(Update: Since I wrote this post in 2011, I’ve visited Berlin again and now my opinions are a little different! Check out 2012′s list for my freshest Berlin vegan picks.)
Dear fellow travelers,
As I detailed in my last post, I just recently got back from a two-and-a-half week stint in Berlin, and one of the highlights of my trip was definitely all the amazing restaurants I got to try. Berlin is home to plethora of vegan, vegetarian, and veg*n friendly restos, and I took full advantage of all the city had to offer while I was there. And now I’m here to report back and share my assessments with you!
First off, if you’re traveling to Berlin in the future, the best vegan resource I found is the aptly titled BerlinVegan website. It has a very helpful catalogue and map of all the vegan restaurants in the city, organized by the vegan-ness of their menus (be advised, however, that it is all in German!). This was how I discovered most of the restaurants I went to, and my time in Berlin wouldn’t've been the same without it.
But enough talk: let’s see some food! To begin, here is my…
Best of Berlin
1. CHIPPS (multiple locations, Mitte)
Somewhat surprisingly, my favorite restaurant in all of Berlin is not 100% vegan or even 100% vegetarian: it’s a hip little omni (but very vegan friendly) outfit known as CHIPPS. Far too often, omni restos, even the accommodating ones, can leave vegans with slim pickings. Not so with CHIPPS, whose vegan options are both plentiful and delectable, embodying the philosophy I strive for in my own cooking: simple yet innovative uses of whole foods, prepared so as to best let the vegetables shine and sing out. I visited CHIPPS no less than four times during my short stay in Berlin (including my “last supper”), and was never disappointed. My favorite dish though was definitely this (sorry about the smartphone photo):
That’s a potato rösti served over a beet mash and topped with green beans and bread chips. So good! And as if the food weren’t enough, the atmosphere of CHIPPS is also excellent, accentuated by the open kitchen in the center of everything. Anyway, I really can’t say enough to recommend this place. If you’re in Berlin, check out CHIPPS!
2. Yellow Sunshine (Kreuzburg)
Located in the hip neighborhood of Kreuzburg, Yellow Sunshine—along with its sister restaurants Vego Foodworld in Prenzlauer Berg and Yoyo Foodworld in Friedrichshain—is Berlin’s vegan fast food hotspot. Its menu includes a wide range of incredibly tasty vegan burgers and sandwiches, and although this isn’t generally the sort of vegan food I crave, Yellow Sunshine does it well, and most importantly, this is where you have to go if you want to have some vegan currywurst while you’re in Berlin!
(For those that don’t know, currywurst—traditionally, sausage in a curry ketchup sauce—is Berlin’s most famous specialty dish, despite its street food roots.)
3. Yorck52 (Tempelhof/Schöneberg)
A little off the beaten path, Yorck52 is a newish vegan cafe, offering a small menu of delectable delights and a welcoming atmosphere (also, free wifi!). I went here for a brunchy type meal one day and really loved it.
This breakfast plate included an incredible variety of breads, fruits, and vegetables. I could’ve done without the faux meat, but it wasn’t bad or anything. I wish I had had time to go back!
4. Lucky Leek (Prenzlauer Berg)
More on the upscale side of things, Lucky Leek is a very nice vegan restaurant, featuring careful preparations of interesting and tasty vegan dishes. Their menu changes with the season, but when I visited I was treated to this mushroom consommé…
…followed by BBQ tempeh with potatoes and sauerkraut…
…and finished my meal off with this nougat tart!
All yummy! Lucky Leek is definitely recommended, especially if you’re looking for someplace a little nicer.
1. VUX (Neukölln)
VUX is a cute litte vegan café in Neukölln, a neighborhood which is still relatively lacking in vegan options. Their savory menu is small—just bagel sandwiches—but their sweet offerings are numerous and excellent. Lots of good coffee drinks as well.
2. Nil (Friedrichshain)
Moving to the opposite end of the fanciness spectrum, Nil is a tiny little Sudanese shop in Friedrichshain that only does a couple things, but does those things very well. Their “tofu Madagascar” pita sandwich is particularly recommended—I still don’t know exactly what all’s in it, but it’s excellent. Their vegan platter isn’t bad, either.
3. Maja’s Deli (Prenzlauer Berg)
A good vegan restaurant with a decently sized menu, offering lots to choose from on both the sweet and the savory side of things. I wasn’t blown away by the Überraschungsalat (“Surprise Salad”) I ordered—sauteed mushrooms AND strawberries? I guess that works?—but their desserts were divine, and I’m sure some of their other lunch items would be better.
4. Viasko (Kreuzberg)
I only went here for their Sunday morning AYCE brunch, but judging by how awesome that was, I’m confident that Viasko would be an excellent choice on other days of the week as well.
Not So Recommended
La Mano Verde (Charlottenburg)
LMV is, as far as I know, Berlin’s only raw vegan restaurant, and probably the most upscale vegan resto in the city. And for me, it was way too upscale, especially considering the quality of the food coming out of their kitchen. Don’t get me wrong—nothing was bad. But it was very disappointing to see that the whole menu was just raw takes on Italian dishes, all of which were ridiculously overpriced. It might look like a good idea, but unless you’re searching for somewhere to have an extra fancy meal, I think you’d do best to just avoid La Mano Verde.
To wrap things up, here are some dessert recommendations! If you’re looking for some vegan ice cream, the best place you can go is probably Eissalon Tanne B in Kreuzberg, which usually has five or six vegan flavors on offer, and vegan cones to boot. However, my favorite frozen treat shop was definitely Eismanufaktur in Friedrichshain. They don’t have any vegan ice cream, but their sorbets are to die for. So good.
And that’s my report on the Berlin vegan restaurant scene. I hope this helps some fellow vegan travelers. And if you know of any other great vegan places in Berlin, be sure to let me know! I’m looking for more excuses to go back.
Until we eat again,