Thursday, 20 December 2018
Eating out organic in Mannheim is different than in other cities: First it means vegetarian and vegan-friendly (almost) without exceptions. Second there seem to be no places serving national kitchens -- no German Wirtshaus, no French cuisine, no Turkish fastfood and not even a mock Italian place. And finally organic here means organic for everyone, not just for a wealthy, hip and urban clientele. As a result you may miss cleverly designed cool places as much as refined coffeehouses or classy gourmet restaurants. The good news is that Mannheim's organic restaurants and cafes are extremely affordable.
For breakfast (or a snack or coffee during the day) head for Bio-Bäcker Bihn on the ground floor of the Stadthaus housing the city library and other communal facilities and staging the city's part of the Mannheim/Heidelberg International Film Festival. Enter the complex from the north-eastern entry facing Paradeplatz, and you'll find the unpretentious bakery cum self-service cafe at the right hand site.
The breakfast options served on work- and Saturdays until noon are sufficient for two not too hungry ones; you can choose from a menu which also boosts three vegan varieties or combine yourself. Coffee or tea on the go is possible, but you should rather bring your own refillable cup (or buy one on the spot) as a one-way paper beaker righteously will be charged with 25 cents. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays freshly prepared sandwiches can be had at 3,90€ each; Tuesdays are (non-veg) hot-dog days where the hot dog goes at 2.50 €. The coffee comes from an automat, and the rather cheap-looking interior design maintains a low threshold. If you come with a family or friends pay together which will give you a small discount (10% above 20 €, 12% above 30 € and 15 percent of a total above 50€).
100 percent organic wholefood is being served at the Hellers self-service restaurant next to the organic Alnatura supermarket on the Kaiserring ringway from the main train station to the Wasserturm landmark. Take a tray and a plate, fill it from the various stations offering salads, mueslis, soups and warm dishes, proceed to the cash counter and find a place in the winter-garden like dining hall. During the busy lunch hours (usually between noon and 2 pm) there's also a separate station offering a pan-fried dish of the day in small or regular size. It's located next to the entrance and you also have to pay there. The food follows the principles of health food, seasonal and low in spices (the "hot" rice dish I had was rather bland).
At the entrance to the sitting area there's a coffee and cake bar also serving ice-cream (1.50 € the scoop).
The cake at around 3 € the piece and the coffee drinks compensate for the rather low lunch prices: 4.15 € for a large (that is: what elsewhere would be regular sized) latte and 2.50 € for a small espresso from a coffee dispenser is more than you'd pay in much more pricey cities.
The audience is quite different than in organic restaurants you may be used to: a lot of elderly people meet here for lunch and coffee.
Unfortunately the place doesn't serve breakfast -- the
kitchen opens half an hour after the cafe opens and closes one hour (on Sundays and public holidays two hours) before closing time. Also good to know: The soap dispenser in the bathroom contains organic handwash.
The hippest and most expensive place I found is the Rohkosteria in Lindenhof south of the railway tracks. This 100 percent organic raw and vegan restaurant opened in lieu of the former
"Bio-Stadel" eatery and uses preferably
biodynamic ingredients. What you get here:
salads, soups, burgers, wraps, falafel, vegetable "pasta", smoothies, shots, cakes and cookies -- no high-end raw gourmet food, rather driven by health ideology than made for connoisseurs: My zucchini spaghetti seemed to come right from the fridge which gave the otherwise tasty mock-bolognese style dish an unpleasant imbalance.
Although the place is open in the evenings no alcohol is being served here -- even the beer and wine is non-alcoholic.
The pleasantly designed interior and the unexcited atmosphere however make it an ideal place to stay for a while.
Note that the restaurant is closed on Tuesdays, a recent change which -- at the time of writing -- hadn't made it to their website yet.
For an organic coffee, spritzer (of fruit juice and sparkling water) or wine head for the north-western neighbourhood of Jungbusch. The vegetarian, vegan-friendly gastro pub Kombüse serves Mexican-style fastfood as well as a daily changing soup and main course, on availability (but not reliably) using organic veges. It keeps open until late and may give you an impression of the city's subculture. The place also offers a take away service, but kindly invites guests to bring their own re-usable cups and jars. You will be charged the extra expense if you insist on one-way packaging.
Bicycle lovers must not miss out the city's first bike cafe in the Neckarstadt north of the river Neckar. The
Café Flamme Rouge (dubbed after the red flag displayed one kilometer before the end of a bike race) was established in 2005 and serves
organic bread and rolls from the
Lummerland organic bakery with biodynamic vegetarian spreads, partially organic coffee, home-made pesto, pancakes and a lunch dish (the menu changes on Mondays and Thursdays).
More to try
I had two more places on my research list but did not have time to make it there. Here they are:
No longer organic
The Wohnhunger gifts and things shop does no longer offer organic soups or stews for lunch, and does not use organic milk for their coffee drinks. The coffee itself may occasionally be organic (as they also sell organic beans) but usually isn't.
Of the following places you may find remnants on the web but be assured: They do no longer exist.
- Café Vogelfrei, C 3, 20
- O’ Dog Café, M 5, 8 (Hot dogs)
- Veggie-Stadel (formerly Bio-Stadel), Lindenhofstr. 62 replaced by Rohkosteria
- mundgrün veganerie, T3, 7 (vegan) (preceeded by Sonnenblume Naturkost)
- Bio-Bäcker Bihn, M3 7(moved to Stadthaus)
- Bio-Bäcker Bihn, Kurfürstenstr. 7
- envita Bio-Restaurant, Im Stadthaus N1, 1 (replaced by organic bakery Bihn)
[Mannheim, organic, breakfast, lunch, coffee, cafe, eatery, vegan, vegetarian, restaurant, bakeries, ice-cream]
Saturday, 10 November 2018
For being home to so many sustainable and organic shopping opportunities Heidelberg has surprisingly few places serving organic food. The two I found are both very well suited for both, vegetarians and vegans, and essentially self-service, but I wasn't able to spot a single proper dinner restaurant where you're actually waited.
Both, lunch, snacks, coffee and dinner can be had at
red buffet restaurant, next to the Alnatura organic supermarket on the premises of a former swimming pool opposite the Schwanenteich park. You can choose between two lunch dishes at a fixed price or serve yourself salads and warm one-pot dishes (all 100 percent and certified organic, vegetarian and often vegan) and pay by weight.
Order drinks (cold drinks, teas or Italian-style coffee drinks) and predominantly vegan cakes and dessert at the cash desk while you pay, take your tray and find yourself a seat. For being an vegan-award winning restaurant I found the food quite uninspiring, without accentuated flavours, just good ingredients cooked together. Even the perfectly looking vegan hazelnut-espresso cake I had was missing a distinctive coffee flavour -- good, but far from outstanding. Nevertheless the generally pleasant place was crowded (though not unpleasantly), perhaps due to missing alternatives. It's the only evening-open option for eating out, but closed on Sundays. You may also buy food to take with you.
For lunch (though not on Sundays) there's another alternative on the opposite shore of the Neckar river, a few steps North of Theodor-Heuss bridge: The
Fein Food eatery serves smoothies, oriental and ayurveda-inspired vegetarian, vegan and omnivore stews, pot-dishes, salads and wraps, though probably not a 100 percent organic.
The city of Heidelberg still lists the following place in its latest guide to organic and local food, but the place unfortunately closed two years ago:
[Heidelberg, organic, lunch, coffee, cafe, eatery, vegan, vegetarian, restaurant]
Monday, 05 November 2018
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. For meat patties you can choose between medium-done and medium-rare. The place serves neither desserts nor coffee.
Unfortunately it 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.
If the burgermeister is too crowded there's a second burger grill just a few steps away: The Ludwig doesn't promise fully organic burgers, but organic patties made from organic beef, turkey or mushrooms, organic pulled pork and bacon.
In addition to burgers the place also serves salad bowls, desserts and breakfast (among other organic eggs in a number of varieties). Among the drinks fruit juices and teas are organic.
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 (including nose-to-tail ones using offal) 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.
On the opposite side of the Salzach river September 2018 saw the opening of a new organic predominantly biodynamic restaurant and bar, the Humboldt. For lunch on weekdays you can choose between two set menus consisting of a soup or salad (your choice), and a vegetarian or omnivore main dish which come at 9 or 11 euros, respectively.
The menu clearly marks organic, biodynamic, vegan and vegetarian items and also lists the sources of all ingredients which usually are Austrian farms and producers, often located in the vicinity. For all drink classes organic options are available, and often you have no choice but to drink organic. The bar keeps open until late each day, making it the perfect place for an evening out.
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.
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.
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.
For a fully organic breakfast, lunch or snack in the neighbourhood of Maxglan, pay a visit to Rochushof, an organic supermarket with a light-flooded verandah restaurant overlooking the adjacent Stiegl brewery.
To enter the place walk to the back of the supermarket, and -- for lunch -- choose between a vegetarian soup, a vegetarian and an omnivore main dish. Contrary to many organic supermarket bistros you will be served here. The
kitchen closes on weekdays at 5pm, on Saturdays there's breakfast only.
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.
Just a few steps away a crowd-founded vegan cafe opened its doors recently. The
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
[Salzburg, organic, lunch, dinner, takeaway, restaurant, cafe, eatery, coffee, ice-cream, fastfood, vegetarian, vegan, Austrian, Indian, burgers, pizza, supermarket, grocery]
Tuesday, 30 October 2018
The impression may be due to my lack of command of the Hungarian language, but most places in Budapest advertising the use of organic produce surely aim at the affluent tourist -- carefully designed places offering sophisticated Hungarian kitchen, vegan food or the ubiquitous expensive Italian coffee machine and hand-made organic sandwiches and cakes. What they all have in common: gorgeous food, a relaxed and (family-) friendly atmosphere and the complete absence of red-nosed binge-drinking tourists.
To dine in style head for the golden-blue shimmering premises of Hilda Food and Mood in Lipótváros
serving carefully modernized standards of the Hungarian farmers' kitchen like the
goulash soup or
chicken paprikash with dumplings as well as advanced sandwiches or salads. The focus here clearly is on organic meat from responsibly raised animals, grilled to the point, but vegetarians are catered for with equal love, with often organic greens, crisp or perfectly done. There's also a selection of organic soft drinks and wines.
Unfortunately the restaurant is closed on Sunday evenings but you may also come here for breakfast, brunch or lunch, and if only to marvel at the grand-hotel flair, the mosaic walls, and the dusky pink-golden restrooms.
Just a few corners in Eastern direction you'll find Naspolya Nassolda, a light and clean cafe serving raw, vegan, gluten-free sweets, savoury snacks, healthy drinks and coffee, using a great deal organic ingredients. Prepackaged wafers and cookies from the shop can also be bought from the BioABC supermarket.
If you feel for a more lively coffee house atmosphere find your way to the Vörösmarty utca metro station in Terezváros and enter a stunning neo-renaissance building of the World Heritage Site of Andrassy avenue to find the Ecocafe.
This cafe could be transfered to any other Western metropolis, and you wouldn't notice -- the Italian-style coffee drinks, the wooden tables, the hand-made croissants and sandwiches, the freshly pressed smoothies and small glass bottles with juice, the clean and understated eco design, the families, the students and the digital nomads, a welcoming, yet non-intrusive atmosphere -- it's all here, and you'll feel at home at once.
And the best of it all: The place keeps open on national public holidays like St. Stephen's day when everything else (including the main post office within Keleti pu.) is closed.
Right in the vicinity of Keleti station you may check out the Mennyország Szíve Bio Bolt for lunch or snacks, or -- hopefully soon again -- the
Házikó Bisztro ("farm bistro") which currently is closed. Both are closed on weekends and public holidays. The Házikó has a second branch in Buda on the premises of the socially and environmentally responsible MagNet bank. Here you can have not only a coffee, but also lunch, snacks or an early dinner made from predominantly organic local produce according to season.
More to try
During my research I also found the following places that seemed likely to (at least partially) serve organic food and drinks, but I did not had the time to try them myself. If you do so let me know whether they are worth to be listed here!
[Budapest, organic, lunch, dinner, coffee, restaurant, cafe, eatery, vegan]
Friday, 26 October 2018
Traditional corner stores in general have been almost extinguished from the streets of Munich, surviving almost exclusively in the form of immigrant grocery stores which unfortunately only on extremely rare occasions stock organic items. However, there are a few survivers from the time when organic was an unknown word in supermarket chains: small supermarkets equipped with wooden shelfs and as crammed to the brim as possible for orderly German souls. Usually they have everything on offer needed for your daily life, and just give you fewer choice between brands. Sometimes you'll find delicatessen the big players don't stock, and fresh produce with few exceptions is as fresh as from their competitors. Prices may be a few cents higher than the cheapest option in one of the retail chains, but you may be surprised to learn that many products actually are less expensive in the corne shop. In addition you may have a chat with the shop owners and usually will be given a competent answer to questions you may have. Many of these shops have some tables and chairs where you can have a coffee, snack or vegetarian lunch.
Munich's oldest existing organic supermarket is the Kornkammer in Schwabing, just a minute away from Münchner Freiheit. It's located on two storeys, and you can comfortably sit upstairs with your coffee or smoothie, browsing your smartphone or reading a book. Unfortunately they stopped to serve lunch, but you can still have a piece of cake or a prefab organic spring roll. The range of goods available from the shop is a wild mixture of groceries, body care, bare foot shoes, esoteric articles and more. Mind you: If you happen to take the wrong street you might end up in front of the Denn's supermarket branch in Feilitzschstraße 7-9 -- Kornkammer is located on the next parallel street further north.
In Maxvorstadt, the vibrant university neighbourhood, you'll find Mutter Erde ("Mother Earth"), a crowded place during lunch time when you can have a simple vegan home-cooked meal, tea and coffee. On working days they serve lunch from 12 o'clock (as long as available), on Saturdays between 11 am and 1 pm. This week the place is closed due to renovation work, and will re-open September, 10th. In the meantime step by zero-waste grocery Ohne where fully organic lunch is being served from 12 o'clock. Note that Mother Earth no longer is a full retailer: Some time ago they exchanged their body care and cosmetics shelves with a table and bench to sit down with your meal.
A real full retail neighbourhood shop in Haidhausen is Lebascha run collectively by a bunch of friendly women. You will often find them in a brief chat with customers from the neighbourhood, and they will happily serve you coffee drinks and a delicious cake. During the warm season you can sit outside and relax in a relatively quiet street with beautiful houses. They don't have a freezer, but make up for it with arguably the biggest selection of liquorice in town (though only a few of them are organic).
You can bring along your own glasses and boxes in order to buy liquorice, cheese, antipasti and cakes or borrow Lebascha's returnable jars for a small deposit.
A few corners away from tube stop Implerstraße in Sendling the neighbourhood grocery Hollerbusch ("elderbush") offers
vegan and vegetarian lunch as well as yoga, pilates or singing lessons in a backroom.
The shop is also a delivery hub for the Munich based community supported agriculture project Kartoffelkombinat.
While these small supermarkets cater for all daily necessities including fresh fruits and veges there's no such thing as an all-organic immigrant grocery focussing on the latter and supplementing with a selection of dry goods and delicatessen from their owner's place of birth. The nearest you come is Giesinger Fruchtmarkt near tube-stop Kolumbusplatz. Since about three quarters of the fruits and veges as well as most of the Italian delicatessen are conventional you have to carefully watch out for the bio keyword. Apart from organic greens they also offer organic choices for olive oil, wine, pasta and cheese.
Specializing in cheese and supplements -- wine, olives, oil, herbs, condiments, to name a few -- the Luigino's booth in the Southern part of Viktualienmarkt, opposite the crossing of Reichenbachstraße and Blumenstraße is the perfect place to shop for a picknick or the no-frills romantic candle light dinner. Once an almost entirely organic cheese booth the percentage of organic products on sale has diminished during the past years: mainly due to the advent of artisanal, yet conventional Italian cured meats, partially due to a lesser focus on organic labels on the selection of cheeses.
When ordering an Italian-style sandwich to take away you may wish to enquire about the ingredients and probably stick to the vegetarian ones since the Italian cured meat products usually are not organic.
The owner once run a delicatessen in Maxvorstand which was replaced by an organic ice-cream parlour in 2018.
A very special mono-themed convenience store, Hanf -- der etwas andere Bioladen, sells everything containing THC-free hemp: beer, lemonades, cookies, bars, tea, ice-cream, chocolates, body care, clothes, liquids, pet food and more. Although the name suggests it not all products are certified organic, especially not in the non-food range, but the sheer number of goods based on this versatile plant is quite impressive. The shop isn't located in the most inviting part of town but can easily be reached, among others, from Leuchtenbergring urban train stop. Note that it is closed on Mondays.
Ceased to exist
The following places shut down and were replaced by other, not organic ones. So don't be confused when you find references to them on the web:
[Munich, Haidhausen, Schwabing, Maxvorstadt, organic, lunch, snacks, coffee, supermarkets, deli, grocery, Italian, vegan, hemp, fashion, bodycare, eatery]