kjærsgaard made it onto the wall, next to a bunch of wall mounted pork cracklings. Really, the psychotic decor and feel is reason enough to pay a visit.
Granted, it may all sound kitschy and strange, heck it IS kitschy and strange, but vintage Danish burger and sandwich variations are serious business at Grisen, made with untiring dedication, love and a healthy portion of humorous insanity by proprietor and self-appointed caliph, Umut Ra Sakarya and his crew.
The GRAVY Burger – a Danish original! Photo Credit: Umut Ra Sakarya, Grisen
How serious? In 2015 they won the prestigious award “Denmark’s Best Gravy Burger” for their take on Denmark’s original vintage fast food creation: the gravy burger – a healthy mix of beef patties, raw and crispy onions, various pickled goods, ketchup, mustard and then some served in a bun drenched in gravy.
As a matter of fact, the great, big, wide world is looking at Grisen in awe. Their pork sandwiches were recently featured on Munchies and they were even part of the latest installment of Ambassador Vivant Kristian Brask Thomsen’s out-of-this-world dining project Dining Impossible.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Danish national sandwich: The Roast Pork Sandwich! Photo Credit: Umut Ra Sakarya, Grisen
I had the roast pork sandwich (Flæskestegssandwich, if you will) during my visit one dark October evening and while it’s not exactly something I’d recommend after downing a value meal at Sliders (see below), the sandwich certainly made a lasting impression: juicy, flavorful pork and crispy, crunchy crackling sandwiched beautifully in a dense but not too dense bun and smothered in sweet, sour and spicy pickled cucumbers and red cabbage, then slathered in mayo and mustard. It’s a cacophony of contrasting flavors that you would have to try to believe it. And I highly recommend you do. They don’t call it a Danish classic for nothing.
Go to Grisen for an unusual and almost creepily Danish sandwich-eating experience that will not only make you laugh but might also teach you to appreciate pork in ways you never thought possible.
Sliders: The Name Says It All
Lake District / Nørrebro: Peblinge Dosering 2, 2200 Copenhagen
Where the previous two places were small and intimate, Sliders is the polar opposite. Located in Copenhagen’s beautiful, lavish and presumably insanely expensive Lake District, Sliders is light, large, buzzing and louder than the two other places combined.
With it’s unassuming entrance leading into a large open ordering/dining area with floor to ceiling windows facing the lakes, a mix of industrial and turn of the century interior, a seating plan featuring both little private dining nooks and crannies and communal wooden tables, a lavish lighting scheme and even a grand piano, Sliders feels more like something out of the trendier districts of New York or London than Copenhagen… And the menu does, too!
Sliders, as the name suggests, serve… sliders. Sliders, to those not in the know are mini burgers, usually somewhere between half and a quarter of the size of a normal burger. The idea of course being that if the burgers are smaller, you can eat more burgers! And that, in the case of this establishment, is a pretty sweet deal as Sliders offer a whole variety of artisan mini burgers ranging from your relatively standard truffled three cheeses burger over your red wine braised beef with pickled onions to the braised duck and chicken in Hoisin and sweet chili sauce served with spring onions and peanuts…. To name but a few!
The relatively sexy and interesting Sliders are sold by the piece or as a combo meal of three with a side order of fries and a dipping sauce of choice (wasabi mayo, chili and truffle mayo amongst others). The combo meal should easily fill most people up – heck it done filled the Johan up – but it’s worth getting for the variety and the fries which, no joke, are probably the best I’ve had on Danish ground. Seriously, they’re proper triple-cooked Heston-style good fries!
The buns, on the other hand, are non-fancy but perfectly soft and airy with just the right amount of chew. The toppings? They’re interesting to say the least! And tasty the lot of them, well the three I sampled, anyway. The three cheese burger with onions and truffle, for example, was out-of-this-world decadent and dripping with juicy goodness while the red wine braised beef, bacon and pickled onions “Sloppy Momma” was oddly dry but still tasty. Best of the bunch, though, was the Ugly Duckling: a mix of braised duck and chicken in Hoisin and sweet chili sauce topped with spring onions and peanuts. A genius few bites of burger perfection.
Go to Sliders for genuinely (un)traditional slider-sized burgers that are not perfect, but certainly inventive, tasty and relatively cheap. If not, then go for the fries. The fries alone warrant a visit, as does the unique atmosphere, the creative combinations (and naming schemes), the Golden Lady beers sold by the bottle or pitcher and the very un-Danish communal seating which might push the boundaries of some.
Oh and did I mention that in 2015, Sliders was just voted Copenhagen’s Best Burger Joint by readers of the Copenhagen-based newspaper Politiken?
Tommi’s Burger Joint: The Deal of the Century?
The Meatpacking District: Høkerboderne 23, 1712 Copenhagen V
Tommi’s Burger Joint is nothing if not appropriately located. Centrally placed within Copenhagen’s Meatpacking District near the Central Train Station crammed into what appears to be an old butcher’s store, Tommi’s seems at the natural epicenter for beefy goodness and is easily one of the most hyped places for burgers in Copenhagen.
It’s also one of the most unusual places for burgers in Copenhagen. Into the tiny space, they’ve managed to cram a small open kitchen, a few tables and booths, a plethora of photographs and paintings, tongue-in-cheek handwritten signs, humorous notes, a charming wait staff, a mirror ball and a decidedly odd musical backdrop. Amidst other strange objects.
I arrived in this delectable mess on a particularly rainy and windy Monday evening to find the tiny place packed to the point of overflowing with guests while the kitchen struggling to push out orders as an odd mix of reggae, vintage hip-hop and folk blasted from a more than capable sound system. With little time on hand and unsure if I’d find a place to sit in the tiny space, I ordered the so-called deal of the century – a cheeseburger with fries and a coke – to go. Despite the pandemonium, the kitchen worked faster than expected, though, and pushed my order out in record time just as a seating spot became vacant, and so I decided to hang around and took a seat under the ceiling-mounted mirror disco ball to bask in what I assume must be genuine Icelandic kitsch.
Presented in a soft, fresh brioche-style bun, this burger is all about meat and not much more. The large, beautiful and moist patty is cooked medium unless otherwise instructed (and why the hell would you, you sick bastard?) and dressed with a sprinkle of lettuce, a splash of ketchup, mayo and in my case bacon and cheese as well. The flavor is pure, juicy, fatty and unadulterated beef with a bit of smoky oomph from the bacon. Everything is fresh and of great quality and as far as flavors go, there’s nothing much to distract from the flavor of the beef and if you ask me, that’s a good thing!
If you’re the kind of person that likes your quality beef slathered in a sea of condiments and all sorts of extras, Tommi’s offers a confusingly well stocked condiments bar featuring a vast array of spices, hot sauces, mustards, ketchup, BBQ sauces… Even pickled red cabbage and other Danish favorites! Feel free to knock yourself out!
The best thing about Tommi’s? It’s hard if not impossible to beat for value. A burger will set you back DKK 69 while their value meal, humbly named “The deal of the century”, will set you back DKK 94 for a burger, fries and a drink. Add an extra DKK 5 for a slice of cheese and you’re good to go.
Go to Tommi’s for Copenhagen’s perhaps most beautifully cooked and perfectly pink patties and great flavor to boot at more than reasonable prices. Consider skipping the fries, though, they are nothing short of uninteresting and your daily calorie intake may be better blown on another burger. Also, bear in mind that the place is tiny and can be crammed, if that doesn’t work for you, consider ordering to go or eating outside if weather permits.
My cousin Jon claims this is every bit as good as the burger served at April Bloomfield’s iconic NYC eatery, The Spotted Pig. I haven’t yet been able to test this claim myself, but I will go as far as to say that this is probably the most authentic hamburger I have had the pleasure of eating this side of the Atlantic. And as good, if not better, than most served in New York City, the iconic home of the hamburger.
The same can be said, by the way, about another worthy contender just across the street.
Juicy Burger: Organic Geekiness
The Meatpacking District: Flæsketorvet 44, 1711 Copenhagen V
Also located in the Meatpacking district, a few hundred meters from Tommi’s Burger Joint, Juicy Burger is the new haunt of Danish celebrity chef and TV personality Henrik Boserup. It is also a place bursting with personality. The burgers here are probably the most dogmatic in town: purely organic, made with beef from well-treated, free-range, organic cattle and served in a rather special bun. But not only that, they’re cooked to order in about two minutes flat. The latter is no lie, I timed one of the line cooks when Mr. Boserup challenged him to cook a burger for a guest in two minutes or less.
The addition of organic bacon and artisan cheese to your Juicy Burger is entirely optional but comes with this food bloggers highest recommendations! Burgers here are more expensive than the ones Tommi’s dish out across the street, but come with the added premium of being completely organic and produced entirely from beef from happy animals that have lived a happy life at iconic Danish Grambogaard Farm.
The decor at Juicy Burger is minimalistic to say the very least with tiled, white industrial walls hinting at the place’s past as a meat processing facility. The music, on the other hand is sufficiently loud, to fill the large open dining room that otherwise consists of scattered tables and chairs placed around a large, open kitchen. But all of that is secondary in a place like this, really. Juicy Burger, as the name suggests, is all about the burger!
The burgers here live up to their name, they’re juicy to a point where I had to wipe down the lens of my iPhone between posting images to Instagram. They’re also flavorful, fresh and well-made with the bun taking the price as one of the most flavorful and well-made I ever recall sinking my teeth into. Well, sinking might be a bit of an overstatement. The buns at Juicy Burger feature a hard, crispy crust, something I honestly usually dislike in burgers, but in this case it just somehow works.
The culinary term for what Mr. Boserup has chosen as his bun is biga, a form of pre-fermented rye-based dough popular in Italy and used in Ciabatta amongst other things. Mr. Boserup according to legend spent three months working on the bun for his perfect burger and his hard work, has, in the opinion of this reviewer, paid off. The crunchiness of the crust and the soft, lightly nutty, fermented elements of the crumb work exceedingly well with the juicy, flavorful burger, the lettuce, tomatoes, toppings and condiments.
As for the fries? Be advised that the fries at Juicy aren’t really fries. They’re roasted fingerling potatoes, soft and greasy, swimming in fat and served with a chili mayo. They are untraditional but made me happy.
Go to Juicy Burger if you’re into putting emphasis on such things as organic produce, top flavors, animal welfare… and don’t mind a bit of grease. If this sounds like you, and you appreciate the sort of people who would spend three months developing a special bun for their special burger, Juicy Burger may well be the place for you in Copenhagen!
Be advised though Juicy Burger, like Tommi’s can get exceedingly crowded during peak hours, especially if weather does not permit for outside seating. Fear not, though, they work fast here and people eat fast. We walked into a stuffed Juicy Burger on a Saturday afternoon during fall break and were back out the door in about half an hour, fed and happy. Still, if you can, it’s best to avoid peak hours. The burgers are simply better when given the time and attention to detail they deserve.
Great Burgers in Copenhagen: There are many more…
What? Over too soon, you say? Well, fear not… These are but a few great burger places in Copehagen. Obviously, with a dining scene as buzzing as Copenhagen, there are many, many more and with a bit of time, more will probably come!
If you’re looking for more options, other places that come with praise from other food bloggers and professionals alike include Jagger, Haché and more. I am personally very much looking forward to visiting these places and more, and as far as I can manage, more entries may be added to this list of recommendations. Keep your eyes peeled on this place for more great recommendations! So many burgers, so little time!
Have something to add to my list? I’d love to hear from you! Throw me the name of your favorite burger joint or greasy spoon in the comments below and I might just have to check them out on my next trip!