The Organic Traveller
Sunday, 02 June 2024

Munich: Organic coffee and tea houses

To find a self-respecting restaurant or supermarket snack bar not equipped with a restaurant-size Italian espresso machine can be difficult, and even the tiniest organic corner shop will try to offer you ubiquituous Italian-style coffee drinks. Likewise you can have organic tea bag teas and infusions of usually decent quality. But for the modern nomad on the job, the afternoon chat with friends or the traveller in search of a undisturbed place for a break or observations, the dedicated coffee or tea house is a far more appropriate place to spent hours. Common for all the places listed here that they are closed in the evening – usually around 6pm, some keep open until 8pm. Note that weekend opening hours may be even more restricted.

Viennese-style coffee houses

The headline is misleading – even if an increasing number of cafes see themselves in the tradition of Viennese coffee houses when it comes to the stuccoed interior, the dark wooden furniture, a selection of daily newspapers as well as the menu, they will usually serve Italian-style coffee drinks. The perfect place for breakfast and a coffee break at any time of the day, you will also be served lunch and snacks throughout the day. Expect however to order more of the deliciously handcrafted cakes than you initially intended to.

To my knowledge the only one left by the end of 2020 and my absolute favourite is the newly restored Cafe Reichshof in Haidhausen, covered in detail in my ice-cream post.

Oriental-style coffee

Since Iunu stopped serving Turkish mocca the only place offering responsibly sourced oriental-style coffee in Haidhausen is Saladins Souk with its rather irrational opening hours. If it is closed you may move next door to Erbils vegan Turkish eatery.

In autumn 2021 I noticed to my delight that these aren't the only mocca places anymore: The Icedate ice-cream parlour in Maxvorstadt started serving organic coffee, although the price tag of 2.40 EUR the mocca is rather stiff.

Italian style bars

Pop in, have a coffee, a chat, a sweet, and pop out again – the Italian bar is the hotspot of a neighbourhood. To my deepest regret its Bavarian incarnation is no more (landlord cancelled contract with the coffee roastery), but in the middle of humming Viktualienmarkt market North of the crossing Reichenbachstraße/Frauenstraße there's Kaffeerösterei Viktualienmarkt, a vibrant market booth with bar tables under a roof. So even if the weather is bad and you're outside there's no reason to give up plans for an Italian style coffee drink made with sustainably sourced (though not organically certified), locally roasted coffee. The milk is organic and comes from traditionally working mountain farms in the Berchtesgadener Land district, packaged by the co-operatively driven Berchtesgadener Land dairy which, in 2017, banned the use of glyphosate for all its farmers, not only the organic ones.

Sorry Johnny Kaffeebar

If you prefer your coffee with biodynamic (Demeter) milk head for the Sorry Johnny coffee bar in Haidhausen, conveniently located at the Wörthstraße tram stop. The place has quite unusual opening hours: closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and open during the early evening on Fridays and Saturdays. The bar replaced a vegan clean-eating spot in autumn 2021 which, for a while, prepared my favourite oat-based latte – a coffee preparation that's still available here.

Coffee Box

Without the heavy car traffic the area between Max-Weber- and Wiener Platz could be a lovely urban hideaway, with singing tram tracks, an underground station (exhibiting Munich's first horse tram), pleasant shops, cafes and nearby parks. To escape from the agressive passive motorised mobility along Innere Wiener Straße jump into quiet Steinstraße and take a breath at the tiny Coffee Box cafe. Although some of their coffee is roasted by Merchant & Friends in Glonn, none of the beans served here are organic. The milk, however, is organic, as is the ginger and pomegranate juices used in some drinks. For a refreshment in the summer heat have an organic, vegan popsicle.

Not certified organic, but responsibly sourced coffee beans grown with respect for nature by small scale farmers – the coffee roasted at the Alrighty coffee bar in the newly developed, trending Werksviertel will nevertheless give you the comforting feel of doing something right. To find the place leave Ostbahnhof station through the Friedensstaße exit to enjoy a speciality coffee preferably in the sun.

Cafe Josefina

(Almost) fully organic

If all you want is a place where you do not have to fine-read the menu to pick out the organic items your options are limited to the afore mentioned Café Reichshof, near tram stop "Wörthstraße") – and to Café Josefina in the legendary neighbourhood of Schwabing with its bohemian past, a few steps from tube stop Josephsplatz. A cosy day cafe serving Italian-style coffee drinks made with real milk or a number of plant-based alternatives it's not only worth a coffee but also a lunch break. Although nearly all ingredients are organic there are a few exceptions when it comes to the cold cuts used in Italian-style sandwiches. As early as half past seven the place starts serving both, vegan, vegetarian, and omnivore breakfast on weekdays, and since it is quite small it's advisable to reserve a table if you plan to step by on a weekend.

For a fully organic breakfast or coffee near Münchner Freiheit head for the small artisanal (and fully organic) Brotraum bakery happily catering for early birds. The breakfast menu is simple – but you can order additional items like eggs and cream cheese on top or ask for a freshly prepared sandwich or roll of your choice. Don't forget to bring your own bags and containers when you come here to buy bread, rolls or lunch items for take away – the owner is inclined to support your zero waste efforts.

In Neuhausen, about half a kilometre from Rotkreuzplatz a gorgeous health-food eatery cum cafe gROOSartig (a play on the word "gorgeous" and the name of the owner) opened in 2020, offering breakfast, lunch, and coffee breaks based on regional, usually organic, often fairly-traded ingredients. Although the menu is planned with a focus on healthy food the demand for sweets and cakes has resulted in an increasing range on cakes and tarts. The place also has a small shop offering plastic-free artisanal household items.

Etisch

Shabby chic and homely places

The Westend has lost a lot of organic or partially organic places after or during the covid 19 pandemic, so I am happy to see a location with a long history of being organic to be revived in this spirit: The new (in 2024) vegan cafe Etisch at Gollierplatz opened in lieu of one of those friendly, crammed owner-run organic cornershops, Nico's.

Its chef (as of April 2024) is in the process of getting a organic certificate for his kitchen, and the owner, Aylin, is planning to obtain a certificate, too. For the time being, many ingredients are already organic, but not all. The pear-chocolate cake I had was soft and far too fast eaten. In addition I had a very decent cappuccino with organic oat milk (the default however is a conventional brand with aggressive marketing). Had I been hungry I'd have given the Turkish-style börek a try. Etisch – the name is a pun of the German words for "ethical" and "table" ("Tisch") – also offers a tempting lunch menu. In addition you can shop for body care, olive oil, the non-alcoholic gin substitute of the otherwise organic distillery "Duke" in Aschheim and other sustainable (though not necessarily organically certified) products.

Cafe Plaisir

A small cafe of old, run as a social enterprise just a five minutes walk away from Rosenheimer Platz, Cafe Plaisir moved to a bigger and lighter venue in 2018 – and stopped using organic ingredients for their home-made ice-cream, chocolates, cakes and cookies. Still, tea and coffee drinks and a few more items are marked on the menu with a little heart denoting organic, and eggs – where marked – come from organic farms raising both, the hens and their cockerel brothers. Be patient and kind if the serving personnel does not respond immediately – the shop is a social enterprise run by longterm-unemployed persons.

Not far from Ostbahnhof station Kosy*s cafe promises to be "your second living room". As long as you have some tolerance towards cake stands filled with kitschy sweets guaranteed free from natural colourings and a decidedly vintage feel you can have an organic tea or soft drink, a coffee drink made with organic milk, organic eggs and cereals for breakfast or a hearty lunch often entirely made from organic ingredients in a leisurely atmosphere. The good thing is that organic ingredients aren't shamefully hidden – when it's organic they'll make it transparent on the menu. The bad news: their homemade cakes unfortunately are not organic, not even the eggs.

Iunu

A few steps away, directly located at Orleansplatz cafe Iunu is a perfect place to meet a friend for a chat or to have a recreational coffee break including a chat with the friendly owner. Some of the coffee, the milk, the tea and a few staples used in the daily changing vegetarian and ayurvedic-inspired lunch set menu like agave syrup, rice and vegetable yogurt alternatives are organic, but unfortunately usually not the veges. The place was my joker for the best Turkish mocca in town, but unfortunately it is no longer being served due to marginal demand. With a small but carefully chosen (though not necessarily organic) range of delicatessen Iunu will also save you when in need for an unplanned last minute gift. On Saturdays the cafe is often unexpectedly closed due to arrangements, so check in advance.

Another cosy living room dubbed Zimtzicke is tucked away in comparatively quiet Elsässer Straße, only a five minutes walk from Ostbahnhof. All their teas, coffees, the milk and eggs are organic. Their lunch dishes, although mainly not organic, are tasty. However, when I enquired about the ingredients of the individual dishes on the menu, the staff wasn't able to tell whether they contained organic ingredients. The tiny place smells lovely of home-make cakes, some of them vegan. A perfect location to warm up after a winter walk in the city, and a pleasant retreat to welcome spring or to enjoy a summer day in the city on a table in front of it.

Cafe Kaethe

Another option to mingle with natives is a homely shabby chic neighbourhood cafe cum gallery in the neighbourhood of Au, on the Eastern shore of river Isar near Deutsches Theater. The audience of Café Käthe is mixed, coffee, milk, tea, rolls and cakes as well as most of the softdrinks are organic. They don't serve hot food, but you can have breakfast, sandwiches, cereals, salads and - of course – cake all day. Many but not all ingredients are organic, so ask if you care but be prepared that the service personnel isn't prepared to answer on the spot.

Shotgun Sister

A crowded neighbourhood coffee bar in Obergiesing, Shotgun Sister allows you to meet people from the former working class borough which has been popular among both, students and families alike. All food including the cakes are home-made, with organic fruit and veges, often from local biodynamic agriculture. The cakes are fully organic. If you cannot spot the place at once watch out for the branch of the organic Hofpfisterei bakery chain which is located next to it, a five minutes walk from Giesing station. If you like splash out a coffee on an unknown – as the sister participates in the Hey campaign for fellow citizens in need. Needless to say that vegan and gluten-free options are readily available.

Big enough to almost guarantee a free seat for the visitor-by-chance is Cafe Katzentempel in the Maxvorstadt university quarter. You must however not suffer from a cat allergy as this rather special vegan place is inhabitated by six cats, and the once nice wallpaper on the wall with the scratch pole facing the entrance has already become rather shabby. Most of the softdrinks are organic as are all soy products and the cow milk (on request used for non-vegan coffee and tea-based drinks). The place offers an impressive range of organic nuts and grain milks to be ordered for your latte. The food and home-made cakes may include additional organic ingredients, although they aren't generally organic, just of local origin if possible. Students and apprentices are entitled special prices Tuesday through Friday, and free wifi is available. Depending on your table you may find the slightly aggressive sales presentation of the Katzentempel brand t-shirts disturbing – overall a place to either love or detest.

Further along Türkenstraße you'll find Mr. Ben – a small coffee cum snacks place offering (herbal) tea and soft drinks in organic quality. Unfortunately neither the coffee artisanally roasted in the neighbourhood of Giesing nor the milk and oat milk are organic. There's a small selection of Italian-style piadina sandwiches and freshly home-made cake which occasionally may contain organic ingredients. The croissants used to come from an organic bakery a longer bicycle ride out of town but they were sold out (just like the veggie piadina) when I was there. Orders should be placed at the bar, but you will be served, and return to the bar for payment, preferably (and if the sum is smaller than ten euros only) in cash.

If you prefer strictly vegan places for a coffee break try Siggis which I reviewed here.

Self-service coffee house and deli bars

For the no-frills coffee with WLAN or on the go a number of nation-wide operating self-service coffee house chains serve Italian and American-style organic coffee often with organic milk and some more organic items like tea, soft drinks or fruit and nut bars. The market in Munich is quite volatile: The once dominating franchise San Francisco Coffee Company filed for bankruptcy during the covid-19 pandemics and does no longer have stores in Munich. Black Bean never expanded and survived, and Coffee Fellows is now ubiquitous, serving coffee at (among others) fuel and train stations.

Once booming MyMuesli chain, a German web order shop for organic cereals and porridges with offline branches throughout the German-speaking countries also had to close a lot of its shops after a rapid, unhealthy expansion strategy. On the Eastern edge of Viktualienmarkt, a few steps from Marienplatz you'll still find their flagship store which includes a decent coffee bar. No cakes to be had here but Italian style coffee drinks, juices, and of course mueslis, porridges and cereals in case you are a little hungry or in need for an organic breakfast. The major aim of the shop is of course to sell their products but for a quick WLAN or coffee break in the busy heart of the city the functionally styled place isn't a bad option.

Deli Star Amalienstraße

My favourite in this category is a small organically certified Munich-based chain: Deli Star brings the spirit of New York-style deli and coffee bars to town, but with a strong focus on the environment: No plastics here, all take away stews and salads come in returnable glass jars, and the coffee on the go in a Recup deposit cup if you don't bring your own. Not every ingredient in their bagels, sandwiches, stews and salads is organic, but all regular organic items are clearly marked BIO on the menu: the cakes (though not the muffins and brownies), most meat products, yogurt, Lemonaid and Adelholzener fruit and soft drinks. Other ingredients like veges and cheese may or may not be organic. The coffee isn't organic, but the milk comes in huge reusable containers from a local organic farm. In general they use a lot of products grown and produced in the region and/or from small-scale manufacturers. Both branches are located in students' hotspots in Maxvorstadt: near the University and at the entrance to the Englischer Garten park.

Mingle with the working crowd

Campus canteens and coffee bars frequented by those working nearby are excellent places to get in contact with locals – with the disadvantage of opening hours following office hours.

Louka

On the eastern side of the railway tracks of Ostbahnhof train station, a few minutes north of the newly developed Werksviertel you'll find day cafe Louka, a friendly no-frills place mainly catering for the office workers and craftspersons working nearby. What you get here: coffee, home-made cakes and sandwiches, a daily changing soup and main course, often vegetarian. If you want to taste simple German everyday standards like Kässpätzle and Schupfnudeln, or the Russischer Zupfkuchen ("Russian pluck cake") cheesecake, this is the place. Not everything is organic here, but both, the coffee, the milk and the plant-based drinks, the eggs, often the veges and the meat are.

Steinhausen is most certainly not a neighbourhood you will have on your travel agenda, but if you come to the Berg am Laim urban train, bus and tram stop the coffee bar on the ground flour of the Süddeutsche Zeitung publishing house is nearby and open to the public. It offers organic and fairly traded coffee and organic lemonades at very competitive prices. Milk, soy and oat drinks are occassionally organic, but better check for the "bio" keyword on the packs as conventional industrial milk still prevails. The sweet and savoury snacks are of unknown provenance so you may prefer to ask. Salads and desserts are being sold in retour jars at a deposit. If you wish to mingle with journalists, developers, printers and all those involved in the production of Germany’s most respected daily newspaper this is the place despite the surroundings.

Balan Deli

If you happen to strand in the urban desert of office blocks between the tube stops of Karl-Preis-Platz and Sankt-Martin-Straße head for the Neue Balan campus, a former industrial area where in the past Siemens produced semiconductors. Quite centrally you'll find Balan Deli, a modern yet comfortably furnished day cafe run as a not-for-profit company providing fair employment for an inclusive team of people with and without handicaps. The cafe was founded by the nearby inclusive Montessori school and designed by a Hamburg based artist. You can have a healthy lunch, partially based on organic ingredients, or simply an organic coffee, tea, wine or soft drink, often sourced from local producers, in a pleasant environment. The bread for the sandwiches comes from a local organic bakery. Unfortunately the service staff is not very knowledgeable (yet) about organic and sustainably produced food (when I enquired about the milk they told me it was organic although they actually use the cheaper conventional product of the Berchtesgadener Land dairy which also offers an extended range of organic dairy products), but was happy to ask the kitchen staff about the origin of the chicken in the Thai curry (which was not organic).

Tushita

Tea houses

For those seriously into tea the ultimate target in town is Tushita Teehaus in the Glockenbach neighbourhood, near the Western exit of tube station Fraunhofer Straße (and a five minutes walk South of Gärtnerplatz). To taste their around 150 organic and often fairly traded tea and tisane varieties (which aren't exhaustively listed on the menu) can take some time, but you can buy them to take with you. With every order the staff will hold a microscopic tea ceremony for you, and hot water for a second extraction is served in a small thermos aside. In the past they often used too hot water for some of their delicate green teas resulting in a bitter beverage, but this fortunately had changed to the better at my last visit. In addition they serve small vegan dishes as well as yummy home-made cakes, all organic, and there's a Japanese touch to both, the decoration, the food and the subtle focus on Japanese tea and matcha. Consequently the place is frequented by visitors of Japanese origin as well as the occasional Indian gentleman or the German hippie or university professor reading their daily. Given how frequented the place often is there's a quiet, pleasantly concentrated atmosphere to it.

More to try

In the Westend, a few steps from Theresienwiese Café Gollier is a pleasant neighbourhood day cafe, popular for breakfast and hearty lunch. They promise to use regional, preferably organic products according to availability, but so far I have not had the chance to eat here.

Closed

The following places ceased to exist, although you still may find references to them on the web:

2024-06-02 15:00:00 [Munich, Au, Haidhausen, Maxvorstadt, Schwabing, Westend, Englischer_Garten, organic, coffee, tea, breakfast, lunch, snacks, fair, vegan, gluten_free, cafe, ice-cream, restaurant, American, Italian, Japanese] 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: E-mail · Mastodon · Vero · Ello.

Saturday, 01 June 2024

Munich: Organic supermarkets

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 about twenty markets in Munich and around), Munich hosts several branches of Germany's biggest organic chains Alnatura and Denns (both with more than 10 markets each within the city boundaries). The decline of the Basic chain (see below) which formerly dominated the city centre lead to the opening of a new centrally located Denns supermarket on the premises of a former Lidl branch in May, 2024 (the first Denns supermarket in the city centre did not survive tucked away in the basement of a mall).

Until mid of 2023 Munich was 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. However, these measures did not stop the decline of the company driven by management failures, resulting in an insolvency. The Munich shops were taken over by the conventional supermarket chain teGut. Under the new management only the original Basic shop near Isartor and a second one near Nordbad are surviving as organic supermarkets, at least until the end of 2024. After this grace period the company plans to evaluate whether 100 percent organic supermarkets will be part of their concept. The bakery and butchers' counters inside the former Basic headquarter in Bogenhausen are still 100 percent organic as is its greengrocers' section.

TeGut is not the first conventional full retailer experimenting with fully organic supermarkets: With the Naturkind supermarket in Harlaching the Edeka co-operative is also running an experimental organic supermarkt in Munich, their first and only in town.

With Basic on the verge, there are two regional full retail chains left in town: Landmann's with branches in several Bavarian towns, but only one within the Munich city boundaries (including an artisanal butcher's counter run by the Biometzgerei Pichler), and Vollcorner which does not have branches outside the Munich S-Bahn network. In addition there are still many small independent supermarkets, often using a Biomarkt sign, and even some homely, surviving corner shops.

Vollcorner has been making notable efforts to support zero-waste shopping for a long time, and burried many of them due to low customer acceptance. Shopping here you can however be sure not to (indirectly) support huge, globally operating multinational concerns as Vollcorner consistently delists organic brands 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 for recycling at any Vollcorner shop.

On weekdays most organic supermarkets keep open between 9 am and 8 pm, Vollcorner markets open at 8 am. 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.

Independent full-retailers

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.

Mohrhof

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 and a range of small owner-run shops. The supermarket's 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.

Bioparadies

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.

Biowelt

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.

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 during 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.

There's only one Sunday-open organic supermarket in Munich, the Biokultur in the basement of the main train station. It's sister branch in the newly developed neighbourhood of Riem on the plot of the former Munich airport can be found inside the Riem Arcaden shopping mall, sporting the only organic cafe in the neighbourhood. Unfortunately neither the cafe nor the supermarket are open on Sundays or public holidays.

Roberts Bio-Genussmarkt

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.

Waste-free supermarkets

By 2016 the first wrapping free supermarket made it into town: Check the zero-waste post for reviews.

Co-operatives with membership schemes

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 continue this inclusive approach.

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 package-free food.

When the founders of Munich's oldest organic supermarket, Lebascha in Haidhausen, were to pass over the shop to a younger generation in summer 2022, the Ökoesel folks stepped in. Although both branches focus on a membership scheme, they are neighbourhood groceries open to everyone. As a non-member you'll simply pay non-subsidised (i.e. higher) prices.

In 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. There's a Marktschwärmerei pick-up hub in the neighbourhood of Milbertshofen. If you decide to join, you can order food, beverages, sweets and more from predominantly organic producers in and around Munich.

Formerly organic supermarkets

As part of the "teGut" chain the following, former "Basic" supermarkets still offer a reduced assortment of organic products:

Closed down

The following organic supermarkets do no longer exist although you will still find references to them on the web:

2024-06-01 14:00:00 [Munich, Au, Bogenhausen, Haidhausen, Harlaching, Lehel, Maxvorstadt, Nymphenburg, Schwabing, Pasing, Aschheim, Hoehenkirchen-Siegertsbrunn, Englischer_Garten, Mangfallradweg, Mangfall_cycle_route, organic, supermarkets, grocery, lunch, snacks, deli, Italian, CSA] 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: E-mail · Mastodon · Vero · Ello.

Saturday, 13 April 2024

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 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.

Pommesboutique

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.

Build-your-own bowls and rolls with predominantly organic ingredients can be had at (and ordered from) Greens & Grains. 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. If you aren't very hungry it's a good idea to bring along a box to take leftovers home as the servings are huge. The place is self-serviced and doesn't allow anonymous payments, only cards. The second branch at Max-Weber-Platz does no longer exist.

City centre

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.

Byoo Another organic institution of old is Leo's Organic Kitchen near Isartor. It started 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.

Bistro ÖQ

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.

The time of the vegan hotdog shop Organic Garden behind Heiliggeist church is gone, but the former chef of the male German football national team is now running the refectory of the Bavarian state ministry of agriculture, forestry and tourism the which is open to the public for lunch.

If you prefer low-processed plant-based food head for the Glockenbachviertel. Here Noams Deli offers filling bowls and hearty one-pot wonders as stews or curries predominantly (if not only) made with organic ingredients. Bring a jar if your appetite isn't huge, to take the remainders with you, as the clean-eating inspired dishes often are more filling than anticipated. On nice weather days the outdoor tables allow for people-watching while having a coffee drink and perhaps a banana bread, brownie, or raw sweet. The shop with its stylish, polished wooden interior isn't open in the evening, but on the other hand its focus on healthy food may be too much for the night.

There's a second Noams branch in the university town of Gießen.

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 stops serving food by 9 pm.

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.

Oliver

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.

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 had been a success story during corona delivery and take-away, leading to the opening of branches in Neuhausen and w/in the Feinkost Käfer deli near Münchner Freiheit, but they had to close again. Insist to get your food in deposit dishes if not bringing your own boxes. 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).

Fräulein Grüneis

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.

Schwabing

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

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.

Hadern

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.

Westend

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.

Das Kulinariat

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.

Pasing

A second Vollcorner Deli opened 5th September, 2019 in the former "Erdgarten" organic supermarket near Pasinger Marktplatz.

Shut down

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

2024-04-13 20:00:00 [Munich, Giessen, organic, bar, eatery, breakfast, lunch, coffee, clean, vegan, vegetarian, Bavarian, German, Lebanese, Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese, grill, burgers, doner_kebap, falafel, streetfood, Maxvorstadt, Haidhausen, Hadern, Neuhausen, Pasing, Schwabing, Sendling, Werksviertel, Westend, Eisbach, Englischer_Garten] Link

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