To open up the local dining culture a little bit, I have to admit we are pretty closed up folks in the period of Monday to Friday. Many restaurants stay closed for Monday and Tuesday because we all simply stay home for the crappiest days of the week. We enjoy our quickly made family portion of local “mac’n’cheece”, macaroni with mince and white egg milk tucked into oven (we call it Makaroonilaatikko) and take the remains to work for lunch. But when we reach the end of the week you can meet us outside the regular home-office-home route and we take a few hours to hang out with friends and colleagues on Friday afternoon in bars.
Afterwork beer and wine with “lapas” the Lappish tapas are served in many bars and our favorite is the new restaurant Bord by hotel Scandic City. What is so special about this place is that the lapas menu consists of local ingredients twisted into tapas bites in skilled hands of the head chef Aki. Restaurant Bord trusts in fresh, quality ingredients in everything they do check both menus: the seasonal and the a la carte!
Friday night is best used on romantic date in restaurant Nili which has earned all the fame they have as the best restaurant in Rovaniemi! Nili means a storage or a fridge before times of electricity. Lapps used to store meat out of the reach of foxes and lynx as Nili was traditionally build on top of a high pole. Today the restaurant is the landmark of the city so make sure you book a table also for weekdays. The interior is made of reindeer leather crafts and the funny waitresses are dressed in traditional women’s long dresses. Don’t be afraid to try something new like spruce sorbet or bear meat soup. Menu is a fresh mix of modern and traditional Lappish kitchen where the origins of the chefs are visible: mushrooms are hand picked Lappish forest mushrooms and in Rovaniemi menu (4 course menu of the season) you can taste a local treat: birch sap schnapps.
If you want to invest in a good meal drive up the Ounasvaara hill for Lapland Hotels Sky Ounasvaara for a la carte. This restaurant is the only restaurant in Lapland that made it to top 40 restaurants of Finland. Menus are constantly changing with the top chefs of Finland working on creations of top-notch ingredients into what can be called Northern style dishes. Restaurant view is worth the drive too: all tables look down a ski slope and the trees are nicely lit for the dark nights. Restaurant has an exciting ambient of authentic Finnish design from 50’s to real fine dining atmosphere.
New addition to Rovaniemi street view offers the lately opened Roka Kitchen & Winebar next to Safartica office. Sanna, the owner and sommelier has not only designed the interior herself but handpicked the wine menu as she is one of the most northern sommeliers in Finland! So, weather you are up for lapas and wine or proper dining of several courses (and hours), step in and enjoy! Sanna’s husband Toni is the heart and soul of the menus and as a fisherman himself and the fish dishes are worth trying!
For long lunch and brunch Rovaniemi offers loads of superb choices. Safartica staff favorites are the Rovaniemi owned, private, cafes with international blend of menus – just like we are!
– Cafebar21 with fresh salads, savory waffles and oven baked potato with cold smoked reindeer mousse! Try the in-house made gelato and cakes for dessert or go straight for the popcorn cocktail!
– Yuca next door to Bar21 with connecting door, is a funny add to Rovaniemi restaurants as Yuca makes very authentic Mexican food! Char goal grilled fillings in hand baked tacos and choose your sauces according to how hot you can handle it! Flush down with real tequila and margarita like you never tasted before.
– Retro café Kauppayhtiö makes the best reindeer steak burgers in whole Lapland! In this café you can buy anything you see as it is also a second-hand shop at the same time. Hipsters welcome!
– Pure Pizza next door to Kauppayhtiö with connecting door bakes the original Italian pizzas in real wood oven brought from Naples but with New York style of fillings!
– Sweet tooth aching? Head for local chocolate bakery Choco Deli and try their amazing glazed cakes and hand made chocolate. Perfect souvenirs are bought here!
Ask us for more tips as the city is full of delicious choices!