Sunday, 17 July 2022
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 tray. 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.
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).
Just a few steps away, you'll also find the newest Pureburrito branch in the basement of the Stachus-Passagen mall.
The multi-cultural quarter in the vicinity of the central train station with its special mixture of electronic and immigrant shops should be the natural place to find organic food from the Levant, but only in 2020 a happy crowd of young Bavarian chefs with different roots opened Servus Habibi, a pita, hummus and falafel place cum (outside corona) bar serving organic meat and home-made pickles. Unfortunately none of the drinks are organic. Note that the place is closed on Wednesdays. If you are in the mood for falafel on this weekday try Beirut Beirut in Sendling.
Another organic institution of old is Leo's Organic Kitchen near Isartor.
as "Basic Bistro" in 2010, changed its name to "Byoo" when the organic supermarket on the first floor opened its own self-service eatery and changed it once again following its 10th anniversary, but the general the concept has not changed much since. So climb 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, but you can 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.
Vegan hotdogs you'll find a few steps off Viktualienmarkt, in the small lane behind Heiliggeist church: At the
you can choose between three different spelt-based buns – a green one containing spinach, a yellow one with curcuma and one inspired by the Bavarian soft pretzel which was dipped in lye before baking. For the plant-based sausages there are classic organic tofu Vienna-style "sausages" made from European organic soy, a smoked version and the "planted chicken" made from pea-protein. The shop masterminded by the former chef of the male German football national team does not accept cash.
In January 2022 the venture opened a second venue, the
Organic Garden Eatery inside the Mercedes Benz showroom at Odeonsplatz, also offering breakfast, coffee and (during the cold season) mulled wine. Enjoy the greenwashing approach of the automotive industry if you don't mind the split brain.
Near Ostbahnhof station
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.
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 and tisanes and use organic oat drink for coffee drinks. Unfortunately they do not sell baklava for dessert during covid-19 restrictions, instead you can choose from a number of home-made cakes for take away.
More vegan lunch in the form of Israelian-style vegan mezze can be had just a few steps away at Oliver offering an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet at the very competitive price of 10 EUR. The friendly owner assured me that all of the ingredients except herbs and spices were organic. You can also borrow a blanket and picnic basket and take your lunch to the park at Bordeauxplatz. Lunch time stops when everything is sold, and you may of course use your own jars and boxes for take-away. In the afternoon and evenings step by for
hand-rolled vegan ice-cream, freshly prepared while you wait: A plant-drink based "batter" is poured onto a freezer plate, stirred with fruit, berries, home-made cookies, nuts and other flavourings you specify, frozen to a thin sheet of ice-cream, rolled up and served in a bowl.
When the weather is nice and warm the shop keeps open until 10 pm on weekdays except on Mondays when it is closed.
If you proceed in direction Max-Weber-/Wiener Platz (coming from Rosenheimer Platz or Ostbahnhof you may take the tram) to the tram stop Wörthstraße (and can resist beautiful, fully organic Cafe Reichshof on your way) you'll reach Würzbar. The name of this pleasant ayurvedic vegetarian eatery, cafe and spice shop is a pun derived from the verb "würzen" (to spice up) and "bar" (as bar) and the homonymous suffix "-bar" meaning "to be capable of something". The food is all organic (as are the drinks), but not all of the products for sale are certified.
As of July 2022, there's unfortunately no gastro service, but let's hope the eatery will be back soon.
Build-your-own bowls and rolls with predominantly organic ingredients can be had at (and ordered from)
Greens & Grains on Max-Weber-Platz. Even if the concept can become a little boring after a while it's an easy way to bring vegans, vegetarians and omnivores together for a quick and healthy lunch. Established early in 2022 this self-service place is co-located with Munich's finest vegan and raw patisserie – so finish your meal with a coffee and a slice of vegan tart. There's a second branch in the Maxvorstadt university quarter.
On busy Rosenheimer Straße, a few steps from the Ohne zero-waste shop the
Heartbeet salad bar serves salads and bowls. All
veges, the ice-cream and some (non-alcoholic) drinks are organic,
and at an extra price you can get organic eggs on top of your bowl. It's a heaven for clean-eating lovers, but if you love spices this isn't a place for you. The concept has been a success story during corona delivery and take-away, leading to the opening of a second shop in Neuhausen, and there's a third shop w/in the Feinkost Käfer deli near Münchner Freiheit. Although they had been participating in a deposit scheme for the dishes they seem to face issues with it lately, so you may be forced to use one-way packaging. If you cannot fetch you order by bicycle yourself their delivery service will pedal it to you.
Located directly at Weißenburger Platz Spoon Up offers hearty soups and stews for lunch and promises to use regional, often organic produce. Unfortunately the only organic ingredient visible on the daily menu is meat which is marked as 'bio'.
Bogenhausen and Englischer Garten
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, bowls, salads and hearty (though often quite boring) stews for lunch.
On the opposite shore of the river Isar, on the Eisbach not far from the famous surf wave near Haus der Kunst you'll find a former public convenience turned into a tiny cafe: Fräulein Grüneis offers no more than a handful indoor seats, during the cold season heated by a small wood oven, but as long as the weather allows for it you may prefer to have your lunch or coffee outside anyway, under the trees of the Englischer Garten park.
For lunch you can have a soup, one-pot dish or curry, vegetarian or omnivore.
The meat is always organic as is the beer, for soft drinks stick to the charitea brand. Apart from this the owners promise to use as much local and organic produce as possible, but if you want to be certain you have to ask. Avoid the ice-cream, the (small-scale local) Eizbach lemonade and the sweets by the piece, all of them without doubt conventionally produced.
The Yum 2 take Thai restaurant has a second branch on Hohenzollernplatz.
If you are near Hohenzollernplatz anyway (a tube stop of the U2 line) you may also take some extra steps along Herzogstraße in Eastern direction to get a 100 percent bio-organic breakfast, lunch, snack or even dinner as reward: The Basic Biobuffet on the corner of busy Schleißheimer Straße offers a daily changing fully organic menu including both, vegan, vegetarian, fish and meat options, salads, antipasti, soups and cake. Not a place for the early bird, but leisurely open until 9 pm including Saturdays, but not Sundays.
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 is not only a great place for take away, but also offers sufficient seating inside since they moved away from their old shop in Valleystr. While the Lebanese wine unfortunately isn't organic there's a choice of organic spritzers ("Schorle") from local producers. For more Lebanese food you may also pay a visit to their sister restaurant Manouche, now a few street corners away offering Levantine "pizza", coffee, sweets and other delicious snacks.
The Neulinger bakery also runs self-services lunch cafes on their two locations near the Großmarkthalle (Munich's biggest market hall offering fruits and veges for retail) and in the meat packing district.
A short walk from tube stop Großhadern you'll find a Vollcorner supermarket with a work day open, 100 percent organic breakfast and lunch restaurant, before the covid-19 pandemic known as Cucina, now dubbed Vollcorner Deli. Here you can choose between soups, stews, salads, bowls and sandwiches and of course have a coffee drink with a piece of cake.
The Vollcorner supermarket on Schwanthalerhöhe (next to Theresienwiese and hence good to know if you attend the annual Oktoberfest beerfest) has a deli cum cafe which invites for a small meal or snack.
For a more elaborated breakfast or lunch follow Schwanthalerstraße into the Westend neighbourhood and stop by Das Kulinariat. Whether you'll opt for a vegetarian course, a traditional Bavarian organic Weißwurst breakfast or their speciality – Eggs Benedict – chances are high that some of the greens on your plate have been grown right in the surprisingly spacious backyard. Additional veges come from a local organic farmer, and almost everything is organic here in this culinary gem with its light and modern, predominantly wooden interior.
A second Vollcorner Deli opened 5th September, 2019 in the former "Erdgarten" organic supermarket near Pasinger Marktplatz.
Closed for covid-19 pandemic
The following (partially) organic eateries are closed for good:
- Buxs, Frauenstr. 9 (city centre)
- Greeny's, Tal 42 near Isartor (city centre)
- Soupmama, Frauenstr. 2 opposite Viktualienmarkt (city centre)
near Viktualienmarkt (city centre)
- Brotzeit bei Herrmannsdorfer, Holzstr. 24 (Glockenbachviertel)
- Annapurna (former Ganesh), Wörthstr. 7 (Haidhausen)
- Grilly's, Rosenheimer Str. 117 (Haidhausen)
- Iss dich glücklich, Preysingstr. 42 (replaced by the Sorry Johnny coffee bar)
- Lecker-Bissen, Theresienstr. 27 (Maxvorstadt)
- Little Habibi, Fraunhoferstr. 32
- So Ham inside Jivamukti Yoga studio, Buttermelcherstr. 11–15
- Sweekies, Wendl-Dietrich-Str.4 near Rotkreuzplatz (Neuhausen)
- Bio-Brüder, Ottostr. 67 (Ottobrunn)
Tuesday, 12 July 2022
With the word Hof meaning "farm" in German it is a tough job to search the web for organic places in this nice medieval town in Franconia. To many the name of the city may be known as the first West-German train station on a train ride crossing the border between the two former German states, the GDR and the FRG, but in fact the city dates back to around 1230. Extra state fonds for being a frontier town are a thing of the past, but the town still has a philharmonic orchestra, a theatre and a noteworthy film festival. It's frequently reachable by regional trains (e.g. two hours from Nuremberg or 2.5 hours from Leipzig or Dresden) and has a beautiful station building. The city is also a nice stop when you take the Saale-Radweg bicycle route, if only to get a glimpse of an archetypal West-German city of the 1990ies.
Located between the main train station and the centre of the old town you will find
Voll gut, a traditional owner-run organic supermarket. Pick a tomato or other small vegetable, choose some cheese and a roll, and the friendly shop keeper will prepare a sandwich for you, to take away or to eat at the sole coffee table with an organic coffee drink or tea. There's no dedicated zero waste corner with gravity bins, but you will find a decent selection of dry food in deposit glasses as well as dairy products, plant-based milk alternatives and beverages in returnable glasses and bottles. Some cottage cheeses and preserved meat spread come in glasses which you can return without a deposit.
Hof isn't far from Töpen, the homebase of one of Germany's major organic wholesale traders, Dennree, and hence the city's branch of the affiliated
Biomarkt Speisekammer supermarket chain in the neighbourhood of Alsenberg (south of the main train station) can be described as a local organic supplier. The shop emerged from a smaller traditional organic shop in Ludwigstraße.
Of course, there's also a health-food shop in the pedestrian area of the inner city, the
Reformhaus "Gesund&fit". As in any other Reformhaus you'll find organic dry food and sweets, dairy products and vegetarian alternatives, bakery products, herbs and spices, tea and beverages, canned food and preserves, natural bodycare and sustainable cleaning agents, but only about half of it is organically certified, so check labels if unsure.
Sweets, chocolates, tea and more
If you like tea for real you should better pay a visit to one of the city's tea specialist shops.
Tea 4 You near Lorenzkirche offers a decent selection of organic green, black and herbal teas. Bring your own tea boxes or jars to avoid waste.
More organic tea as well as organic seeds can be found at the
Alraune tea shop in the Westend neighbourhood. The shop moved recently, so do not be surprised if you find it listed under its old address on the opposite side of traffic-heavy Marienstraße, in number 52.
If you have a sweet tooth pay a visit to the
Feinzeugs confectioner's store in the old town. It's not dedicated organic, but there's a decent selection of organic sweets, cookies, olives, oil and other delicatessen. They also sell the city's official organic and fair-trade certified chocolate, the "Hofschokolade" which comes in about 4-6 different flavours.
This chocolate is produced by the city's oldest confectioners', the
Viennese style coffee house Café Vetter in the Münsterviertel, a nice neighbourhood dating from the Wilhelminian period. With its red plush chairs the cafe to the right of the attached bakery shop invites to have an organic tea or coffee drink. Unfortunately the chocolate is the only organic product made by this artisanal bakery cum confectionery. When I asked the friendly service staff whether organic ingredients would be used in their breads, cakes and rolls she regretfully denied. The place looks a bit forlorn facing the big void of a deserted gap site, but it keeps open all days, including Sundays and public holidays.
The cafe (just like the Voll gut supermarket) accepts the local "currency", the Hof Geld, a voucher scheme supporting the local economy.
There's a second Café Vetter branch
by the city's hospital. I don't expect more organic items in these surroundings, but hopefully not less, coffee, tea and chocolate.
Coffee and lunch
For partially organic, vegetarian or vegan lunch and/or an organic coffee drink with or without a piece of home-made cake head to cafe
Jasmin, indoors lovingly decorated with small figures and other nick-nack.
It's the place where you, in other cities, would expect to mingle with students, artists, young parents with prams and/or health-conscious office workers during their lunch break. However, just as in any other shop I managed to visit during my lunch break and on my way to the train station in the early afternoon, it was far from crowded, despite the outdoor seating and the beautiful summer weather.
For a 100 percent organic snack, either sweet or savory, head for
Kreperia Kampschulte, a pretty much hole-in-the-wall creperie in the main pedestrian area opposite the church St. Marien. The owner is happy to have a chat, in a non-intrusive way. Hadn't I been in a rush to catch my train, I'd definitely loved to have a French-style buckwheat pancake.
Artisanal toys and gifts
Wooden toys and games, doll houses, pottery, candles, stationary, oils, honey, liqueurs and other high-quality products made by people with handicaps can be found at
Invito next to Lorenzpark. Unfortunately my time only allowed for a brief glimpse at the shop.
More to try
Given the name Kampschulte I'd expect the public canteen cum restaurant of the city's theatre,
Kampschultes Kultur-Kantine to use at least some organic ingredients and serve a minimum of organic beverages. However, information on the web was sparse and time limited, so you're on your own to explore.
Organic supermarkets can be found on almost every second street corner in Munich but density varies from neighbourhood to neighbourhood.
Organic supermarket chains
In addition to a local organic supermarket chain, Vollcorner (consisting of 19 markets in Munich and around), Munich hosts several branches of Germany's biggest organic chains Alnatura (14 markets in Munich and surroundings) and Denn's (10 markets in the greater Munich area, 7 within the city boundaries). In addition Munich is the home of the Basic supermarket chain with 11 markets -- early in 2021 this chain restricted its activities to South Germany and Austria and sold all other nation-wide branches. Moreover you will find a branch of a small regional chain, Landmann's (including an artisanal butcher's counter run by the Biometzgerei Pichler), many small independent supermarkets, often equipped with a Biomarkt sign, and even some homely, surviving corner shops.
During the past few years, both, Basic and Vollcorner, have made efforts to support zero-waste shopping. If you want to be sure not to (indirectly) support huge, globally operating multinational concerns you're safe when shopping at Vollcorner which consistently delists brands when sold to such companies. So you will find neither Logocos brands (Logona, Lenz, Sante, Heliotrop, Fitne) anymore since the company was bought by L'Oreal (which is partially owned by Nestle), nor Pukka tea (Unilever). Wine-lovers may also collect the corks made from natural cork and return them in for recycling at any Vollcorner shop.
On weekdays all chains and most other supermarkets keep open between 9 am and 8 pm, Vollcorner and Basic markets open at 8 am (later during the current covid-19 pandemic, Saturday opening hours vary, the big retailers and Vollcorner close at 8 pm. All groceries except
the Biokultur supermarket in the basement of the central train station are closed on Sundays.
Apart from these full range retailers there is a small local food only chain, not offering any toiletries or detergents: Herrmannsdorfer specialises in meat products, bakery items and beer produced in the Herrmannsdorfer Landwerkstätten in Glonn, somewhat outside Munich. The shops close quite early, but if you come during daytime they stock sufficient dry food, dairy products, fruits, veges, sweets and more to spare you the trip to a second shop. Unlike the Basic chain Herrmannsdorfer allows you to buy meat in your own containers.
In 2015 a branch of the hyped Italian Eataly delicatessen chain opened within the architectonically interesting glass and iron construction of Schrannenhalle near Viktualienmarkt. It's true, they offer a good range of organic products, and organic food items are labelled as such on the shelves, but it's nevertheless a disappointing experience: Almost no fresh organic fruit and veges (not even the fresh herbs are organic), only pre-packaged organic meat (forget about the well-assorted meat counter), and the organic wines and spirits in the basement are not marked "bio" on the shelves, so it's very hard to find them.
If you want to support the local economy, both Vollcorner, Munich-based Basic and Herrmannsdorfer shops are all fine, but you may prefer to support independent markets where the owners are actually running the stores and create a homely and personal atmosphere. Often you will find products not on sale by the big chains.
When traditional Grüner Markt chain closed down end of September 2014, their main house in the Altperlach neighbourhood made an exception. Housed in a vault it has a pleasant italophilic, somewhat venerable atmosphere, definitely worth a visit. The perfect surroundings when shopping for delicatessen, and a must-go during the Christmas season. It's now dubbed Mohrhof Perlach.
The other big independent is Schmatz ("smack") in the Glockenbach neighbourhood. Step by if only for the lovely decoration of their bodycare section. Kids are invited to play in an old-fashioned corner shop, and selected items are lovingly set on display. It's the only organic supermarket playing music in the background. By the end of 2018 they issued a ban on fresh herbs in plastics packing, and in 2022 there's a dedicated unpackaged shelf with dry food in deposit glasses.
For the picturesque yet upmarket farmshop feeling in the city aim for Stemmerhof on top of the Sendlinger Berg. Once upon a time a wealthy village farm opposite the village church the nicely restored houses are now the home of an organic supermarket (as well as an organic fashion and toy store for smaller children dubbed Natur und Kind). Their butcher's cum delicatessen disk will happily sell lunch snacks to eat on the spot or to take-away. The same enterprise also runs a second branch in the suburb of Grünwald, just a street crossing opposite of Alter Wirt hotel and restaurant.
In the posh Lehel neighbourhood near the Eisbach river within the Englischer Garten park you'll find an independent organic supermarket with a touch of a spice and greens bazaar, the Bioparadies Biomarkt. Its friendly staff was even willing to open after closing time, to sell me a left-over bread on a Saturday afternoon. The serviced bakery and cheese counter is also the place to refill your spice jars with loose-weight herbs and spices. The supermarket is conveniently located opposite the tram stop "Paradiesstraße".
The former Erdgarten supermarket a ten-minutes walk away from Pasing train station (or two minutes from Pasing Marienplatz square) reopened as a branch of the local Vollcorner chain September, 2019 and continues to serve organic and vegetarian wholefood lunch as well as coffee and cake. They also have a nicely decorated bodycare section. Whether they'll continue to serve knitters with a fine selection of organic wool I am not aware of.
If you by chance happen to strand near the Klinikum Harlaching hospital, don't dispair: two tramstops in North-Eastern direction on the left side (just follow the tram line along Grünwalder Str.) you'll find Biowelt, a crammed independent organic supermarket with a superb selection of both, bodycare and frozen convenience products: All you need if visiting a friend or relative in the hospital in urgent need of a proper meal. Starting with lunch time they offer a helping of organic soup and a small selection of snacks. You may ask for a sandwich made on the spot. The shop also has a zero waste corner with dispensers for legumes and a small selection of other dry food as well as an assortment of dried fruit. Make sure to step by check-out to weigh your containers before you fill them.
Attending a conference at one of the huge Bogenhausen hotels near Effnerplatz? Your lunch break should be sufficient to follow Bülowstraße in Western direction to Herkomerplatz. Here you'll find not only a Herrmannsdorfer butcher's shop cum grocery cum eatery and the Hofpfisterei bakery branch next to it, but also a pleasant family-owned organic supermarket dubbed Biovolet. The Riemensberger family placed some bar tables in the entrance area to have a snack, and there is a second branch in Eching (formerly a Grüner Markt branch). Pay with your EC (VPay) debit card, and they donate a few cent to the BioBoden co-operative which buys farm land in order to lease it to organic farmers. On Thursdays you will receive a 10 percent discount if your shopping cart is worth more than 50 euros.
A short walk from the shores of the river Isar near the Southern end of the island housing the Deutsches Museum into the neighbourhood of Au you will find Biochicco cafe and convenience store. Formerly dubbed Auryn it was one of the first organic supermarkets in town which took over the premises of a conventional one. The shopping area has diminished since, and so has the superstore feeling in favour of a personal, homely atmosphere. In 2016 a young team took over from the previous shopkeeper and has put a lot of effort into refurbishing the then somewhat worn location. They opened a vegan snack bar cum cafe facing Ohlmüllerstraße where you can sit down for an organic breakfast (from 8 till 12), lunch or coffee and home-made cake. (Note that there's no lunch in August, but there's always free wifi.) The shop was one of the first ones to print its receipts on paper not containing bisphenol A plasticiser, and if you forgot to bring your own bag you may buy a locally sewn one made from leftover fabrics.
Crossing Ohlmüllerstraße and continuing south along Entenbachstraße you will bump into Entenbach Naturkost, an organic convenience store of old which is now driven by a young family. The location is clean and spacious, and at the same time preserves the homely atmosphere of small owner-run organic corner stores.
In the neighbourhood of Schwabing one of the oldest organic groceries in town is located, these days rather boringly dubbed Echt Bio Markt which is the brand of a network of small-scale independent organic supermarkets. The pleasant, traditional shop in Tengstraße offers refill for organic household detergents.
However. not all supermarkets of this brand have been long established: The independent owner-run Echt Bio Markt in Nymphenburg was opened durig the lock-down of the covid-19 pandemic: As its name suggests
Bio am Romanplatz is the perfect place
to shop for provisions at the tram hub at Romanplatz.
Another cosy neighbourhood with many small-scale shops and interesting food places is the Westend at the Western side of Theresienwiese (in)famous as the Oktoberfest location. Right at the border to the Schwanthalerhöhe neighbourhood, at the North-Eastern corner of the park at Georg-Freundorfer-Platz another bunch of young people is running a neighbourhood grocery dubbed Nicos Naturkost. It's just a friendly, clean and unspectactular shop with a superb selection of teas and tisanes of two small-scale organic brands usually not to be found in Munich organic supermarkets. If you stay in the vicinity for a longer period of time: They have a whiteboard where regular customers can co-ordinate orders of products which the shop usually does not stock.
If you happen to take the S7 urban train in southern direction to the municipality of Höhenkirchen-Siegertsbrunn take the time to visit Roberts Bio-Genussmarkt on the premises of a former farmyard. The spacious, pleasantly refurbished and nicely decorated barn with its dark wooden shelfs makes it easy to spend some time on a coffee and cake in the included cafe area. When the weather is nice sun-shaded outdoor seating is provided. The former village of Höhenkirchen is part of the Mangfall bicycle route from Munich to Rosenheim, and this is a pleasant place for a break.
By 2016 the first wrapping free supermarket made it into town: Check the zero-waste post for reviews. That post also has details on the zero-waste efforts of both, Vollcorner and Basic supermarkets.
For members only
In the 1970ies and 1980ies many organic neighbourhood shops in Western Germany were co-operatively organised and sold to members only. In the 1990ies most of the surviving shops like the "Abakus" in Bremen opened to the general public, with discount schemes for members. To my knowledge, there's no such surviving shop in Munich, but recently established co-operatives such as "Deine Alternative" in Zorneding also obey this inclusive approach.
But as community supported agriculture (CSA) has an increasing appeal to city dwellers (the biggest one in Munich is the Kartoffelkombinat), the concept of an organic supermarket for members only came back to town in 2016, with
the Ökoesel ("eco donkey"), by now a small, yet full-fledged organic supermarket
in Nymphenburg near Leonrodplatz, focussing on
When the founding generation of Munich's oldest organic
supermarket, Lebascha in Haidhausen,
was to pass over the shop to a younger generation in summer 2022, the Ökoesel folks stepped in and are running it as a combined membership cum neighbourhood grocery open to everyone.
summer 2021, another approach followed with the establishment of the Foodhub co-operative in Giesing, next to the lovely cafe "Shotgun Sister" and an organic bakery shop.
If you live in the vicinity you may consider joining this special organic food co-op which runs on the principle of solidarity: every member works three hours per month for or in the project and what's sold in the supermarket (predominantly regional produce) is decided democratically by its members. The shop concentrates on pre-packaged food, household and toiletry items, with the exception of loose weight fruits and veges, a small number of dry food gravity bins offering grains and nuts, and the self-service bread and rolls section. The household cleaning and bodycare shelves are filled with products in environmentally friendly packaging and focus on re-use (like the bamboo paper kitchen paper which can be washed and thus used several times) or little packaging through bigger volumes. There are plans for a zero-waste station to refill cleaning agents.
When I visited the shop at their open day in autumn 2021 I was surprised to not find a serviced fresh food counter given the fact that Karl Schweisfurt of Herrmannsdorfer Landwerkstätten is one of the three legal heads of the co-operative, most likely due to the fact that such a counter needs to be staffed.
No membership fee is required for becoming a member of the on-line market platform Marktschwärmer.
Marktschwärmerei pick-up hub in the developing neigbhourhood of Werksviertel, South of the Ostbahnhof train station, and if you decide to join, you can order food, beverages, sweets and more from predominantly organic producers in and around Munich. Note that the friendly Guamaltecan cafe hosting the pick-up point does not offer organic food, not even drinks.
The following organic supermarkets do no longer exist although you will still find references to them on the web:
- Alnatura Innenstadt, Sonnenstr. 23 (to re-open after reconstruction work)
- Biomarkt CM, Schlüsselbergstr. 13 (Berg am Laim)
- Denn's w/in Hofstatt mall, Sendlinger Str. 12a, basement (city centre)
- Die Bio-Bäuerin, Peter-Wolfram-Str. 31 (Gronsdorf)
- Johannisgarten Naturkost, Johannisplatz 21 (Haidhausen)
- Gut zum Leben, Motorama Ladenstadt, Rosenheimer Str. 30-32 (Haidhausen)
- Tagwerk-Bioladen Hofgut Riem, Isarlandstr. 1 (Riem)
- Veganz, Baldestr. 21 corner Auenstr., including self-service cafe Goodies
- Radix, Thalkirchner Str. 88 (Isarvorstadt)
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 shelves 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 a corner 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.
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). If you find the place too busy step by the zero-waste grocery Ohne which also offers fully organic lunch. Mother Earth is still a little organic grocery, but no longer 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 full retail neighbourhood shop in Haidhausen, Lebascha once was run collectively by a bunch of friendly women. They retired, and since 9th of July, 2022 the shop has been the second shop of the community supported co-operative Ökoesel ("eco donkey" is derived from a pet name for bicycles – "Drahtesel" – as they started up as a bicycle delivery service). Unlike their shop in Neuhausen Lebascha continues to be open for everyone, with its (conventional) liquorice shop-in-shop. An assortment of loose-weight herbs and spices, cereals, nuts, legumes and grains, detergents and soap will be added soon. Note that the shop is closed on Wednesdays and does no longer accept cards, but as a member you can pay
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.
Immigrant shops and traditional corner stores
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. As 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.
A similar owner-run mini market, Varieta am Körner Eck, is located in the Glockenbach neighbourhood, on Auenstraße between the Reichenbach and the Cornelius bridges. The bakery items are all organic, and organic products in the self-service area are clearly marked "bio" on the shelf. The shop offers a lot of directly imported Italian dry food, but unfortunately none of it in organic quality. Also most of the fresh fruits and veges are conventionally produced.
Remember the tales of parents or grandparents about the corner shop they went to as children to buy a single sweet which the shop keeper would put down on a list for their parents to pay later on when they came to shop bread, milk, veges and all the ingredients for the home-cooked meal? The spirit of these shops from the past you may find left in some immigrant shops and this is the reason why I list the Viktualieneck in Bogenhausen in this section. I learned about this crammed greengrocer's shop opposing the newly build neighbourhood of Prinz-Eugen-Park on my quest for shops supporting package-free shopping, but when I went there it turned out a likeable traditional supermarket offering
fresh fruits and veges, regional delicatessen, bread and rolls, wine and all kinds of food. About half of it is organic, namely all the bakery products and certainly more than half of the pre-packaged food. Most of the fresh fruits and veges come from a conventional local market garden
– the turnaround for organic greens wasn't good enough among his customers, and his emphasis was on avoiding waste the shop keeper told me. Package-free shopping is possible for all fruits and veges as well as all items from the bakery, meat and cheese counter.
I cannot tell you whether the shop chalks up for trustworthy customers, but if you are in the vicinity support this shop instead of the supermarket chains nearby.
The upmarket contrast to these somewhat shabby grocery stores is naturally to be found in the posh neighbourhood of the Lehel:
Studio Hindiba offers oils, herbs and condiments, olives, all types of rice, the famed ferments of Berlin's Markus Shimizu, a carefully selected range of wines and other predominantly organic delicatessen. For the smaller purse it may be just a beautyful shop to marvel at, but if your budget isn't painfully tight it's the perfect place to shop a foodie gift for someone special.
A few steps from Wiener Platz you'll find Steinbeißer, a cosy owner-driven deli advertising 'regional specialities'. Take this with a grain of salt – the organic Italian olive oil and Scandinavian candies (not organic) are small-scale produce specific to their region of origin, but certainly not from the greater Munich area. Most meat products come from small-scale Austrian farms which are likely to produce according to near-organic principles. Certified organic products unfortunately do not dominate the pleasantly arranged tables and shelves with artisanal products – predominantly foodstuffs and wine, but you may ask the owner about the provenance of his fare.
Wine, pepper and coffee from carefully selected small-scale producers, that's the focus of Grenzgänger ("border crosser"), a lovely shop directly located at the beautiful Bordeaux-Platz in Haidhausen, just opposite Café Reichshof. When you come here during the cold season you may find yourself welcomed by the warmth of a fireplace, and you can get a speciality coffee (14 types of Arabica to choose from) into your own mug. During covid-19 restrictions cream-ware cups aren't provided, so if you come without a mug you will be charged an extra 20 cent for a plastics-free one-way cup.
Unfortunately most of the products aren't certified organic, with the notable exception of the Demeter-certified honey and bee wax candles of a local beekeeper who is working in accordance with biodynamic principles, i.e. the gold standard for animal welfare.
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 picnic 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.
Herbs and spices
Not exactly a spice bazaar, but a pleasant spice and herbs shop Gewürze der Welt ("spices of the world") had a long tradition on its former location in Thiereckstraße in the very city centre, but when the historic Ruffini house re-opened after a two-year period of restoration work in 2020, the shop moved back to its roots in the Sendlinger Straße (now) pedestrian area. As the name suggests you will find a world of spices, herbs, blends and condiments, a notable part of them in organic quality.
Munich's first organically certified herbalist is tucked away in a non-descript side road near Sendlinger-Tor-Platz, just a few steps aside the remnants of the Glockenbach neighbourhood's famous queer bars. Light and friendly the
Kräutergarten offers all kinds of organic dried herbs, spices, natural cosmetics and the like.
Sonnentor, the leading Austrian producer of organic herbs and spices, has a shop in Munich, too: Located in the basement of
Stachus-Passagen, a generally boring shopping mall a level above this central urban train and tube station, it's probably not the shop that you'll find by accident while taking a stroll through the city. Apart from herbs, spices and condiments they also have a selection of natural body care – an easy place to shop for a nice last-minute give-away.
The only operating corn mill in Munich with its cosy mill shop is located in a small street a few steps from the tourist hotspots of Marienplatz and Hofbräuhaus. The Hofbräuhaus-Kunstmühle offers all types of flour, bruised grains, semolina, bran and cereals, predominantly of corn grown in the region. An increasing number of these artisanal products are organic, so watch out for the 'bio' keyword on the classic paper bags or the listings of the web shop. These products are also the base ingredients for the artisanal home bakery E. Knapp & R. Wenig next door where you can buy hand-made bread and rolls based on traditional, predominantly Munich recipes. The mill shop also stocks a selection of organic dried fruit, olive oil, raising agents and other baking ingredients as well as dry breads like South-Tyrolean Schüttelbrot.
Another very special mono-themed shop, 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 main shop (which is closed on Mondays) isn't located in the most inviting part of town but can easily be reached from Leuchtenbergring urban train stop. But wait: in 2019 a second one opened at a tourist-friendly location between Isartor and Marienplatz.
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:
Sunday, 10 July 2022
If you are looking for pioneers in the German zero waste movement you'll find one of them in Dresden's Neustadt neighbourhood:
Pack a selection of glasses, containers and bags and stop by Lose ("loose-weight"), a cosy zero-waste corner store in Böhmische Straße. Unlike other package-free supermarkets this one does not only sell dry food, natural body care and household chemicals but also offers veges and has a cheese counter. Although most of the products are organic some are not, so you might want to check the labels on the suspenders for the bio keyword or ask.
The interior of the shop was refurbished recently and is now much lighter and seems spacier than before. The reason for this is that the coffee corner which had been there before the corona pandemic has decreased and the serviced counter for bakery products, cheeses, antipasti and coffee moved from the entrance area to the backpart of the shop. Mind you: like other package-free shops Lose does not have an illuminated window front, so be brave to try the door handle -- the place may look quite dark even when open.
In April 2019 a second zero waste supermarket opened its doors in the neighbourhood of Pieschen:
crowd-funded Quäntchen (the name of an old weight unit, denoting about 4 grams). Unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to step by yet, but I'm sure it's a friendly and inviting place.
The newest one is
Binnes unverpackt in the Eastern neighbourhood of Striesen. It's not just a classical zero waste self-service supermarket but also offers meal-prep ("Kochboxen"): You choose the recipe for delivery next week in their online store, and you can collect all ingredients weighted according to the recipe in returnable glass jars. They also offer a selection of hemp (CBD) products.
Supermarkets with zero-waste stations
Moreover all shops of the co-operatively organised local wholesale chain VG Biomarkt offer a good selection of loose-weight organic dry goods (in addition to an abundance of often locally produced fruit and veges and dairy products and drinks of all kinds in returnable glass bottles).
Their main shop is located near
Bahnhof Mitte train station, an entire organic warehouse on the premises of a former newspaper printing plant. Standing back from the main street the first floor is occupied by an organic convenience store supporting your zero-waste efforts. On the second floor there's a well assorted organic fashion store mainly for babies, children and women, with a section offering organic body care, household chemicals, sustainably produced toys, stationary and more.
For members prices are lower, but the warehouse is open to everyone.
On weekdays the self-service bistro directly facing the street offers delicious lunch (only snacks on Saturdays), and there's a cafe cum bakery shop featuring young local artists which (except on Mondays) opens half an hour before the supermarket itself, and closes at 7 pm on weekdays. Watch out on Mondays: The shop including its bistro opens at 1 pm this day. Opening hours on Saturdays before Christmas are extended to 4 pm.
VG Biomarkt also has branches in the neighbourhoods of Neustadt (Hechtviertel), Striesen, and Loschwitz, of which the one in Hechtviertel including its bistrot is members only.
The Loschwitz branch dubbed VG Balsamico is conveniently located
opposite the downhill station of the cable-run suspension railway ("Schwebebahn") next to
Körnerplatz at the northern end of Blaues Wunder ("blue wonder") bridge.
While these local groceries were early adopters a number of nation-wide operating organic supermarket chains have been following. In Dresden all branches of the Berlin-based supermarket chain Bio Company introduced dry food suspenders for use with your own jars.
In 2021 the Denns Biomarkt was the first branch of this chain where I found a dedicated shelf with fairly traded dry food in retour glasses and a few gravity bins with nuts, seeds, rice and noodles. A start at least, although I have my doubts that this small selection will be sufficient to nudge people towards the extra effort it takes to bring along glasses and jars.
Farmshops and factory outlets
When you take the Elberadweg bicycle route on the southern shore in direction Niederwartha you'll pass a nice old farmyard, the organic Bauernhof Franz in Niedergohlis. It runs a subscription scheme -- phone or e-mail your order until Wednesday and collect it from the farmshop on Fridays and Saturdays, but if you happen to step by on one of these days and there's someone around you may be able to buy vegetable oil and perhaps also potatoes or other produce from the farm.
In 2022 Vegannett, a Weißer Hirsch-based producer of vegan spreads, started filling products in standardized returnable deposit glasses which
you can buy directly from the manufacturer on Wednesdays.