Delicious Denmark: These rundown areas of Copenhagen are now dining hotspots

Christiania, a 1,000-strong autonomous community in Copenhagen, was once known mostly for its tolerance for drugs (produce, sell and use), not for its artisanal bakeries, but the landscape is changing.

These days, you’re more likely to get a whiff of organic bread than a whiff of exotic bread, as I found out on a food tour of the Danish capital.

Other regions cleaned up their actions, too. Westerbro, just outside the city center, was crammed with slaughterhouses, butchers’ shops, market halls, and brothels. The place is still gritty, but is now filled with independent cafes, restaurants, and microbreweries, and can take a lot of credit for turning this city into one of the most exciting food centers in Europe.

Colorful: Christiania’s hip community has become famous for its artisan bakeries. In the photo is the entrance to the neighborhood

'smorrebrod' at Aamanns 1921 - which Kate describes as 'a neat place off the pedestrian shopping street of Stroget'

‘smorrebrod’ at Aamanns 1921 – which Kate describes as ‘a neat place off the pedestrian shopping street of Stroget’

I stay in Scandic Kodbyen, which has an interior that gives more than a passing reference to the history of meatpacking.

Vegetarians and vegans might prefer to book elsewhere, where you’ll find tablets that look like slices of salami, luminous glass wall panels of marbled blood-red meat, and carpets adorned with steaks.

An early evening stroll along the streets of Slagterboderne (meaning Butcher’s Stalls) and Flaesketorvet (Flesh Square) takes me to the center of the neighborhood – the old meatpacking district of Kodbyen (Meat City), where you’ll find the Kodbyens Fiskebar. It was among the first restaurants she moved to and helped change the area, and her basic decor didn’t stop her from making the Michelin Guide.

The waiter told me: “In Denmark we say dom som torsk (stupid like cod)”. “But for a dumb fish, it’s delicious and our signature for the day.” Lightly smoked cod comes with hand cut flakes and spicy remoulade.

Near Fleisch is a working butcher shop with a restaurant serving a seven-course meat tasting menu, carnivore, homemade organic bourbon filled with bacon.

Elsewhere in town, I go in search of the Danish staple – the smorrebrod (open sandwich), and discover it’s being dragged into the 21st century at Aamanns 1921, a stylish spot tucked out off the pedestrianized shopping street of Stroget (don’t miss the designer Georg Jensen’s lovely shop and the main store and museum in Royal Copenhagen), where I order mine with cured salmon and black currant.

Ranked one of the world’s coolest neighborhoods, Time Out’s graffiti-filled Norebro is now even more gourmet than the ghetto thanks to places like Kiin Kiin, the only Thai restaurant (outside of Thailand) with a Michelin star.

A street in Norebro named one of the world's coolest neighborhoods by Time Out magazine

A street in Norebro named one of the world’s coolest neighborhoods by Time Out magazine

No food path would be complete without grazing around the upscale Torvehallerne covered food market.

These two glass halls are a showcase of Danish fare from small farms and producers.

Try light licorice mixed with dark chocolate in Chocolatier Xocolatl. Head to Glean for their velvety vegan cream cake; And at Surroundings & Friends, a Nordic deli, you can pull up a chair, order a plate of charcuterie, a local Borghgedal beer and watch the hungry world go by.

Between the lounges is a flower market where ladies in high heels come to buy elegant bouquets and Buskers Strom guitars.

Back in Scandic Kodbyen, I ordered a Sweyn Forkbeard Nr. 3 (Viking-inspired cocktail made with gin, fennel, milk thistle, and honey) at Bar Mor. Skal (cheers), the waiter is calling me, because I’m briefly concerned about the kilograms I should definitely gain.

Oddly enough, my belt needed only the smallest adjustments – a testament not to the quantity, but to the quality of everything I devoured.

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