A vegan weekend in Berlin
My amazing friend Mirel has written this fab guest post about her recent weekend in Berlin.
For more years than I can remember, all I’ve heard is that Berlin is the best vegan destination on the entire planet. This is high praise indeed so when my husband Mark and I were invited to a friend’s wedding in Berlin, I began researching vegan eateries in earnest and visited as many as possible during the short trip.
Our first stop was the Indian Vegetarian restaurant Satyam which was chosen because it was the nearest place to Berlin Tegel Airport! Well, it’s as good a reason as any. The friendly and charming waiter informed us that the thali of the day had just been freshly prepared and was fully vegan. We were instantly sold and opted for a thali each.
They had some unusual combinations that I wouldn’t have chosen from a menu, but which were surprisingly delicious. The tofu and pineapple curry in a coconut sauce didn’t sound particularly appealing but it was the piña colada of curries and I really enjoyed it. The lentil dal was perfect; warming and hearty but not too spicy. The restaurant itself is cosy, clean and has a lovely relaxing atmosphere. A lot of regulars were coming in and the wait staff knew their standard orders which is a true sign of a loyal customer base.
A few hours later it was dinner time and we were hungry again. What better for a Friday night than a kebab? Decision made, we headed to Ostkreuz Station and strolled into Vöner. This tiny little place with a couple of tables inside and a couple more on the pavement has a kitchen in full view of all the customers so you can see exactly how everything is made and there is an impressively large vegan kebab being roasted on a spit behind the counter.
Mark had the voner kebab which was even more impressive than we expected. It’s served in freshly toasted bread which is perfectly crispy on the outside but fluffy in the middle, generously spread with tasty homemade sauces, filled high with fresh salad and chunky strips of flame-roasted seitan. We made the mistake of ordering a portion of chips each and barely managed to finish them. It must have been three potatoes per person!
The two members of staff were really helpful, friendly and clearly have a huge passion for what they’re doing. If you have the chance and a huge appetite, I’d definitely recommend a visit to Vöner.
One restaurant which had shown up consistently in my research was Ataya Caffé, near Prenzlauer Allee Station. I had emailed them in advance to ask if they had a menu available in English, they replied very promptly to say that they didn’t have one as they have a series of rotating specials. They also told me that they serve African Italian fusion which is a combination I had yet to come across, I was intrigued from the start.
We arrived at lunchtime to find that they run a Sunday brunch buffet with an incredible selection of all-vegan awesomeness. Fresh Italian breads sit alongside warming stews of every variety, a biryani, cous-cous, pasta salad, two varieties of hummus, dal, curries, bruschetta, salads, huge chunks of watermelon and even gooey chocolate and banana brownies. The sight of it alone was enough to make me consider moving to Berlin! As an added bonus, it’s served at the very reasonable price of €14 per person. There is also an impressive selection of drinks, fresh smoothies and desserts to choose from if you have space.
We loaded up our plates and sat down. Every single mouthful was utterly delicious. Nothing was mediocre or adequate. We couldn’t believe how good this place was! According to the HappyCow league table, this is the third best vegan restaurant in the world. Having dined there myself, I can say the accolade is well deserved.
This restaurant is run by a husband and wife team who love what they do and are absolutely brilliant at it. I spoke with the owners for a little while and asked if they would consider opening a restaurant in London. If it happens one day, you heard it here first!
I cannot overstate this enough. If you can only visit one vegan restaurant in Berlin – make it Ataya Caffé. Note that it is closed on Mondays and is a cash only venue.
Is there a vegan left who hasn’t heard of the German vegan supermarket chain? I had to pay a visit to Veganz Supermarket during the trip. It’s instantly dizzying; a beautifully thought-out shop fully stocked with absolutely every vegan item you can think of, and more. They have a takeaway food counter, a wall of freezers loaded with savouries and sweets of every kind and there is also a bulk grains and nuts section where people are encouraged to bring in their own containers. It’s a little out of the way but worth the journey if time allows.
Our final meal in Berlin was at Lia’s Kitchen where we each had a burger and chips which were very tasty, absolutely massive and really filling. It’s a laid back eatery with an impressive selection of burgers along with tasty-looking salads and even shakes if you feel so inclined. There is outdoor seating available as well which many customers were taking advantage of. You can pick from a variety of different sauces to top your burger and sweet potato fries are available too.
The staff at Lia’s Kitchen advised us to visit their neighbours for dessert before we headed to the airport so we took a very quick detour to the all-vegan donut shop Brammibal’s Donuts. This is the first fully vegan donut shop in the whole of Europe and it’s easy to see why it has been a success. It’s got a huge glass counter filled to the brim with incredible looking donuts in tempting flavours along with a good selection of drinks.
Conclusion: Berlin is AWESOME!