Welcome to My Best Helsinki

ON RESTAURANT PAGE 1: baskeri & basso, boulevard social, bronda, chef & sommelier, demo, farang, ateljè finne, gaijin, gastone, grotesk,kuurna, olo, savoy, spis, strindberg, toca tony's deli & via.   (CLOSED: alexander nevski, george )
RESTAURANT PAGE 2: kappeli, maxill,nokka, palace gourmet, santa fé, särkänlinna, torni. CAFES: aalto, angelica, antin kaffeliiteri, carusel, carusel esplanade, chapman, ekberg, esplanad, fazer, ursula, senaatti, tamminiementien kahvila
ON THIS, RESTAURANT PAGE 3: (click on restaurant names): alppitori, amanda, elite, juuri, kabuki, katajanokan kasino, kokomo, kuurna, kämp brasserie, la place, muru, olo,safka, saaga, satkar, savotta, sea horse, signe, teurastamo, tori, yume. SUMMER RESTAURANTS, LOCATED ON HELSINKI ISLANDS: boathouse, chapman, njk, saaristo, särkänlinna, uunisaari, walhalla & a general Suomenlinna link.   TRADITIONAL Finnish cuisine & LAPPISH cuisine.   ALSO: a restaurant list & a café list   & more photos.

Many top restaurants in Helsinki are closed during the whole month of July,
some for even longer. If you are  planning a "foodie  vacation" in Helsinki during
the summer, July is probably not the best  time to do it. July, which usually is
the warmest summer month, is "vacation month" in Finland. Most Finns  start
their vacation around the  21st-24th of June,  when "Midsummer Eve", a huge
holiday in Finland,  is celebrated. Check in advance. 

A spot that everyone seemed to be talking about when it was new.

Kuurna is very different from other restaurants in Helsinki. Its small size (22 seats) and a bit grungy look, paired with skill and passion for their product, the food, make Kuurna's two young, enthusiastic chefs the owners of the most popular new restaurant in Helsinki.

The house (er .. little cottage) is full, night after night. There is an open (anything but fancy) kitchen, a "rough" vaulted ceiling, and not a lot of space. The chefs double as servers, although they do have one waiter. The going is sometimes a bit clumsy, but homey, intentionally eschewing any pretentiousness.

The plates are simple, but skillfully prepared, from fresh, high quality ingredients, some greens from their own garden, with some of the fish promptly delivered by fishermen from the day's catch.

The small menu changes weekly, and offers just one choice of either a vegetable, fish or meat starter and entree. A three course dinner costs 32 Euros and a 2 course dinner 27 Euros. A really good deal. And it gets even better when you consider this:

The wine list is one of the few reasonably priced wine-lists in Helsinki. What makes this truly commendable is that the wines on the list are not "cheap" wines, and the variety is very well thought out.

The Emilio Moro Ribera is very attractively priced (it definitely needs to breathe a while), as is the Billecart-Salmon Champagne. The broad range of producers and regions virtually assures a satisfying match.

Those willing to spend to satisfy their demanding or refined wine tastes can also obtain satisfaction with the Gevery-Chambertin offering, or, on the white side, the Condrieu. The wine list displays a hip side, with an offering from Alvaro Palacios in Priorat, makers of the muscular "L'Ermita" which can bring hundreds of Euros per bottle, food friendly Shiraz from the Barossa valley and of course the never miss Allegrini Amarone.

Both chefs have worked in London, and brought to Helsinki not just what they learned as chefs, but something that we have missed there for years: different seatings.

Numerous times we have witnessed patrons without reservations trying to get a table at a half full Helsinki restaurant (where we were already dining), only to be turned away because the "restaurant is fully booked". No amount of pleading has helped. Then, during the course of the evening, we have witnessed the empty tables stay empty for hours -or for the remainder of the evening.

We have seen this happen in all levels of Helsinki restaurants, including some of our favorites, and have been puzzled over the poor business sense of turning (groups of) patrons away, only because a restaurant has a reservation for table a few hours later -or not.

So, kudos to Kuurna for the seating policy, even though it comes with a Finnish twist: strict enforcement of non-lingering.

Kuurna is located in beautiful Kruunuhaka, "just behind" the Presidential Palace.

The sign outside the restaurant states plainly ”Ravintola” ( the Finnish word for Restaurant), but this is the place.

Address: Meritullinkatu 6, 00170 Helsinki
Phone: (358)- (0)9 670 849, info@kuurna.fi

These talented people also own the popular restaurant Ateljè Finne

a favorite of ours for many years- is located on Katajanokka, a bit of a walk from the market square, behind the Uspenski Cathedral.
The restaurant is in a mansion-like building, on it's own lot by the sea. The main dining room on the ground floor is grand in an old style.

Upstairs there are smaller rooms for private meetings and dinners and there is also a big banquet room for larger parties. The restaurant also has a terrace facing the bay, and, a few steps down, summer outdoor seating in the garden, by the water. The garden is wonderful for dining or drinks

We have had both dinner and lunch at the "Kasino" on several occasions over the years, both indoors and in the garden, usually in a group of four plus a baby. The reception and the service have been warm and friendly. The quality and consistency of the food is quite high. They have also been very gracious about substituting items on the menu or mixing items from different dishes on the menu.

One evening we went there and the restaurant was closed due to a private reception. Nevertheless, they accommodated us by placing us in a private dining room upstairs. These are nice people who run a great restaurant with delicious food and friendlier service than most restaurants in Helsinki.

Addition in July, 2002:
This time we dined here twice. On our first evening in Helsinki, it was just the two of us. We were so impressed that we decided to return in a bigger group. Everyone in our group of 6 adults (and a child) was blown away by how good the food was. Even the desserts were wonderful. So good, that we were "teasing" each other about who had the better choice.

Again, the service was warm, natural and filled with of good natured humor.

We wanted to go back for a third time, but they were hosting a couple of weddings that night. We are not surprised: it is a beautiful place to have a wedding.

P.S. Ask the waitress to tell you about the friendly house ghost. Recent visit: Still delicious.

is a modern Japanese restaurant close to the Esplanade Park. Its theme is the four seasons, and the pampering of all the senses: the beautiful design, the best ingredients and a seasonally changing look of the interior.

The space is divided into four rooms: the Water Bar as the “living room”, the Garden Room, the private Wooden House above, and lastly, the Veranda.

Address: Särkänsaari, 00130 HELSINKI
Phone: (358)- (0)9 1345 6756
second link

Summer patio on North Esplanade. Sasso & Fishmarket
Helsinki, North Esplanade patio
now reside here. Click image for larger view.

Lately, our "local agents" have not been very happy with this restaurant. They feel that if you have access to top quality sushi where you live, you might be disappointed here. Still: Kabuki is very popular among locals who dine on their own dime. The smallish space is often full. Reservations are highly recommended.
The room is "different"; not a stiff temple of imported Japanese décor, nor one of these white-beige nouveau-modernist dime-a-dozen restaurant spaces of today... Its a fun, funky room donning lots of ice hockey memorabilia and some rock memorabilia.
The owner is a big hockey fan and has received the hockey stuff directly from the players, and the "rock stuff" from Finland’s best-known rock band, Himi.

Address: Lapinlahdenkatu 12, 00180 Helsinki
Phone: (358)- (0)9- 694 9446 


Restaurant Grotesk Restaurant Grotesk sign. Click to see overview & info on My Best Helsink Restaurants, page 1

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a.k.a. Keittiö & Baari Juuri (= Kitchen & Bar Root ) Traditional Finnish food in a "fresh, new way". Specialty: "Sapas", i.e. Finnish Tapas.
The Finnish Gastronomic Society named Juuri the restaurant of 2010.

Address: Korkeavuorenkatu 27, 00130 Helsinki Phone: (358)- (0)9 635 732.
Email: varaukset at juuri.fi 

A review of Restaurant Juuri in the NY Times.

Seafood starter plate at Seurasaari Restaurant. Click photo. Seurasaari_Island_Restaurant_Helsinki

Helsinki South Harbor. Click for larger view:
This is he view from the now closed Palace Hotel Terrace Bar.

Elite has longstanding traditions as an artist hangout and since 1932 artists and other cultural types -and yes, also non-artists have filled its rooms. Those rooms used to be so thick with tobacco smoke that we steered clear of the place.

But now that Finnish restaurants are smoke free, even non- smokers - and people who value using all their senses while eating and enjoying wine - can happily enter this historic establishment.

Elite has also been known for good food and friendly service. Our local agent visited Elite in 2010: link to the review.

Address: Eteläinen Hesperiankatu 22, Helsinki
Phone: (358)- (0)9 61285200


"The colorful international atmosphere at the Kämp offers a wonderful way of breaking away from everyday routines. Drop by the Kämp bar any time: for a café or lunch at Helsinki center, a glass of champagne, or whenever you want to treat yourself with an exquisite meal."

Beautiful rooms, great location, but the reviews have been mixed since Kämp re-opened.

Photos of Brasserie Kämp.

Address: Pohjoisesplanadi 29, 00100
Phone: (358)- (0)9- 5840 9530


Culinary & Cultural Events / Spaces:


TEURASTAMO - Popular Place for Food Events & other events or just to relax in a hammock or beach chair.

Looking at Suomenlinna fortress island shoreline and its old lighthouse. Incredible light blue light of a Nordic midsummer night. View from Särkkä island (=part of Suomenlinna) after delish dinner at Särkänlinna restaurant.
Suomenlinna panorama, midsummer night, Helsinki

Nice, casual place, located by a small square in Punavuori. During the warm months it is quite pleasant to sit outside, on their patio.

Address:Telakkakatu 2, 00150 Helsinki
Phone: (358)- (0)9 - 687 43 790
Second link
Restaurant Tori now has a spinoff, called Alppitori , in Kallio neighborhood.

Nepalese cuisine. 
Address:Fredrikinkatu 46, 00100 Helsinki
Phone: (358)- (0)9 - 611 077
second link

Address:Fredrikinkatu 41, 00120 Helsinki
Phone: (358)- (0)9 4289 1213
Email: varaukset at murudining.fi
The Finnish Gastronomic Society named Muru the restaurant of 2012.
TableONline Review

"Kokomo Tikibar & Room is a restaurant, cocktailbar and a club. Exotic food, diverse coctails and the interior authentic TIKI style and the music just right for the atmosphere. Kokomo is a place ot have fun at and to enjoy life".

Address: Uudenmaankatu 16-20, 00120 Helsinki
Phone: -(358)- 44- 7398 125
Email: Email: varaukset at kokomo.fi
second link | events

Chaîne des Rôtisseurs:
WINNER OF THE 2009 'Concours International des Jeunes Commis Rôtisseurs' competition: LASSE KOISTINEN from FINLAND.

Chaîn des Rôtisseurs, advice on table etiquette
... oh, well ...


Historic restaurant Sea Horse, Helsinki
Restaurant Sea Horse
in a historic
Helsinki neighborhood.

SEA HORSE (locally, lovingly called "Sikala", i.e., "Pig Stye").
It is famous, among other things, for its fried herring w. mashed potatoes.
Sea Horse is also a pretty popular spot for art opening after-parties.

Address: Kapteeninkatu 11
Tel: (358)-(0)9 - 628 169

serves traditional Finnish food - the olden days kind.

"Savotta's kitchen cherishes the Finnish food tradition. The tasty and heartly dishes with a home-made touch echo the best traditional recipes perfected in the course of generations. The Menu includes Finnish lake fish, game and berries from the pristine forests and from carefully selected suppliers."

Address: Aleksanterinkatu 22, 00170 Helsinki (By the Senate Square)
Phone: (358)- (0)9 7425 5588
Savotta's image gallery

"Genuine tastes and feelings of Lapland." Lappish cuisine - both traditional and modern, Lappish decor & plates & atmosphere.

Address: Bulevardi 34, 00120 Helsinki
Phone: (358)- (0)9 7425 5544
Saaga's image gallery

Bulevardi, Helsinki
Corner of Annankatu & Bulevardi. Winter.

Alppitori describes its food as European & Mediterranean, but its food definitely has a traditional Finnish twist, with many dishes leaning toward the comofort food category. In that group, the meatballs are popular.
Alppitori's web-site is mostly in Finnish, with the menu page partly in English. Alppitori on fb.

Address: Kirstinkatu 15, 00510 Helsinki,
in Kallio neighborhood.
Phone: -(358)- (0)50 - 4126619

See Alppitori's sister restaurant, Restaurant Tori

Restaurant Aino
"Finnish flavors, emphasising modern cooking, using best fresh ingredients available in Finland, including freshwater fish, reindeer, game, root vegetables, mushrooms and berries."
Address: Eteläesplanadi 21, Helsinki
Phone: (358)- (09)624 327
Email: myyntipalvelu@marcante.fi

SUMMER RESTAURANTS (on islands around Helsinki):

RESTAURANT SAARISTO on LUOTO/KLIPPAN island, in the South Harbor. An absolutely wonderful setting for a summer restaurant, on a tiny island in the South Harbor. A must.

CLICK ON PHOTO for place names
Klippan island & Klippan restaurant
and a much larger view of Klippan island & surroundings.
second link / location on map / image gallery
Address: Luoto, 00140 Helsinki
Phone: (358)- (0)9 7425 5505
Email: sales at asrestaurants.com

NJK on VALKOSAARI in the South Harbor.
Address: Valkosaari, 00140 Helsinki
Phone: (358)- (0)9 6128 6500
second link


Address: Liuskasaari, FI-00140 Helsinki
Phone: (358)- (0)9 6227 1070
second link
third link


Address: Särkänsaari, 00130 Helsinki
Phone: (358)- (0)9 1345 6756
-our review on restaurant page 2

Click photofor place names & larger view:
View from Särkkä island toward the center of Helsinki
Taxi boat arriving at Särkkä Island pier.

-on Suomenlinna Fortress Island - our review on restaurant page 2

-on Suomenlinna Fortress Island
Address: Suomenlinna A10, 00190 Helsinki
Phone / Fax: (358)- (0)9 - 668 552
Email: walhalla at kolumbus.fi second link

-sorry, in Finnish only.
Address: Uunisaari, 00150 Helsinki
Phone: (358)- (0)9 636 870
second link (in English)

-on Sirpalesaari Island
Address: Sirpalesaari, 00150 Helsinki
Phone: (358)- (0)9 7425 5566

RESTAURANT PIHLAJASAARI -on Pihlajasaari Island. Island & restaurant images
Address: Pihlajasaari, FI-00150 Helsinki
Phone: (358)- (0)45-129 2000
(358)- (0)40-546 5350

SAARI = ISLAND in Finnish.


General about Finnish Cuisine and Helsinki Restaurants:

For years, Finland has been one of our top destinations partly because of its excellent and constantly evolving culinary scene, that encompasses not just the Scandinavian way of cooking, but also integrates international flavors and styles.

Every time we travel back to Helsinki, there is something new and exciting going on in the restaurant scene. The culinary know-how and the skill level of many of these chefs is truly impressive and often delights even the most demanding and spoiled patrons.

We live in New York and are spoiled rotten by the abundance of high culinary skills, both in "fancy" and casual restaurants here, but we still find dining in Helsinki restaurants quite enjoyable. And just like everywhere else, of course there are also bad restaurants in Helsinki. But to hear someone bash the culinary skills of all Finnish chefs, based on one or two bad experiences (or based on ignorance), is just plainly silly.

Restaurant Sasso on North Esplanade by the Market Square and South Harbor, Helsinki
Restaurant Sasso on North Esplanade by the Market Square in Helsinki

Remember, in Finland the dates
are marked: day /mo / year.

General about wine pricing in Helsinki Restaurants:
Be aware that Finnish restaurants generally appear to mark-up their wines to a higher degree than comparable American restaurants.

Also good to know: A smoking ban in Finnish restaurants took effect June 1st, 2007.

Website feedback: So many restaurants, so little time! Unfortunately we never have the time
to explore all the splendid restaurants we would like to while in Helsinki. We would love to hear from fellow Helsinki travelers & foodies. Please let us know WHICH RESTAURANTS YOU HAVE ENJOYED IN HELSINKI

My Best Helsinki: 15 pages of Helsinki photos, numerous links to Helsinki sights, restaurants, hotels, shopping, culture, transportation, etc: