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At Substans you'll only find organic food and many of the ingredients are local. Photo: Magnus Jönsson
At Substans you'll only find organic food and many of the ingredients are local. Photo: Magnus Jönsson

Food & Drink

The gourmet city of Aarhus

Denmark’s second largest city is worth visiting for its food alone. With three Michelin-starred restaurants, Aarhus stands out from the gastronomic competition.

Aarhus has been awarded the title of European Region of Gastronomy for 2017 by the International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts, and Tourism. The city has also been named 2017’s European Capital of Culture, an event that the city is investing heavily in with several new hotels, ­restaurants, and events based around food and gastronomy.Photo: Magnus Jönsson

The focus on food is clear to see as you walk around Aarhus, with cafés, bars, and restaurants crowded together in the small and charming city center. It’s also clear that the local residents are proud of Aarhus’s culinary tradition and its new reputation as a gourmet city.

In 2015, the Michelin Guide awarded three Aarhus restaurants, Substans, Frederikshøj, and Gastromé a star in its first Nordic cities guide. All three retained their stars in 2016. The Michelin Nordic Guide 2016 mentions a further 13 Aarhus restaurants and nine hotels. Two other Aarhus restaurants, Pondus and Hærværk, have been awarded the Bib Gourmand, a Michelin award that indicates good food at moderate prices.

And gourmet-style food isn’t just ­confined to the top restaurants in Aarhus. Museums and concert halls such as Musikhuset Aarhus and the ARoS Kunstmuseum, for example, have restaurants that serve great food.

The culinary arts of Aarhus carry the hallmark of Nordic cuisine, which is ­characterized by local, fresh and tasty ­ingredients. The Aarhus menus feature freshly caught fish from the sea, vegetables from the Jutland island of Samsø and ingredients from Djursland, a peninsula just outside of the city.

At Substans there are no white tablecloth, but brick walls and rough oak tables. Photo: Magnus Jönsson

Aarhus’s star restaurants


Next to Vilhelmborgsskogen, Aarhus’s own large forest, and with a fantastic view of the sea, is the Michelin-starred restaurant Frederikshøj. Award-winning TV chef Wassim Hallal has taken the restaurant to the very top of the Danish gastronomy charts. In 2012, Frederikshøj was named Restaurant of the Year in Denmark and in 2015 it received a Michelin star, which it kept in 2016.

The restaurant’s interior exemplifies modern Scandinavian minimalism – simple, functional, and comfortable. The food at Frederikshøj focuses on flavors, seasonal ­ingredients, and the shortest path from field to fork.

Oddervej 19–21
frederikshoj.com Gourmet restaurant Nordisk Spisehus in Frederiksbjerg. Photo: Magnus Jönsson

Nordisk Spisehus

You don’t have to go to a starred restaurant to experience Michelin-style food in Aarhus. Gourmet restaurant Nordisk Spisehus in trendy Frederiksbjerg specializes in recreating, with permission, the dishes and menus of Michelin-starred restaurants around the world.

M. P. Bruuns Gade 31


Relaxed gourmet dining is the order of the day here. There is not a white tablecloth or gloved hand in sight. Instead, there are bare brick walls, rough old oak tables and staff wearing denim shirts and leather aprons. Tattooed chef Rene Mammen doesn’t want the ­restaurant to feel too exclusive. There’s no à la carte menu or fixed sittings at Substans. Instead, they have two set menus, one of four dishes and one of seven. All of the food is organic with many of the ingredients coming from Aarhus and the surrounding area.

Frederiksgade 74


Gastromé had only been open for six days when the Michelin Guide paid a visit in September 2014 and soon after, the restaurant received its first star, which it held onto in 2016. The philosophy of the two Aarhus chefs behind Gastromé, Søren Jakobsen and William Jørgensen, is to experiment radically with traditional cuisine. The restaurant describes itself as a country kitchen. The ingredients are organic and ­biodynamic and most of the herbs and spices come from Vilhelmborgs­skogen, the forest outside of Aarhus.

Rosensgade 28

Text: Emma Brink 

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