With its village-like atmosphere, leafy setting and wide range of unmissable shops, it’s hard to believe that the cobblestoned Copenhagen street Jægersborggade was, not so long ago, best known for biker gangs, street fights and drug dealers. Tucked away in the outer reaches of the Nørrebro district, the street had been neglected for decades.
But this troubled past and out-of-the-way location have actually been key to its transformation; thanks to cheap rent, a wealth of creative entrepreneurs have been attracted to Jægersborggade over the past few years, leading to the creation of a unique community. A tenants’ association was recently set up, encouraging locals to start their own businesses and supporting them with start-up capital and a welcoming community spirit.
One of these Jægersborggade businesses is the upmarket Restaurant Relae, with its focus on locally sourced produce. The Wall Street Journal named head chef Christian F. Puglisi as one of the top 10 best young chefs in the world for 2011, and the calibre of this eating establishment gives a major clue to Jægersborggade’s newly acquired must-visit status. So what does Puglisi like about Jægersborggade? ‘The creative spirit: the determination of everybody here to make their impression on the street in their own way,’ he replies. ‘I particularly love the sense of being in a small village where everybody knows everybody.’
Certainly, the cobblestones and classical 19th-century Copenhagen architecture give Jægersborggade a village-like appeal. Arriving at the street, you realise that its out-of-the-way location is actually part of its charm, situated as it is between two green oases. At one end of the street is Jagtvej and the entrance to the green Assistens Kirkegård cemetery, final resting place of famous Danes Hans Christian Andersen and philosopher Søren Kirkegaard; the other reaches Stefansgade just by Nørrebroparken. Frequent buses to the city centre are just around the corner, too. On a broader scale the Nørrebro area is increasingly known in the city for its cool night life (Rust nightclub is up there with the best in the world), excellent restaurants and interesting independent shops. Nørrebro even has its own brewery, Nørrebro Bryghus, which includes a courtyard beer garden.
Fashion PR Kristina Houmann lives in a neighbouring Nørrebro street and describes Jægersborggade as ‘one of Copenhagen’s hidden treasures’. Houmann puts her love of the area down to Jægersborggade’s wide range of music, art, fashion and food shops. ‘But ultimately the best thing about living here is the chilled-out, happy atmosphere,’ she smiles. Also popular is the street’s monthly ‘Late Night Hunting’ nights, where you can shop until late and listen to live music. When it comes to the weekend, Houmann’s favourite hang-out is the bar/café/music venue/record shop Musiksmag (Jægersborggade 43; the name translates as ‘Music Taste’), which sells records by local independent artists, as well as a pared-down selection of food and drink.
‘We want to focus on the music and keep everything else really simple, aesthetically and practically,’ says Musiksmag co-owner Nicolai Schøler, explaining why his bar sells only bottled beer, one type of sandwich and one type of coffee alongside the stacks of vinyl. Schøler used a loan to set up Musiksmag. The rent is pretty low which enables young entrepreneurs to start really cool shops. It makes the street extremely vibrant and we’re all helping each other any way we can.’
However, if what you require is a wide choice of caffeine, look no further than The Coffee Collective (Jægersborggade 10). ‘This is the best coffee in Copenhagen!’ Houmann enthuses about her local coffee shop. In fact, The Coffee Collective is no ordinary café; it’s run by four Danes who are passionate about coffee, and where it comes from, as co-owner and world barista champion Klaus Thomsen explains: ‘We individually source all our coffees. We buy direct from the producer, paying a very high price, at least 25% above the Fair Trade price, and only buy coffees that truly excite us.’
Like his neighbouring entrepreneurs, Thomsen is quick to praise his shop’s host street: ‘We had participated in the Farmers Market further down the street and loved it. When we first moved in there wasn't much going on, but we saw huge potential. Now, three-and-a-half years later, it’s buzzing with life and has become the most interesting street in Copenhagen.’