The Organic Traveller
Monday, 23 April 2018

Munich: Self-service eateries and streetfood

For an organic or at least partially organic lunch you have far more options than full-fledged restaurants or cafes with lunch options: There are a lot of eateries mainly catering for people working or studying nearby, shopping or travelling. You order your food and drinks at the counter, pay and find a place to sit down with your tablet. However, if you come off the peak hours you will often be served, or the staff will offer to bring your coffee to your table after you finished your meal.

Just a few years ago this type of eating opportunity was almost exclusively offered by owner-run organic groceries, usually taking the form of hearty vegetarian wholefood and sandwiches. Nowadays it's a much more volatile market -- hip places come and go more frequent than in other categories. Many of them have opening hours matching those of the cornershops -- closed on Sundays, in the evening, and often also on Saturday afternoons.

Near the university (Maxvorstadt)

The streets near the university buildings in Maxvorstadt are a natural place to look for places offering organic food, and they've seen a lot of shops popping up and closing down. Two long-established, though very different eateries are worth a try, both located in Amalienstraße: the Mutter Erde grocery offering vegan meals and the Pommesboutique grill. The latter was one of the first places in town to take no compromises with regard to meat, but it is following a more laissez-faire approach when it comes to the veges and condiments. So you have to ask about the origin of the latter if you care. All the sausages, burger patties, köfte and other (minced) meat come from an organic farm in the vicinity, and you can choose from a huge range of sauces. If you prefer your fries chewy -- this is the place for you. Sometimes the tables are a bit too greasy for my liking, but with a little luck you come along when they have live music.

If you prefer your meat the Mexican way walk around the corner into Schellingstraße for Pureburrito, the second branch of a small climate-neutrally cooking local fast food chain serving burritos, tacos, and quesadillas. Unfortunately only pork and beef are organic, not the chicken, and you will find organic softdrinks of the Bionade brand in the fridge. There's another branch (much) farther up the street, near tube station Theresienstraße. All Pureburrito branches are closed on Sundays.

City center

To find organic food late on an evening out is a challenge in itself -- night birds usually do not tend to be picky about the origin of calories at this hour. But if you enter the party zone Sonnenstraße (or spend an evening in one of the cinemas) the Bikini Mitte deli and bar comes to the rescue, conveniently located opposite a petrol station. During the day it's a decent, partially organic eatery offering bowls and sandwiches, usually made with organic veges, alongside organic soft drinks of the Proviant and Charitea brands. Bread and meat (apart from the occasional pulled pork) are not organic. Apart from Sunday the place keeps open until midnight, catering until the early hours Thursday through Sunday, and since the bar stocks locally produced organic gin, wodka and amaro (alongside a wide range of conventional spirits) your drinking can always be responsible. The place may be known as "Bon Valeur" to locals as this is its former name (and the name of the company running it).

Another organic institution of old is Byoo near Isartor, formerly known as "Basic Bistro" which had to change name when the organic supermarket on the first floor opened its own self-service eatery. But claim the stairs to this 100 percent organic place run by a friendly Vietnamese family, their extremely tasty, perfectly spiced (vegan) Saigon soup is worth it! Vegans, vegetarians and omnivores are all catered for with a happy fusion cuisine, often with an oriental touch. If you can't decide for one of the usually two soups and six main courses on the daily changing menu you can still pick from the antipasti and salads bar. A family-friendly place they will happily heap a helping of a side dish on your plate if you ask. They usually do not offer dessert, instead have a freshly squeezed smoothie or an Italian-style coffee and cake, or simply a freshly brewed mint tea made from fresh herbs. Bring along your own jars if you you wish to take your food with you.

When taking a stroll through the Viktualienmarkt market gourmet restaurants like the Tian aren't your only lunch option: A few steps away (opposite Schrannenhalle) you'll find Yum 2 Take, an (evening open) Thai eatery and take-away serving organic meat.

Hearty, fully organic German lunch is being served at the Bistro ÖQ in the back of the Virtualienmarkt branch of the Herrmannsdorfer Landwerkstätten organic butcher's. Usually you will be waited but better keep your eyes open whether it seems more appropriate to order directly from the open kitchen and at the end go and pay there. Naturally this is a place for omnivores and meat-lovers but there's always a tasty vegetarian dish available. The kitchen draws both, from German and Italian countryside kitchen traditions, serving mouth-watering risotti and pasta dishes as well as a piece of meat or fish with side-dishes, following seasonal availability and properly prepared. For the real Munich experience do not miss their potato salad (not suitable for strict vegetarians, though)!

Carnivores and beer-lovers are also catered for a few steps away, in the mumble-jumble of Viktualienmarkt: The market stall of Kleiner Ochs'nbrater ("little ox grill") serves Munich fast food specialities, which naturally means beer and meat. Have a Leberkäs (meat loaf), sausage or pork roast (Schweinebraten) -- (except for the beef and some side dishes) it's all organic, locally sourced and tasty -- as are the Brezn (pretzel) and the drinks (beer, wine, softdrinks). It can be difficult to find a place to sit down, so watch out before you order a dish on a plate. Even though the Viktualienmarkt is a tourist hot spot, it's one where tourists and locals mingle (opposed to e.g. the legendary Hofbräuhaus). On nice weather days the grill may keep open a little longer than 6 pm. Note that it is closed both, on Mondays and Sundays.

Near Ostbahnhof station

Haidhausen with its majority vote for the Green Party has several organic hotspots, and one of them is Elsässer Straße East of Bordeauxplatz. A few steps from Haidhauser Oase, next to an organic bakery and opposite the organic neighbourhood grocery Lebascha you'll find Erbil's, the only vegan doner kebap shop in town. Instead of meat you'll get organic seitan, and some (but not all) of the vegetables also are organic. Choose an organic softdrink or beer from the fridge, but have an eye on organic labels since not everything is organic. They also serve organic tea or tisanes.

On the East side of the railway tracks, inside the developing Werksviertel party, start-up, and cultural area there's a Pureburrito branch serving Mexican style street food with organic pork and beef (see here). Unfortunately party-goers will be disappointed since it offers only lunch -- on weekdays.

Bogenhausen

There's a second Herrmannsdorfer Bistro ÖQ near Effner-Platz (also see here), and the Basic supermarket near tube-stop Richard-Strauss-Straße offers sandwiches, salads and hearty (though quite boring) stews for lunch.

Schwabing

The Yum 2 take Thai restaurant has a second branch on Sebastiansplatz.

Ludwigsvorstadt and Sendling

A few meters from tube station Goetheplatz you'll find the mother branch of the Pureburrito chain.

Tube stop Implerstraße is the right direction for the best (and partially organic) falafel in town: The Beirut Beirut offers outdoor seating (and a few bar stools inside) only, but it's definitely worth it even when the weather is bad. In this case (or my general advise) have a falafel and continue your break at the sister restaurant Manouche diagonally across the street offering Levantine "pizza", coffee, sweets and other delicious snacks.

Shut down

The following (partially) organic eateries are closed for good:

2018-04-23 12:00:00 [Munich, organic, bar, eatery, lunch, coffee, vegan, vegetarian, Vietnamese, Thai, Mexican, Lebanese, German, grill, burgers, doner_kebap, falafel, streetfood, Maxvorstadt, Haidhausen, Sendling, Werksviertel] link

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Monday, 08 January 2018

Hamburg: Fair and organic Hafencity

An inner-city district to be developed from scratch is the most exciting thing in the life of city planners, and Hamburg's Hafencity with its recently opened Elbphilharmonie concert hall is Europe's biggest inner-city development in modern times. When finished it will consist of ten often quite different neighbourhoods, with many sustainability aspects considered. If you have the time take part in one of the guided tours (free of charge) or pay a visit to the Sustainability Pavillion Osaka 9. The latter houses a small fair-trade cafe bar dubbed Die kleine Elbfaire where you can have a coffee or soft drink and buy pre-packaged fairly traded sweets.

With its name drawing from the similarity of the words "fair" and "Fähre" ("ferry") the little coffee bar is a spin-off of Elbfaire, a fair-trade lunch cafe and meeting place with a pleasant backyard run by the ecumenical association of 17 Hamburg-based churches. On weekdays you can come here for an organic vegetarian lunch between 12 am and 14:30 pm, or step by for a fairly traded organic coffee drink together with home-made organic cakes.

Another organic lunch option is the self-service day cafe of the nearby Alnatura supermarket.

Not organic

When looking for healthy organic food in the Hafencity you may be guided to Greenlovers, a lunch restaurant serving soups, stews, bowls and salads using predominantly locally sourced ingredients. Unfortunately the promising name is misleading since the place does not have an organic agenda. However, I was assured that tofu and eggs always were organic, and if you dare to ask you may occasionally find one or another organic vegetable used in the dishes. There's a second branch near the townhall with longer opening hours, keeping open Monday through Saturday until 7 pm.

2018-01-08 13:00:01 [Hamburg, Hafencity, organic, fair, vegetarian, eatery, cafe, lunch, supermarkets, coffee] link

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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Organic Steinkjer

Norwegian smalltowns can be a frustrating experience for those used to organic food, hunting-gathering the nation-wide chains as described here. What a surprise when I spent the time waiting for a bus in Steinkjer with a stroll through the town's main street, Kongens gate. Five minutes from the train station you'll find Grønn bølge ("Green Wave"), a small friendly organic convenience store cum day cafe where you not only can buy daily supplies (surprisingly much of it from local producers, including a small selection of fresh seasonal fruit and veges) but also have a smoothie, plain coffee, home-made cookie or seasonal soup. Until 2016 the shop was located in a side street a few steps away.

For a more substantial meal in the afternoon or evening simply cross the street. Here you'll find Ox Steak House, where you can have grilled or cured beef, burgers (with home-made buns), sausages, and more from free-ranging highland cattle from a small-scale farm about 15 kilometers north-west. The animals are allowed to keep their horns, but neither the farm nor the restaurant is certified organic. The place was however recommended to me by another local farmer in the course of an exchange on free-range and organic farming. You can also order food to take away.

To dine in style at a decidedly committed organic farm you'll have to book in advance and take a taxi 12 kilometers out of town to Bjerkem organic farm and cultural heritage center. Since September 2017 the farm has been playing host to the new organic gourmet restaurant of acclaimed Norwegian (formerly London-based) chef Kim Tore Sjøbakk, the Experience. The tasting menu consisting of 14 courses comes at 1250 NOK per person, together with matching wine and drinks at 2250 NOK. Unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to dine there yet, so let me know about your experience.

Closed

2017-12-30 15:00:00 [Steinkjer, organic, supermarkets, grocery, eatery, restaurant, burgers, fastfood] link

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Sunday, 12 November 2017

Salzburg: Organic restaurants, eateries, and cafes

Fast food

When you're hungry and don't know where to go head for the Bio-Burgermeister in the middle of busy Linzergasse pedestrian street. With its liberal opening hours (no closing day, open until 10 pm) and central location this no-frills burger grill is serving both, meat, vegetarian, and vegan versions, purely made with organic ingredients. The service is swift, the burgers and side-dishes fresh, crisp and tasty, and most of the soft drinks and the beer are organic, too (though you have to check the bottles for organic labelling). The hot varieties I would describe as spicy rather than hot, and they come up with interesting seasonal versions like the pumpkin burger with a pumpkin patty.

Unfortunately the place has implemented bad habits of conventional fast-food places, too: It produces a lot of waste since the meals are served on cardboard one-way plates, and the staff isn't actually busy cleaning the tables, or refilling paper towels.

Austrian

The Urbankeller is not just a perfect address for a rustic meal accompanied by local organic beer, wine, juice or lemonade in the restaurant or a civilised drink at the adjacent bar. It also houses a stage for live acts -- predominantly rock, jazz or experimental theatre, and the occasional crime play reading. Although the place is certified by Bio Austria not everything is organic. Fully organic dishes however are clearly marked with a green logo on the menu, and a good deal of the un-marked meat-based dishes are served with organic meat (check for the "bio" keyword). Vegan and vegetarian options are also available. If you consider one of the typical Austrian flour-based desserts ("Mehlspeisen") make sure to come with sufficient appetite.

Schallmooser Hauptstraße where the Urbankeller is located changes its name to Linzergasse (or Linzer Gasse, the naming is not consistent) when it runs over into a pedestrian area towards the river Salzach. Amid its touristic jumble you'll find the Stadtkrug, a family-owned hotel and restaurant of old, with roots in the 14th century. The family runs an organic highland cattle farm north of Salzburg and serves the beef at the restaurant specialising in typical Austrian dishes. The farm has its own slaughterhouse on premise which allows the cattle to die as stress-free as possible within their known habitat. The chicken served in the Stadtkrug is also organic as are some hard cheeses and the ice-cream and other products made from sheep's milk. The breakfast at the hotel unfortunately is not organic.

When I was doing research on restaurants serving local dishes links on the web lead me to "Hirschenwirt" which turned out to have been reconverted into a conventional place. Its current publican however was so nice to point me not only to the Urbankeller but to another place which I'll present here although I did not have time to visit it personally:

The Schützenwirt in Sankt Jakob am Thurn is another Bio Austria certified place combining cultural events (namely occasional small stage theatre) and culinary art and may be worth a visit in combination with a day out in the countryside. Contrary to Urbankeller all dishes are 100 percent organic, but you have to be prepared to do without your mobile due to missing coverage.

Indian

Back in town, just a few steps from the Stadtkrug vegetarian fusion food with roots in the Indian cuisines has been served for almost 20 years at Spicy Spices. This pleasant eatery may not be the place for the romantic dinner but is a nice location for a chat with friends, accompanied by a healthy lunch, a coffee, chai and/or cake, all organic. You can also shop for their home-made spice mixtures, chutneys and pickles which make tasty gifts.

International

The second surviving organic restaurant of old also draws its inspiration from the subcontinent and East-Western fusion. The Heart of Joy is a vegetarian (vegan friendly), predominantly organic cafe cum eatery run by followers of Sri Shinmoy. The latter is openly presented which may not be your idea of the perfect surroundings for a recreational sip of coffee or an Italian, Austrian, oriental or Indian inspired lunch in this otherwise pleasant location. Students are entitled a ten percent discount, and breakfast on weekends is being served all day.

For a simple lunch or a piece of home-made organic cake you may also try the A* bar in nearby Auerspergstraße.

Italian

Arguably the city's best pizza can be had when entering a non-descript entrance on Franz-Josef-Straße south of Paris-Lodron-Straße: Here you find a place boringly dubbed Organic Pizza Salzburg, and this is exactly what it is: A totally unpretentious venue serving glorious 100% organic pizza in vegetarian, vegan and omnivore varieties, all well worth their 9.80 to 16.80 EUR. Instead of the standard base made from wheat you may order one made with spelt. Choose your drinks from the fridge (most, but not all organic), and have a home-made organic and vegan cake with fairly traded ingredients and/or a locally produced ice-cream to end your meal. No frills, just love, and in contrast to other fast food places covered here you will be served on real plates instead of paper waste. Unfortunately the place is closed on Mondays and Sundays.

Vegan

Just a few steps away a crowd-founded vegan cafe opened its doors recently. The Gustav serves breakfast, sandwiches, soups and salads as well as smoothies and cakes, everything predominantly organic.

Coffee and cakes

For the real coffee thing head for Röstzimmer 15 a few meters from "Spicy Spices". A cosy living room serving artisanal (though not necessarily organically certified) chocolates and pastries with Ethiopian organic coffee roasted in the room next door where you also can have a small lunch.

A new address for a fairly traded organic coffee is recently established cafe Kuchenfee ("the cake fairy") in Paris-Lodron-Straße. Their home-made cakes, unfortunately, are not organic (yet?), but you can buy organic bread. With its chary window front the place is easy to be missed, so make sure you keep your eyes open.

An Italian-style coffee drink prepared with organic milk can also be had at Fabis Frozen Bioyogurt.

Closed or no longer organic

2017-11-12 20:30:00 [Salzburg, organic, lunch, dinner, takeaway, restaurant, cafe, eatery, coffee, ice-cream, fastfood, vegetarian, vegan, Austrian, Indian, burgers, pizza] link

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Monday, 30 October 2017

Hamburg: Organic Altona and Ottensen

Leaving the train at Altona station does not bring you to the heart of the city but to the vibrant neighbourhoods of Altona (to the East) and Ottensen (to the West) offering a great choice of lively (partially) organic places. None of them are very posh as the distinguished bourgeouis citizens usually live and roam elsewhere, and there's a good chance to mingle with locals.

Where to stay

As long as you are satisfied with a basic yet clean and well-kept hotel room head for the Schanzenstern. The name derives from its original location in the Sternschanze neighbourhood, but even though the hostel moved to its current location surely ten years ago references to its old address haven't vanished from the net completely. Most rooms are equipped with bunk beds, and you are well advised to book in advance especially if not travelling alone. The entire building is painted in clear basic colors, orange and blue the rooms, yellow the hallway. Since rain water is used for flushing the toilets its colour can be explained easily, and the soap dispensers in the bathroom are filled with liquid organic hand wash. If you're travelling by bicycle there's a locked shed where you can store it safely overnight.

The hostel's 100% organic breakfast buffet keeps open daily from 7:30 to 10:30, but is not included in the price for the night. For 8 additional Euro you can order it until late on the evening before. The restaurant also serves organic lunch on weekdays, and there are board games and journals to spend the time with.

Bakeries

Breakfast and lunch alternatives are located within five-minutes walking distance: For one there's the Zeit für Brot ("time for bread") artisanal show bakery next to a branch of the Denn’s organic supermarket chain in Ottenser Hauptstraße. Through a window you can watch the bakers at work, and buy German bread fresh from the oven. If stepping by for a coffee or another non-alcoholic drink, a pastry, cake, savoury snack, or a light lunch (all organic) queue with the other customers and place your order at the till. Find a place at one of the tables inside or -- during the warm season -- outside under a sunshade also sheltering from the occasional rain shower and enjoy the gorgeous smell of real bread together with your snack.

Cafes and lunch restaurants

Another organic breakfast alternative is cosy cafe Lillisu offering 100% organic food and drinks. In addition to breakfast the women owners also serve sandwiches, filled pasta, spaghetti, soup and salads for lunch, both vegetarian and omnivore, prepared in the tiny kitchen in view of their guests. Place your order at the counter and add a home-made cake from the display. You'll be served but are expected to return to the counter for payment. Set breakfast plates are served on weekends only. Decorated in pastel colours this is also the place to buy nostalgic presents and some organic delicatessen (chocolates, olive oil, coffee, ...) as well as "Glück in Gläsern" ("happiness in jars"), (in)famous 100% non-organic nostalgic sweets many Germans will remember from their childhood, sold by the piece. As in the Schanzenstern restaurant a selection of magazines from Hamburg-based publishers are there to be read by the guests.

If your budget calls for a cheap lunch you may head for the uninspiring self-service restaurant on the first floor of the IKEA branch in Altona. On their website they do not announce organic food, but when I was there they offered two organically certified pasta dishes. If they do not have an organic dish when you visit or you would like to have an organic drink afterwards just walk a few steps in Eastern direction where you find yet another Denn's supermarket branch which also serves snacks at their self-service cafe.

Ice-cream

For a sweet threat head back to Altona train station (where you by the way will find another organic supermarket, this time an Alnatura branch). Since 1913 there has been an Italian ice-cream parlour in Ottenser Hauptstaße, which, after world war II became Eiscafe Venezia. Today, the owners are no longer of Italian origin, but use organic milk for all of their about 20 flavours. Unfortunately the ice-cream isn't fully organic itself; the scoop goes for 1.20 EUR. Usually the cafe closes at midnight, but you may find it closing earlier on bad weather.

More to try

Here's another organic cafe and a bakery I found during my research but did not have time to visit. I'll be happy if you'd share your impressions with me!

Closed

The following places do no longer exist although you might find them referenced on the web:

2017-10-30 10:00:07 [Hamburg, Altona, Ottensen, organic, coffee, ice-cream, supermarkets, grocery, eatery, lunch, breakfast, cafe, hotel, accommodation, bakeries] link

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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author.