A number of good seafood restaurants are worth the extra kroner, and especially in the winter, when the cod reaches the coast, there is a lot of good eating. It all comes at a price, though. Do note, however, that cheap food is relatively expensive in Tromsø (as in Norway in general), whereas exclusive food is relatively good value. In other words, a little extra money increases the experience immensely.
Vegetarians have a hard time in Tromsø, as the knowledge of vegetarian food is limited (however, there is at least one cafe with a vegetarian menu in town, see below). Most places can cook something up, but be prepared to explain your food requests in detail. There is probably no point in going to an expensive restaurant. Chinese places have stir fries etc. that can be filling enough. Vegans and vegetarian Hindus have to take special care.
Budget-conscious visitors should avoid anything named "restaurant". Instead, all the cafés in town are good for a quick bite. Expect friendly service at the counter, table service is a luxury in Norway.
The canteen for employees in the town hall serves reasonably cheap food, and there is also the student canteens at the university campus. It's possible to buy hot food in many supermarkets, and the price may be a bit lower than buying something in a café. Several greasy spoon bakeries and cafés serve the infamous tacobolle (taco bun), a doughy bun with mince, tomato sauce, and cheese. Highly uncultured, but yummy. Both Yonas and Peppes Pizza have lunch buffets (eat as much as you can) during the daytime on weekdays. Peppes Pizza has free internet as well.
- Allegro, Turistvegen 19, +47 77 68 80 71. Su-Th 15-23, F-Sa 15-midnight in Tromsdalen (behind the Arctic Cathedral) has thin, Italian pizzas for a good price.
- Blå Rock, Strandgata 14-16, +47 77 61 00 20. Daily 11.30-2 except F 11.30-03.30 and Su 13-2. The best burgers in town with their infamous fried potato skins. Don't ask for a diet coke with it, it makes little difference.
- Aunegården (OL Aune), Sjøgata 29, 77 65 12 34. 11-23. Café in the front, with counter service. Restaurant with table service in the back. International menu, also a few local specialties. The cakes have many fans in Tromsø.
- Dolly Dimple's, Heiloveien 4. M-F 10-20, Sa 10-18. The "Pizzabuffet" (All you can eat - pizza buffet) is ok and cheap.
- Driv, Søndre Tollbodgate 3, +47 77 60 07 76. M-Th 14-1.30, F-Sa 12-3. Offers great food at a reasonable price in a nice atmosphere, and have discounts for students.
- Gründer, Storgata 44, +47 77 75 37 67. M-Th 11-2, F-Sa 11-3.30. The international menu is tasty and good value, and the service is humorously informal.
- Peppes Pizza, Stortorget 2, +47 22 22 55 55 daily 11-23.30. Part of an international chain, but the lunch specials are cheap.
- Sivertsens Kafekooperativ, Rådstua Teaterhus, Vestregata 48. W-Sa noon-5 PM. Vegetarian cafe with a small but good and affordable menu.
- Skarven, Strandtorget 1, +47 77 60 07 20. Daily from 11. has fish casseroles and other local specialties at good prices.
- Yonas, Sjøgata 7, +47 77 66 66 66. Daily 11-midnight. has good deep-pan American pizza. Taco-pizza is unknown in Mexico but is a normal pizza with shredded Chinese cabbage and a mustard dressing. You love it, or you loathe it.
Italian food is not found in the city center, but a few neighborhood places in residential areas serve up thin, Italian pizza and pasta. Picando and Allegro are found on the mainland side, and La Speranza is found at Håpet on the west side of the Island. On Kvaløya
, genuine Thai food is found at Ban Thai where Kusaya prepares tasty home cooking from her homeland in a rather unassuming neighborhood restaurant (Bus 42 takes you there, well worth the trip!). Finish off with some Thai karaoke. Chinese food is represented by Choi's Kjøkken and Shanghai, both situated in the north of the city. More upmarket alternatives include Tang's, Lotus and Il Mare. Authentic Thai food is found at Thai House Restaurant. Steakhouses are vastly popular (many people that cook good fish at home, prefer a good steak when they go out). Expect no local character.
- Arctandria, Strandtorget 1, +47 77 60 07 28. M-Sa from 16. has a lot of local fish specialties, as well as a humorous menu. Before Christmas, their lutefisk buffet is heaven for some, and hell for others.
- Fiskekompaniet Sjøsiden, Sjøgata 17B, +47 77 68 76 00. Daily 15-23 has excellent fresh fish and a menu of modern Norwegian cuisine. Seafood is considered an aphrodisiac, and after their delicious seafood platters, you're ready for anything.
- Sjøgata 12, Sjøgata 12, +47 77 67 11 00. M-F 15-23, Sa 13-23 makes use of one of Norway's most prominent export articles, the bacalhau or klippfisk (dried and salted cod). The chefs are from Spain and Portugal, and the cuisine is the Mediterranean.
- Skarvens Biffhus, Strandtorget 1, +47 77 60 07 20. Daily from 15.30 in a 1820'ies wharf house, has thick steaks but also specializes in goat meat. The waiters are humorous and professional.
- Steakers, Fredrik Langesgate 13, +47 77 61 33 30. M-Sa 15-23, Su 14-22. lining the inner port, offers no local character, but is constantly full of meat-hungry locals, and the American theme is matched by the enormous portions. The young staff is friendly and offers a really good service.
The price difference between mid-range and splurge is not that big, making the occasional splurge good value.
- Compagniet, Sjøgata 12, +47 77 66 42 22. M-Sa 17-23 is situated in a merchant's home from the 1830s. Doubles at a nightclub in the weekends after 22.
- Emmas Drømmekjøkken, Kirkegaten 8, +47 77 63 77 30. M-Sa from 18. is a fantastic restaurant that has got excellent reviews in the Oslo press. Look out for their excellently matched 5-course menus. The Lunch menu isn't bad either, and comparatively cheap!
Tromsø is known throughout Norway for its hefty nightlife, and there's always room for one more barfly. Throughout the week, people hang around in cafés, and in the weekends, it's always full at every dance floor. People in Tromsø have an emotional relationship with their beer. Mack continues to resist takeover attempts from the dark forces of Southern Norwegian capitalism, and locals expect outsiders to join in on the battle. Other Norwegian beers are difficult to get, but a few places specialize in international brands. Blanding is half a pilsner and half bayer, a dark beer, in the same glass. Try it out!
The per capita consumption of cognac must be among the highest in the world and don't be surprised to see 20-year-olds nursing a fine VSOP at 2 am. Daiquiris, caipirinhas, mojitos, etc. are in fashion, but not all places serve good ones, so look at the recommendations below!
Don't take the age and crowd indications too seriously; in Tromsø the stylish set mixes easily with everyone, and young and ex-young people can actually talk to each other.
The most original place to hang out in Tromsø is definitely Ølhallen, the Beer Hall. It opened its doors in 1928 and has hardly changed since then. Their only concession to modernity was the installation of a ladies' room in the seventies (in fact, they made a swanky, new toilet for the blokes, and gave the old one to the ladies...). They open at 9 am and close at 6 pm (Mon-Fri) and 3 pm (Sat), and that's the way it is. Promise not to ask for Chardonnay...
Cafes stay open from lunchtime to 3 am, and typically serve good value food and coffee specials before they turn into crowded bars at night. Being flexible is the key to survive the stiff competition in Tromsø.
- Artur, Storgata 57, +47 77 64 79 85. M-Th 15-1, F-Sa 13-2 is a coffee bar during the day and a crowded bar at night.
- Blå Rock, Strandgata 14, +47 77 61 00 20. Daily 11.30-2, except F 11.30-3.30 and S 13-2. is the place for burgers, lots of international beer, rock'n'roll, and concerts. A piercing in your ear (or somewhere else) will make you fit in.
- Circa, Storgata 36, +47 77 68 10 20 is currently a very popular place, with the winning concept in Tromsø of lunch dishes, coffee specialties and beer at night. Students and younger professionals.
- Driv, Søndre Tollbodgate 3, +47 77 60 07 76. M-Th 14-1.30, F-Sa 12-3. is the Student House. An ambitious concert programme, quiz nights, etc. Excellent place for the 18-30 years old, but far better in winter than in summer. Look out for their "Fucking North Pole Festival" in April (if you curse in a foreign language, it doesn't count).
- Flyt, Sjøgata 25, +47 77 69 68 00. M-Tu 11-23,W-Th 11-midnight,F 11-3.30,Sa noon-3.30,Su 15-23. sports a sport's theme, with off-piste skis decorating the walls, and cool recordings from the slopes entertain on every flat screen. Go there for a burger in the afternoon, or to hang around with the extreme sporters at night.
- Meieriet, Grønnegata 37, +47 77 61 36 39. Su-W 10-midnight,Th 10-2,F-Sa 10-3.30. is a young place, with lots of beer types and a good value menu.
- Paletten, Storgata 51, +47 77 68 05 10. M-Th 11-1,F-Sa 11-3,Su noon-1. is a football pub with two large outdoor terraces, also serves food during the day.
- Kaffebønna, Strandtorget 1 & Stortorget 3, +47 77 63 94 00. M-F 8-18,Sa 9-18, Su 11-18. serves no alcohol, but serves up smart coffee, Italian ice cream, pain au chocolat and plenty of sandwiches. Minimalist décor and cool staff (occasionally too cool).
- Perez, Skippergata 6, +47 92 23 33 13 at the northern end of the city center, is tiny but manages to offer lunch specials, coffees and a sophisticated wine selection. Loud and full in the evening, so keep your stomach in!
- Skansen Kafé, Tollbodgate 8. M-W 11-18,Th 11-22,F 11-2,Sa noon-2,Su noon-18. is housed in the annex of the oldest house in town. In summer, they serve fantastic shells and other lunch specials, along with good wine and coffee. In winter, they close, though.
- Skarven, Strandtorget 1, +47 77 60 07 20. Daily from 11. is another long-timer, and serves good food, including loads of fish (a welcome respite from the feta cheese and olive fare of the other cafés), and loads of beer way into the night in a 1920's margarine factory. The crowd is grown-up and well-heeled, but just as loud as the rest.
- Sånn, Erling Bangsunds plass 1, +47 77 69 10 80. M-Th 11-midnight, F 11-1, Sa noon-1. at the upper end of the Main Square is another example of the Tromsø receipt: A good lunch menu (with relatively good prices), coffee specialties and a cool bar in the evening.
- På Byen, Strandgata 24, +47 77 65 85 20. M-Th 11-2,F-Sa 11-3.30,Su 13-2. is for the 20' or 30' somethings, usually well-dressed. Their sheltered outdoor terrace with winter heating circumvents the smoking ban. Have some pasta with the after-office crowd, or taste some wine in the evening.
- Kafé Verdensteatret, Storgata 93b, +47 77 75 30 90. M-Th 11-2,F-Sa 11-3.30,Su 13-2. is a friendly, sophisticated, ultra-modern place in the 1916 cinema "Verdensteatret", the oldest functioning cinema in Northern Europe. The sandwiches are good, but the main reason to come here is to hang about for a glass of wine and endless conversation. Friday and Saturday night, the place turns into a cool, crowded hangout. Mixed crowd, mixed ages.
- Åpenbar, Grønnegata 81, +47 77 68 46 00. Tu-Th 16-1.30,F 15-3,Sa 14-3. serves tapas made of seal and other arctic foodstuffs. Nice way to try it out... Rather stylish hang-out in the week-end.
- Grom cafe, Storgata 67, +47 77 68 90 69 (email@example.com). M-F 10-23,Sa 10-18,Su 14-23. The city's best burgers and a very good lunch for a nice price, come and enjoy.
- serves focaccia with DOM ham and cheese, wraps and the best city soup. They also sell several Mediterranean products of the best quality.
- ===Bars and pubs=== Bastard Bar, Strandgata 22. M-Th 18-2,F 18-3.30,Sa 13-3.30,Su 13-2. Is located in a cellar next to the Nerstranda shopping center. It offers one or two live concerts each week, jam every other Tuesday and shows English, Norwegian and European football. The only food offered is sausages with mustard. Bastard has a collection of international beers as well as Tromsø's own Mack.
- Victoria Fun Pub, Grønnegata 81, +47 77 68 49 06. M-Th 15-2,F 15-3.30,Sa 14-3.30, 19-2. Is a football place, and can be a fun pub for the not overdressed during weekends; has a billiards table.
- Grand Baren, Storgata 44, +47 77 75 37 64. M-Th 18-2, F-Sa 18-3.30. caters for the more mature audience, and combines style and informality. Their heated smoking terrace with a view might tempt you to pick up the habit.
- Skibsbroen, Fredrik Langesgate 2, +47 77 66 64 00 inside the Rica Ishavshotel offers a fantastic view towards the north and is among the more elegant places. Armani-clad visitors from Oslo's west end rub shoulders with trawler crews with loads of money to spend.
- Ølhallen (The Beer Hall), Storgata 4, +47 77 62 45 80. M-F 9-18, Sa 9-15. Both well-known and much cherished by the population, undoubtedly linked to the Mack beer.
- Tromso Jernbanestasjon (Tromsø Railwaystation), Strandgata 33, +47 77 61 23 48 (firstname.lastname@example.org). Tromsø Jernbanestasjon is a bar in Tromso and established itself early as the cool place because of its completed thematic decor - especially since there is no train to Tromsø. There are waiters in conductor uniforms and reported regularly trains in places like Murmansk Kautokeino and the speaker system.
- The Chinese restaurant Il Mare doubles as a Latino dance hall on Saturdays. The crowd falls into three categories: the Latino community that always knew how to salsa, the salsa class Norwegians with more sedate hips counting their steps and the curious onlookers. ¡Que empiece la fiesta!
- Despite Tromsø being a tolerant and open-minded city, no gay place has managed to stay afloat. Open gays are possibly too well integrated, and closeted gays may be too visible in this, after all, small city. However, gay parties are occasionally organized. The first gay festival, Homsø, took place in October 2007.