The Organic Traveller
Thursday, 01 October 2020

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 reads La Trattoria.

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 covid-19 take away come with your own container to avoid extra waste.

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.

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 in for you as well. In addition they offer a range of assorted organic spirits. Early risers may also step by for breakfast.

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.

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, and for those who come to stay over night in Munich there are rooms available above the restaurant.

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.

Indian

Finding decent Indian restaurants in Munich can be hard but for delicious South-Indian Dosai and Nepali/Tibetan Momos you don't have to travel far: In the vicinity of the Pinakotheken art museums you'll find pleasant Picnic restaurant, then with the entrance next door. Most items on the menu (among them curries, Thai-inspired salads or -- at lunch time -- wraps) are dedicedly fusion but the potato dosa or the lamb-filled momo brings easily back memories from travels to the subcontinent. Meat, softdrinks and juices are all organic, and it is likely that other ingredients in the kitchen occasionally are organic, too. When asked about the latter the publican however would not commit himself stating that his emphasis was on freshly made food prepared from scratch from locally sourced ingredients. The result is definitely worth an evening out or a (hopefully extended) lunch break, for vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores alike.

Moritz

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.

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; during weekend brunch (10 am to 2pm) you can leave them in the care of a kindergarden teacher for a fee of 2,50 EUR per half an hour while finishing off tasty though not elaborate food 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/Mediterranean

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.

resihuber

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. 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.

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.

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.

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 (after covid-19 again) even better: Bring your own (bento) box, and wait while your sushi is being prepared.

During covid-19 restrictions the highly decorated chef Tohru Nakamura of the former Werneckhof fine dining restaurant serves Japanese streetfood -- fried chicken -- to take-away at a temporary fast food booth dubbed Shibuya on the premises of a hotel run by the same owner family, the Schwabinger Wahrheit. The chicken is of high regional quality, though unfortunately not certified organic, but the salad and greens are both, local and organic, and the miso is organic (and made in Berlin). Make sure to pre-order if you do not want to queue too long.

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

A few steps from Isartor, next to a branch of the organic supermarket chain Basic 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 the appearance is misleading: If you enter and follow the narrow aisle you'll be surprised to find yourself inside a small cellar vault restaurant perfectly suited for a romatic dinner. 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. Unfortunately the place isn't open late night, its kitchen closes at 9 pm.

A third 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.

On a special occasion you may treat yourself with classy declinations of seasonal, predominantly organic vegetables at Gault Millau and Michelin awarded vegetarian restaurant Tian opposite Viktualienmarkt. For dinner you may choose between a vegan and a vegetarian set menu 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.

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.

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:

2020-10-01 14:00:00 [Munich, Haidhausen, Maxvorstadt, Sendling, Schwabing, organic, lunch, dinner, market, deli, coffee, hotel, accommodation, restaurant, Asian, Bavarian, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mediterranean, Mexican, Oriental, Sardinian, Vietnamese, vegan, vegetarian, covid, corona] Link

Creative Commons Licence

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Monday, 10 August 2020

Munich: Zero Waste

Organic supermarkets may introduce a larger audience to sustainable organic produce and thus spare the environment, but do not necessarily help to reduce the amount of one-way packaging, save plastics. As a conscious consumer you will without doubt prefer non-prepackaged fruit and veges, available from all organic groceries, supermarkets and market boothes, and hand your bag over the bakery counter, making it verbally clear that you do not need a paper bag, to avoid paper waste when buying bread and rolls.

You're also safe if you restrict your shopping of dairy products, juices and soft drinks to returnable glass bottles. Some organic shops (such as Vollcorner) offer a small selection of wine in deposit bottles.

Starting in 2017 the more dedicated organic supermarket chains have been introducing measures to reduce packaging and allow customers to bring their own containers to fill with selected goods. Unless stated otherwise all shops mentioned in this post will help you out with clean and empty reusable glass jars or organic cotton bags which you -- depending on the shop -- can either buy or lend if you forgot to bring your own.

Farewell to plastics

The zero-waste pioneer in town is Naturlieferant, usually referred to as Plastikfreie Zone, and recently renamed to Der plastikfreie Laden. At this pleasant intimate shop in Haidhausen near Max-Weber-Platz you won't find any plastic item but a lot of sustainable alternatives. The focus of the shop is an ever increasing range of sustainable household items, ranging from tooth brushes and toilet paper to glasses, lunch boxes and jute strings, but you may also shop a selection of food items like potatoes, pulses, nuts, flour, jelly-gums or the best Indian pepper in town. If you forget to bring your own jars your purchase will be packed in paper bags, or you can choose from re-used glass containers for free. You may also refill washing-up liquid, shampoo and liquid laundry detergent. The shop also has a decent selection of loose-weight teas, but not all of them are organic.

Abgefuellt und unverpackt

In March 2019 a tiny neighbourhood shop specializing in the latter opened in the Glockenbach neighbourhood: At Abgefüllt & unverpackt ("bottled and unpacked") the singer of the Munich-based band "Cat Sun Flower" warmly welcomes customers and passers-by and helps to (re)fill empty bottles with organic liquid household detergents. At the time of writing this shop was the only one in Munich selling washing powder by weight. In addition there are eco-friendly dishwasher tabs, body and hair soaps, fairly traded natural facecream in returnable glasses, towels, as well as upcycled and fairly traded bags and toiletry accessories.

Package-free food and household necessities

Four years ago, on February 20th, 2016 the city's first crowd-funded vegetarian zero-waste supermarket Ohne ("without") opened its doors in the neighbourhood of Maxvorstadt. Pleasantly furnished with wooden benches and self-made dispensers this modern version of a generously spaced mom-and-pop store gives you a pleasant vacation from brands and logos. It is offering bread, rolls and sweet pastries from a local artisanal bakery, dairy products and vegan alternatives in returnable bottles, a small selection of fresh fruit and greens, spices and dried herbs, a huge selection of pasta, legumes, flour and cereals, but also baking powder, coffee, tahin, honey, locally distilled gin, vodka and bitter, oil, toothpaste tablets and assorted solid shampoos and soap bars. Most sweets, toothpaste tablets, protein powder, matcha and other expensive products the staff will fill into your containers at the till.

Ohne Maxvorstadt

There are also refill stations for washing detergents, cleansers and liquid hair and body washes, and you can shop from an ever increasing range of household and bodycare products (including environment-friendly condoms which are the only items in shop prepackaged in non-reusable wrapping). Preserves (like mustard, pestos and pickles) are sold prepackaged in reusable glass containers.

Your shopping starts by measuring the weight of your glasses, boxes and bags on the scales next to the entrance door. Now you can fill them from the dispensers and finally pay by net weight. During the covid-19 restrictions you are also asked to wash your hands when entering the shop.

When the shop is crowded waiting time at the till is a little longer than you might expect, but take your time and have a coffee and home-made cake in the small cafe corner. Lunch is served Monday through Friday from 11 am.

Ohne Haidhausen

A second branch opened January 23, 2019 in the neighbourhood of Haidhausen, a few steps from Rosenheimer Platz S-Bahn station. This shop is also equipped with a proper espresso machine, and offers snacks -- you can have a sandwich, a slice of cake or a buttered pretzl. However, neither lunch nor fresh fruit and veges are available in this clean and pleasantly light shop.

Mutternaturladen

If you prefer a crammed and cosy corner shop where the shop keepers will fill the jars and boxes for you pay a visit to the Mutternaturladen in Harlaching, next to the Biowelt convenience store. What you can buy here: a small selection of predominantly regional fruits and veges, all types of dry food, herbs and spices, everything you need to bake and cook vegetarian food, coffee, tea, drinks, sweets, antipasti and dairy products, the full set household chemicals and body care products, everything arranged with love in a tiny space and topped with a little chit-chat. You may also come here for a cup of coffee or tea or -- Tuesday through Friday -- for lunch. Every Monday students get 10 percent off on all loose-weight items.

With Westend Pur a neighbourhood grocery in the Westend opened as a franchise partner of Mutter-Natur-Laden which means you will be served most of the loose weight products, with a chit-chat if you wish, just like in the old days. If you are short of time order in advance, and come to fetch your pre-filled shopping bag. Apart from food there's also a huge selection of plastic-free household and body care items; all products are selected to be organic, sustainable, plastic-free, with short delivery chains. The entrance points towards Bergmannstraße.

The pandemic spring and summer of 2020 saw a blossoming of zero-waste groceries in the South and West of town: Approximately at the same time as the Westend got its neighbourhood shop, Servus Resi opened in Sendling right before the lockdown in March 2020. Unfortunately I could not make it there yet, hence the brief description.

In Laim Nebenan unverpackt ("package-free next door") followed in summer 2020. The latter is organised as a co-operative (though the location next to a co-operative bank is purely accidental) and sports a small neighbourhood coffee place. They offer a slightly bigger selection of dry food than the Ohne shops, fresh fruit and veges, but less dried herbs and spices and no spirits. You can however buy wine and their selction of condiments and preserves in one-way glasses have the effect that you can do all the regular daily shopping here in one place if you don't come with more advanced expectations.

Deine Alternative

Half a year earlier, in January, 2020 another co-operative, Deine Alternative ("your alternative") in Zorneding, opened on the premises of the former Raiffeisen co-operative bank, just a few steps from the urban train station. When you get inside you will however immediately forget about its past as a bank, the shop is carefully and pleasantly decorated, with wooden furniture and equipped with a proper Italian coffee machine for a break in between. Most of the often local produce sold here is organically certified or at minimum sustainably produced, though it would be nice if conventional loose-weight products were clearly marked. In addition to the gravity bins and containers with dry food there's a decent selection of dried herbs and spices, sweets, bread, some confectionery, a small selection of fresh organic greens and veges, cheese and milk from the Nirschlhof organic farm. In a separate room you can buy toiletries, household chemicals and items supporting a zero-waste lifestyle. Everyone is welcome, but members of the co-operative pay less. If you live in the municipality of Zorneding you can pre-order a daily changing lunch dish to take home on weekdays or a covid-19 emergency food box that will be delivered home for those in quarantine.

In opposite direction, at the Western end of the Munich's S-Bahn urban train network Evis ab ins Glas ("Evi's off-into-the-jar") opposite the town hall of the municipality of Gilching opened 27th July, 2020, sporting a lot of package-free artisanally produced food, natural body care and household items, predominantly delivered by small-scale farmers and manufacturers in the greater Starnberg area. If you have wine corks bring them along for upcycling by a Rosenheim-based manufacturer of shoes. The shop is closed on Wednesdays.

Supermarket chains to follow

In autumn 2016 the local Vollcorner supermarkets received an official permit by the Munich Department of Public Order (Kreisverwaltungsreferat) to fill their customers' jars and boxes with cheese, antipasti, processed meat products or cake. The Basic supermarket chain followed in summer 2017, while independent convenience stores often have done so anyway. So take appropriate containers with you when you go out to shop for food or ask the staff to fill your order into returnable glass jars (Vollcorner, Lebascha, ...) or stainless steel containers (Basic). As during the corona pandemic most shops are no longer allowed to fill customer-provided containers make sure to order deposit containers as there's still no nudging from the shops' side.

To avoid misunderstandings it is advisable to clearly point to your box (or ask for the deposit container) before placing your order at the sales counter and tell the staff to tape the receipt to it. Otherwise you may end up not sparing any waste: In the beginning the staff at the Basic butcher's disk would use the sheet of plastic-covered paper they'd usually wrap the purchase with to hand it over to you, along with the receipt taped onto the paper bag they otherwise would have used as outer packaging. In the mean time they got used to the procedure but were ordered to decline customer requests to buy meat this way. Since they started to provide stainless steel boxes for a deposit of 7 EUR there's however no excuse for one-way packaging here anymore. Artisanal organic butcher's shops will also fill meat into boxes you provide (though not necessarily during covid-19 measures). The Herrmannsdorfer groceries (e.g. the one at Max-Weber-Platz) reward you with a 4 cents discount per saved packaging.

All Basic supermarkets have installed gravity bin dispensers by now which reliably offer a selection of pasta, nuts, dried fruit, sweets, and grains, but the number of goods may vary from basic to covering most of your store cupboard except for dried herbs and spices, coffee and tea. To buy these dry goods measure the tax weight of your containers before filling them. The scales next to the gravity bins will print out a receipt which you must hand in at the cash desk for tax weight detraction. Some branches may still follow the scheme formerly employed at the one near Isartor where you were expected to fill provided scaled measuring jugs from the dry-goods dispensers, pay, and refill the content into the packaging you brought along (which was quite tricky as funnels were not provided). In this case you were not allowed to use your own containers for loose-weight dried fruit from the cardbox displays in the green-grocery section.

Some Basic branches like the Basic Bogenhausen also offer freshly ground nut butt:w ers. In the past the latter also had a refill station for frying and salad oils, shampoo and shower gel as well as tea and coffee dispensers but unfortunately no longer.

The Alnatura chain takes a different approach and, in 2020 has been continously increasing the range of products in returnable jars and bottles - among others fairly traded nut butters, a number of dry products and even ketchup.

Detergents refill station Basic Bogenhausen

The Basic supermarkets in Munich (and no longer only the ones selling toiletries and household chemicals like the Neuhausen and the Bogenhausen branches) are also equipped with dispensers for detergents of the eco-friendly Sodasan brand. To refill here you must either come with an empty original bottle or buy one the first time. Your purchase will be weighted at the checkout and the weight of the original bottle will be detracted. When I asked the staff why I no longer was able to use a blank bottle they explained to me that a label with correct chemical declaration was required by law.

Prior to April 2019 you could take one of the empty bottles from the shelf and scan its label before tapping the standard volumes the choosen detergent was sold by to your own bottle, and I cannot say whether Basic markets in other cities still run the dispensers in this mode.

Milk refill Vollcorner Schwanthalerhöhe

For refilling fresh milk the Vollcorner supermarket near Theresienwiese has a vending machine which (as of November 2019) unfortunately is out of order as the local farm can no longer deliver milk for family reasons. The shop is working on a replacement and is trying to find a new local farm to step in as soon as possible. This huge Vollcorner branch also has a butcher's counter and a lunch cafe.

And before I forget to mention it: All Vollcorner supermarkets stock package-free toiletpaper.

Neighbourhood groceries

In Haidhausen the Lebascha neighbourhood grocery offers to fill all loose-weight products (cakes and bread, eggs, cheeses, olives, jelly gums and liquorice -- only the latter is not organic) in bottles, jars and boxes you bring along. Ask for a deposit box (1 or 3 EUR according to size) in case you forgot to bring your own, and make sure to return it thoroughly cleaned. When buying eggs don't forget your own container as there will be a small surplus for a cardboard one filled on the counter.

Household chemicals can be refilled at the Echt Bio Markt in Neuschwabing and at the Biochicco supermarket in the Au near Mariahilf-Platz. At the latter you can only refill original bottles of the Sonett label.

In Harlaching, the independent Biowelt supermarket has a small zero-waste corner with dispensers for dry food, a good selection of loose-weight dried fruit and a dairy and butchers' counter where you can hand over your containers.

Mobile Tagwerk booth at Mariahilf-Platz farmer's market

Farmers' markets

Once, sometimes twice a week farmers' markets are installed in many Munich neighbourhoods. Loose fruits and veges prevail here, and boothes selling organic produce (watch carefully for "bio" and "demeter" logos) will usually fill bread, cakes and pastries, antipasti, meat and dairy products into the containers you present. Notably at the boothes of the Tagwerk co-operative and the Hofbäckerei Steingraber you may be surprised to see that you're not the only one coming with her own boxes and jars. On Saturday mornings you can find them next to the West-facing entry of Mariahilf church, in the neighbourhood of Au where all boothes (except the French fish monger) in the market block next to the church, right below the carillon, are organic. If you feel adventurous on Thursday afternoons take the urban train S7 in direction Aying/Höhenkirchen-Siegertsbrunn/Kreuzstraße (or a bike ride) to the suburb of Neubiberg and pay a visit to the communal organic market on the pleasant premises of the Umweltgarten eco park, a true oasis within ugly suburbanity, with a small zoo, popular not only among kids. On Thursdays there's also an all-day market at Rotkreuzplatz. As on Mariahilfsplatz about half the boothes here are organic, though scattered all over the market area, with a cluster in direction Nymphenburger Straße.

In Zorneding a small farmers' market is being held every Friday on the premises of the Biohof Lenz organic farm. Here you can buy local organic meat and meat products, cheese, bread, veges, and occasionally honey and bee products, wines and spirits. Although most stalls are organic there are a few exceptions offering conventionally produced specialities. The Lenz family's own farm shop keeps open at the same time and on Saturdays, but for buying their exceptionally good meat you should subscribe to their newsletter and order beforehand according to availability (you should be fast to answer). Unfortunately all the Lenz meat and sausages are vacuumized in plastic.

Bio-Gärtnerei Kamlah

At the Western edge of town, in Pasing the organic market garden of Bio-Gärtnerei Kamlah has a farm shop open on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons. You can not only buy salads and vegetables grown here but also organic seedlings for your balcony or garden patch. The farm has also a market stall at the Pasinger Viktualienmarkt which keeps open all days except Sunday offering a huge selections of organic fruit and veges, but no seedlings. Both are closed for summer vacation August 10 through 17, 2020.

Artisanal bakeries and butchers

Meat lovers will be happy to learn that Munich, the home of Weißwurst sausages and Leberkäse, still has an independent family-run organic butcher's shop: The Biometzgerei Pichler in Haidhausen does not only offer these Munich specialities to buy home or to eat on the spot but will happily fill your boxes with all kinds of meat cuts, sausages, cured and processed meat (both, German and Italian style), including tongues, ox tails, offal and other low-graded parts of the slaughtered animals, allowing you to follow the nose-to-tail principle. They also have a proper cheese counter and offer lunch on weekdays. If you are in the Maxvorstadt, the Pichler family also runs the meat counter within the Landmann's supermarket which offers lunch items to take away and often has pickled herrings and other traditional German fish preserves.

Biobäckerei Gürtner Haidhausen

At the Munich branch of the Dachau-based family-run organic bakery Gürtner opposite the Lebascha grocery mentioned above in Haidhausen the staff is also used to fill cakes, rolls and bread into boxes or bags handed over the counter. They mill the flour slowly using a Zentrofan wholefood mill resulting in wholemeal croissants tasting fresher and almost as light as those baked with white flour. If you come here for an organic coffee or lunch break don't expect wonders from the automatic coffee machine and insist on using your mug if you order coffee to take along. For lunch the bakery offers readily prepared sandwiches or "Butterbrezn" (buttered pretzl). There's another Gürtner branch on the Pasinger Viktualienmarkt near the Pasing train station.

With roots in Munich, and since 2020 back baking in town, the Sunday-open shops of Fritz Mühlenbäckerei are not generally zero-waste, but their bread, cakes, and rolls will be filled in the bags and boxes you provide, even with restrictive Covid-19 hygienic measures in place.

Another artisanal bakery that happily supports your efforts to reduce waste is the Brotraum in Schwabing, conveniently located near Münchner Freiheit.

Not very far away, in Türkenstraße you'll find another source of luxurious artisanal organic bread -- the bakery of Julius Brantner. Make sure to come in time -- especially on a Saturday you may find the shop closed after the last bread was sold.

Bio Backs

A short walk from Sendlinger Tor, within the hospital area, you'll find Bio Backs, an organic bakery store where you also can get organic coffee drinks, tea, hot chocolate and snacks. Unfortunately the Asian lunch served there is not based on organic ingredients -- for the home-made snacks only the butter, the flour used in savory quiches, sugar, milk, soy drink and vegetable broth are promised to be organic. Pro-actively insist on your own bags and containers when you buy to take with you. Mind you that the shop closes quite early in the afternoon.

Coffee and food to take away

At Basic self-service cafes, the Ohne supermarkets, Siggis coffee bar and restaurant and an increasing number of other coffee places you may lend a Recup coffee cup for a deposit which you can return at any other shop participating in the retour scheme.

Some like the Neulinger bakeries and the Basic self-service lunch bars will even give you a small discount for sparing the environment.

Most of the eateries reviewed here will fill your food into the boxes you provide for take-away as long as you make this clear before they start their usual routine which still means one-way packaging. Sushi to take away is available from Sushiya, and they will happily accept your bento boxes with your order.

2020-08-10 09:30:00 [Munich, Neubiberg, Gilching, Zorneding, Au, Haidhausen, Harlaching, Laim, Maxvorstadt, Pasing, Westend, organic, vegetarian, zero_waste, unverpackt, cafe, grocery, market, supermarkets, lunch, bakeries, butcher, bodycare, household, sushi, covid, corona] Link

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Friday, 19 June 2020

Out of Munich: Organic Dorfen

The epicentre of co-operative organic agriculture in Bavaria is surely the small town of Dorfen in the municipality of Erding, within half an hour easily reachable by local train from Munich. Departing from Ostbahnhof train station you can take your bike with you once per hour to reach a small Bavarian town that has been the home of the organic Tagwerk co-operative of local organic farmers since 1984 and prides itself to be a bee-friendly municipality. Though finally in vain a significant part of the population had been standing united against the environmentally harmful federal state infrastructure project of the A94 Isentalautobahn for about 40 years and is currently opposing the plans for the new B15 highway of the Bavarian state government.

The train station in Dorfen is the starting point of the Veldenbahn bicycle route (as part of the Vilstal bicycle route) on the rail trail of the historic line linking Dorfen with Velden (Vils).

Tagwerkladen

To get from the train station into the beautiful town you have to surpass the hell of highly frequented Jahnstraße, and right before the nice and pedestrian-friendly bicycle route starts you may stop by the Tagwerk-Laden supermarket which demonstrates how a faceless interchangeable supermarket building in a car-centric environment may be turned into a human-friendly place. Usually this spacious organic supermarket with friendly employees and a relaxed atmosphere not only offers a lot of organic products from the region but also coffee drinks, snacks and cakes in its self-service cafe area, but unfortunately not during covid-19 restrictions. From mid of September 2020 they plan to offer lunch again each Thursday from 12 pm.

From here follow by all means the bicycle route through the beautiful alley of Bahnweg where you'll come by an art&crafts shops offering all kind of things made from the exceptionally aromatic wood of the Swiss pine ("Zirbe"): Das Aromaholz Zirbe keeps open on Thursdays, Fridays and the first Saturday of each month.

When you arrive in town on one of these weekdays pay a visit to Power Plant Ape for music, skateboards, and fair and organic fashion. In autumn 2020 the shop is also going to stock the emission-free organic chocolate which will be delivered by the Schokofahrt cyclists.

The shop is located in baker's lane, and there is in fact an organically certified artisanal baker just around the corner: The flour used by Martins Backstube is daily ground from the corn of Tagwerk farmers. As for most modern bakeries there's a day cafe where you can have a coffee, cake or snack, and if you cannot make it here do not dispair: As many other Tagwerk products you can buy their bread from all Vollcorner supermarkets.

Biogaertnerei an der Isen

Bypassing the very town centre for a bicyle tour on the Skulptour II bicycle route which links seven wood sculptures commissioned by local artists in 2015, you'll reach Biogärtnerei an der Isen, a beautiful organic market garden. The place doesn't have a farm shop but in June and July you can come here to harvest yummy organic strawberries from their strawberry field. To buy their produce step by the Bauernmarkt farmers' market which is being held every Friday in Dorfen town - or find their market booth in Munich, at Mariahilfplatz on Saturdays and at Rotkreuzplatz on Thursdays.

Closed

The Tagwerk co-operative run a low-budget family and bicycle friendly hotel just a few steps from the train station but since they re-organized and moved the Tagwerk wholesale activities to a bigger location in Garching it does no longer exist although you still find the place mentioned on the web.

2020-06-19 14:30:00 [Munich, Dorfen, Tagwerk, organic, fair, market, fashion, cycling, farms, accommodation, supermarkets, bakeries, coffee, lunch, snacks, Skulptour, Skulptour_cycle_route, Vilstalradweg, Vilstal_cycle_route, Veldenbahnradweg, Veldenbahn_cycle_route, covid, corona] Link

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Saturday, 11 April 2020

Covid-19 and this (travel) guide

The current pandemic renders a lot of my reviews in this blog useless: Restaurants and cafes are closed completely or have restricted opening hours, are closed in the evenings and only offer food to take away during the day. Non-food shops are closed entirely, supermarkets may have both, longer and shorter opening hours than usual, and some use special regulations to open on Sundays. Although I will continue to update this blog the best I can I'm feeling incapable of keeping track with all changes even in my vicinity. Articles with covid-19 updates can be found here. But if you take the time at home to plan your next travel after the pandemic I'm afraid cannot guarantee that all reviewed places are going to survive.

Social distancing and enforced hygienic measures decrease our ability to minimise package waste: Bakeries, butcher shops, the supermarkets' meat and cheese counters and restaurant take-away stopped to fill their customers' purchase into their bags and boxes as this requires more and close personal interaction. But even if this means that we can't be perfect we're still able to avoid waste: Organic supermarkets and farmers' markets are selling unpackaged fruits and veges as usual, you can prefer deposit bottles and jars to one-way plastic ones, and you can refill your own jars and containers with dry food, oil, vinegar, toiletries, household chemicals and more at zero waste convenience stores. Buy local! For most of the independent shops this is a veritable crisis, and you help them survive when you buy and order from them directly.

2020-04-11 14:00:00 [organic, zero_waste, unverpackt, cafe, grocery, market, supermarkets, lunch, restaurants, covid, corona] Link

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Monday, 02 March 2020

Dresden: Zero Waste

If you are looking for pioneers in the German zero waste movement you'll find one of them in Dresden's Neustadt neighbourhood: Pack a selection of glasses, containers and bags and stop by Lose ("loose-weight"), a cosy zero-waste corner store in Böhmische Straße. Unlike other package-free supermarkets this one does not only sell dry food but also offers veges and has a cheese counter. Since not everything is organic be careful to check the labels on the suspenders for the bio keyword or ask.

Lose

The coffee corner is a nice place to recreate while your kids are busy in the playing corner. Mind you: like other package-free shops Lose does not have an illuminated window front, so be brave to try the door handle -- the place looks quite dark even during opening hours.

In April 2019 a second zero waste supermarket opened its doors in the neighbourhood of Pieschen: crowd-funded Quäntchen (the name of an old weight unit, denoting about 4 grams). Unfortunately I have not had the opportunity to step by yet, but I'm sure it's a friendly and inviting place.

Supermarkets with zero-waste stations

Moreover all shops of the co-operatively organised local wholesale chain VG Biomarkt offer a good selection of loose-weight organic dry goods (in addition to an abundance of often locally produced fruit and veges and dairy products and drinks of all kinds in returnable glass bottles).

VG Mitte

Their main shop is located near Bahnhof Mitte train station, an entire organic warehouse on the premises of a former newspaper printing plant. Standing back from the main street the first floor is occupied by an organic convenience store supporting your zero-waste efforts. On the second floor there's a well assorted organic fashion store mainly for babies, children and women, with a section offering organic body care, household chemicals, sustainably produced toys, stationary and more. For members prices are lower, but the warehouse is open to everyone.

On weekdays the self-service bistro directly facing the street offers delicious lunch (only snacks on Saturdays), and there's a cafe cum bakery shop featuring young local artists which (except on Mondays) opens half an hour before the supermarket itself, and closes at 7 pm on weekdays. Watch out on Mondays: The shop including its bistro opens at 1 pm this day. Opening hours on Saturdays before Christmas are extended to 4 pm.

VG Biomarkt also has branches in the neighbourhoods of Neustadt (Hechtviertel), Striesen, and Loschwitz, of which the one in Hechtviertel including its bistrot is members only.

VG Balsamico The Loschwitz branch dubbed VG Balsamico is conveniently located opposite the downhill station of the cable-run suspension railway ("Schwebebahn") next to Körnerplatz at the northern end of Blaues Wunder ("blue wonder") bridge.

While these local groceries were early adopters a number of nation-wide operating organic supermarket chains have been following. In Dresden all branches of the Berlin-based supermarket chain Bio Company introduced dry food suspenders for use with your own jars.

Farmshops

Bauernhof Franz

When you take the Elberadweg bicycle route on the southern shore in direction Niederwartha you'll pass a nice old farmyard, the organic Bauernhof Franz in Niedergohlis. It runs a subscription scheme -- phone or e-mail your order until Wednesday and collect it from the farmshop on Fridays and Saturdays, but if you happen to step by on one of these days and there's someone around you may be able to buy vegetable oil and perhaps also potatoes or other produce from the farm.

2020-03-02 16:30:00 [Dresden, Neustadt, organic, coffee, vegan, zero_waste, unverpackt, cafe, grocery, market, supermarkets, bodycare, household] Link

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This work by trish is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. For commercial use contact the author: E-mail · Mastodon · Vero · Ello.