The Best ‘Hidden Gems’ in Gothenburg
By SEBASTIAN HEGMAR | April 25, 2020
Cover photo by Ebad & Partners
Gothenburg has quite the impressive resume despite Stockholm’s status as Sweden’s capital city. Between 2016 and 2019, the GDS-Index ranked it as the greenest city on Earth in regards to sustainability and closeness to forests and parks. In 2017, Gothenburg was named “the most sociable city in the world” by Hostelworld, a global hostel booking site. Also, in 2019 it was proclaimed as “The European Capital of Smart Tourism” by The European Commission. And to top it all off, The Guardian awarded Gothenburg with having the “coolest” neighborhood in Europe earlier this year. I would love to see Stockholm try to top all that!
As with most cities, there are more than a handful of Top 10 lists available on the Internet telling you where you have to go. These can help visitors scratch the surface of what a destination has to offer, but also tend to be, dare I say, generic and touristy. Asking the locals for recommendations in any given city is usually how I make my trips as memorable as possible. I would now like to return the favor by sharing some of the hidden gems you can find in my wonderful hometown of Gothenburg. So in the famous words of Philip DeFranco, let’s just jump into it!
This is hands down one of my all-time favorite restaurants. Fatima serves up authentic Moroccan food based on traditional family recipes, using only what’s in season. You can expect slow-cooked tagines, hand-stuffed lamb sausages, tasty vegan dishes, homemade bread and more. My personal go-to is the lamb tagine which almost melts in your mouth before you even get a chance to take a bite. What also makes this place so special is its unique atmosphere. You sometimes have to knock on the kitchen window to get into the hidden courtyard where the restaurant is located (I told you this was a hidden gem). Once inside, you will get a very ‘homey’ feeling from their tiny interior and down-to-earth customer service. I’m getting homesick just thinking about it.
A lot of websites already mention The Barn as the must-visit burger joint in Gothenburg, so I won’t write much about it. Just know that it will change your perception of what you thought a burger could be. I instead want to shine some light on their not-so-often talked about next-door neighbor: The Bar. Here you will find the most creative, unique and tasty drinks in town, some with a Swedish twist. Who wouldn’t want to sip on a “Fresh Espresshoe” or “Whiskey Saurus Rex”? And while you’re at it, you can order some delicious homemade chips or hot dogs (yes, they have hot dogs). The only downside is that you never know when they are open as their sign always says “open when we’re open; closed when we’re closed.” As annoying as that may be, I can’t help but find it sort of charming.
Kville Hop & Deli
Even though Kville Hop & Deli is the diametrical opposite of a large, fancy-schmancy store, it still somehow manages to shelf around 400 different kinds of beer. Their selection is actually the most extensive of its kind in all of Sweden – with one caveat. The beer’s alcohol percentage is restricted from 0–3.5% and may therefore be off-putting for some people, but hear me out. Non-alcoholic beer is actually a booming industry set to become a $25B market by 2024. There are so many amazing options out right now that you wouldn’t believe it, often with very unique and experimental flavors. Just ask the wonderful, knowledgeable and super enthusiastic owner, Bengt Sundqvist, and he will gladly guide you through his beer jungle. This is truly a place for anyone who wants to experience Sweden in a bottle. I would personally suggest trying some of the micro-brewed alternatives from Gothenburg, such as Hönöbryggeriet Lager.
Bengans has sold vinyl records to Gothenburgers for more than 30 years and offers a large selection of both old and contemporary albums covering many genres. Here you can also find CDs, books, movies, posters, music-related merchandise and much more. Even if you don’t have a turntable of your own, the overall feeling you get from browsing records at Bengans is still worth experiencing. You may also be fortunate enough to witness a kickass live performance on stage by some local Swedish artists. My advice is to finally round off your visit with a warm cup of joe from Bengan’s very own café, watching the trams and bikes pass by in the beautiful neighborhood of Majorna.
These hidden gems may not be the first places you visit in the city, but should definitely be on your list if you want to immerse yourself with the locals. I therefore hope you’ll get the chance to book a flight ticket after this whole you-know-what thing is over. Do make sure to come in the summer, though, since Gothenburg can be absolutely miserable when it’s gray outside (breaking news: Sweden is not known for its good weather).
In the meanwhile, take care, or as we say in Gothenburg: Ha de gött!