D is for Denmark: Taste of Denmark

Welcome to Where in the World Can We Eat in San Diego! Each month, we’ll be trying food from a different country or place, going in alphabetical order by the beginning letter.

I decided on D is for Denmark, so my wife and I dropped by Taste of Denmark in our Hillcrest gayborhood. We had actually been to and enjoyed this spot a few years ago, and we’re very glad to see that they’ve made it through the pandemic. We highly recommend pairing a dinner here with a viewing of the Danish Week episode of The Great British Baking Show (Collection 6, Episode 8).

Taste of Denmark

Owner snapshot:

Tina and Bjerke are a wife-and-husband pair who own this little slice of Denmark, surrounded by hipster bars and New American eateries in the heart of Hillcrest. Tina, a quietly sunny lady, works the front, and Bjerke is the chef. Tina can’t believe it’s been 16 years since she met Bjerke through a friend of a friend, just after finishing boarding school. “Don’t think about it too much; now I’m starting to feel old,” she laughs.

They came to the U.S. four years ago. They chose San Diego because they were ready to get away from winters and see what else was out there in the world. They had never run a restaurant before, but they wanted to give it a shot and include traditional Danish foods they love. “Sometimes,” Tina says, “you have to take a chance.”

They had only been open for two years when the pandemic hit. “It’s been so strange, this last year,” Tina remarks simply, yet thoughtfully, “but really interesting. Definitely not something we expected.”

When asked for her favorite dish, her eyes smile above her mask. “I like everything. If we didn’t like it, it wouldn’t be on the menu.” 

What we ordered:

A board of smørrebrød, Danish open-faced sandwiches. We also got a very nice butternut squash soup, which isn’t pictured.
The smoked salmon open-faced sandwich, which is not to be confused with …
… the gravlax sandwich. I had a slight preference for this one between the two salmon varieties, but they were both great. You can see a plain slice of their famous rye bread here on the left.
And here is the egg sandwich. Isn’t it pretty?
The meatball sliders — juicy and delish. The bun is very good too.
Their homemade danishes are less sweet than typical coffee house danishes, so the flavor of the fruit stands out. These are apple and raspberry; the apple ones have a surprising almond flavoring. Both lovely!

Notes:

Dining in at Taste of Denmark feels like a mini-vacation. Time seems to pass differently as we sit, chat, and share all the small plates.

Just sitting back and relaxing.

I love sandwiches in general, but I’m usually not a fan of whole grain bread. It’s either too dry or sweet (apparently, manufacturers often add extra sugar to whole wheat). But Taste of Denmark’s rye bread is an exception! It has such a nice flavor to it, and it goes so beautifully with the toppings Chef Bjerke carefully layers.

What we’d order next time:

I want to try every single one of their open-faced sandwiches (I don’t actually know how many kinds they can make) and desserts, especially the aebleskiver!

If you have your heart set on trying a specific item on the menu, I’d call ahead, make a reservation, and give them a heads-up of what you’d like. But if you have few dietary restrictions, this would be a fun place to ask the chef to whip up whatever he feels like.

Restaurant information:

Address: 142 University Ave San Diego, CA 92103
Phone number: (619) 209-3636
Accepts credit cards? Yes
Parking: Street parking (which can be a little tricky in Hillcrest, depending on the time)
Available vegetarian options: Open-faced egg sandwich and all of the desserts. You could probably ask what vegetarian substitutions or adjustments could be made for some of the dishes, like the old school Danish omelet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s