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 Abelone bar on Brugata in Oslo. Photo: Tom Egil Jensen
Abelone bar on Brugata in Oslo. Photo: Tom Egil Jensen

Places

Brugata and Torggata, Oslo’s new trendy area

Oslo is undergoing a makeover. Torggata, with its narrow side streets, has become a place worth visiting, both for good food and shopping and Brugata is following suit.

A few years ago, all that Torggata had to offer was one or two stores selling drapes and a couple of kebab shops. There was no good reason to head to this part of town. But that was then and this is now. These days, the street is home to a microbrewery, several top restaurants and a multitude of bars. And that’s not all. Brugata has also smartened itself up. Now it’s no longer just a place for people looking to buy cheap sweet potatoes. People come from all over the city to drink cocktails and dine at restaurants in these side streets. Karen Sand moved to the area several years ago.

“When I moved here, people didn’t seem to think it was a good neighborhood. That’s not the case anymore,” Sand tells Scandinavian Traveler.

Since Sand moved here, the area has undergone significant redevelopment. New cobblestones have been laid and there’s a focus on cyclists and pedestrians. Benches, planters and bicycle racks have been installed. In the center of the district is Youngstorget, where food trucks selling everything from tacos to Japanese food to Dutch cheeses come and feed the masses every day. 

Skepticism

Thon Eiendom owns several of the buildings on the street and has developed them in conjunction with the City of Oslo.

“The lower part was poorly lit and had several stores and places serving kebabs,” John Braastad, property manager at Thon Eiendom, tells Scandinavian Traveler. “This is the approach to Grünerløkka, but folks used to hurry past. We wanted to get people to spend time in the area.”

He says that they needed to offer something more than a shopping mall.

“If we had owned one building, we would have tried to get the most out of it, but because we own several buildings, we wanted to create a breeding ground for other businesses that people want to use. Oslo also has a lot of talented people who have struggled to compete against the chains, but who have been able to establish themselves here.”

Some were skeptical in the beginning, though.

“Once Starbucks opened on the street, more followed,” he says. “Several new restaurants are on the way during the course of 2018.”

Brugata is being transformed into something brand new.

Building up new areas

When new Danish bar Brus was looking to open a bar in Oslo, this was the area they chose. They run the To øl brewery and the Brus brewpub with restaurant in Copenhagen.

“I like places you can work with,” Linda Merete Skogholt, co-owner and manager of Brus, tells Scandinavian Traveler. “I like to create value and beautiful things. A lot has happened in this area, spearheaded by Kulturhuset. We now have a nice new ramen restaurant for a neighbor. In Copenhagen, we have focused on Nørrebro rather than Vesterbro, which has long been the trendiest part of the city.” 

She says that there’s still room here for businesses with good concepts, just a little further down. If you continue past Himkok bar, now ranked the 20th best bar in the world, down to Brugata, you’ll find the Abelone cocktail bar. This street is where some of the city’s dive bars have sat side-by-side with vegetable stores and shops selling phone cards. For co-owner Stian Vaagland, Brugata is a strategic choice.

“Brugata is a gateway from downtown Oslo to Grønland. We believe in the eastern district and that Brugata will undergo the same transformation as Torggata.”

Vaagland is also co-owner of the Torgata Botaniske bar, which has quickly gained a reputation for its great cocktails flavored with herbs from its own jars. The bar is just a few steps from where Sand lives. She won’t be moving away from here any time soon.

“It’s a wonderful neighborhood. Almost like a little village in the city,” she says. “And now everyone thinks I live in a trendy neighborhood.” 

10 exciting places in the area around Torggata and Brugata:

Brus Bar

Small bar with a floor space of just 65m2 that serves fantastic cocktails and beer from its own brewery.

Brus

Osterhaus gate 11, 0183 Oslo

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Abelone on Brugata. Photo: Tom Egil Jensen

Abelone

Recently opened cocktail bar in Brugata, named after brothel-keeper Abelone Kristensen. She is said to have been the child of a prostitute herself. When she ran away from home she opened up a grocery store with a hotel and a brothel on the second floor at Vaterland. This was a place beyond the reach of law and order, so the story goes. Abelone bar, on the other hand, complies with all the regulations and serves its sour cocktails with a smile and plenty of ice.The bar is run by Robin Sohrabi-Shiraz, Jacob Spangenberg, Veronica Vollund and Stian Vaagland, all well-known on the city’s restaurant scene. Designer Adrian Fjell is also part of the team.

Abelone

Brugata 5, Oslo

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Crowbar is a great place for those who appreciate good beer.

Crowbar & Bryggeri

This place serves a wide selection of beers brewed in-house. A pleasant bar both inside and out, try their famous grilled pork kebab. Goes down well with one of the house brews.

Crowbar & Bryggeri

Torggata 32, 0183 Oslo

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Whyred

The Stockholm-based clothing brand, which sells classic clothing with an edgy twist, opened a store on Torggata in 2016.

Whyred

Torggata 35, 0183 Oslo

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Kulturhuset

The main aim of this place is to bring people together. They regularly have concerts, dance and exhibitions here or you can just enjoy a drink.

Kulturhuset

Youngs gate 6, 0181 Oslo

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Mustang Sally on Torggata, Oslo. Photo: Inga Ragnhild Holst

Mustang Sally

Shoes and flowers combine beautifully at this sweet little boutique.

Torggata 21, 0183 Oslo

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Wunderburger

Hamburger joint Munchies certainly pulls in the crowds, but there’s obviously room for more in the neighborhood, in the form of Wünderburger. Here you can choose from a range of great accompaniments, such as blue cheese and jalapeno cheeseballs. Served with fries of course – why not try the ones with Parmesan?

Wunderburger

Torggata 18, 0181 Oslo

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Vintage Gitar

In this specialist store, you’ll find vintage instruments, amplifiers and accessories. It also has a workshop.

Vintage Gitar

Torggata 28, 0138 Oslo

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Hevn

This little boutique offers a range of carefully selected clothing from designers you may not have heard of, such as Army Of Me, Ninna York and Isaac Sellam.

Hevn

Torggata 36A, 0183 Oslo

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Brugata Landhandleri

The founders of Himkok on Storgata look like this is a place they want to stay. They’ve recently opened Brugata Landhandleri, which is a store, restaurant, cheese counter and bar all under one roof. Giving this tough neighborhood a bit of a boost. On the menu you’ll find everything from eggs Benedict to porridge to kimchi.

Brugata Landhandleri

Brugata 9, 0186 Oslo

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