• Sjavarkjallarinn (Seafood Cellar) (Reykjavik; tel. 511-1212): Culinary conservatives may distrust this restaurant's radical experimentation and splashy presentation -- lobster with truffles served in a Mason jar? But the Seafood Cellar would be Iceland's best restaurant even if the food came in Styrofoam containers at a drive-thru window.

  • Fjalakotturinn (Reykjavik; tel. 514-6000): Traditional yet worldly (for an appetizer, think smoked lamb carpaccio with chutney and celery root salad), this stellar restaurant has a plain white dining room with a few photos of old Reykjavik on the wall. No glam appeal, but the cooking -- and the country's most refined wine list -- speak for themselves.

  • Salt (Reykjavik; tel. 599-1020): Housed in the minimalist-chic Radisson SAS 1919 Hotel, this recent entry has a prize-winning celebrity chef, but the menu -- emphasizing natural flavors and traditional crowd-pleasers like trout with lemon and capers, or tenderloin with crispy potatoes and bearnaise sauce -- is anything but an ego trip.

  • Vi? Tjornina (Reykjavik; tel. 551-8666): If smoked lamb's heart, fermented shark, and salt-cod mousse can be made palatable, leave it to the maverick chefs at this offbeat Reykjavik institution. (Don't worry: The lamb fillet in port wine sauce is just as exceptional.) Check the wall for the chefs' "band photo," and ask for a bag of leftover bread to feed the ducks in the pond outside.

  • T?rir Frakkar (Reykjavik; tel. 552-3939): The hallmarks of a "real Icelandic restaurant" are all here: nautical decor; a wide selection of fresh seafood and seabirds, always complemented by potatoes, familiar vegetables, and rich sauces; and there's nothing dainty about the portions or presentation.

  • Fjorubor?i? (Stokkseyri; tel. 483-1550): Icelanders drive long distances -- and sometimes even drop in by helicopter from Reykjavik -- to butter their bibs at this famed lobster house on Iceland's southwestern coast.

  • Tjoruhusi? (Isafjor?ur; tel. 456-4419): Tucked away in an 18th-century fish warehouse, this no-nonsense Westfjords restaurant serves up amazingly fresh and tasty pan-fried fish without the slightest fuss or pretense. Ask the cook if the fish is ever frozen and you'll get a look of utter horror.

  • Fri?rik V (Akureyri; tel. 461-5775): This family-run affair, offering an impressive variety of modern European preparations, is the best restaurant outside the capital -- and it's written all over the faces of the waitstaff, who deliver lectures on each dish with well-earned, unconcealed pride.

  • Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.