Stockholm Cheap Eats: Dagens lunch

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Dagens lunch in Stockholm, Sweden
A hearty dagens lunch. Photo by henke.

Eating at restaurants in Stockholm can be hard to do on a budget. Erik did an excellent job of pointing out some great Swedish breakfast joints. After breakfast, it is time for lunch.

Restaurants throughout Sweden offer a dagens lunch, the lunch of the day. The idea of a dagens lunch is simple: it’s an inexpensive lunch option for workers throughout the country. If you find yourself in Sweden around lunchtime, skip the fast-food, find yourself a restaurant and ask for a “dagens lunch.” You’ll have a great meal at a great price.

What it is

Traditionally, a dagens lunch includes a salad, the choice of a main dish from a few different options, a drink and coffee. Every restaurant is a bit different, but the main dishes available tend to be set for the week. A reasonable dagens lunch usually costs around 75 to 90 SEK (or about $10 to $12).

Depending on where you are, the main dish can be a bit fancier and a bit more expensive (in Östermalm, for example). In fact, some of the fancier restaurants don’t always offer dagens lunches, and instead stick to their normal menus. In Sweden, that is usually an indicator that a place isn’t Cheapo-friendly.

Where to eat it

For an inexpensive lunch, head away from the city center. Södermalm, Vasastaden and even little places like Nacka offer a wide array of dagens lunch menus to choose from.

One of my favorites is Cliff Barnes, which has two different locations, one in Vasastaden and one in Nacka. Along with an amazing dagens lunch, the Cliff Barnes in Vasastaden offers a great bar scene at night. It’s a can’t-miss if you’re looking to meet people.

For a wide variety of choices, head over to Medborgarplatsen, a large square in Södermalm. There you’ll find traditional Swedish restaurants, a crêperie, Thai food and just about everything in between. Wander around and check out the menus: You’re bound to find something worth sitting down for. I like Snaps, a great place with plenty of good food to choose from and outdoor seating. By chance, Snaps also turns into a great bar in the evenings.

Pea soup and pancakes on Thursday

As I said, each dagens lunch menu is a little bit different. You might find pork chops on a Tuesday, chicken on Wednesday and so on. However, one thing that doesn’t differ all that much is the Thursday menu.

In Sweden, Thursday is pea soup and pancake day. Few restaurants offering a dagens lunch will fail to offer this meal. Admittedly a strange combination, peace soup and pancakes is nonetheless a traditional—and surprisingly delicious—one. (It’s also incredibly filling.)

Explanations for the tradition are wide-ranging. Some argue that it started with the military, where pea soup and pancakes are served every Thursday. Others say that it was a way for restaurants to stretch their meat supplies through the end of the week. Still others believe that it harks back to Sweden’s religious days, when meat was meant to be abstained from on Fridays. Whatever the reason, the tradition continues, and pea soup and pancakes can be found throughout Sweden—Stockholm included—on Thursdays.

You can read more info on places to go, sights to see and other Stockholm tips here.

About the author

Marcus Cederstrom

About the author: Marcus Cederström was born in Sweden and moved to the US just before his sixth birthday. After 17 years in the US, Marcus moved back to Sweden. His daily adventures and musings are chronicled in his blog, A Swedish American in Sweden.

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