Updated: Jun 18
As a local Helsinki tour guide, I get constantly asked for tips about the most authentic restaurants to try Finnish food, and cool bars to go to for a drink. In my opinion, Helsinki is an amazing city when it comes to gastronomy, there's something for every taste and every budget. In this text, I'm sharing with you my favorite places to eat and drink in Helsinki. Many of them are places you can't find in travel books or classic travel blogs, but are actually local people's favorites and just place that I as a tour guide, always recommend.
Read forward to find out which are the best places to eat and drink in Helsinki!
Finnish food in Helsinki
I do admit that Finland is not very well known for its cuisine. I have never heard of a person who would have traveled to Finland for a gastronomic trip. It's not like Italy, Japan, or maybe Mexico, but don't get me wrong, Finland also has some awesome food you should try on your trip!
See here my favorite places in Helsinki to eat traditional Finnish food:
Fleminginkatu 15, Helsinki
For me, this is hands down the most authentic Finnish restaurant in Helsinki. This is where I go if I feel like eating reindeer stew or grilled whitefish. During the winter season (September to April more or less) they also have herring on the menu.
Cella is a true gem in Helsinki's restaurant scene. It's located out from downtown Helsinki, in the Kallio neighborhood. Cella is a classic, the prices are down to earth (meals between 14-21€) and they have a nice selection of beers. Cella has been open since 1969, and I think you should definitely pay a visit while you're in Helsinki.
Museokatu 17, Helsinki
Another great option for traditional Finnish food. KuuKuu is located in Töölö neighborhood, a 15-minute walk from the Central Railway Station. KuuKuu is also a great place for the reindeer, but they serve also a delicious salmon soup. Try one of the 3-course dinner menus, the prices of the menus are between 43-55€ and a'la carte dishes between 17-30€.
KuuKuu also has a good quality lunch. Different home food every day, the price is 10-15€. Lunch is from Monday to Friday from 12-15.
Säästöpankinranta 6, Helsinki
Juttutupa translates as "chatting house". It's one of the oldest restaurants in Helsinki, open since 1908. It's located on the old Worker's Union building, nearby Hakaniemi and Kallio. Juttutupa has many things on the menu, pizzas and hamburgers, but the place is actually famous for their homemade meatballs. Juttutupa also has lunch for around 13€.
Old Market Hall, Helsinki
Story is a restaurant in the Old Market Hall, next to the Market Square. In my humble opinion, this is where you get to try the best salmon soup of your life! Just go and give it a try, you won't regret!
Other than Finnish food
Helsinki is an international city, and the gastronomical scene has been getting more and more creative past years. Read my tips for the best restaurants in Helsinki, that serve other than Finnish food.
Lie Mi is among my all time favorite restaurants in Helsinki. I love it. The dish that whole Helsinki is hyping about, is the Shanghai Tacos. And yes, they are hyping for a reason. I don't think you should go from Helsinki before eating Shanghai Tacos in Lie Mi.
Lie Mi is also one of my favorite options for lunch. They have daily changing lunch options for around 13€.
Urho Kekkosen katu 1, Helsinki
When I go to HOKU, I always ask for the same thing: Salmon Teriyaki with potato salad. It's amazing. HOKU is a fusion restaurant mixing Asian & Hawaiian kitchens. During lunch, be prepared to wait for a little while. The line goes fast though, don't get desperate. Try to have a table by the window, as you have views towards the city.
Pizzeria Via Tribunali
Sofiankatu 4, Helsinki
The best pizza of Helsinki, in my humble opinion. They don't take reservations, so you might have you stay in a line a little bit and wait for a table, but believe me, it's worth it. They make really good Aperol Spritz by the way.
Eerikinkatu 27, Helsinki
Helsinki has many Mexican restaurants, but for me this is the best one. Pueblo is somewhere close to actual Mexican tacos. Nice and spicy salsas, and good cocktails also. Great variety of tequila and mezcal.
Kalevankatu 17, Helsinki
Other candidate to my all time favorite Helsinki restaurants. Amazing value for money and really good flavors. Homemade dumplings with different fillings and baos. In Hills Dumpling you want to try a bit of everything, so go with an empty stomach. It's highly advisable to make a reservation, but you can also try to walk-in.
Apparently they have also recently attached a Korean style barbecue where you grill your own food on the table. I haven't tried it yet, but seems awesome!
The owners of Hills Dumplings have a few other restaurants in Helsinki, for example a really good burger place Hills Burger Bar and LoiLoi Rooftop & Distillery.
Where to have a drink in Helsinki?
Did you know that we Finnish people are world champions when it comes to coffee drinking? Yes, we drink more coffee than any other nation in the world (per capita). An average Finn drinks over 10kg of coffee per year. This means that it is not difficult to find good quality and cool coffee shops in Helsinki. Check out below my tips to enjoy freshly roasted coffee in Helsinki.
Alcohol in Finland is expensive (only if you're from Norway, you might disagree!). A pint of beer might easily cost 9€, and a glass of wine more or less the same. That is not everywhere though, so keep on reading forward if you want to have a drink without destroying your whole travel budget.
Työpajankatu 2A, Helsinki
Translates as "Helsinki Coffee Roastery", the name tells it all. This is a local coffee roastery and a coffee shop in the trendy Teurastamo district. Always freshly roasted coffee and professional baristas who will serve you perfect espressos, aeropress, pour-overs, you name it. Atmospheric little bar and a nice sunny terrace to enjoy during the summer.
Pursimiehenkatu 29, Helsinki
Another very cool coffee shop & roastery. This one is located in the heart of the Design District, in Southern Helsinki. They roast their coffees at the same location, and you might see the roasting in action. Kaffa has a little shop as well for you to buy their coffees to bring home.
Vaasankatu 11, Helsinki
This little coffee shop & wine bar is located on one of Kallio's main bar streets, Vaasankatu. Cafe Pequeño has good wines, awesome coffee and delicious Argentinian empanadas. The place itself is cosy, perfect stop while discovering Kallio neighborhood.
Merikannontie 8, Helsinki
This one is more touristic, but I'd still consider Regatta a must-see in Helsinki. Cute little coffee place by the sea, right next to the Sibelius Monument. Outdoor fireplace and a large terrace. There's no indoor seating, so only terrace! Best cinnamon rolls of Helsinki!
Fleminginkatu 5, Helsinki
A true Kallio classic! Sivukirjasto means "side library", and it gets the name from its location, next to Kallio Library. Sivukirjasto is one of Kallio's most famous bars, it has a lot of atmosphere, nice selection of beers and during the summer a picturesque terrace.
Porthaninkatu 10, Helsinki
A bar always full of locals! Affordable prices and cool vibes, occasionally you'll get free popcorn. They have board games also, like most bars do actually.
Runeberginkatu 28, Helsinki
Bollywood vibes in the heart of Töölö district. This cosy and very popular pub is where India meets Helsinki.
Kaisaniemenkatu 3, Helsinki
Juova brings Finnish craft beers under the same roof. It holds the title of "The Best beer bar 2023", and for a reason. They have 25 beers on tap, and much more in bottles. This is heaven for craft beer freaks! The staff is friendly and professional, and they also serve affordable bar food (quesadillas, nachos, patatas bravas).
This list doesn't by all means have all the great bars and restaurants in Helsinki, but some of my personal favorites. The post is updated every now and then. If you'd like a recommendation for more specific kind of restaurant/bar, please don't hesitate to contact me, I'll be happy to assist you. Also, if you're looking for someone to show you around Helsinki, and explore the food scene at the same, please feel free to contact me and I'll be happy to tailor a Helsinki Food Tour for you.