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A red food truck at the entrance to Papirøen. Photo: Andrew Blackwell
A red food truck at the entrance to Papirøen. Photo: Andrew Blackwell

Copenhagen Street Food – meet the street gourmets of Papirøen

A fondness for food trucks, incredible ingenuity, and lots of elbow grease have turned this old newspaper warehouse into the new food paradise of Copenhagen. The street chefs serve up everything from French fries to Japanese yatai. They focus on reusing materials, while letting their imaginations run wild and putting their own personal stamp on both the menus and the food trucks themselves. Torvehallerne food market meets the Christiania neighborhood to form the city’s latest hotspot.

A shining silver cow looks down on us from above at Papirøen, where the colorful food trucks are arranged to form intimate streets that are lit by candlelight and filled with tables and benches. Copenhagen Street Food opened in spring 2014 and is home to 35 food trucks and food stalls made from old shipping containers. The concept is to offer a variety of cheap, good food from all over the world, made from quality ingredients and served to you by the person who made it. Each chef decides on their own menu, and they also design and make their own stall. And whether you fancy some Korean chicken, a BBQ, or goulash, the price of a meal is always 50–75 kroner.

Drueta. Photo: Andrew Blackwell

Copenhagen Street Food has taken the locals by storm. Over 200,000 people ate street food at Papirøen between May and December 2014, and with neighbors including Noma and designer Henrik Vibskov’s Den Plettede Gris, as well as the new bridges that connect the area to the rest of the city, the future looks bright for this up-and-coming part of town.
One of the driving forces behind Copenhagen Street Food, Dan Husted, tells us about his vision for the place.
“We want this to be a democratic space, where Michelin-starred chefs go up against amateurs,” he says. “There is an exciting mix of people who are starting off small and want to grow into something big, and those who are already big and want to get back to their roots.” So, you could be served Japanese street food by Jens Rahbek, founder of the successful Sticks´n´Sushi chain.
Dan Husted himself was behind the highly respected Paté Paté in Kødbyen, before launching Copenhagen Street Food together with Jesper Møller. He describes himself as an “airhead” and he is the one responsible for the sustainable interior at Papirøen: a whole wall covered in seashells, lighting that is half Louis Poulsen, half his own design, benches made from recycled wood, and the most charming container rest room you will ever see. Although he does not run any of the stalls, he still sees himself as a restaurateur. “I can be the one who helps serve beer if they are a bartender short, or who cleans the floor if the regular cleaner is sick.”

Yatai – fabulous and surprising Japanese street food from the man behind Sticks’n’Sushi. Photo: Andrew Blackwell

The inspiration for Copenhagen Street Food comes from food trucks in San Francisco, Portland, Berlin, and Stockholm. What is unusual here is that there are so many food trucks in one place – and that place is indoors. “Is it actually street food then?” Husted asks rhetorically. “The thing is, an indoor market is ideal for the Danish climate. And indoors we can be more than just a food market. We also host flea markets, film events, jazz concerts, and more.”
The important things are quality and versatility, without ceremony. “You are welcome to bring your children, strollers and dogs in here with you.  This is street food, and there is room for you to push around your scooter.”

 

Text: Lise Hannibal

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