To celebrate (and also try ever so hard to forget) the fact that it was my 30th birthday in December, Hannah and I flew off to Iceland for a five night break in its trendy capital city, Reykjavík.
Iceland is probably known more for its seafood (soured shark anyone?) than it is for burgers. However, when exploring the harbour area of the city we noticed a board which grabbed our eye. Listed amongst all of the other eateries was a place called Hamborgarabúllan, which boldly claimed to offer: “The best burger in Iceland. Better than most”.
Now it wouldn’t be right of the Beers and Burgers team to come all the way to Reykjavík and not visit the place claiming to offer the best burgers in of Iceland! So a couple of days later we rocked up at Hamborgarabúllan (Búllan for short, and “Burger Joint” for the simpler form of tourist) to validate their claims.
For a place which is said to offer such good burgers, I was fairly surprised when we found it located in a tiny, rather dull looking grey building next to the side of the main coastal road. Of course, you can’t necessarily judge a book by its cover, so I was more than willing to keep an open mind.
Inside there are just a few tables for diners, but as we visited around 2.30pm, I think most of the lunchtime rush had died down so we were lucky enough to get a table to ourselves. I’d imagine if you visit in the evening you may not be so fortunate, or you may be waiting around for quite a while to get a seat (not something you’d want to do in the middle of an Icelandic winter)!
Búllan’s menu is fairly small and straightforward, with a single or double beef burger, a BBQ bacon burger, a steak burger and a pulled pork burger on offer. For an accompaniment you can choose between a small or large fries, and a limited selection of soft drinks. They also offer something they call the “Offer of the Century” – a combo of burger, fries and a soda for 1890 ISK – around £13.50 which, in what is one of the most expensive cities in the world, isn’t too badly priced at all!
We both ordered our meals, two cokes, and paid at the counter, before sitting down to enjoy the decor of the building’s interior. With Christmas only the week before, the wrapped boxes hanging from the ceiling were helping to keep up the festive feel.
Búllan is clearly seen as a nice place to bring kids by the locals too, with a number of coloured drawings hanging from the walls. I also liked the fact that we were able to see the guys behind the counter preparing our food, which is something I always consider a good sign.
It wasn’t long until our food came. Our burgers were wrapped in paper, alongside the golden, crispy fries, all presented in a basket. I couldn’t wait to tuck in and see what all the fuss was about.
I’d opted for the BBQ bacon burger, whilst Hannah chose the standard burger, though this still came with cheese. We both went for the small portion of fries, which seemed absolutely fine for a lunchtime.
Despite their relatively small size, the focus and definite highlight of the burger was the meat itself, which was strong, beefy, and cooked to perfection. A small line of pink ran through the centre – exactly how I like it.
In my burger the bacon was cooked crispy, acting as the perfect complimentary flavour alongside the gooey melted cheese and tangy barbecue sauce.
The bread was soft, sweet and lightly toasted inside. It did a fairly good job of holding together the contents of the burger, though did start to become a little soggy towards the end as the sauce and cheese began to soak through.
Overall the burgers at Hamborgarabúllan offered a highly enjoyable and tasty experience. Their smallish size was fine for a lunch, and made them easy to eat, though I do think if I were to have the same burger again in the evening I’d end up leaving feeling a little hungry. For this reason I’d suggest going for a double burger, or a larger portion of fries.
If you’re looking to grab a quick lunch in the city, and want something different to fish then I’d definitely recommend paying Búllan a visit. The best burgers in Iceland? Who knows, but it would take a lot to beat them.
Hamborgarabúllan can be found in the harbour area of Reykjavík (full address is Bíldshöfði Bíldshöfða 18, 110 Reykjavík, Iceland). The review took place on January 2nd 2017.