Dining in Norway: A Comprehensive Guide to Eating Like a Local

Have you ever dreamed of dining in Norway and savoring local cuisine like a pro? It all starts with understanding the nuances of eating the Norwegian way.

Understanding Norwegian Table Etiquette

Learning how to behave at the table in Norway can significantly enhance your trip. This knowledge boosts your confidence and allows you to fully enjoy the local culinary delights.

In Norwegian restaurants, the server usually begins by asking what you’d like to drink. Knowing this can help you smoothly order beverages like hvitvin (white wine), rødvin (red wine), norske brennevin (Norwegian spirits), or øl (beer). When ordering food, simply say “Jeg tar” (I’ll take) followed by the dish name. If necessary, specify the quantity: en (one), to (two), tre (three), fire (four), or fem (five).

Norway offers a variety of delectable dishes you might not have tried before, such as fiskesuppe (fish soup), fårikål (lamb with cabbage), potetmos (mashed potatoes), kjøttkaker i brun saus (meatballs in brown sauce with potatoes), sushi, and pannekaker (crepes). Familiarizing yourself with these names and phrases will enrich your Norwegian dining experience.

Norwegian Restaurant Etiquette

Politeness is highly valued in Norway. For example, a simple hand gesture can signal your server. It’s also helpful to understand the structure of a Norwegian menu, which typically includes forretter (appetizers), supper (soups), hovedretter (main courses), and desserter (desserts). This knowledge aids in ordering and enjoying your meal.

Common Norwegian dishes include fiskesuppe, fårikål, potetmos, and kjøttkaker i brun saus. Sushi and Norwegian pannekaker are also popular. Knowing about these dishes enhances your dining experience in Norway.

Greeting and Seating

Entering a Norwegian restaurant marks the beginning of a delightful culinary journey. Properly greeting the host sets a positive tone.

How to Greet the Host

When you arrive, greet with a friendly “Hei” or “God dag” (Hello or Good day). This simple act of kindness can make your meal more pleasant.

Requesting a Table

Politely ask for a menu by saying, “Menyen, er du snill” (The menu, please). After greeting and asking for a table, you’ll likely be asked about drinks. Choices often include hvitvin (white wine), rødvin (red wine), norske brennevin (local spirits), and øl (beer).

Essential Norwegian Phrases for Dining

Dreaming of dining in Norway? Knowing some essential Norwegian phrases will make interactions with servers smoother and more enjoyable.

Key Phrases

  • Request a Menu: “Menyen, er du snill”
  • Ask for Drinks: “Skal det være noe å drikke?” (Would you like something to drink?)
  • Order Example: “Jeg tar en øl” (I’ll take a beer)
  • Show Politeness: “Takk” (Thanks), “Gjerne” (Please)
  • What Would You Like?: “Hva skal det være?” (What shall it be?)
  • Is That All?: “Er det alt?” (Is that all?)
  • Excuse Me: “Unnskyld meg” (Excuse me)

Navigating the Menu

Understanding the menu layout in Norwegian restaurants makes choosing your meal easier. The menu usually begins with forretter (appetizers), followed by supper (soups), hovedretter (main courses), and desserter (desserts).

Typical Norwegian Dishes

  • Fiskesuppe: A creamy fish soup, perfect for cold weather.
  • Fårikål: A hearty dish made with lamb and cabbage.
  • Kjøttkaker i brun saus: Meatballs in brown sauce, often served with poteter (potatoes).
  • Raspeballer: Potato dumplings, often served with salt pork or sausage.
  • Pølse med lompe: Norwegian-style hot dog wrapped in a flatbread.
  • Smørbrød: Open-faced sandwiches with various toppings.
  • Brunost: A caramelized brown whey cheese, delicious with vafler (Norwegian waffles).
  • Rømmegrøt: A holiday sour cream porridge.
  • Lutefisk: Dried fish rehydrated in lye, typically served during the winter holidays.
  • Rakfisk: Fermented fish, often trout, served with flatbread and condiments.
  • Tørrfisk: Air-dried fish, usually cod, a traditional staple from Lofoten.

Modern Norwegian Cuisine

Norwegian cuisine has evolved to include modern dishes that are popular among locals and visitors alike. Restaurants often feature a blend of traditional and contemporary flavors.

Popular Modern Dishes

  • Bacalao: A Norwegian twist on the classic Portuguese dish, made with salted cod, tomatoes, and olives.
  • Sushi: Widely available and often includes locally sourced seafood.
  • Pulled Pork Sandwiches: Often served with tangy slaw on a brioche bun.
  • Gourmet Burgers: Featuring high-quality beef, innovative toppings, and homemade buns.
  • Vegan and Vegetarian Options: Including dishes like vegetarisk lasagne (vegetarian lasagna) and vegansk bønnestuing (vegan bean stew).

Ordering Food in Norwegian

Ordering food in Norway can significantly enhance your dining experience. Start by politely asking for the menu: “Menyen, er du snill.” When placing your order, use “Jeg tar” (I’ll take) followed by the dish name.

Useful Phrases for Ordering

  • Jeg tar: I’ll take
  • Hva skal det være?: What shall it be? (Waiter asking for your order)
  • Er det alt?: Is that all? (Waiter confirming your order)
  • Takk: Thanks
  • Gjerne: Please
  • Kan jeg få…: Can I have…
  • Har dere…: Do you have…
  • Hva anbefaler du?: What do you recommend?

Key Norwegian Dishes to Try

Norwegian cuisine is deeply connected to the land and sea. Here are some must-try dishes:

  • Fiskesuppe: A fish soup rich in local flavors.
  • Fårikål: A lamb and cabbage stew, considered Norway’s national dish.
  • Fenalår: Dried mutton leg, a flavorful cured meat.
  • Raspeballer: Traditional potato dumplings.
  • Brunost: A caramelized brown whey cheese, often served with vafler (waffles).
  • Rømmegrøt: A holiday sour cream porridge.
  • Smalahove: Smoked lamb’s head, a traditional dish from Western Norway.
  • Blodpudding: Blood pudding, a traditional dish often served with lingonberry sauce.
  • Pinnekjøtt: Steamed lamb ribs, a Christmas favorite.
  • Reinsdyrstek: Roast reindeer, often served with rich gravy and lingonberry sauce.
  • Klippfisk: Salted and dried cod, used in various traditional and modern dishes.

Recommended Norwegian Beverages

Norway offers a variety of unique drinks that pair well with local cuisine.

Popular Drinks

  • Hvitvin: White wine, ideal for lighter meals.
  • Rødvin: Red wine, perfect with hearty dishes like lamb.
  • Akevitt: A traditional Norwegian spirit made from potatoes and caraway seeds.
  • Øl: Beer, widely available and enjoyed with both casual and formal meals.
  • Mjød: Mead, a fermented honey drink that has been enjoyed since Viking times.
  • Brus: Soda, often enjoyed by the younger crowd.
  • Saft: A sweet, non-alcoholic fruit concentrate mixed with water.
  • Kaffi: Coffee, a staple in Norwegian culture, often served black and strong.
  • Eplemost: Fresh apple juice, often locally produced and very popular.

How to Order Drinks

To order, start with “Jeg tar” (I’ll take), followed by the drink name. For example, “Jeg tar en øl, takk” (I’ll take a beer, thank you).

Handling Special Requests

For special dietary needs, politely communicate your requests. Use phrases like “er du snill” (please) when asking for specific modifications to your meal.

  • Jeg er allergisk mot…: I am allergic to…
  • Jeg kan ikke spise…: I cannot eat…
  • Kan du tilberede dette uten…: Can you prepare this without…

Tipping Customs in Norway

Tipping in Norway is not mandatory but appreciated. A tip of 10-15% is standard for excellent service, although some places include a service charge in the bill. At hotels, tipping for housekeeping or baggage assistance is customary. In bars and cafes, rounding up the bill or leaving a small tip is polite.

Dealing with Payment

To ask for the bill, say “Regningen, er du snill” (The bill, please). Restaurants in Norway accept various payment methods, including cash, credit and debit cards, and mobile payments like Vipps.

Dining with Locals

When dining with Norwegians, politeness and respect are key. Conversations are usually calm and respectful, and sharing food is common. If dining in a group, it’s customary to split the bill or take turns paying.

Exploring Traditional Norwegian Cuisine

Norwegian cuisine offers a mix of traditional and modern dishes. Classic dishes like “Smalahove” (smoked lamb’s head) and “Fårikål” reflect Norway’s rich culinary heritage. Despite high dining costs, traditional meals like “Pinnekjøtt” and “Lutefisk” are cherished treats.

Seafood Delicacies

Seafood is a highlight of Norwegian cuisine. Popular dishes include smoked salmon, fresh shrimp, and fiskesuppe. When ordering, use “Jeg tar” (I’ll take) followed by the dish name, such as “Jeg tar røkt laks” (I’ll take smoked salmon).

Learning Norwegian at NLS

The NLS Norwegian Language School in Oslo offers courses for travelers and locals alike, helping you learn essential phrases and cultural etiquette. Whether you’re a tourist, a new resident, or someone wanting to deepen their understanding of Norwegian culture, NLS provides valuable language skills. Knowing basic Norwegian enhances your experience and makes interactions with locals more meaningful.

Courses Offered at NLS

  • Beginner Norwegian: For those starting with the language, focusing on everyday vocabulary and basic conversation skills.
  • Intermediate Norwegian: For learners with some knowledge, aiming to improve grammar and expand vocabulary.
  • Advanced Norwegian: For advanced learners, focusing on fluency and complex language structures.
  • Norwegian for Business: Tailored for professionals needing Norwegian in a business context.
  • Cultural Immersion: Courses that combine language learning with insights into Norwegian culture, history, and society.


Dining in Norway is a unique cultural experience. By following this guide, you’ll know how to communicate, order, and enjoy local cuisine. Embrace the variety of delicious Norwegian dishes and make the most of your culinary adventure in Norway.


  • Hei: Hello
  • God dag: Good day
  • Menyen, er du snill: The menu, please
  • Jeg tar: I’ll take
  • Skal det være noe å drikke?: Would you like something to drink?
  • Takk: Thanks
  • Gjerne: Please
  • Hva skal det være?: What shall it be?
  • Er det alt?: Is that all?
  • Unnskyld meg: Excuse me
  • Fiskesuppe: Fish soup
  • Fårikål: Lamb and cabbage stew
  • Kjøttkaker i brun saus: Meatballs in brown sauce
  • Raspeballer: Potato dumplings
  • Brunost: Brown cheese
  • Rømmegrøt: Sour cream porridge
  • Lutefisk: Dried fish rehydrated in lye
  • Rakfisk: Fermented fish
  • Tørrfisk: Air-dried fish
  • Pølse med lompe: Hot dog with flatbread
  • Smørbrød: Open-faced sandwich
  • Smalahove: Smoked lamb’s head
  • Blodpudding: Blood pudding
  • Pinnekjøtt: Steamed lamb ribs
  • Hvitvin: White wine
  • Rødvin: Red wine
  • Akevitt: Norwegian spirit
  • Øl: Beer
  • Mjød: Mead
  • Brus: Soda
  • Saft: Fruit concentrate
  • Kaffi: Coffee
  • Eplemost: Fresh apple juice
  • Regningen, er du snill: The bill, please
  • Jeg er allergisk mot…: I am allergic to…
  • Jeg kan ikke spise…: I cannot eat…
  • Kan du tilberede dette uten…: Can you prepare this without…
  • Vipps: A popular Norwegian mobile payment app

If you want to learn Norwegian, you can register for classes here. We look forward to hearing from you and helping you become fluent in Norwegian.

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