Cort Adelers gate 2
Tel: 47 22 43 99 99
For the best sushi in the city, grab a seat at the circular bar at this minimalist restaurant and look on as the two chefs deftly chop and roll. Fresh tuna, salmon, shrimp, and scallops, as well as distinctly Norwegian bites like whale sushi or halibut fat rolled with onions, are available à la carte or as part of four tasting menus. If the bar is full, additional seating is available at oblong teak tables in the adjacent dining room. Keep an eye out for famous patrons. Famous around these parts anyway—members of the Norwegian royal family are crazy about this place.
Open daily from 4 to 11 pm mid-August through mid-July, and Tuesdays through Saturdays 4 to 11 pm mid-July through mid-August.
Tel: 47 22 82 25 25
This quaint corner restaurant is the oldest in Oslo (it opened its doors in 1857), and its private dining rooms are still decorated with caricatures of actors from the old Christiana stage, a theater that hosted plays by Ibsen, Shakespeare, and the like until it was torn down in 1889. At the turn of the 20th century, the place became a hangout for artists and writers, and a painting of Henrik Ibsen dining now hangs over the armchairs in the lounge area. In summer months, tall trees shade the outdoor seating; in winter, guests settle into upholstered chairs in the dark-wood dining room; year-round they dine on Norwegian specialties such as grilled tørrfisk, which is similar to lutefisk (the peculiar Viking favorite, dried cod soaked in lye, which is only available from late October to late December).
Open daily from 11 am to 10 pm August through June, and daily from 12 to 9 pm in July.
11 Kristian Augusts Gate
Tel: 47 22 98 21 50
The menu changes weekly at this restaurant close to the National Gallery in downtown Oslo. Chandeliers made from water buffalo horns pair with cozy booths lined with cow skins and midnight-blue surfaces everywhere to cast a moody, reflective glow on the dining room. Fresh orchids top the tables, and a giant poster of an eagle overlooks it all. If the bird were real, he'd likely swoop down on the superfresh seafood served here. That might include smoked Finnmark char with a cauliflower sauce, soft-shell crab chowder with fennel and tomato, or pan-fried scallops with oyster beurre blanc. No, there's nothing in the way of meat on the menu, so make sure your fellow diners are aware of that before you book a table. But if you love seafood—and we mean really love seafood—you'll find yourself booking into this restaurant anytime you're in Oslo.—Terry Ward
Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 6 to 11 pm.
The Grand Hotel
Karl Johans gate 31
Tel: 47 23 21 20 00
Edvard Munch and his bohemian friends whiled away many hours in this café in the Grand Hotel. As the artist wrote in his diary, "We used to have a few drinks after breakfast to sober up. Later we'd drink to get back into a stupor." Nowadays, folks stop by for the food, too—fish soup, poached salmon with dilled potatoes, burgers, marinated whale steak, and tasty desserts such as lemon tart or crème brûlée. Sunny and elegant, the 19th-century-style dining room seats 240 and serves buffet breakfasts to hotel guests.
Open daily 6:30 am to 11 pm
Tel: 47 22 83 56 00
Next to the Folketeatret theater and hotel of the same name, this steak and seafood restaurant, a 2011 newcomer, has a long stainless-steel bar perched around the open kitchen and charcoal grill that's ideal if you're dining solo. The main dining area appeals to groups too, with large oval tables and glowing candles everywhere. The focus here is in on Norwegian meats and seafood, with some interesting game selections in the mix. Dishes change with the season, but you might find cod loin served with risotto and wild mushrooms, lamb from the Jæren region served with mint chimichurri, or slow-baked veal with braised leeks. Appetizers sized for sharing include mussels with harissa and grilled foie gras. Bookshelves stretching from the floor to the high ceiling cover the back wall of the restaurant, and if you bring a cookbook to donate that's not already among the tomes, you'll be treated to the main course of the day.—Terry Ward
Open Tuesdays through Fridays 6:30 to 10 am and 4 to 11 pm, Saturdays and Sundays 8 to 11 am and 4 to 11 pm.
Tel: 47 91 99 48 05
Located in Bjørvika (the newly developing part of Oslo close to the Opera House), Maaemo is considered one of the most exciting additions to the city's culinary landscape. The restaurant's name translates to Mother Nature, and the focus is on Modern Nordic cuisine made from almost 100 percent wild and organic ingredients. The chefs don't have to head far out of Oslo's city center to pick the berries, herbs, and wild mushrooms featured in their dishes (often their foraging sessions happen right before the service). In season, you'll find wild game such as reindeer, grouse, deer, and duck on the menu, and there's always fresh fish from Norway's bountiful waters (monkfish with parsnip and cold-water seaweed is a favorite). There is also a lot of drying and pickling done in the summer months to make sure winter's menus are well served. Just know that a meal here is a serious time and financial investment—it's a nine-course affair that actually comes closer to 16 servings once the chef's extras are added in. Indulgent, yes. And for a special occasion, very worthy of a when-in-Oslo splurge.—Terry Ward
Open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 6 pm.
3 Bygdøy Allé
Tel: 47 22 12 14 40
Although it opened way back in 1932, Bagatelle remains one of Oslo's best restaurants. Its venerable history and burgundy facade belie the modern dining room within: Modern art by International artists hangs on caramel-colored walls, and art deco–inspired chairs offset tables set with linens and crystal. The cuisine leans French, but indigenous ingredients pop up all over the menu—live lobsters are imported from Kvitsøy, diver scallops are fresh from Tromsø, and lamb comes from the wild herds of western Norway. Light meals can be fashioned by making selections off the two prix-fixe menus, but go ahead and splurge on the house specialty eight-course Grand Menu.
Open Mondays through Saturdays 6 to 10 pm, mid-August through mid-December, mid-January through the week before Easter, and the week after Easter through June.
Tel: 47 23 13 11 40
With a name like something you'd chew and spit out, Skaugum, this cozy garden attached to the historic Palace Grill restaurant, is one of the city's top summertime hangouts. When you first enter this open-air interior courtyard, it's hard to decide which way to look. Fake plastic flowers spill from boxes perched on windows, a collection of old sinks serves as sconces on the top-floor terrace, and there's a dusty Elvis mannequin leering above the bar. The canvas tarps overhead are removed during the summer months, and there's usually a fire burning year-round in the giant metal canister in the middle of the courtyard. Top Norwegian DJs Olle and Nils Noa often hold court here, and the musical lineup sticks to deep house on Thursday nights and a more mainstream mix on Fridays and Saturdays. As for the crowd? As eclectic as the decor—from students to expense-account diners who pop over for an alfresco nightcap after an indulgent meal at the Grill.—Terry Ward
Open Tuesdays through Saturdays 6 pm to 3 am May to September. Open Fridays and Saturdays from 10 pm to 3 am October to April.
Tel: 47 22 82 40 50
With its ornate chandeliers and dramatic arched ceiling, this Hotel Continental restaurant brings a touch of Vienna to Norway. Dozens of portraits of well-known regulars—mainly writers, actors, and musicians—adorn the walls, and the Norwegian–French menu runs from light lunch fare (smoked salmon, scrambled-egg sandwiches) to hefty dinner entrées (beef tartare, reindeer steak, duck confit).
Open Mondays through Saturdays 11 am to 11 pm, and Sundays 3 to 10 pm, August through June. Closed the month of July.
14 Tjuvholmen Allé
Tel: 47 23 89 77 77
Seafood delicacies, predominantly from Norwegian waters, compel diners to book this waterfront restaurant a short stroll from Aker Brygge. Lobsters and king crabs in driftwood tanks at the front of the restaurant set the scene for the menu, nearly 80 percent of which is seafood, including smoked wild halibut from Nor Propertiesdland, king crab from Varanger, and cod from the fjords near Møre. There are normally two different menus throughout the month, and you can opt for prix-fixe meals ranging from three to six courses. If Finnmark moose steak is on the menu, it's well worth stepping out of the seafood box for something very Norwegian. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows bring the fjord views inside, and during the warmer months tables are set up outside, too.—Terry Ward
Open Mondays through Saturdays 11 am to midnight.
78 Thorvald Meyers Gate
Tel: 47 22 36 47 60
The focus is on entrecôte cuts of beef cooked in an open oven, served alongside just a few simple dishes at this restaurant in the heart of Grünerløkka. Open for dinner only, Trancher is tiny, romantic, and dimly lit, with just a few tables under crystal chandeliers surrounded by walls decorated with antique mirrors and metallic wallpaper (a few additional tables are dragged onto the sidewalk outside when temperatures allow). It's the kind of place where, when the door swings open, everyone turns to see who has arrived. You order your cut of meat by weight (choose from 160 or 200 grams) and can opt for béarnaise, red-wine, green-pepper, or chimichurri sauce. Seafood dishes (think shrimp scampi) and foie gras terrine are among the appetizers. And choose from just a few side dishes that might include green beans, root vegetables, or potatoes au gratin. There won't be many decisions to make here, but they'll be delicious ones.—Terry Ward
Open daily 4 to 11 pm.
8 Olaf Ryes Plass
Tel: 47 22 35 40 60
Oslo's city center is full of touristy restaurants serving ordinary pizza at shocking prices. If Italian is your goal, make the 15-minute walk (or hop the tram) to the Grünerløkka neighborhood to hit this popular eatery where gourmet wood-fired pizzas come topped with Norwegian salted beef, fava beans, and pine nuts. The cozy bar backed with subway tiles plus high ceilings, crystal chandeliers, and glass tables make the space light and bright, even on a dark Nordic day. Ask for a window seat overlooking the park (or in the summer months, snag a table outside—even better). The pizzas are quite large and can easily be shared between two people with some bolstering from one of the tasty appetizers, such as the Calabrian sausage or an antipasto plate with marinated veggies, meats, and cheeses. If you fancy a film after a dinner, there's a good indie theater right next door. And Italian classic films are screened in the restaurant—Cinema Paradiso, of course—on the first Tuesday of the month.—Terry Ward
Open Mondays and Tuesdays 8 am to 10 pm, Wednesdays through Fridays 8 am to 11 pm, and Saturdays and Sundays 10 am to 11 pm.