Copenhagen has a very active café life. Cafés to the Danes often double as bars and restaurants. There is a huge selection and the good thing is you don’t need to go far to find one. There are few café chains in Copenhagen and no international ones. As a result every café is unique and most have distinctively different coffee. There are cafés all over the city but particularly in the centre.
Copenhagen's cafés and bars, many of them half submerged in cellars or located in picturesque historical buildings, range from traditional to trendy and serve everything from gourmet food to Danish staples such as 'frikadeller' (meat balls) and smørrebrød (open sandwiches). Virtually all cafés and bars serve alcohol and food (brunch is especially popular here), and most stay open until very late, while some even transform into clubs with DJs playing on Friday and Saturday nights.
Of the hundreds available, two stand out in my mind, partly because they are both ancient and traditional.
Cafe Sorgenfri, Brolæggerstræde 8. Tel: 3311 5880
One of the best places to eat good café food in Copenhagen, Café Sorgenfri is ideal for quick lunches and inexpensive meals. For over 150 years, it has been tempting its patrons with good food and the classic Danish smørrebrød (open-faced sandwiches). The restaurant is popular in the true sense of the word with people from all walks of life coming for a meal, a couple of beers and the company. They have a variety of beers, and although not plentiful, the food was good. Local specialities should definitely be considered.
The only negative was that the waiters were all business, with no conversation at all. This was a surprise because we had been lead to believe that this was a place for chilling out. They were efficient, but did not add to the dining experience. The cafe opens Monday to Saturday from 11am to midnight but the kitchen closes at 9pm. Sunday it opens from noon until 5pm.
Café Petersborg, Bredgade 76. Tel: 3312 5016
No, there's not much Russian about Café Petersborg, except that it is located in what used to be the Russian consulate building and therefore attracted Russian sailors. It is one of Copenhagen's oldest restaurants with roots going back to the 1700's. Here they take great pride in serving typical Danish food at reasonable prices.
For lunch you can choose from an overwhelming selection of Danish open-faced sandwiches. The evening menu offers a choice of Danish classics from biksemad, a meat and potato hash, to 'English' minced meat beef. There are also daily specials. On Tuesdays it's roast pork in parsley sauce.
The cosy if somewhat peculiar interior bears witness to the restaurant's long history and is the ideal setting for a solid and traditional meal. The restaurant has been patronised by some notable people including Hilary Clinton.