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Smørrebrød capped with pålæg, or toppings. While traditional pålægs include cold cuts, pieces of meat or fish, cheese, or spreads, Copenhagen chefs are experimenting with new, creative combinations. (Photograph by Yadid Levy)

Local Flavor: A Slice of Scandinavia

The Danish word smørrebrød translates simply as buttered bread, but anyone familiar with the open-face sandwich devoured at lunchtime throughout Copenhagen will consider that pure Nordic understatement.

Where to sample?

Traditionalists should start at the venerable Schønnemann’s café, which opened in 1877 and offers some 100 varieties.

Copenhagen’s new wave of smørrebrød kitchens like Orangeriet (try the cured salmon with truffled egg), Almanak, and Aamanns features locally sourced toppings like gooseberries and watercress. For picnics, Aamanns offers a takeout kitchen next to its restaurant.

This piece, written by National Geographic Traveler contributing editor Raphael Kadushin, first appeared in the magazine’s December 2014 issue.

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