Compared to more intimidating Icelandic specialties like sour rams’ testicles and fermented shark, the three-meat Icelandic hot dog, known as pylsur, is a comparatively accessible national dish.
It’s also said to be absolutely delicious. This dog features a triumvirate of meats (lamb, pork, and beef); two kinds of onions (crispy-fried and raw); and a selection of condiments, including ketchup sweetened with apples and special sauce known as remolaði. The latter condiment is the Icelandic cousin to France’s remoulade, a mayonnaise-based sauce spiked with pickles, vinegar, and onions.
The subtle blend of meats is the key to the pylsur’s complex flavor. Beef provides the fat, pork the texture, and lamb a subtle gaminess. Icelandic lambs have a very nice life—they roam freely around the island, feasting on berries and vegetation, which makes their meat delicious. Icelanders also cook their dogs in a mixture of water and beer. The country’s most famous supplier, Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, is a contender for the title of world’s greatest hot dog stand.
No one’s quite sure how the hot dog came to Iceland, but it’s an institution. Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur has served hot dogs by the old Reykjavík harbor since 1937. It’s recommended by countless travel companies, and a majority of Icelanders live close enough to be regular patrons. Bill Clinton sampled the stand’s offerings—ordering “The Clinton” will get you a pylsur with just mustard, as the former United States president had his in 2004.
Need to Know
Try ordering “one with everything” (“ein með öllu”). Pyslurs are sold throughout Reykjavík, and you can also buy them at the Reykjavík airport duty-free shop. The upper limit, according to the USDA, is 50 pounds per person.