This new Helsinki restaurant is poised to become the city's favourite hang-out

By Linnéa Pesonen

Photo: Martin Sommerschield and Dan Skugge

Toppa, the new 1,000 square metre Helsinki hotspot, has just opened its doors in one of the city's legendary, mid-century Alvar Aalto-designed buildings. Below, we sit down with one of the restaurant owners, Michelin-starred chef Tommi Tuominen, for the lowdown on all the delicious details

When, in 2022, Finnish Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur Tommi Tuominen was offered an opportunity to open a new eatery in Helsinki, his first response was “not interested”. “I already had my plate full with my other restaurants, and didn’t really have resources to start a new one,” he explains. Nevertheless, he was lured to take a peek at the space where the potential restaurant would be, and his mind instantly changed.

“I was very sceptical about it, but upon riding up the elevator to the sixth floor and seeing the city views and the expansive terrace, I felt I’d be an idiot if I didn’t at least make an offer on the place,” Tuominen says. The locale in question was the Sugar Cube, one of the most iconic architectural landmarks in Helsinki, conceived by none other than Finnish design great Alvar Aalto. Completed in 1962, the protected building, which used to be the headquarters of the forestry company Stora Enso, has never been accessible to the public until now, as Tuominen’s street food restaurant and bar, Toppa, finally opened its doors this weekend.

Toppa offers a tasty street food menu with flavours plucked from all over the world. Photo: Martin Sommerschield and Dan Skugge


The Sugar Cube's marble exterior. Photo: Martin Sommerschield and Dan Skugge

Photo: Martin Sommerschield and Dan Skugge

Nestled on the top floor of the Sugar Cube and spanning over 1,000 square metres, Toppa offers its guests a unique dining experience. Perched on the waterfront right next to the Presidential Palace, the restaurant’s sweeping terrace boasts unparalleled views of the Baltic Sea and the bustling city. Claiming its place as Helsinki’s largest rooftop terrace, you might have to wait in line to snag a table at this future hotspot as the warmer months approach.

“The terrace will have 60 dining spots with the full menu, as well as a bar and a DJ set up to get the party started,” Tuominen says. You can trust Tuominen to know a thing or two about throwing a great party, considering that Grotesk, one of his restaurants in central Helsinki, remains one of the city dwellers’ go-to joints for delicious cocktails and good vibes.

Tommi Tuominen, Finnish Michelin-starred chef and owner of Toppa. Photo: Martin Sommerschield and Dan Skugge

Toppa’s indoor spaces are equally striking as its outdoor areas. Every nook and corner has been meticulously designed and curated by Aalto, with some of his most recognisable works, such as the ‘Mehiläispesä’ (‘Beehive’) lamps, sprinkled throughout the eatery. Since the building is protected by the Finnish Heritage Agency, Tuominen and his team weren’t allowed to make any significant changes to the space; instead, they restored and refurbished it, giving it a fresh spin with refined details and a brand-new kitchen. Exuding Aalto’s signature organic fluidity and timeless appeal, the place is a true one-of-a-kind gem.

Refined details of Toppa's cocktail bar with curvy leather walls designed by Alvar Aalto. Photo: Martin Sommerschield and Dan Skugge

Photo: Martin Sommerschield and Dan Skugge

Photo: Martin Sommerschield and Dan Skugge

And then there’s the food, of course. As the owner of two Michelin-starred restaurants, Finnjävel and Demo, Tuominen boasts a strong background in fine dining. However, considering the vast size of Toppa, Tuominen knew from the outset that this venture would be a bit different. Initially struggling to conjure up a food concept, inspiration struck when he revisited the brochures of the building. “There was this golden sentence that stated how Alvar Aalto was first and foremost a human-centric designer – that really resonated with me,” Tuominen recalls. “I pondered the most human-centric food concept, and street food instantly came to mind.”

Offering a mouth-watering menu featuring street food dishes from around the world, guests will enjoy shareable, scrumptious bites that encompass a mix of “familiar and safe flavours” alongside more “exotic and unusual options,” served from day to night. Complementing the food are a variety of fresh signature cocktails, luscious wines, and a laid-back mood. As Tuominen says, “Toppa is all about a fun, relaxed atmosphere combined with great food.”