Tuesday, 13 September 2022
On a long-distance bike tour like the one from Munich to Venice the challenge is not to know when you will arrive where. So upfront research on the net isn't an option unless you really have lots of time to spend on preparing the tour. So when we arrived in Bruneck at lunch time my backlist contained only one item, a small organic supermarket which not only was closed for the
traditional Italian lunch break, but had closed for good a few monthes ago, in June 2022.
Luckily we found a branch of the South-Tyrolean delicatessen
Pur Südtirol selling regional produce, a majority of certified organic quality. Everything is presented in style, there's an organic bakery till and one for cheese and (not organic) cold cuts. A few gravity bins allow customers to refill dry food (not organic as far as I could see); the fresh fruits and greens were all organic.
There's a nice self-serviced cafe corner offering a daily changing seasonal vegetarian main course. Since we wanted to have our bikes within eye-sight outdoor seating was the only option. Unfortunately all these tables were taken, so we decided to proceed our tour through the Puster valley and take with us rolls, which the friendly service staff filled with cheese and some greens while I was waiting.
Across the main street, Graben, a health-food shop, the
Reformhaus Egger can help to complete supplies.
More to try
[The_Conscious_Traveller, Italy, Bruneck, Brunico, Pustertal, Puster_Valley, MuenchenVenezia, organic, biologico, supermarkets, grocery, cafe, eatery, lunch, deli, zero_waste]
Tuesday, 12 July 2022
Organic supermarkets can be found on almost every second street corner in Munich but density varies from neighbourhood to neighbourhood.
Organic supermarket chains
In addition to a local organic supermarket chain, Vollcorner (consisting of 19 markets in Munich and around), Munich hosts several branches of Germany's biggest organic chains Alnatura (14 markets in Munich and surroundings) and Denn's (10 markets in the greater Munich area, 7 within the city boundaries). In addition Munich is the home of the Basic supermarket chain with 11 markets -- early in 2021 this chain restricted its activities to South Germany and Austria and sold all other nation-wide branches. Moreover you will find a branch of a small regional chain, Landmann's (including an artisanal butcher's counter run by the Biometzgerei Pichler), many small independent supermarkets, often equipped with a Biomarkt sign, and even some homely, surviving corner shops.
During the past few years, both, Basic and Vollcorner, have made efforts to support zero-waste shopping. If you want to be sure not to (indirectly) support huge, globally operating multinational concerns you're safe when shopping at Vollcorner which consistently delists brands when sold to such companies. So you will find neither Logocos brands (Logona, Lenz, Sante, Heliotrop, Fitne) anymore since the company was bought by L'Oreal (which is partially owned by Nestle), nor Pukka tea (Unilever). Wine-lovers may also collect the corks made from natural cork and return them in for recycling at any Vollcorner shop.
On weekdays all chains and most other supermarkets keep open between 9 am and 8 pm, Vollcorner and Basic markets open at 8 am (later during the current covid-19 pandemic, Saturday opening hours vary, the big retailers and Vollcorner close at 8 pm. All groceries except
the Biokultur supermarket in the basement of the central train station are closed on Sundays.
Apart from these full range retailers there is a small local food only chain, not offering any toiletries or detergents: Herrmannsdorfer specialises in meat products, bakery items and beer produced in the Herrmannsdorfer Landwerkstätten in Glonn, somewhat outside Munich. The shops close quite early, but if you come during daytime they stock sufficient dry food, dairy products, fruits, veges, sweets and more to spare you the trip to a second shop. Unlike the Basic chain Herrmannsdorfer allows you to buy meat in your own containers.
In 2015 a branch of the hyped Italian Eataly delicatessen chain opened within the architectonically interesting glass and iron construction of Schrannenhalle near Viktualienmarkt. It's true, they offer a good range of organic products, and organic food items are labelled as such on the shelves, but it's nevertheless a disappointing experience: Almost no fresh organic fruit and veges (not even the fresh herbs are organic), only pre-packaged organic meat (forget about the well-assorted meat counter), and the organic wines and spirits in the basement are not marked "bio" on the shelves, so it's very hard to find them.
If you want to support the local economy, both Vollcorner, Munich-based Basic and Herrmannsdorfer shops are all fine, but you may prefer to support independent markets where the owners are actually running the stores and create a homely and personal atmosphere. Often you will find products not on sale by the big chains.
When traditional Grüner Markt chain closed down end of September 2014, their main house in the Altperlach neighbourhood made an exception. Housed in a vault it has a pleasant italophilic, somewhat venerable atmosphere, definitely worth a visit. The perfect surroundings when shopping for delicatessen, and a must-go during the Christmas season. It's now dubbed Mohrhof Perlach.
The other big independent is Schmatz ("smack") in the Glockenbach neighbourhood. Step by if only for the lovely decoration of their bodycare section. Kids are invited to play in an old-fashioned corner shop, and selected items are lovingly set on display. It's the only organic supermarket playing music in the background. By the end of 2018 they issued a ban on fresh herbs in plastics packing, and in 2022 there's a dedicated unpackaged shelf with dry food in deposit glasses.
For the picturesque yet upmarket farmshop feeling in the city aim for Stemmerhof on top of the Sendlinger Berg. Once upon a time a wealthy village farm opposite the village church the nicely restored houses are now the home of an organic supermarket (as well as an organic fashion and toy store for smaller children dubbed Natur und Kind). Their butcher's cum delicatessen disk will happily sell lunch snacks to eat on the spot or to take-away. The same enterprise also runs a second branch in the suburb of Grünwald, just a street crossing opposite of Alter Wirt hotel and restaurant.
In the posh Lehel neighbourhood near the Eisbach river within the Englischer Garten park you'll find an independent organic supermarket with a touch of a spice and greens bazaar, the Bioparadies Biomarkt. Its friendly staff was even willing to open after closing time, to sell me a left-over bread on a Saturday afternoon. The serviced bakery and cheese counter is also the place to refill your spice jars with loose-weight herbs and spices. The supermarket is conveniently located opposite the tram stop "Paradiesstraße".
The former Erdgarten supermarket a ten-minutes walk away from Pasing train station (or two minutes from Pasing Marienplatz square) reopened as a branch of the local Vollcorner chain September, 2019 and continues to serve organic and vegetarian wholefood lunch as well as coffee and cake. They also have a nicely decorated bodycare section. Whether they'll continue to serve knitters with a fine selection of organic wool I am not aware of.
If you by chance happen to strand near the Klinikum Harlaching hospital, don't dispair: two tramstops in North-Eastern direction on the left side (just follow the tram line along Grünwalder Str.) you'll find Biowelt, a crammed independent organic supermarket with a superb selection of both, bodycare and frozen convenience products: All you need if visiting a friend or relative in the hospital in urgent need of a proper meal. Starting with lunch time they offer a helping of organic soup and a small selection of snacks. You may ask for a sandwich made on the spot. The shop also has a zero waste corner with dispensers for legumes and a small selection of other dry food as well as an assortment of dried fruit. Make sure to step by check-out to weigh your containers before you fill them.
Attending a conference at one of the huge Bogenhausen hotels near Effnerplatz? Your lunch break should be sufficient to follow Bülowstraße in Western direction to Herkomerplatz. Here you'll find not only a Herrmannsdorfer butcher's shop cum grocery cum eatery and the Hofpfisterei bakery branch next to it, but also a pleasant family-owned organic supermarket dubbed Biovolet. The Riemensberger family placed some bar tables in the entrance area to have a snack, and there is a second branch in Eching (formerly a Grüner Markt branch). Pay with your EC (VPay) debit card, and they donate a few cent to the BioBoden co-operative which buys farm land in order to lease it to organic farmers. On Thursdays you will receive a 10 percent discount if your shopping cart is worth more than 50 euros.
A short walk from the shores of the river Isar near the Southern end of the island housing the Deutsches Museum into the neighbourhood of Au you will find Biochicco cafe and convenience store. Formerly dubbed Auryn it was one of the first organic supermarkets in town which took over the premises of a conventional one. The shopping area has diminished since, and so has the superstore feeling in favour of a personal, homely atmosphere. In 2016 a young team took over from the previous shopkeeper and has put a lot of effort into refurbishing the then somewhat worn location. They opened a vegan snack bar cum cafe facing Ohlmüllerstraße where you can sit down for an organic breakfast (from 8 till 12), lunch or coffee and home-made cake. (Note that there's no lunch in August, but there's always free wifi.) The shop was one of the first ones to print its receipts on paper not containing bisphenol A plasticiser, and if you forgot to bring your own bag you may buy a locally sewn one made from leftover fabrics.
Crossing Ohlmüllerstraße and continuing south along Entenbachstraße you will bump into Entenbach Naturkost, an organic convenience store of old which is now driven by a young family. The location is clean and spacious, and at the same time preserves the homely atmosphere of small owner-run organic corner stores.
In the neighbourhood of Schwabing one of the oldest organic groceries in town is located, these days rather boringly dubbed Echt Bio Markt which is the brand of a network of small-scale independent organic supermarkets. The pleasant, traditional shop in Tengstraße offers refill for organic household detergents.
However. not all supermarkets of this brand have been long established: The independent owner-run Echt Bio Markt in Nymphenburg was opened durig the lock-down of the covid-19 pandemic: As its name suggests
Bio am Romanplatz is the perfect place
to shop for provisions at the tram hub at Romanplatz.
Another cosy neighbourhood with many small-scale shops and interesting food places is the Westend at the Western side of Theresienwiese (in)famous as the Oktoberfest location. Right at the border to the Schwanthalerhöhe neighbourhood, at the North-Eastern corner of the park at Georg-Freundorfer-Platz another bunch of young people is running a neighbourhood grocery dubbed Nicos Naturkost. It's just a friendly, clean and unspectactular shop with a superb selection of teas and tisanes of two small-scale organic brands usually not to be found in Munich organic supermarkets. If you stay in the vicinity for a longer period of time: They have a whiteboard where regular customers can co-ordinate orders of products which the shop usually does not stock.
If you happen to take the S7 urban train in southern direction to the municipality of Höhenkirchen-Siegertsbrunn take the time to visit Roberts Bio-Genussmarkt on the premises of a former farmyard. The spacious, pleasantly refurbished and nicely decorated barn with its dark wooden shelfs makes it easy to spend some time on a coffee and cake in the included cafe area. When the weather is nice sun-shaded outdoor seating is provided. The former village of Höhenkirchen is part of the Mangfall bicycle route from Munich to Rosenheim, and this is a pleasant place for a break.
By 2016 the first wrapping free supermarket made it into town: Check the zero-waste post for reviews. That post also has details on the zero-waste efforts of both, Vollcorner and Basic supermarkets.
For members only
In the 1970ies and 1980ies many organic neighbourhood shops in Western Germany were co-operatively organised and sold to members only. In the 1990ies most of the surviving shops like the "Abakus" in Bremen opened to the general public, with discount schemes for members. To my knowledge, there's no such surviving shop in Munich, but recently established co-operatives such as "Deine Alternative" in Zorneding also obey this inclusive approach.
But as community supported agriculture (CSA) has an increasing appeal to city dwellers (the biggest one in Munich is the Kartoffelkombinat), the concept of an organic supermarket for members only came back to town in 2016, with
the Ökoesel ("eco donkey"), by now a small, yet full-fledged organic supermarket
in Nymphenburg near Leonrodplatz, focussing on
When the founding generation of Munich's oldest organic
supermarket, Lebascha in Haidhausen,
was to pass over the shop to a younger generation in summer 2022, the Ökoesel folks stepped in and are running it as a combined membership cum neighbourhood grocery open to everyone.
summer 2021, another approach followed with the establishment of the Foodhub co-operative in Giesing, next to the lovely cafe "Shotgun Sister" and an organic bakery shop.
If you live in the vicinity you may consider joining this special organic food co-op which runs on the principle of solidarity: every member works three hours per month for or in the project and what's sold in the supermarket (predominantly regional produce) is decided democratically by its members. The shop concentrates on pre-packaged food, household and toiletry items, with the exception of loose weight fruits and veges, a small number of dry food gravity bins offering grains and nuts, and the self-service bread and rolls section. The household cleaning and bodycare shelves are filled with products in environmentally friendly packaging and focus on re-use (like the bamboo paper kitchen paper which can be washed and thus used several times) or little packaging through bigger volumes. There are plans for a zero-waste station to refill cleaning agents.
When I visited the shop at their open day in autumn 2021 I was surprised to not find a serviced fresh food counter given the fact that Karl Schweisfurt of Herrmannsdorfer Landwerkstätten is one of the three legal heads of the co-operative, most likely due to the fact that such a counter needs to be staffed.
No membership fee is required for becoming a member of the on-line market platform Marktschwärmer.
Marktschwärmerei pick-up hub in the developing neigbhourhood of Werksviertel, South of the Ostbahnhof train station, and if you decide to join, you can order food, beverages, sweets and more from predominantly organic producers in and around Munich. Note that the friendly Guamaltecan cafe hosting the pick-up point does not offer organic food, not even drinks.
The following organic supermarkets do no longer exist although you will still find references to them on the web:
- Alnatura Innenstadt, Sonnenstr. 23 (to re-open after reconstruction work)
- Biomarkt CM, Schlüsselbergstr. 13 (Berg am Laim)
- Denn's w/in Hofstatt mall, Sendlinger Str. 12a, basement (city centre)
- Die Bio-Bäuerin, Peter-Wolfram-Str. 31 (Gronsdorf)
- Johannisgarten Naturkost, Johannisplatz 21 (Haidhausen)
- Gut zum Leben, Motorama Ladenstadt, Rosenheimer Str. 30-32 (Haidhausen)
- Tagwerk-Bioladen Hofgut Riem, Isarlandstr. 1 (Riem)
- Veganz, Baldestr. 21 corner Auenstr., including self-service cafe Goodies
- Radix, Thalkirchner Str. 88 (Isarvorstadt)
[Munich, Au, Bogenhausen, Haidhausen, Harlaching, Lehel, Maxvorstadt, Nymphenburg, Schwabing, Pasing, Hoehenkirchen-Siegertsbrunn, Englischer_Garten, Mangfallradweg, Mangfall_cycle_route, organic, supermarkets, grocery, lunch, snacks, deli, Italian, covid, corona, CSA]
Traditional corner stores in general have been almost extinguished from the streets of Munich, surviving almost exclusively in the form of immigrant grocery stores which unfortunately only on extremely rare occasions stock organic items. However, there are a few survivers from the time when organic was an unknown word in supermarket chains: small supermarkets equipped with wooden shelves and as crammed to the brim as possible for orderly German souls. Usually they have everything on offer needed for your daily life, and just give you fewer choice between brands. Sometimes you'll find delicatessen the big players don't stock, and fresh produce with few exceptions is as fresh as from their competitors. Prices may be a few cents higher than the cheapest option in one of the retail chains, but you may be surprised to learn that many products actually are less expensive in a corner shop. In addition you may have a chat with the shop owners and usually will be given a competent answer to questions you may have. Many of these shops have some tables and chairs where you can have a coffee, snack or vegetarian lunch.
In Maxvorstadt, the vibrant university neighbourhood, you'll find Mutter Erde ("Mother Earth"), a crowded place during lunch time when you can have a simple vegan home-cooked meal, tea and coffee. On working days they serve lunch from 12 o'clock (as long as available). If you find the place too busy step by the zero-waste grocery Ohne which also offers fully organic lunch. Mother Earth is still a little organic grocery, but no longer a full retailer: Some time ago they exchanged their body care and cosmetics shelves with a table and bench to sit down with your meal.
A full retail neighbourhood shop in Haidhausen, Lebascha once was run collectively by a bunch of friendly women. They retired, and since 9th of July, 2022 the shop has been the second shop of the community supported co-operative Ökoesel ("eco donkey" is derived from a pet name for bicycles – "Drahtesel" – as they started up as a bicycle delivery service). Unlike their shop in Neuhausen Lebascha continues to be open for everyone, with its (conventional) liquorice shop-in-shop. An assortment of loose-weight herbs and spices, cereals, nuts, legumes and grains, detergents and soap will be added soon. Note that the shop is closed on Wednesdays and does no longer accept cards, but as a member you can pay
A few corners away from tube stop Implerstraße in Sendling the neighbourhood grocery Hollerbusch ("elderbush") offers
vegan and vegetarian lunch as well as yoga, pilates or singing lessons in a backroom.
The shop is also a delivery hub for the Munich based community supported agriculture project Kartoffelkombinat.
Immigrant shops and traditional corner stores
While these small supermarkets cater for all daily necessities including fresh fruits and veges there's no such thing as an all-organic immigrant grocery focussing on the latter and supplementing with a selection of dry goods and delicatessen from their owner's place of birth. The nearest you come is Giesinger Fruchtmarkt near tube-stop Kolumbusplatz. As about three quarters of the fruits and veges as well as most of the Italian delicatessen are conventional you have to carefully watch out for the bio keyword. Apart from organic greens they also offer organic choices for olive oil, wine, pasta and cheese.
A similar owner-run mini market, Varieta am Körner Eck, is located in the Glockenbach neighbourhood, on Auenstraße between the Reichenbach and the Cornelius bridges. The bakery items are all organic, and organic products in the self-service area are clearly marked "bio" on the shelf. The shop offers a lot of directly imported Italian dry food, but unfortunately none of it in organic quality. Also most of the fresh fruits and veges are conventionally produced.
Remember the tales of parents or grandparents about the corner shop they went to as children to buy a single sweet which the shop keeper would put down on a list for their parents to pay later on when they came to shop bread, milk, veges and all the ingredients for the home-cooked meal? The spirit of these shops from the past you may find left in some immigrant shops and this is the reason why I list the Viktualieneck in Bogenhausen in this section. I learned about this crammed greengrocer's shop opposing the newly build neighbourhood of Prinz-Eugen-Park on my quest for shops supporting package-free shopping, but when I went there it turned out a likeable traditional supermarket offering
fresh fruits and veges, regional delicatessen, bread and rolls, wine and all kinds of food. About half of it is organic, namely all the bakery products and certainly more than half of the pre-packaged food. Most of the fresh fruits and veges come from a conventional local market garden
– the turnaround for organic greens wasn't good enough among his customers, and his emphasis was on avoiding waste the shop keeper told me. Package-free shopping is possible for all fruits and veges as well as all items from the bakery, meat and cheese counter.
I cannot tell you whether the shop chalks up for trustworthy customers, but if you are in the vicinity support this shop instead of the supermarket chains nearby.
The upmarket contrast to these somewhat shabby grocery stores is naturally to be found in the posh neighbourhood of the Lehel:
Studio Hindiba offers oils, herbs and condiments, olives, all types of rice, the famed ferments of Berlin's Markus Shimizu, a carefully selected range of wines and other predominantly organic delicatessen. For the smaller purse it may be just a beautyful shop to marvel at, but if your budget isn't painfully tight it's the perfect place to shop a foodie gift for someone special.
A few steps from Wiener Platz you'll find Steinbeißer, a cosy owner-driven deli advertising 'regional specialities'. Take this with a grain of salt – the organic Italian olive oil and Scandinavian candies (not organic) are small-scale produce specific to their region of origin, but certainly not from the greater Munich area. Most meat products come from small-scale Austrian farms which are likely to produce according to near-organic principles. Certified organic products unfortunately do not dominate the pleasantly arranged tables and shelves with artisanal products – predominantly foodstuffs and wine, but you may ask the owner about the provenance of his fare.
Wine, pepper and coffee from carefully selected small-scale producers, that's the focus of Grenzgänger ("border crosser"), a lovely shop directly located at the beautiful Bordeaux-Platz in Haidhausen, just opposite Café Reichshof. When you come here during the cold season you may find yourself welcomed by the warmth of a fireplace, and you can get a speciality coffee (14 types of Arabica to choose from) into your own mug. During covid-19 restrictions cream-ware cups aren't provided, so if you come without a mug you will be charged an extra 20 cent for a plastics-free one-way cup.
Unfortunately most of the products aren't certified organic, with the notable exception of the Demeter-certified honey and bee wax candles of a local beekeeper who is working in accordance with biodynamic principles, i.e. the gold standard for animal welfare.
Specializing in cheese and supplements – wine, olives, oil, herbs, condiments, to name a few – the Luigino's booth in the Southern part of Viktualienmarkt, opposite the crossing of Reichenbachstraße and Blumenstraße is the perfect place to shop for a picnic or the no-frills romantic candle light dinner. Once an almost entirely organic cheese booth the percentage of organic products on sale has diminished during the past years: mainly due to the advent of artisanal, yet conventional Italian cured meats, partially due to a lesser focus on organic labels on the selection of cheeses.
When ordering an Italian-style sandwich to take away you may wish to enquire about the ingredients and probably stick to the vegetarian ones since the Italian cured meat products usually are not organic.
The owner once run a delicatessen in Maxvorstand which was replaced by an organic ice-cream parlour in 2018.
Herbs and spices
Not exactly a spice bazaar, but a pleasant spice and herbs shop Gewürze der Welt ("spices of the world") had a long tradition on its former location in Thiereckstraße in the very city centre, but when the historic Ruffini house re-opened after a two-year period of restoration work in 2020, the shop moved back to its roots in the Sendlinger Straße (now) pedestrian area. As the name suggests you will find a world of spices, herbs, blends and condiments, a notable part of them in organic quality.
Munich's first organically certified herbalist is tucked away in a non-descript side road near Sendlinger-Tor-Platz, just a few steps aside the remnants of the Glockenbach neighbourhood's famous queer bars. Light and friendly the
Kräutergarten offers all kinds of organic dried herbs, spices, natural cosmetics and the like.
Sonnentor, the leading Austrian producer of organic herbs and spices, has a shop in Munich, too: Located in the basement of
Stachus-Passagen, a generally boring shopping mall a level above this central urban train and tube station, it's probably not the shop that you'll find by accident while taking a stroll through the city. Apart from herbs, spices and condiments they also have a selection of natural body care – an easy place to shop for a nice last-minute give-away.
The only operating corn mill in Munich with its cosy mill shop is located in a small street a few steps from the tourist hotspots of Marienplatz and Hofbräuhaus. The Hofbräuhaus-Kunstmühle offers all types of flour, bruised grains, semolina, bran and cereals, predominantly of corn grown in the region. An increasing number of these artisanal products are organic, so watch out for the 'bio' keyword on the classic paper bags or the listings of the web shop. These products are also the base ingredients for the artisanal home bakery E. Knapp & R. Wenig next door where you can buy hand-made bread and rolls based on traditional, predominantly Munich recipes. The mill shop also stocks a selection of organic dried fruit, olive oil, raising agents and other baking ingredients as well as dry breads like South-Tyrolean Schüttelbrot.
Another very special mono-themed shop, Hanf – der etwas andere Bioladen, sells everything containing THC-free hemp: beer, lemonades, cookies, bars, tea, ice-cream, chocolates, body care, clothes, liquids, pet food and more. Although the name suggests it not all products are certified organic, especially not in the non-food range, but the sheer number of goods based on this versatile plant is quite impressive. The main shop (which is closed on Mondays) isn't located in the most inviting part of town but can easily be reached from Leuchtenbergring urban train stop. But wait: in 2019 a second one opened at a tourist-friendly location between Isartor and Marienplatz.
Ceased to exist
The following places shut down and were replaced by other, not organic ones. So don't be confused when you find references to them on the web:
[Munich, Haidhausen, Schwabing, Lehel, Maxvorstadt, organic, lunch, snacks, coffee, supermarkets, deli, grocery, Italian, vegan, hemp, flour, mills, fashion, bodycare, spices, herbs, delicatessen, eatery, corona, covid]
Monday, 30 May 2022
Window shopping in Esslingen's city center is fun – due to an abundance of lovingly curated boutiques and owner-run specialist shops. However, during off-work hours, the nice pedestrian areas and small streets seem almost deserted: Many of these shops do not have employees and, consequently close at 6 pm, many also for a lunch break. However, if you come here during work hours or on a Saturday morning til early afternoon, you will find a lot of assorted goods and handicraft that anonymous malls and stream-lined shopping districts wouldn't care to offer.
Take the Greek specialist shop in the Küferstraße shopping street, opened in autumn 2021 during the covid-19 pandemics:
Odysée Feinkost attracted my attention by presenting an assortment of organic pre-packaged snacks in its shop window. The day after I came around and found an owner who was both, knowlegeable about his goods and which of them were organic – and glad to have a chat. There are not enough organic preserves, herbs, wines, oils and dry food to satisfy all needs, so better come here for inspiration rather than with a fixed shopping list.
For fairly traded exotic dry food, spices and beverages walk a few steps to the Weltladen (almost) next door which also has a decent assortment of loose-weight food and sweets.
Opposite the fair-trade shop you'll find a real gem:
Die rote Zora is not just a
fair and slow fashion boutique, it's a small tailor start-up: The three young women working in the workshop in the back of the shop design and make the original and robust clothes that you can buy here or via their webshop. The feel of the garments and the quality of the seems should be sufficient to cure you from cheap fast fashion. The prices are really fair, too: good to make a living and absolutely affordable given the almost timeless, yet lively (to some probably: naughty) designs, repairability and longevity. For an air of Berlin in Swabia, I highly recommend both, the shop and the label, dubbed after the militant West-German feminist group – or their fictional name-giving character, a female leader of a gang of young orphans fighting injustice.
Interestingly, Esslingen has more than one local fashion designer cum tailor-shop cum fashion boutique:
own label Aleksarah also focusses on natural and sustainable materials, with flowing and colourful, but more conventional designs. Also this shop is a female enterprise, but unlike the Zoras, offers a small selection of other fashion labels aside their own designs. Needless to say that all clothes will be adapted to your fit if necessary.
[Esslingen, organic, fair, fashion, spices, deli, gifts, shopping, wine, Greek]
Sunday, 29 May 2022
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 reads La Trattoria.
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.
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.
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 certainly 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 Cramer's ice-cream. Unfortunately the side-dishes – mainly potatoes, dumplings, sauerkraut, red cabbage and rustic salads – usually are not organic, and there are no organic cold beverages on offer which is a pitty as it destroys the overall positive experience. The one notable exception is a delicious organic lager dubbed "Dachauer Schlossbräu", an organic brand of the Anheuser-Busch subsidiary Löwenbräu-Spaten, which goes perfectly well with the Klingwirt meat dishes. It does not appear on all menus yet but the friendly and helpful staff knows about it. 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.
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.
If you fancy a day out in the Bavarian countryside take the chance and head for the Herrmannsdorfer farm about 30 kilometres from Munich, and its up-market 100 percent organic restaurant, the Wirtshaus zum Schweinsbräu.
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.
Located directly on Leopoldstraße, a little south of Münchner Freiheit, a rustic
all day gastro bar dubbed Bapas is the perfect location for aimless city dwellers: Whenever you come during daytime, you will be served a hearty Bavarian "Brotzeit", consisting of cheese or cold cuts served with organic bread, and other filling meals of Bavarian, German and Austrian origin, though usually in smaller, comprehensible "tapas" size, hence the name of the place — Bavarian Tapas. From 9 am to 2pm breakfast is being served, lunch between 11:30 am and 4 pm, and full-fledged evening meals from 5 pm.
Bread and rolls as well as eggs are always organic, and if you stick to Riedenburger and Isar your beer is, too. The organic ice-cream is made in walking distance, and there are organic teas, herbal teas, lemonades and soft drinks (by Vio and the local Aqua Monaco). If you order your gin & tonic with Duke gin and Aqua Monaco or Red Bull organics tonic you even get a fully organic cocktail. Given these efforts the kitchen surely uses more organic ingredients but you have to ask about it.
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 the staff ensured me repeatedly: No, we do not use organic ingredients. Since they themselves do not mention the word "bio" neither on their German website nor on the menu it's likely that lack of command of the English language lead to this misconception. So even though Roecklplatz restaurant is a socially responsible enterprise employing young apprentices in difficult life situations and/or without formal education and thus deserves support, I can't recommend it in this guide.
Eight years ago this blog would also have featured the Ratskeller townhall restaurant at
Marienplatz: Back then they had a separate organic menu. What is left of it today are organic fried potato patties ("Reiberdatschi"), spaetzle, some organic juices and softdrinks. But since this meat-centric restaurant does no longer serve any organic meat, I do not feel like recommending the place anymore.
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.
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.
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 also order pizza home or (for a small discount) to take away. On Mondays and Tuesdays the menu is restricted to pizza.
During the warm season you may also step by for an organic ice-cream on the go: Daily from 2 pm they sell the Del Fiore fare for a stroll down to the Isar river.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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 even 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.
Until end of 2022
you may still treat yourself with classy declinations of seasonal, predominantly organic vegetables at Tian opposite Viktualienmarkt, but in 2023 the Gault Millau and Michelin awarded vegetarian restaurant will be history. Until then you may choose between a vegan and a vegetarian set menu for dinner, consisting of four, five, or six delicate courses. Alternatively you can order the items individually as well as combine your meal with (not necessarily organic) wines specially selected by the sommelier to match the course. Keep in mind that a single course is not meant to be filling – the combination of several small dishes taking your time will however not leave you hungry in the end.
Juices and most of the soft drinks are organic. For a gourmet restaurant the place is frequented by a pleasantly mixed audience, but the interior has been designed to give you an undisturbed dining experience. Prices on the menu are indicated by naked integers and include the service of professionally trained waiters. If your budget does not allow for dinner (a five-course dinner including complimentary amuse-gueules is at 60 EUR without drinks) try to have lunch (19 EUR for three courses), it's a fascinating experience to taste what you can make of ever so boring veges like cabbage or beetroots.
The Tian cocktail bar (the place is a hotel restaurant) adjacent to the restaurant uses organic juices, but the alcoholics are not organic, not even the gin. Note also that the restaurant is closed on Sundays.
Another fully vegetarian, vegan-friendly restaurant is the Blitz described above.
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.
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:
Closed for covid-19 pandemic
Ceased to exist
The following places shut down, were replaced by other, not organic ones, or are (temporarily?) closed. So don't be confused when you find references to them on the web:
- Arepas, Müllerstr. 44 (Venezuelan)
- Cafe King, Müllerstr. 3 (vegan)
- Daylesford Organic, Ledererstr. 3 (international)
- Das Kranz, Hans-Sachs-Str.12 (gourmet)
- Deli Dosa, Barer Str. 48 – replaced by Echt jetzt coffee bar and gluten-free bakery
- Emiko w/in Hotel Louis, Viktualienmarkt 6 (Japanese)
- Fei Scho Haidhausen, Pariser Str. 17
- Gratitude, Türkenstr. 55
- Kaede, Sommerstr. 41 (Japanese)
- L'Amar, Pestalozzistr. 28 (Italian)
- Moritz, Oefelestr. 12 (co-located restaurant Miss Lilly's is open during the day)
- Picnic, Barer Str. 48 (Indian)
- Refettorio, Marstallplatz 3 (Italian) – replaced by The Spice Bazaar
- Salon Rouge by Tohru, Speicherstr. 20, Werk 12, 4th floor (fine dining)
- Schneeweinchen & Rosenbrot, Breisacher Str. 23 (partially organic gastro bar)
- Werneckhof, Werneckstr. 11 (gourmet restaurant)
- Wood, Occamstr. 6, (clean eating)
- Zerwirk, Ledererstr. 3 (vegan, gourmet)
- 1912 Restaurant & Bar,
Schwanthalerstr. 36 (partially organic hotel restaurant)
[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, covid, corona]