(Photo courtesy of Li.ke)
Eating Vegan in Berlin: Great Restaurants
by Bethany Sharp
When I told my friends that I was moving from New York City to Berlin, I got a lot of inquiries about how I could possibly keep up my vegan diet. To many Americans, Berlin is synonymous with brats and burgers, so folks are often surprised to discover that Berlin is a very vegan-friendly city with lots of incredible plant-based menu options. Aside from plenty of vegan items in grocery stores (a personal favorite shopping spot of mine is Veganz), there are countless vegan-friendly restaurants in the city. It would be impossible for me to list all of the wonderful places with vegan menu options I’ve encountered, but I’ve compiled a list of some of my top picks for vegan Circles users to try out while connecting with fellow plant-based food lovers.
Why not start with sweet treats? Brammibal’s Donuts is a fantastic fully vegan donut shop. With six locations around the city, you’re bound to be near one at some point, so I suggest that you stop in and give these tasty pastries a try. When a friend brought a box of Brammibal’s donuts to a get-together, I decided to split one with another guest. The pumpkin spice donut was so delicious, I found myself eating half of a cranberry pecan donut within a few minutes. And I couldn’t believe they were vegan! I often find that vegan pastries are too dry or overly spongy, but Brammibal’s are always perfectly moist and fluffy. I’ve been a loyal customer ever since, and I recommend Brammibal’s Donuts to vegans and non-vegans alike. So regardless of your diet, this is a great connecting place for anyone who uses Circles!
While we’re on the subject of sweets, let’s talk about a place to find wonderful vegan desserts. Located in Neukölln, Café Vux is a Berlin staple for vegans with a sweet tooth. Their pastries are delicious, and they also offer great coffee and espresso drinks and smoothies. I was told to try their peanut butter cupcake by more than one source, and I was not disappointed when I finally did! I also tasted a bite of a friend’s raspberry cheesecake and a bite of the chocochili-tarte, which were both rich and decadent in all the right ways. They have other non-desert items like bagels and soups, and I hear that they serve an exceptional Sunday brunch, but I have yet to try it out. It’s been a while since I’ve been back to Vux, but I learned that they’ve also started serving bao bun sandwiches, so it’s definitely on my radar to visit again!
Pizza is one of my go-to comfort foods, but finding a tasty vegan option can be tough. La Stella Nera is another Neukölln gem, and not only do they have vegan Italian options, but their entire menu is vegan. I had the Verdure Bianca from the pizza menu, a simple pie with vegan cheese and grilled vegetables. I love the creaminess of vegan cheese, but I know that some people don’t care for it. To those folks, you’re in luck because La Stella Nera has plenty of pizza options that forego the cheese altogether. But this isn’t just a pizza place. You can get plenty of other lovely Italian items like pasta and antipasti, and even a vegan tiramisu. The prices are about what you’d expect of any casual Italian dining spot in the city—menu items range from 3 to 12 Euros. Definitely one of my favorite vegan pizza options.
Speaking of comfort food, nothing says Berlin like Burgers, Currywurst, and Fries. This cozy, yet vibrant Friedrichshain favorite serves excellent vegan basics. Yoyo Foodworld was where I tried my first Beyond Meat burger, and it changed my opinion of plant-based patties. They also have a Beyond Sausage currywurst as well as plenty of other fast food options, including a yummy “chicken” schnitzel burger. I’m a big fan of their housemade dips, including the avocado mayo and a sweet-chili sauce. Affordable (the highest-priced menu item is 7 Euros) and unpretentious, Yoyo Foodworld is one of my top burger go-to places in all of Berlin.
If you’ve been in Berlin for even a day, you’ve likely come across more than one kebab place. But if you’re vegan, you typically have one option: falafel. Now, don’t get me wrong. I love falafel, but it can get old really quickly if your friends or coworkers choose one of these popular spots for a quick group lunch at least once a week like mine do. Enter Vöner—a quick and tasty vegan place serving a plant-based take on döner, the popular Turkish shaved meat. After creating the döner substitute in its original Friedrichshain location, Vöner began selling its products to other stores in the city. I tried the Vöner dürum wrap, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Vöner also serves meatless burgers and very tasty fries and salads. Like any kebab place, the prices are low and the service is fast. If you’re in Friedrichshain or at one of the stores that sell Vöner, you should definitely give it a try.
This charming Prenzlauer Berg coffee shop does serve some menu items that contain animal products, but has a lot of vegan options—all very clearly labeled. I recommend their vegan Belgian waffles with fresh seasonal fruit and whipped cream if you’re in the mood for a rich breakfast, or they have very good vegan croissants if you’re looking for something a little less heavy. The menu is affordable and changes daily with fresh vegan breads, soups, salads, and desserts. Café Neue Liebe’s atmosphere is laid back and simplistic, and it’s a nice location for sitting outside with a lovely oat milk latte or smoothie and people watching as passersby stroll up and down the cobblestone sidewalk. It’s one of the most relaxing coffee break spots in the city and a great spot for meeting with people in your circle.
“What is Afro-Italian food?” I asked as I walked by Prenzlauer Berg’s AtayaCaffe for the first time. The answer: it’s delicious! This welcoming, vibrant fusion restaurant serves savory daily specials of vegan pasta and rice dishes with mouthwatering Mediterranean and African flavors. Prices range from about 5-10 Euros for lunch items. Entrée portions are large, and they’re as flavorful as they are beautifully plated. The food at AtayaCaffe truly has soul, and you can taste the love of cooking in every bite. It’s also a great place for Sunday brunch, but they can fill up quite quickly, so it’s best to get a reservation.
My typical vegan sushi experience has been eating rice rolls full of shredded carrots and cucumbers. Not bad, but not something I crave. Which is why I was so happy to have discovered Secret Garden—a fantastic vegan place with a wide selection of creative sushi along with starters, soups, and entrees. Located above the Friedrichshain Veganz (yes, the grocery store), Secret Garden boasts a menu I have repeatedly returned to sample. My favorite sushi roll is probably the Tempura Tiger, and I love their Pink Panther Summer rolls. I think I’ve also developed an addiction to their dumplings, and Secret Garden also makes one of my favorite Ramen soups. It’s no wonder Secret Garden has so much success with their delightful food because the owner of the restaurant also owns one of Berlin’s oldest and most beloved vegan establishments (which I’m going to talk about next), 1990 Vegan Living.
Fancy some vegan Vietnamese tapas? 1990 Vegan Living in Friedrichshain got its name because it was established in 1990, and in its thirty years, it has become a well-known Berlin staple for vegans and omnivores alike. It was one of the first vegan restaurants I tried when I moved to the city, and I’ve gone back several times. The tapas-style presentation is great for sharing and I recommend getting a variety of 4 to 10 dishes depending on how many people you’re dining with. If I’m getting something for just myself, my go-to is the Yogi Bowl, but there are so many good small dishes, I don’t think I could choose a favorite.
Hands down, my favorite vegan Thai in the city is at Li.ke in Friedrichshain. The restaurant's bright and eclectic interior caught my eye one day as I was walking by, so I went in for dinner that night. The authentic flavors of the small plates (perfect for sharing) keep me coming back. I tend to gravitate toward everything that says “*Spicy” on the menu. A few favorites are the smaller bowls like Muh Yor Sāb (a glass noodle salad with seitan and chili-lemongrass dressing), Mamuong li.ke (cashews and other vegan proteins fried with a chili paste), and the Matsaman Curry with jackfruit. Their Phad Thai is a wonderful larger portion option if you’re looking for something to eat on your own. Prices at Li.ke are very reasonable (just under 4 Euros for small dishes, and under 10 Euros for large bowls). I’m a huge lover of Thai food, and of all of the vegan restaurants in Berlin, this may very well be the one I’ve visited the most.
I came across this quaint vegan cafe and bookstore in Prenzlauer Berg a few weeks ago. I dropped in and got a really good vegan Caprese sandwich for about 3 Euros, so I came back the following week for breakfast. I had a bagel with cream cheese and carrot “salmon” as well as a bite of my husband’s savory tofu scramble. We topped it off by sharing a delicious banana, peanut butter, and coffee smoothie, all for under 20 Euros. I’m sure that I’ll be back again soon to try one of their beautiful cakes or confections. They also offer vegan cooking workshops and events like movie screenings, book clubs, and vegan dating nights, solidifying Plant Base as a valuable resource for the vegan community and ample opportunities to meet up with folks in your circle! Check out their facebook page for updates on weekly events!
The above eleven restaurants are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to vegan options in Berlin. One of the best ways to find more is to step away from your computer (or put away your phone), walk or bike around the neighborhoods, and discover great spots for yourself and new Circles friends! Happy vegging!