With meat a mainstay of German cuisine, Berlin is a somewhat unlikely vegetarian and vegan hotspot. Berlin’s best meat-free restaurants range from Michelin-star fine dining to vegetarian twists on traditional street foods.
Germany is known for such traditional dishes as bratwurst sausages and sauerbraten pot roasts – not exactly vegetarian-friendly. But the ever increasing number of vegetarians in Berlin has given rise to a vibrant meat-free dining scene: vegan currywurst, all-you-can-eat buffets, and Himalayan dumplings are just a few of the vegetarian offerings in the German capital.
True to its namesake – a Spanish singer and animal rights activist, Alaska – Berlin’s Alaska Bar is a vegan tapas joint. Located at the heart of trendy Neukölln, in nightlife hub Reuterkiez, Alaska Bar serves vegan twists on Spanish classics: faux sausage croquettes, eggless tortilla and churros. When asked about the restaurant’s signature dish, their chef Fanny Medina recommends the ‘salmon’: “We call it vegan lachs (salmon in German) – it’s carrots marinated in liquid smoke.” The plant-based menu at this cosy eatery – whose walls are adorned with photographs and fairy lights – extends to vegan piña coladas and Moscow mules.
As well as serving what the restaurant claims is the best hummus in Berlin, Kanaan bridges the gap between German and Israeli-Palestinian palates. Typical German Kartoffelpuffer (potato pancakes), for example, use tahini rather than eggs and flour, in a creative fusion of the two cuisines. Fresh salads, hummus plates with various seasonal toppings, falafel made from a secret family recipe and veggie döners can be enjoyed in the restaurant’s simple yet chic interior space, or on the large outdoor terrace. The restaurant’s owners, Israeli Oz Ben David and Palestinian Jalil Dabit, pride themselves on the message of peace reflected in Kanaan’s celebration of Israeli, Palestinian and German cultures – echoed also in the restaurant’s hiring of refugees from around the Middle East.
Set within a maze of courtyards, Michelin-star dining spot Cookies Cream channels industrial chic and serves experimental vegetarian dishes against a backdrop of downtempo electronic music – a legacy of its former life as an ultra-hip nightclub. The creative genius behind the restaurant is head chef Stephan Hentschel, who presides over a seasonal menu based on produce from the restaurant’s farm in Krielow, just outside of Berlin. In the colder months, the restaurant’s team makes use of fermenting and preserving techniques to bring a taste of fresh summer produce to the depths of the Berlin winter. Recent dishes have included parmesan dumplings with Perigord truffle stock, chives and spinach; baked aubergine with edamame papadums, lovage and onion; and celery ice cream with apple, walnut and herbs. With celebrities such as George Clooney and Robbie Williams dining here, it’s no surprise that a night at Cookies Cream will require you to dip a little deeper into your wallet than an average dinner – rest assured, however, that it’s worth it.
Elegant vegan eatery Kopps has been making its mark on the Berlin food scene since its opening in 2011, serving up healthy, original and beautifully plated dishes in the heart of the central Mitte district. On weekends, a generous brunch buffet tempts guests with a wide selection of vegan cheeses, tofu ‘scrambled eggs’, cakes, flavoursome soups and their ever-popular pancakes, topped with an irresistible berry cream. Every Tuesday from 6pm, Kopps treats diners to their reasonably priced ‘Come Together’ dinner – a changing three-course set menu and communal dining experience priced at just €25. Pro-tip: ‘Come Together’ is cash-only and on a first-come-first-serve basis, so get in there early!
Vegan cuisine meets fine dining at Lucky Leek in Prenzlauer Berg. Chef Josita Hartanto creates ambitious plant-based dishes for the restaurant’s seasonal menu (changing every four to six weeks), which features both à la carte and set three- or five-course options. Lucky Leek is not content with simply substituting meat with tofu, but instead offers innovative vegan dishes where vegetables themselves are the stars of the show. Recent set menus have included lemongrass and coconut soup with red lentils and a pumpkinseed wonton, along with a potato and quinoa burger with organic locally grown asparagus and an orange sauce. The restaurant’s interior is homely – think dark wood panelling and house plants – but dining here comes into its own in the summer, thanks to Lucky Leek’s charming leafy terrace.
Specialising in organic vegetarian and vegan dumplings, Momos is among Berlin’s best cheap eats. With a focus on environmental sustainability, this relaxed dining spot brings Nepalese ‘momo’ dumplings to the German capital. These delicate filled dumplings are packed with big flavours: options include the classic spinach and sheep’s cheese, or the more unusual broccoli and shiitake mushroom with tofu. All dumplings can be prepared steamed or fried, and everything – down to the sauces – is lovingly homemade. For first timers, or if you are simply struggling to decide, the Momos Experience offer is a great solution – try all six fillings and three dips for €14.90. Top tip: wash your food down with Momos’ refreshing selection of fresh juices or ginger-lemon tea.
Among Berlin’s most longstanding vegan restaurants, 1990 Vegan Living was established only a year after the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Situated among a sea of vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Boxhagener Platz, the atmosphere here is akin to a Vietnamese family kitchen: traditional ornaments and plants adorn the traditional yet stylish space, while the family that runs the place makes guests feel absolutely at home. Centering on Vietnamese tapas-style small plates – try the ‘bun bao taco’ with soy patty and hoisin chilli, or the red curry bowl – the menu uses seasonal organic products and features a vegan wine section.
This article is an updated version of a story created by Megan King.
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