This story is over 5 years old.


I Went On a Tour of Copenhagen's Most Unhygienic Restaurants

And it was gloriously delicious.

As with many students and too-drunk-to-care people, frequenting horrible restaurants with complete disregard for what ends up in my mouth is a dominant theme of my life. I don't mean the countless posh establishments using a dehydrated cup of peas flung across a plate as an excuse to swipe away the feeble contents of your bank account. Rather, I'm talking about the endearingly grimy family owned shops—monopolising city corners worldwide as grease-stained thorns in the eyes of any neighbourhood attempting to hipsterise itself in record time.


So it's unfortunate that Copenhagen—a city hyped as the nucleus of innovative cuisine in the world—these ultra-greasy spoons aren't exactly abundant to the inexperienced eye. But I'm not one to give up so easy—so last week, I decided to find and try Copenhagen's worst restaurants.

A reliable start was checking the online Smiley-scheme database. As a restaurant you're in the clear if the health inspectors give you a super stoked smiley, a half-assed smiley, or even a mildly entertained smiley. But if you get a sad smiley (the Claire Danes of Emojis if you will), chances are you don't give a shit about making sure your customers leave tapeworm-free. A quick search on the database revealed three restaurants with a sad smiley slapped beside their names, accompanied by robust lists of assaults on hygiene recorded by their inspectors. These ranged from generally dirty kitchens to mould in the refrigerator. Yikes.

#1: Bistro De Paris

From the outside, Vesterbro's Bistro de Paris seems like your typical dispirited restaurant, complete with peeling bubble letters spelling out the name and a sad little sandwich board marketing the daily specials. Yet looks can be deceiving, which I quickly realised when I opened the door and immediately had my nostrils assaulted by a scent I can only describe as a potpourri blend of cat piss and stale farts. My dining partner and I were escorted to a table enhanced with true symbols of French romance: A backdrop of suspicious-looking brown stains on the wall, and IKEA renderings of the Eiffel Tower squished under the clear plastic surface of the table.


Not in the mood to drop 200 kroner on a hunk of veal at a place perfumed with pungent bodily fluids, I opted for an appetiser of assorted pates and sausages. Although the hog pate, foie gras and walnut sausage were comically grey—like someone had left out the actual animal bit in the equation—I can't deny it: they were fucking delicious. We destroyed the plate with ferocious enthusiasm and a little-less-than-friendly sense of competition. Lucky for us, it turns out that two of Copenhagen's most unhygienic restaurants are right across the street from each other. We paid our bill and crossed the road.

#2: Restaurant Canton

Restaurant Canton spewed a vibe 70% caricatural 'Oriental' and 30% shitty Vegas. Everything about this place was ridiculous—from the bejewelled angry dragon lamp proudly cascading in the middle of the inexplicably massive room, to the perfectly symmetrical bow ties suffocating the backs of every single chair. I chose two Chinese classics: fried duck with pickled vegetables, and the weirdest thing I could find to satisfy my morbid sense of curiosity—'sweet 'n sticky' chicken feet.

The first dish worked kind of like a duck version of MDMA. It gloriously fucked up my senses, probably because it tasted like nothing except for a shitload of salt and fat—just as proper fried duck should, in my opinion. The chicken feet, however, were a different story. The first one was enjoyable in a sick and twisted way: ingesting something that explodes scalding, hot fat the consistency of semen in your mouth as it smashes creepy little bones against your teeth gives one a dark sense of accomplishment. However, slimy animal bits resembling human baby fingers aren't exactly appetising in the long term. I couldn't stomach the second one, so we paid our bill and moved on.


#3: Food Palace

Admittedly, Food Palace had a proudly happy Smiley adorning the front door. However, the sketchiness this place lacked in its rating was definitely made up for by everything else. Tucked into a side street in Amager (where else?), Food Palace's assault on my senses drilled deeper into my psyche than anything we had experienced thus far: the smell was so intensely evocative of vats of grease, old sweat and mystery meat, I have full confidence it will haunt me to my grave. Perhaps the smell had managed to knock out a few brain cells because their long list of culturally-diverse fast foods (somehow, these guys can whip up twenty types of curry as well as pizza, burgers, döner!) seemed way too overwhelming to properly consider. I impulsively picked some chicken dish that sounded like a curry.

Once again, the restaurant's lack of respectability only seemed to improve the food. The dish I received—a stew of chicken and okra—was stupid good. So good, in fact, that the men behind the counter practically beamed with pride as they watched us destroy the dish in just a few minutes. Feeling satisfied, we bid Food Palace adieu and headed to our next and final destination.

#4: Arabica Coffee & Lounge

When we got to Arabica Coffee & Lounge, three things instantly confirmed we were in for a treat. 1# When my dining partner snapped a photo outside and the flash went off, an alarmed man stepped out "just to make sure it wasn't the police." 2# Upon entry, we were greeted by a shopping cart with crap in it, some moth-eaten pillows and stills from The Godfather framed on the wall. 3# They don't serve food anymore because they're "redoing the kitchen." They did however still have dessert and hookah.

Never one to say no to dessert, we got a fat slice of cake and a coconut pipe. The cake was highly enjoyable and so was the coconut pipe. It was an end to an experiment that confirmed there's a good reason I love shitty, sketchy places. Not only will you experience delightfully bizarre character when you visit one—chances are, you're in for some really good food, too.

More stuff about Copenhagen on VICE:

This Promotional Video for Copenhagen Is a Joke, Right? The "Smack My Bitch Up" Music Video was Inspired by a Copenhagen Strip Club The VICE Guide to Copenhagen 2014