This is where to eat Stockholm's best Swedish meatballs

By Constance Loeper

Dig into Sweden's favourite dish at these Stockholm restaurants

When it comes to food, Sweden is often immediately associated with meatballs. And while there's of course lots more to Swedish cuisine, the dish is a well-loved tradition. In Stockholm, the streets are filled with restaurants where meticulously made meatballs are always on the menu. Paired with the traditional condiments of potato purée, lingonberries and pickled cucumber, the culinary classic is happily devoured by tourists and locals alike.


But how do you choose which of the multitude of meatball makers to go for? Below, we've picked out the best places to experience the Swedish staple right in the capital.



At Blekingegatan 40, oversized meatballs are served with classic condiments in Restaurant Pelikan, a local eatery that is one of the oldest in the city and can trace its roots back to the 1600s. With its wood panelled walls and black and white tiled floor, Pelikan is a deeply atmospheric spot to tuck into some traditional fare - and their well-priced meatballs never fail to deliver.


Wärdshuset Ulla Winbladh


While there are myriad meatball options in downtown Stockholm, anyone on a real meatball mission would be loathe to miss out on a trip to the beautiful environs of Wärdshuset Ulla Winbladh on the lush, secluded island of Djurgården. Here, sweet little meatballs are served by attentive waitstaff in crisp white shirts in a wonderful structure designed by Gustav Wickman to house the Stockholm Art and Industry Exhibition in 1897.

After a history that included a spell as a patisserie, Ulla Winbladh was turned into a modern inn in 1992 by restaurateur and cookbook author Nils Emil Ahlin and today has become a real dining destination, and holds the record as the restaurant to have been included as a Michelin Bib Gourmand for the longest continuous period in Sweden.




A true Stockholm institution, at Riche one can enjoy large juicy meatballs in an environment filled with the spirit of Tore Wretman – the father of Swedish home cooking. Often credited with getting more Swedish men to step into the kitchen, Wretman took over Riche in 1945, reinventing and reinvigorating a space that had been left devastated by the war.

Today, Riche considers itself "the heart of all things fun in Stockholm" and its buzzy atmosphere is undeniable. Given its roots, the restaurant's menu naturally hews toward Swedish home cooking - which of course includes meatballs. And when you're done with the food, you can take a look around the restaurant's "living gallery" space, which has hosted work by the likes of Gilbert and George and Märta Måås-Fjetterström.


Operakällaren Bakfickan

Backfickan – the 'back pocket' – is the exclusive and intimate little sister to Operakällaren, a favourite among Swedish royalty that owes its name to its origins in the cellar under Gustav III’s opera house in 1787.

If that all sounds very grand, it's because it is. But Backfickan is a relatively casual affair, focusing on traditional homestyle Swedish cooking and more accessible prices. The meatballs with lingonberries, potato puree and pickled cucumber in a rich cream sauce are a particular favourite here - if you can grab one of the 28 seats inside.


Restaurang Prinsen

Restaurang Prinsen is another Swedish meatball purveyor with a lot of history. Since opening in 1897, "Books have been born here. Love has been born here. Artists have created their works here" according to the restaurant's own introduction. There's certainly something in the air, with its classic decor and art-filled walls oozing atmosphere.

Alongside other traditional favourites such as toast skagen and västerbotten cheese pie, Prinsen serves meatballs as a main with a cream sauce made of rich meat stock and port poured over their renowned "home-rolled" köttbullar.


Meatballs for the People

Looking for a more modern twist on the meatball phenomenon? Meatballs for the People is the place to head to, with the fun and funky outlet on Nytorgsgatan introducing the traditional Swedish balls to dishes such as ramen and risotto (though they also do them the classic way if you prefer). Different flavours and seasonings are all experimented with in the meatball format to make for a varied menu and if you're unsure what to have, there's always the chef's choice option, which removes decision-making paralysis with a mix of four or eight different varieties.


Restaurang Tranan

Enjoy one of the most coveted culinary experiences in town at Restaurant Tranan, where the meatballs are best joined by a traditional beverage pairing of either light beer or cold milk.

Tranan threw open its doors back in 1929 and has barely closed them since. The restaurant has been open seven days a week at the same address - Karlbergsvägen 14 - from that day on and it's not just the main dining room that comes with a storied history - the basement's live music space has played host to Tom Waits, A Tribe Called Quest and Tupac Shakur.


Den Gyldene Freden

If you're in search of a traditional setting to go with your traditional dish, there are few better options than Den Gyldene Freden. Located in Stockholm's Gamla Stan, which directly translates to Old Town, this restaurant was founded in 1722 and its antique furnishings ensure that the sense of history is palpable.

Home cooking with seasonal produce is the focus of the menu, with a natural focus on doing things the traditional way. And of course, the excellent meatballs are no exception.