If you think Swedish food is all about crispbread, herring, and meatballs well, then you'd be quite right. There's more to it than that, of course—Thai food, for instance, is very popular—but you'll find homey favorites in Sweden's fine restaurants and corner cafés alike. Traditional Swedish food often entails hearty dishes built around pork, potatoes, salmon, and berries—a fair reflection of the produce available this far north. After years of seeming ever-so-slightly ashamed of this humble food, some of Sweden's hottest chefs have embraced New Scandinavian (a.k.a. New Nordic) cuisine and are experimenting with nontraditional preparations and presentations of the Swedish diet's staples.
A smorgasbord, or its Christmas equivalent, a julbord, can be fun, but you have to be hungry—they often involve a great deal of food. If you can, join some locals for the feast so you know the correct order of dishes and when to take a shot of ice-cold aquavit.
By American standards, waitstaff at Swedish restaurants can sometimes seem slow or even inattentive, but this should not be interpreted as rudeness. It's simply the Swedish way to let you enjoy your meal in peace. Tipping is not expected at lunchtime; in the evening, a gratuity of up to 10 percent is appreciated but not compulsory.