I reached out to my friends on Instagram asking if anyone would be interested to write a guest post for the Vegan Eats blog about the best places to eat vegan food in their city, and the wonderful Rachel took me up on the offer! I was excited to hear from someone living in Berlin about the places she’d recommend…
Berlin is known for being progressive, environmentally conscious and full of hipsters, so it’s no surprise that it’s one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the world. It’s rare to find a restaurant that doesn’t have at least one vegan option, and you can find vegan versions of just about any classic dish, from pizza to the classic döner kebab.
On top of that, eating out here is very affordable compared to most big cities in Europe – choose the right places, and you can get an amazing meal for around €6-7. It was hard to narrow it down to just six restaurants, but here are some of my favourites!
Currywurst is for tourists – any Berliner will tell you that the döner kebab is the iconic Berlin food (it was even invented here). You’ll find multiple döner shops on any busy street, and almost all of them will offer falafel sandwiches as a solid vegan option, but if you want the real thing, come to Vöner, near the busy Ostkreuz train station in the south-east. They even cook their seitan döner meat on the traditional rotating skewer, for a truly authentic experience! The classic Döner im Brot with salad and garlic sauce is great, but they also offer lots of other veganised fast food classics – their paprika-spiced chips with caramelised onions and vegan cheese are particularly outstanding.
Banh Xeo Saigon
Berlin has a large Vietnamese population, and this is one of the city’s best Vietnamese restaurants. It’s pretty traditional and serves meat, but it’s on this list because its vegan options are amazing. You can get most dishes with tofu, but ignore that and skip straight to the Vegane Spezialitäten section of the menu, where you’ll find a range of delicious fake meat dishes, imitating everything from duck to beef. As this recent Vice article explains, imitation meat products might seem like a modern trend, but actually they have a long history in Asian Buddhist cuisine, and this is a great place to try the more traditional versions. My personal recommendation is the fake duck with peanut sauce: super-crispy and full of flavour.
La Stella Nera
This neighbourhood pizza restaurant in the southern district of Neukölln has a strong commitment to ethical veganism, with leaflets and posters dotted around the room. And on top of that, their pizza isn’t just as good as the non-vegan version – in my opinion, it’s the best pizza in Berlin full stop. What really makes it is their 24-hour fermented, wood-fired dough: the crust has the perfect chewy texture, with the traditional black leopard spots and an unbelievable amount of flavour. There’s also a great range of interesting toppings on offer, including lots of white pizzas. The vegan mozzarella they use (I believe it’s Violife) is spot on, and some pizzas also come with smoked tofu, for that delicious umami hit. Try the potato pizza for a comforting carb-fest, or the carciofini piccante (artichokes, sundried tomatoes and smoked tofu) for amazing, intense flavours.
Sudanese food might not be the first cuisine you associate with Berlin, but actually the city’s Sudanese imbisses (small fast-food restaurants) and their hearty pita sandwiches slathered in rich peanut sauce are an institution. Sahara, a small chain with five branches in Schöneberg, Kreuzberg and Neukölln, is the best-known and, in my opinion, the best quality. It’s not vegan, but offers great vegan options: go for crunchy falafel, makali (carrots and potatoes fried until creamy and soft), or tangy marinated tofu. Or, indeed, get all three, which will set you back a grand total of €3.70. A quick, cheap and delicious option for food on the go.
Coffee culture is huge in Berlin (blame the Australians), and there are quite a few vegan cafés around, but my favourite has to be Jivamukti Canteen, for its relaxed, cosy atmosphere. It’s actually part of a yoga studio, set back from the street in a quiet courtyard in the central Mitte district. Sit at the long benches to enjoy your coffee and you’ll see people going back and forth with yoga mats, students with laptops, and a generally laid-back and friendly atmosphere. They have a good range of hot drinks and smoothies (the dirty chai latte is delicious), plus sandwiches, soups, salads and cake. If you want to indulge, go for the nutty toasted banana bread, spread with thick almond butter and topped with sliced banana.
Kanaan is probably my favourite restaurant in Berlin and the first one I always recommend to people (I’ve saved it for last this time!) It’s a small, laid-back Israeli-Palestinian restaurant in quiet Prenzlauer Berg, serving traditional dishes like hummus and masabcha and more modern twists like a falafel burger with tahini fries. Everything on the menu is vegetarian, and the friendly staff are happy to make anything vegan if you ask. The hummus is indisputably the best in Berlin: perfectly smooth, creamy, and packed with flavour, so you can really taste each individual ingredient. Their weekend brunch is also fantastic – as well as an all-you-can-eat buffet (traditional for Sunday brunches in Germany) with delicious dips, salads and sauces, you can also order one of their main dishes, which will leave you stuffed and satisfied for the rest of the day.
These six are my top recommendations to enjoy great vegan food and get a sense of Berlin’s food culture, but they’re definitely just scratching the surface – there are a ton of vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants to discover. I hope you enjoy exploring vegan Berlin as much as I have!
Rachel Griffin studied in Oxford and has been working in startups in Berlin for the last year and a half, where she loves exploring the city’s restaurants and music scene. She reviews restaurants and other venues on her blog, or you can find her on Instagram.