Oslo has a vibrant restaurant scene and a surprisingly lively nightlife for it’s modest size. Below are some suggestions for eating out and some general pointers for where to go for a drink afterwards.
You will have no difficulties in finding a decent restaurant pretty much anywhere in town, but you’d do well to avoid anything on the Karl Johan high street (with a few exceptions). Dining out in Oslo is expensive almost no matter where you go, so you might as well go somewhere that provides value for your money. If you are prepared to fork out for your dining experience, there are a number of Michelin star restaurants in Oslo (book early), and the Guide Michelin has some suggestions at a lower price point, too.
Since the arrival of the “new nordic” kitchen, the old fashioned Norwegian cuisine restaurant has, perhaps rightfully in many cases, been relegated to the annals of history. A few respectable establishments are still going strong though. Lofotstua (in Kirkeveien) and Engebret (Bankplassen) are both highly recommended. (Don’t go if you don’t like fish.)
Dining out on the cheap can only really be done at Oslo’s east end Tøyen and Grønland area. A local favourite is the Punjab Tandoori, which lies right by the Grønland metro stop. A main course there will set you back $10-15, which by Norwegian standards is outrageously cheap. If you’re feeling more adventurous, try the nearby Palmyra Cafe. Closer to the city centre you’ll find several Vietnamese restaurants worth considering, try Lille Saigon 1 or Xin Chao.
Restaurants near the venue
If you prefer keeping close to the venue and hotels, here are a few suggustions:
Mon Oncle – Universitetsgata 9 – French fine dining. Extremely close to the venue.
Kafeteria August – Universitetsgata 9 – Even closer to the venue. Quite casual. No reservations.
Beijing Palace — Pilestredet 27 — Unassuming chinese (try the dumplings) with a wine list fit for a three star michelin.
Nektar Vinbar – Fredensborgveien 42 — Casual wine bar with an excellent kitchen.
Brasserie France — Øvre Slottsgate 16 – Classic no nonsense french brasserie.
Grand Cafe – Karl Johans gate 31 — Modernized grand old man of Oslo’s restaurant scene.
Theatercafeen – Stortingsgata 24 — Just about as grand as Grand Cafe. Traditional Viennese style cafe with a modern nordic kitchen.
Panu – St. Olavs Plass 3 — Hot new asian fusion with cool vibes. Go early unless you want a DJ to accompany your dinner.
Esaias – Dronningens gate 27 — Another nice and casual wine bar cum restaurant.
Katla – Universitetsgata 12 — Very nordic, very good, one block from the venue.
Sabi Omakase – Ruseløkkveien 3 — Top echelon sushi. Go to its little brother next door if you prefer not to blow out your wallet.
Izakaya – St. Olavs gate 7 – The original, and many would say the only real, izakaya in Oslo. Very casual.
There is no shortage of bars and concert venues in Oslo. You’ll find most of them in and around the city centre and in the nightlife area of Grünerløkka. Outside these specially designated areas, bars are mandated to stop service at around 12-1am, but in the city centre you can keep going until 3 am if you are so inclined. Drinks are, as a matter of Norwegian alcohol policy, expensive everywhere.
Try bar hopping along Torggata, across Youngstorget and from there up Thorvald Meyers gate. The route contains something for every taste. Try the aquavits at Fyret (the food is good too), then proceed about 20 metres to Bonanza, Oslos best (and smallest) country music bar. My clubbing days are over, but if you should decide you want to dance it out all night, a slight detour will take you to The Villa. The roof literally came down here one night last year but has since been repaired. Further along Torggata you may want to stop by Tilt, an arcade game bar, and the nearby hole in the wall Robinet, if you can get in. Right before crossing the bridge over to Grünerløkka, have a beer at Cafe Sara, a true solid classic in the area. It is also one of a very few places in Oslo where you can get hot food on a plate late at night. Entering Grünerløkka, your options are endless. If you had to choose one, go to Aku Aku (a tiki bar), neighbouring Bar Boca, or follow the river instead to Blå or it’s calmer cousin Bortenfor.
Bars near the venue
Summit bar – Holbergs gate 30 – The bar is perfectly decent, but the view makes it worth it even if you are not staying at the hotel. Located on top of the Radisson Scandinavia hotel.
Fuglen – Universitetsgata 2 – Popular for coffee during the day, turns into a very good cocktail bar at night.
Makulator – Kristian Augusts gate 7A – Laidback wine and beer just down the street from the venue.
Becco – Kristian Augusts gate 11 – This place is too cool for its own good at night, but go early and you will find it pleasant.
Svanen — Karl Johans gate 13 — Cocktail bar located in a former pharmacy with listed interiors from the early 1900s.