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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Saturday, 06 April 2024

Munich: Organic and partially organic restaurants

To find a place for an organic lunch, snack or a coffee break, both served and self-served, requires not more than keeping your eyes open. But the cultured evening out or a sumptuous weekend brunch can be a challenge if you don't know where to head for.

If you opt for 100 percent organic food and drinks, without compromises, within the city boundaries the TL;DR is La Trattoria and Josef.

French

Given the French love for quality food one would expect all self-respecting French restaurants to use organic ingredients to a certain extent, but to actually find those which do proves to be harder than expected. In Munich head for brasserie La Bouche in Schwabing, a tastefully decorated place a few steps away from Münchner Freiheit. They promise to use organic ingredients throughout the menu, with three quite excusable exceptions: snails, seafood and Marsala wine.

La Bouche

In fact the exception list varies depending on daily supplies – when I went there the lamb and the duck liver had been added – but since it is all transparent and clearly stated on the menu you can adapt you order accordingly. The food itself is hearty French countryside fare, apart from the risottos (together with the Italian coffee the international touch to the menu) most dishes focus on meat or seafood. Since the main courses are very generous compared to other French restaurants, come hungry or skip the starter. In the meat-based stews we had – coq au vin and an ox liver ragout – the flavours of the ingredients were perfectly amalgamated and harmonic. The entrecote marinated in a pesto of fresh herbs – although perfectly cooked rare – however, did not live up to expectations, too perfumed, too imbalanced (and way too big) for my taste. Although the side dishes – salads, stewed root vegetables, fried potatoes, and similar – clearly play a supporting role they were well done and tasty. And the baguette served together with the starters was clearly one of the best I ever had.

Sadly the wines aren't organic, the soft drinks however are, and the bar offers organic pastis, gin and vodka. Note that the place is closed on Sundays.

German/Bavarian

With its rustic and cosy flair and garden tables under horse chestnut trees during the warm season Zum Kloster in the heart of the former village of Haidhausen a short walk from Wiener Platz makes the perfect surrounding for a laid-back chat with friends. They serve a selection of organic non-alcoholic beverages and up to three dishes on their meat-centric hand-written menu are marked with a star as made with organic meat, eggs and flour, one of them being Spaghetti Bolognese. The dishes are simple, but perfectly eatable home-made fare. Only the salad should better not have been as soaked in rapeseed oil as it was. For take away come with your own container to avoid extra waste. (The covid-19 delivery service was discontinued.)

If heading for the classical Bavarian Wirtshaus – rustic, but perhaps missing the air of the students' and artists' pub present in "Zum Kloster" – the Klinglwirt at the opposite end of Haidhausen near Rosenheimer Platz is the place to go. They serve organic meat from the nearby farm in Herrmannsdorf, organic cheese, bread, coffee, tea as well as Del Fiore ice-cream. Even the side-dishes – mainly potatoes, dumplings, sauerkraut, red cabbage and rustic salads – are now often organic, and vegetarian and vegan dishes have become a permanent part of the menu in their own right. The drinks menu offers at minimum one organic option for most beverages. Little guests are welcomed warmly, among others with a decent menu of their own (most kids will accept happily that the dishes listed there are almost free of greens). The restaurant is a member of Green Chefs, a network of eco conscious and socially responsible chefs.

While the Munich population has strong, yet mixed feelings about the Oktoberfest, the strong beer festival during lent is probably meeting much less negative sentiment among locals. In fact, the political cabaret ("Derblecken") at the opening of the festival, is a major event in local politics. Although the host brewery, Paulaner, does not brew organic beer, the very place of the festival, the Nockherberg restaurant in the Au, offers parts of its menu in organic quality: All organic items are marked green, or (as for the beverages) with the organic label. They use organic flour and milk, the tofu is both, Bavarian and organic, and a selection of traditional meat dishes like the "Böfflamot" (the Munich version of "boeuf a la mode") are made with organic meat. Mind you that there is a decent selection of organic wines and non-alcoholic beverages, but no organic beer.

Alter Wirt

For the 100% organic experience of Bavarian cuisine take the tram no. 25 from Rosenheimer Platz to its final destination in the suburb of Grünwald. A five-to-ten minutes walk from there you'll find the only organic hotel in reach, Alter Wirt, with its rustic, yet up-market restaurant. Children are welcome and often even allowed a visit to the kitchen, but the place is spacious enough that occasional little guests won't spoil your romantic candle-light dinner. There's a beergarden under horse chestnut trees, and the entire place is a real oasis in suburbia. The menu focuses on the meat- and fish-centric Bavarian Sunday kitchen completed with dishes of Italian origin. The food is extremely tasty, home-made, yet peppered with pleasant little twitches of ambitious chefs. Not the natural place for vegetarians, but if you happen to be the only vegetarian in a group of omnivores, there's a tasty meal for you as well. In addition they offer a range of assorted organic spirits. Early risers may also step by for breakfast.

If you prefer a sandwich and coffee on the go turn to the co-located artisanal Brotzeit bakery.

Fancy a day out in the Bavarian countryside? So why not paying a visit to the Herrmannsdorfer farm about 30 kilometres from Munich? Their up-market 100 percent organic restaurant, the Wirtshaus zum Schweinsbräu, rewards with the finest of Bavarian food traditions.

Goldmarie

At tube stop Poccistraße in Sendling, just across the street from the Vollcorner branch in Lindwurmstr. 80 the Goldmarie restaurant serves classical and modern versions of seasonal Bavarian, Austrian and North-Italian dishes – quite palatable, but also a little boring. It's very obvious that the quality of the ingredients makes the difference here rather than the skills or visions of a chef: Usually the meat is organic and – in this case – marked "bio" on the menu. The veges are often organic, too, though not marked. Not organically certified meat and greens come from small-scale conventional farms in the region. Unfortunately the drinks (except for the gin and the herb tonic water) aren't organic. The place itself is often quite crowded.

They advertised "Highclass organic food" in the 2015 print issue of Spy city guide, and you will find them listed as organic on the web, too, but when I rang them up a few years ago the staff ensured me repeatedly: No, we do not use organic ingredients. Since they themselves do not mention the word "bio" on their German website it's likely that lack of command of the English language lead to this misconception. But one must never say "no" – the menu as of April 2024 advertises organic bread (with vegan spread) by Munich's it-bakery Julius Brantner, and with Munich's gastronomy and club icon Sandra Foster of the Blitz restaurant behind it the Roecklplatz restaurant is definitely worth a visit: It is a socially responsible enterprise employing young apprentices in difficult life situations and/or without formal education which in itself deserves support.

Miss Lilly's

International

Not a single word on their menu suggests that Miss Lilly's kitchen in Giesing prefers organic ingredients. But when tasting their huge and extremely yummy home-made burgers or Wiener Schnitzel it's perfectly reasonable that not only the meat (as confirmed by the staff) but also a good deal of the side-dishes are at least partially organic. Although vegetarians are catered for it's very obvious that Miss Lilly's chef prefers meat and does it perfectly. If you come with kids and ask for fries they will be served huge portions – so don't order too many. The place near tube stop Kolumbusplatz serves breakfast until 5 pm and is famous for their home-made American cheesecake – I had the peanut butter variety which was very palatable, but to my taste not as exceptional as I had heard, together with a proper Italian-style coffee. Tuesday to Saturday evening it turns into Moritz bar and restaurant, with a likewise tempting menu specializing in the South-German and alpine cuisines. If you are after an organic alcoholic drink you have to stick to The Duke gins – the wine and gin menu unfortunately does not leave you with much choice.

Gans woanders

A wooden witch cottage, with several hideaways, balconies, verandahs to almost get lost in, indoors and outdoors, an open cultural stage, magical sourroundings (almost) under a train bridge – no, the appearances of the bar Gans Woanders near Kolumbusplatz are deceptive: This is not an ancient building, but a brand-new construction opened in 2020. Although the quantity of organic ingredients used in the menu dominated by pizza and cake does not entirely live up to the sustainability promise of the place, you'll find at least organic coffee, tea and lemonades, and I was assured that the potatoes always were organic. Note that the place is self-services and accepts cash only.

In the South-Eastern part of Giesing, near congested Tegernseer Landstraße yet tucked away in a pleasant neighbourhood at Alpenplatz you will find another rustic place, Das Edelweiß. Since it started as an organic restaurant about six years ago you will still find business cards and references describing it as organic, and you can still order organic softdrinks. Unfortunately the concept did not work out, and the focus has shifted from organic towards supporting local and small-scale businesses. Some of the ingredients such as the milk of the Sternenfair brand are produced according to near-organic principles, the tasty artisanal bread may sometimes be made from organic flour, if you come for breakfast on weekends you can have organic chocolate spread, maple syrup and hot chocolate, but you should rather expect artisanal conventional food. When I questioned the owner about it she assured me that she's trying to find a new chef with love for local and seasonal high-quality food, and hopefully a renewed focus on organic principles will follow.

A dedicated family restaurant in the queer and hip neighbourhood of Glockenbachviertel dubbed Kaiser Otto is the place in Munich closest to the cafe latte moms cliche. You may step by for a coffee break during the day, or have breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner while your kids may disappear to a dedicated playground room next to the cafe. The latter is however closing at 7 pm. Weekend brunch with child care has been discontinued during covid-19. The food is not very elaborate, but often made from at least partially organic ingredients. Reliably organic items on the menu are coffee, eggs, bread, a selection of soft drinks as well as the meat served with one of the dishes to have for dinner. Greens, veges and pulses may or may not be organic, so you have to enquire, meat items served until 3 pm are definitely not.

The contrary of a family restaurant, i.e. a decent (American-style) bar cum burger restaurant is The Potting Shed near Münchner Freiheit, a few steps from Brasserie La Bouce. Instead of french fries you're served yummy rosemary-flavoured potatoes, instead of prefab mayonnaise delicate home-made aioli, and the coleslaw was crisp, showing off the (organic) quality of the cabbage. The top of my burger bun was caramelised, adding an interesting twist to the taste, and the patty, announced as medium, still gorgeously pink. Unfortunately they do not do rare burgers which indicates that the meat is minced in advance. All meat products come from a organic-only local butchery, and the delicacy of the food indicates that most of the vegetarian ingredients are organic, too. For those not feeling like having a sumptuous high-calory burger plate (there's one veggie option) there was a tasty seasonal salad (with goat cheese) and a range of tapas, mezze and small starters, decidedly omnivore. Unfortunately the rich bar sports only a few organic drinks, namely an organic Cabernet Sauvignon, The Duke and Lyonel gins (the latter made a nicely balanced jasmin-tea flavoured gin and tonic) and fairly traded cachaça. Soft drinks including the tonic water however aren't organic at all. The bar itself values traditional bar etiquette: an observant yet not obstrusive waiter (who took care of our jackets when we came in), a skilful professional barman, pleasant background music at a volume allowing for effordless conversation (though I cannot say anything about the noise on a Friday or Saturday night), the walls adorned with interesting and tasteful art. Definitely recommended for a civilised evening out.

Italian

Mix the interior of a trattoria in Italy with a Bavarian Wirtshaus, and you'll end up with Hostaria Rò e Buni, a certified organic Italian restaurant in the heart of Schwabing. The name alludes to the dialect words used in the area of Bologna to steer bullocks to the left and to the right, and the tasty food served here has its roots in the country kitchen of the Emilia Romagna - not too fancy, hearty, receiving its fulfilling taste from high quality organic ingredients, many of them (especially the meat) sourced from farms in the greater region. Unlike in many other certified restaurants almost all ingredients are organic indeed, those coming from conventional agriculture are clearly marked with a star on the menu. Vegetarian and vegan drinks and dishes can be easily distinguished by a leaf or flower label, respectively. Although the owner has Italian roots don't order a four course menu (antipasti, pasta, primo e secondo) a la carte unless extremely hungry – the sizes of the dishes are adapted to the German habit of ordering a pasta or main course and perhaps a starter. If you feel Italian stick to the four course tasting menu suggested by the menu, or discuss with the affable publican. Don't leave without having tried their fresh home-made pasta, and an organic grappa to finish. If you fancy slow-cooked Italian meat classics like Osso Buco – here's the place to try. The kitchen closes half an hour before closing time, and the place itself keeps open evenings only.

If you do not want to compromise at all when it comes to organic food and drinks find your way to Sendling: Former Bavarian-Italian restaurant "resihuber" went fully Italian and consequently changed its name to La Trattoria early in 2020. The place is run and backed by the founders of the local Vollcorner supermarket chain and can easily be reached by tube (stop Brudermühlstraße). Unfortunately they do no longer serve breakfast, instead you may order pizza home or (at a small discount) to take away.

The place is also a convenient choice before or after a concert at (or other visit to) the Gasteig HP8 concert hall and cultural centre, with truly Italian food and predominantly regional ingredients catering for all: vegans, vegetarians and meat lovers. After a concert or stroll at the Isar shore you may also step by for a high quality, fully organic drink, both with or without alcohol.

The place survived the covid-19 pandemics as a pizzeria, and staff shortage in 2024 turned it into a half-serviced restaurant, a concept known from smaller cafes and eateries: Have a seat, memorise the number of your table and place your order at the bar. Food and drinks will be brought to your table.

Osteria Biologica Josef

In 2023 the Trattoria got a sister restaurant, the Osteria Biologica Josef which, located in the Glockenbachviertel, is much better accessible from the inner city. During the summer everyone would sit outside in the so-called "Schanigarten", on white garden furniture in lieu of parking lots along the street. The Italian street feeling is matched by excellent food and drinks. An exciting selection of aperitivi and a relatively short menu offering pizza, salads, pasta, and few main courses ensure absolute freshness and tastiness. Most dishes are vegetarian or meat-based (all of them have full meal size), but there are also a few (fully qualified) vegan options – given the shortness of the menu these make up for a higher relative percentage than you may realise at first. As everything is organic, prices are rather up-market, but a delicious pizza with a gorgeous crust (at around 15 EUR) is sufficient for a very satisfying evening. The staff is cheery and helpful. During the colder season there will be brunch, too. Ring in to order a table during opening hours, especially on weekends I strongly recommend this as the online booking system seems to not cover all available tables.

Max Trenta

A hidden gem in very upmarket locations, quietly located in a backyard of Maximilianstraße next to the Kammerspiele theater is Max Trenta, a small Italian restaurant with an open kitchen where organic ingredients, often from small-scale farms, are frequently used, though neither promised nor advertised on the menu. Some of the courses are Italian dishes well-known outside Italy but since the friendly owner values the kitchen of his childhood his guests are so fortunate to taste Sardinian specialities like the fregula pasta type and the typical pane guttiau crisp bread which is served as an appetizer. Unfortunately these crackers tasted very bland, not comparable with the organic ones readily available in Munich's organic groceries. The extremely tasty and characterful natural open wines come from a Sardinian winery co-driven by one of the owner's relatives but aren't organically certified. In the summer you can sit outside where there's a little space for kids. Note that the kitchen closes already at 9pm.

Mediterranean/Oriental

No bosses and driven by consensus: Its unusual organization qualifies the Neuhausen based restaurant cooperative Ruffini for a recommendation on its own. Their Italian and Mediterranean food looks and tastes like mother's – it is prepared with love though without the ambitions of a trained restaurant chef. Although they cater for vegetarians and omnivores alike only meat and eggs are organic. Which is sad – the Imam Bayildi I had tasted bland as the eggplants did not have the concentrated flavour of organic ones. On the contrary their home-made croissants – organic or not – are without doubt worth a sin: You'll have to travel far to find equally full-flavoured ones, so take away (or come to shop at their bakery a few meters away). Have an organic ice-cream for dessert – during the warm season it's also offered to take away.

The Spice Bazaar

If you love the cooking books by Sam&Sam Clark of the London-based restaurant Moro (which I unfortunately have not had the opportunity to visit) or simply are in the mood for refined yet down-to-earth oriental mediterranean food head for The Spice Bazaar tucked away in a big void between the ticket office of the Bayrische Staatsoper opera house, the Spanish Instituto Cervantes and the Hofgarten garden. In the evening you often won't find a soul on the place before the restaurant, but when you enter a breathtakingly decorated space prided with gold and ornaments is welcoming you – not the bling-bling of an oriental bazaar, but its Bauhaus-inspired interpretation on two floors, the upper one an almost intimate but open gallery. All the meat is certified organic, and you can pick organic wines and soft drinks on the menu, but although many other ingredients most certainly are organic there's no promise to it. The menu and the staff encourage you to share your food with those you came along – in this case all dishes will be placed in the middle of the table and an empty plate will be put in front of each of you. Be warned: the servings here are generous and deliciously spiced so that it's easy to eat far too much. A main course – meat, seafood or vegetarian – with a side dish will satisfy a hungry eater, so rather order less and share, especially if you also opt for one of the tempting first courses. At my first visit we made the mistake of ordering too much (delicately spiced caramellised nuts and bread with gorgeous olive oil as starters for our hungry crowd) so that I cannot say anything about the desserts yet. Prices are upmarket, but if you take into consideration the quality and the quantity they are more than fair.

Opposite the "Osteria Josef" in the Glockenbachviertel you'll find Mary – or rather Das Maria. In fact the restaurant should be called "Maryam" as it specialises in mezze and food (and coffee) from the Maghrib and the Levante. Moreover it has been a famed breakfast spot for many years, serving oriental and orientally inspired occidental breakfast varieties throughout the day, on oriental dishes. The majority of ingredients, staples and drinks are organic and marked as such on the menu, either with an asterisk or with the "bio" keyword.

The place is quite small, so despite its very reliable opening hours and especially during the cold season when outdoor seating isn't an option pre-booking is advisable. Families with babies and toddlers should find a different spot for a family meal as there are no changing facilities, and both, changing and prams are not welcome inside the restaurant.

Japanese/Sushi

Sushiya Sansaro

With the explosion of sushi take-aways you may have to kiss many frogs on the quest for sushi worth its name. Arguably one of the best sushi restaurants in Munich is the Sushiya Sansaro in the Amalienpassage backyard passage in Maxvorstadt, a three minutes walk from the Northern exit of the Universität tube stop. As you might expect from a restaurant with love for – in this case – Japanese – food they use some organic ingredients (eggs, spinach and pork for example), the soy sauce is organic and you can order organic beer, juice and some wine with your meal. The menu does not stop with sushi, instead you can get a good impression of the Japanese kitchen, both in its vegetarian and its meat-based variety. The place itself is pleasant but often crowded. If you cannot get a reservation do not dispair: You can also order by phone or online and step by to take away, or even better: Bring your own (bento) box, and wait while your sushi is being prepared.

Lebanese

See here.

Mexican

Blitz

The latest enterprise of prominent Munich publican, club manager and cooking book author Sandra Forster, herself a vegan, is the Blitz ("lightning") club located within the entrance building to the Museumsinsel island housing Deutsches Museum, the congress hall finished in 1935, formerly used as a cinema. Attached to the club is a Mexican-vegetarian restaurant, with dancing skeletons in colourful costumes adorning the walls. During the warm season enjoy a sugar cane cocktail and yummy fajitas or quesadillas, on a peaceful terrace outside facing the river Isar. About 80 percent of all ingredients used in the kitchen are organic and – if possible – sourced from farms in the greater Munich area. Exotic ingredients difficult to find in organic quality usually make an exception. If you want to avoid eggs and dairy products (which come from animal-friendly farms) do not hesitate to request a vegan meal.

Vegan/Vegetarian

My favourite vegan place, the Gratitude in the humming University quarter of Maxvorstadt, once was fully organic except for alcoholic beverages. While in the beginning the food was simple – raw or inspired by ayurveda – and sometimes a little bland, the kitchen improved vastly over time, reaching the level of Munich's legendary first (though no longer existing) vegan restaurant Zerwirk. Around 2020 the place got into financial troubles, closed for refurbishment, and covid-19 did its job. Now it's back again, as The Gratitude Eatery, with international vegetable dishes, from Nigiri and Tempura to risotto and curries, using sometimes less, sometimes more organic ingredients. You can have organic beer, and there's also an organic white wine on the menu, but I love the place for its fairly priced and not too sweet cocktails (which unfortunately aren't organic).

Between Viktualienmarkt and Gärtnerplatz (i.e. no longer next to Isartor) you'll find Siggis vegan and fresh food, a 100% vegan place that from the outside looks like a coffee bar. In fact you can step by for a (cup) cake, vegan latte, organic coffee (in a recup.com retour cup if you're in a hurry) or partially organic sandwich but you may also stay and have lunch or dinner served. The kitchen uses a good deal organic ingredients for the quite casual menu offering pasta, sandwiches, bowls, and a few international main dishes. Most drinks are organic, though if you have a latte and specify your favourite vegan milk alternative be aware that the lupin milk isn't. Ask if unsure whether any of the ingredients are organic – the stuff is helpful and willing to enquire in the kitchen if they don't know. Note that the place is closed on Mondays.

An older vegan restaurant is the Max Pett near Sendlinger Tor, run by a former Zerwirk chef. Unfortunately it's only partially organic, which is probably why the kitchen does not live up to expectations. The place is 100 percent non-alcoholic.

My favourite vegetarian, vegan-friendly restaurant is the Blitz described above.

Vietnamese/Asian Fusion

Crisp and delicately spiced instead of greasy and cooked to death, this is how the Fei Scho eatery serves Vietnamese food with a Bavarian touch ("Fei scho" is a Bavarian dialect phrase indicating that the counterpart in a conversation should have known/done/recognised something already). The menu of the small place in the Glockenbach neighbourhood consists of a handful of rice and noodle dishes, as well as Vietnamese veg parcels. A few ingredients (namely eggs, chickpeas, and, during the summer, carrots, red cabbage, coriander as well as celery) are organic (unfortunately neither the meat nor the tofu), along with all the wines, the iced tea, the apple juice and the gin and tonic. For a while there was a second restaurant in Haidhausen with slow and forgetful service, but that's past.

More to try

Of the following places I found testimonies and other evidence for use of organic ingredients, but I have not been able to verify them by a personal visit. If you get there let me know whether they should be listed here, and I'll do my best to eat there, too.

Greenwashed

An increasing number of Munich street festivals demands an organic certification of their food stalls: The Tollwood festival has been serving organic food only for many years while stalls at funfairs like the Oktoberfest and or the Auer Dult are required to offer at minimum one certified organic serving. Unfortunately some of the contractors comply only as long as they are forced to and do not even use a minimum selection of organic ingredients in their restaurants – a behaviour that potential guests of the following places should be aware of.

About ten years ago this blog featured the Ratskeller townhall restaurant at Marienplatz which back then had a separate organic menu. The only sad reminiscence of this past are a handful organic beverages: beer, juices and softdrinks. If you happen to choose this place for its gorgeous location inside the townhall ask the waiter: If you are lucky some organic ingredients will be deeply hidden in the menu of the day.

Ceased to exist

The following places shut down or were replaced by restaurants not using organic ingredients. So don't be confused when you find references to them on the web:

2024-04-06 16:30:00 [Munich, Haidhausen, Maxvorstadt, Sendling, Schwabing, Werksviertel, organic, lunch, dinner, market, deli, coffee, hotel, accommodation, restaurant, Asian, Bavarian, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mediterranean, Mexican, Oriental, Sardinian, Vietnamese, vegan, vegetarian] Link

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