Where to Buy Food in Oslo

A while ago I wrote a little guide about where I like to eat out in Oslo, and I thought it might be worthwhile to write a similar little guide about where I like to go food shopping. I've recently had a few questions (mainly from expats who have recently moved here) about where to buy decent food in Oslo. Their questions seem to carry a faint hint of despair at the apparent lack of variety and quality to be found in Norwegian supermarkets.

And it's true; food shopping in Norway can be a depressing experience, certainly for expats who have just moved here from a larger international city. I've written before about the poor state of supermarkets in Norway, which is dominated by four huge chains. Unfortunately, from a practical point of view it's virtually impossible to avoid shopping in these identikit supermarkets. But where should you go when you don't fancy facing aisle upon aisle of frozen pizzas and hot dogs?

Here's a little list I put together. It's by no means definitive; it's just some of the Oslo food shops that I like to go to. I'll try and update the list every now and then and I'm always happy to hear others' recommendations, so let me know if there are any other places I should check out. The categories below aren't set in stone, there's often an overlap in what type of products the stores sell.


Butchers


Strøm-Larsen: When it comes to meat, there's only really one game in town. Strøm-Larsen in Torshov has been selling meat for over 100 years. As well as a huge selection of fresh meat and game (if they don't have it you can order it in), they also make their own sausages and ready-to-eat food. Their Christmas ribbe (pork belly) is a true joy.
Vogtsgt. 53, 0477 Oslo
Tel: 22 09 31 80
Open: M–W 09.30–17.00, Th 09:30–18.00, F 09.00–18.00, Sa 09.00–16.00


Fishmongers

Fresh fish and shellfish is nothing short of spectacular in these northern climes. Norway is blessed by a long coastline and fjords of pristine cold waters, which results in some truly stunning seafood. The first time I saw a Norwegian langoustine, it was so large that I honestly thought it was a lobster. Sadly, for a city that once boasted over 75 fishmongers, only a tiny handful of independent fish shops survive today.

Fiskeriet: One of the last remaining fishmongers in Oslo, this small shop is located at the foot of Oslo’s imposing Folketeater building and used to be home of legendary fishmonger Erling Moe. Come here for impeccably fresh Norwegian seafood and maybe a quick bite of lunch from the adjoining food counter, they serve a mean fish 'n chips.
Youngstorget 2b, 0181 Oslo
Tel: 22 42 45 40
Open: M–F 10.00–18.00, Sa 10.00–16.00

Fjelberg Fisk & Vilt: This venerable fishmongers has been open in the genteel Frogner neighbourhood since 1917. The focus here is on stunningly fresh Norwegian seafood. But they also sell game, vegetables, as well as homemade sauces and ready-to-eat food.
Bygdøy allé 56, 0265 Oslo
Tel: 22 44 60 41 / 22 44 61 34
Open: M–F 09.00–18.00, Sa 09.00–15.00


Georg A. Nilsen: Open for over 110 years, this is Oslo's oldest fishmonger. Every morning at 6am fishmongers and co-owners Tom Nilsen or Tor Skancke are at the Oslo wholesale fish market to pick out the freshest specimens to sell at their shop. They also have a live lobster tank if you feel like splurging.
Bogstadveien 39, 0366 Oslo
Tel: 22 46 50 16
Open: M–F 09.00–17.00, Sa 09.00–15.00


Delicatessens


Flâneur Food: Quite possibly one of my favourite food shops in Oslo. Flâneur has a great selection of Norwegian and imported cheeses (including my beloved Stichelton), charcuterie, and fresh meat, including lamb, dry-aged beef, whole suckling pigs, and wagyu from New Zealand. There's even a small coffee shop on site.
Niels Juelsgate 51, 0259 Oslo
Tel: 22 55 70 00
Open: M–F 08.00–18.00, Sa 10.00-17.00


Frogner Special: This delicatessen in Frogner has been open since 1926 and has a wonderful selection of imported cheeses, charcuterie, and homemade chutneys. There's also a decent meat counter and if there's a particular cut you're after you can order it in.
Bygdøy Allé 56, 0265 Oslo
Tel: 22 44 46 98
Open: M–F 09.30–17.00, Sa 09.00-15.00

Gutta på Haugen: This Italian-style deli offers a good range of fruit & veg as well as cheeses, salamis and preserved goods.
Ullevålsveien 45, 0171 Oslo
Tel: 22 60 85 12
Open: M–F 08.00–20.00, Sa 08.00-18.00, Su 10.00–18.00



Skafferiet: Another Frogner food shop, and this one offers a good selection of fruit and vegetables as well as long-life gourmet food.
Elisenbergveien 7, 0265 Oslo
Tel: 22 44 52 96
Open: M–Su 10.00–22.00


Fenaknoken: Part food shop part museum, this is the place to come for all things traditionally Norwegian. Hanging from the rafters are all sorts of delights such as fenalår (cured leg of lamb), pinnekjøtt (dried sheep ribs), and other cured meats. There's also a large selection of Norwegian cheeses. The staff's pride and enthusiasm is contagious.
Tordenskioldsgate 12, 0160 Oslo
Tel: 22 42 34 57
Open: M–F 10.00–17.00, Sa 10.00-16.00

Fromagerie: Perhaps not the most welcoming of shops, but this Majorstua cheese shop has a great selection of local and imported cheeses, deli items, as well as sausages from A.Idsøe in Stavanger, one of Norway's best butchers.
Valkyriegata 9, 0366 Oslo
Tel: 22 60 19 95
Open: M– F 10.00–18.00, Sa 10.00–17.00
Hoang Asia Mat: Not strictly in Oslo, and there are a couple of similar stores closer to the centre of town, but I like it and it's near enough to be worth a visit for the large range of fresh and long-life goods from Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent. If it's things like rambutans, dogfruit, or fresh turmeric you're after then look no further.
Leif Tronstads plass 6, 1337 Sandvika
Tel: 67 56 63 07
Open: M–F 08.00–19.00, Sa 08.00 – 18.00


Fruit & Vegetables


Sultan Grünerløkka: This fruit and veg store has a good selection of fresh produce and is conveniently located in Grünerløkka (there's another Sultan store in Torshov). You can also order online for groceries to be delivered to your door (although I've never tried this service).
Helgesens Gate 18, 0553 Oslo
Tel: 22 35 60 26
Open: M–Sa 08.30–20.30, Su 10.30–20.30


Grønlandstorg Frukt & Grønt: Like Sultan, this place is known as an innvandrerbutikk, or 'immigrant shop', (yes, Norwegians still cringeworthily call them that) and has a great selection of fruit and vegetables at reasonable prices. It's always busy which is a good sign.
Smalgangen 1, 0188 Oslo
Tel: 22 17 04 92
Open: M–F 10.00–18.00, Sa 09.00–16.00


Bakeries


Baking seems to be an integral part of Norway's DNA, and baked goods here are fantastic. My favourite places to buy bread from are:

Grünerløkka Bakeri: A new addition to Grünerløkka is this bakery and coffee shop from the same people behind the popular Bjølsen bakery. Bread is baked fresh 7 days a week using organic flours from Norway. As well as offering sandwiches and coffee roasted onsite, they also sell some of the best boller (buns) I have tasted.
Thorvald Meyers gate 72b, 0552 Oslo
Tel: 22 60 30 00
Open: M–F 07.00–18.00, Sa–Su 09.00–17.00

Åpent Bakeri: Founded in 1998 by a Norwegian and a Frenchman, this bakery/café now has four locations across Oslo. As well as a wonderful selection of freshly baked bread, including some stunning foccacia, their sweet, chewy skillingsboller (cinnamon buns) are a perennial favourite in the Nibbler household!
Various locations



Other


Mathallen: Finally it's here: Oslo's very first permanent food hall. A collection of 33 shops and restaurants selling a wide variety of produce from Norway and beyond. If it's achingly fresh sea urchins, lamb from Lofoten, a quick snack, or a full dinner you're after then a visit here is really a must. It's not perfect by any means, but it's a great start and is a welcome addition to the Oslo food scene.
Maridalsveien 17, 0175 Oslo
Tel: 40 00 12 09
Open: T–F 08.00–late, Sa–Su 10.00–late (closed Mondays)


Farmers' Markets (see here and here) – It is often difficult to get hold of products from artisanal producers in Norway. A great place to find local products from smaller producers is at the regular farmers’ markets that pop up across the country. You can check the Bondens Marked website for the latest schedule. Also, once a year the Matstreif food festival is held in front of the Oslo City Hall. It is one of Norway’s largest food festivals and attracts producers from all over the country.


Jacobs: As much as I dislike Norwegian supermarkets, I should make an honourable mention of Jacobs. Owned by the Norwegian food giant NorgesGruppen, this supermarket has the look and feel of a more independent store. Their meat counter in particular is worth the trek to this out-of-town location.
Ekebergveien 145, 1178 Oslo
Tel: 23 18 01 00
Open: M–F 09.00–21.00, Sa 09.00–20.00

14 comments:

  1. Wonderful, thank you! It's pathetic how hard it is to find good fresh fish in Oslo. I've tried the seafood from the ICA counters several times now, thinking "maybe I was just unlucky" each time. But it turns out it is just bad. Boo hoo!

    Luckily I live a short way from Fjelberg, so I'll check it out next week. Thanks again, for compiling this list. I would nominate some of the immigrant shops at grønland (I used to live there) but the quality is not exactly consistent I'm afraid. Great watermelons in the summer though!

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  2. Great list. In my opinion, you should put Centra Coloseum up there on the list as well. Great fish and meat counters, with educated people behind them. Centra is in the same "group" as Jacobs and Ultra, so there is probably no coincidence that these supermarkets by far are the best in town.

    In october you can probably add "Mathallen" to the list :)

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  3. very good list, gives a good orientation. And since you put a spot in Sandvika I would add another one in Høvik where you can buy lovely bakery in the Strand Restaurant (a small bakery has been built together with a restaurant where they sell bred and cakes on their own).

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  4. Thanks for this list. Very useful to me even after having been here for several years.

    Another vote for Centra by Majorstuen. I haven't been to Jacobs or Ultra (so can't compare it to them) but the fish, meat and cheese selection at Centra is way better than any of the standard supermarkets. Shame about the prices, though...
    On Friday afternoons they set up little stalls in the supermarket to offer free samples of various foods.

    Other places worth mentioning:

    Asian Food Market, a Vietnamese supermarket with other South-East Asian and East Asian food: on the corner of Calmeyers gate and Osterhaus gate. A good selection of vegetables and herbs as well as things in tins, jars and packets. (Is Hoang Asia Mat different enough or enough better to be worth the trip to Sandvika?)

    Japan Torget: the only Japanese food shop in Oslo? In a back street near Majorstuen: Arbosgata 2B. Small and lacking a lot of items that you might hope for, but has some things that are difficult or impossible to get elsewhere in Oslo.

    And a question: are there any Korean grocery shops in the Oslo area. Or anywhere that sells kimchee?

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  5. Asian Food Market and Japantorget indeed.
    Some other ones worth mentioning:
    Asia Supermarket at the corner Sofienberggata and Sars' gate is huge.
    Hong Kong Supermarket at the corner Bert Ankers Gate and Møllergata is good too.
    TT Market is a classic. They just changed name to Umi Market and moved to Calmeyersgate 4.

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  6. This is a great initiative, thanks !
    i've been living here for 6 months now, and I am still puzzled about the lack of decent food (and especially meat) in the supermarkets... it seems to be all about hotdogs... :(

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  7. Not quite all about hot dogs. There are also the other national dishes: frozen pizza and El Paso tacos.

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  8. Strøm Larsen i find to be overrated, and expensive. I tried to get bone-in rib-eye there once and was met with a blank stare and told to come back next week. A better, friendlier and cheaper butcher is:

    Makwans Kjøttsenter, Herslebs gate 4A. They have some of the best veal entrecôte i've ever tasted, the lamb is superb and the beef is great. Its reasonabley priced and rumours are some of Oslo's top chefs come here to stock up.

    Whilst you're there, try the turkish fruit and veg place next door, also a solid supplier.

    Enjoy!

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  9. As an Englishman living in and around Oslo for the last 30 years, I have despaired over the lack of decent places to buy food. However there are many signs that this is changing, here is my list of places "just outside Oslo" where I buy my food.

    1. Høvikveien Kjøtt og Fisk - this as far as I know is the only true butcher in Bærum and I rate it better than the ones found in Oslo. Apart from the fact that if you want anything they will usually get it for you, the quality of the meat here is excellent. They also have the best fish cakes around. Their prices are the same or cheaper than supermarkets such as Centra or Meny.

    2. Jensvoll Fisk - Bærum is blessed by many fish shops, all of them are good but for me the best one is Jensvoll Fisk at Haslum (www.jensvollfisk.no). Their gravlaks and røklaks is the best I have tasted and I have never been disappointed in anything I have purchased there. Its small, not classy but its just sooooooo good :)

    3. Provence Frukt og Grønt - this is just up the road from Jensvoll Fisk. Again for me this is the best fruit and vegetable shop I know about AND its open on Sundays.

    4. Centra Mat Høvik - as a supermarket, I believe that this is better than the Ultras, Meny, Coop etc. For we who are English this is the Waitrose of the Norwegian world!

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  10. Vulkan Fisk at Mathallen (the food hall) also deserves to be on this list of Fishmongers.

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  11. Laksen at Bjølsen for fresh fish, game, homemade jams and ready made dinners prepared by the owners. Sagene Torg for a great selection of fruit and veg.

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  12. Thanks for the list! It has proven very useful. I just wasn't too impressed with Ultra (I found it more expensive than Meny and they wouldn't sell pork feet - only looked at me very strangely for asking lol).

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    Replies
    1. Hi Linda, I know what you mean. It's basically a glorified (and more expensive) Meny. They sometimes have a few things above and beyond the ordinary, but, I agree, it's far from perfect.

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  13. Thanks for this list! It has proven very useful for me and my family on our visit to Oslo!

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