Monday, 11 September 2023
To find a place for an organic lunch, snack or a coffee break, both served and self-served, requires not more than keeping your eyes open. But the cultured evening out or a sumptuous weekend brunch can be a challenge if you don't know where to head for.
If you opt for 100 percent organic food and drinks, without compromises, within the city boundaries the TL;DR is La Trattoria and Josef.
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.
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
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 (at a small discount) to take away. The place is also a
convenient choice before or after a concert at (or other visit to) the Gasteig HP8 concert hall and cultural centre, with truly Italian food and predominantly regional ingredients catering for all: vegans, vegetarians and meat lovers. After a concert or stroll at the Isar shore you may also step by for a high quality, fully organic drink, both with or without alcohol.
In 2023 the Trattoria got a sister restaurant, the
Osteria Biologica Josef which, located in the
Glockenbachviertel, is much
better accessible from the inner city. During the summer everyone would sit outside in the so-called "Schanigarten", on white garden furniture in lieu of parking lots along the street. The Italian street feeling is matched by excellent food and drinks. An exciting selection of aperitivi and a relatively short menu offering pizza, salads, pasta, and few main courses ensure absolute freshness and tastiness. Most dishes are vegetarian or meat-based (all of them have full meal size), but there are also a few (fully qualified) vegan options – given the shortness of the menu these make up for a higher relative percentage than you may realise at first. As everything is organic, prices are rather up-market, but a delicious pizza with a gorgeous crust (at around 15 EUR) is sufficient for a very satisfying evening. The staff is cheery and helpful. During the colder season there will be brunch, too. Ring in to order a table during opening hours, especially on weekends I strongly recommend this as the online booking system seems to not cover all available tables.
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.
Opposite the "Osteria
Josef" in the Glockenbachviertel you'll
find Mary – or rather
Das Maria. In fact the restaurant should be called "Maryam" as it specialises in mezze and food (and coffee) from the Maghrib and the Levante. Moreover it has been a famed breakfast spot for many years, serving oriental and orientally inspired occidental breakfast varieties throughout the day, on oriental dishes. The majority of ingredients, staples and drinks are organic and marked as such on the menu, either with an asterisk or with the "bio" keyword.
The place is quite small, so despite its very reliable opening hours and especially during the cold season when outdoor seating isn't an option pre-booking is advisable. Families with babies and toddlers should find a different spot for a family meal as there are no changing facilities, and both, changing and prams are not welcome inside the restaurant.
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 older vegan restaurant is the Max Pett near Sendlinger Tor, run by a former Zerwirk chef. Unfortunately it's only partially organic, which is probably why the kitchen does not live up to expectations. The place is 100 percent non-alcoholic.
My favourite vegetarian, vegan-friendly restaurant is the Blitz described above.
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:
Ceased to exist
The following places shut down or were replaced by restaurants not using organic ingredients. So don't be confused when you find references to them on the web:
- 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
- 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)
- Shibuya Fried Chicken, Hohenzollernstr. 5 (Tohru Nakamura's covid-19 take away)
- Tian, Frauenstr. 4
- 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]
Saturday, 02 September 2023
A hotspot for the coffee and tea trade the Hanseatic city of Bremen has a tradition for exotic beverages, and has always been a place with room for a subtler and more sophisticated approach to these beverages than the conventional mass-market. Organic and ecological projects have been blooming here for much longer than elsewhere, and so you can expect to find long established organic places blossoming alongside recent start-ups. What you will rarely find however are shiny, polished hipster cafes.
If you have to describe this neighbourhood in a sentence you'd probably point to the omnipresence of flee market-purchased furniture and objects in its lovingly and individually decorated independent shops and cafes. The beer tables on the pleasant garden terrace of Cafe Radieschen ("radish") as well as its indoor walls are all painted pink! If you come hungry first have a predominantly organic vegetarian or vegan pasta dish or sandwich before you turn to their impressive choice of home-made, predominantly organic cakes. Most drinks as well as the milk are organic, you can have an organic vegan ice-cream in the summer, and ingredients are sourced locally as far as possible. Lunch is usually offered between 12 am and 3 pm, and instead of the weekend the place is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. The cafe plays host to a lot of neighbourhood activities, among them home-cooking events with young refugees from the house across the street. They always take a summer vacation.
Closer to Wilhelm Kaisen bridge and a few steps from the Kaemena ice-cream parlour you'll find a sweet art cafe dubbed Cafe Frida. They serve organic tea, soft drinks and soy milk for your coffee drink alongside home-made cakes, but neither the cakes nor the coffee, milk and oat milk are organic. You may however buy
organic fairly traded Slokoffie coffee sailed from Honduras and distributed by bicycle to have at home. Due to covid-19 restrictions you can not have breakfast here for the time being.
Whether you visit the Kunsthalle museum of art or just come by on your way into the alternative neighbourhood of the Viertel climb the stairs to the museum's self-service
Cafe Sylvette inside the art museum. It's run by the crew of the Canova restaurant behind the museum and offers home-made cakes, organic soft drinks or tea, coffee drinks with organic milk and partially organic savoury snacks at upmarket prices, but in stylish surroundings. When the weather is nice opt for the outdoor seating for the views (and corona safety).
Whether you want to spend some time reading with a delicious coffee drink aside or simply feel for a short espresso in between, the
Contigo shop in Ostertorsteinweg is definitely worth a try. The shops of this small chain of fair-trade shops resemble each other, both, when it comes to the interior design as well as in the assortments of goods (predominantly coffee, tea, chocolate, jewellery, bags and colourful accessoiries). The Bremen branch moved lately, and, on its new premises, has quite a large area with chairs and tables so that the shop (other than the ones in Dresden or Göttingen) has more of a coffeehouse atmosphere. Although you have to place your order at the till you will be served. They use sparingly roasted high quality coffee beans which result in a "greener", tangy taste even of the milk-based drinks like a flat white.
Usually it's not crowded, and hence a place to go when you feel for a less noisy spot. Surrounded by a gorgeous fair fashion and another fair-trade shop on one side, a health food store on the other and an organic cosmetics shop (almost) opposite you may however feel tempted to spend more money than initially planned.
Another cosy and serene place for an Italian-style coffee drink is just a few steps away: the
Noras reviewed in the
The city's narrowest lanes are to be found in tourist hotspot Schnoor at the other, Northern shore of the river Weser.
To enjoy the atmosphere of this oldest part of town dating back to the 15th and 16th century, follow the Wüstestätte ("waste site") alleyway until the end and have a tea in a beautiful yet narrow two-storey tea house and shop dubbed Teestübchen ("little tea parlour"). Nice weather provided you can also sit outdoor and enjoy breakfast or tea time with a home-made cake, or a high tea with a pasta, typical local dishes, or Alsatian "pizza" (Flammkuchen).
Many ingredients are organic, but you might want to be picky when choosing the tea since not all of them are.
Mind you: if you approach the Schnoor from the water front you'll approach the place from behind: The outdoor tables you see in the picture above do not belong to Teestübchen, and a surprised waiter from the adjacent restaurant won't be able to meet your requests. Simply move around the house!
Starting in the summer of 2020 the coffee bicycle of Coffee Bike has been offering Italian-style organic coffee drinks to city dwellers. Looks environment-friendly? Well, the bicycle is only make believe, and they serve their fare in one-way cups. You can easily top this – with a fairly traded organic coffee transported to Bremen without climate emissions by sailship and bicycle, in an earthenware cup, at the Biten food truck on the Domshof market.
On Mondays and Fridays you may also find the Bremer Straßencafé here.
For a filling (vegan) porridge and coffee drink on the go or on the spot the
Haferkater cafe in the passage of the main train station is an option on weekday mornings. While all pre-packaged products of the Haferkater brand and the cow milk are organic, it remains unclear whether the freshly rolled oats, and the toppings are so. The coffee is not organically certified, but fairly traded, and the oat drink unfortunately is conventional fare. They also have a decent assortment of bowls, wraps and sweets, and the shop assistant told me that some of the ingredients used here were organic, but was hesitant to specify what. You may come with your own box or cup; if not you may get a returnable bowl or cup as long as you trust (and are willing to install) the Vytal app. Insist on an earthenware cup if you intend to drink your coffee on the spot.
At the university campus
University refectories usually are no gourmet temples, but it is nevertheless a pity that the Mensa refectory on the campus stopped to offer organic side dishes. In 2023 they increased their efforts again, and now make a commitment to use only organic dairy products (they also offer organic home-made pasta at the "Pastawerk" booth Tuesday through Thursday). So you still can have an organic and fairly traded coffee drinks with locally sourced organic milk from the coffee vending machines at Cafe Central.
It's not a delight, though – the coffee tastes bitter from too high a temperature inside the machine, but it's cheap and ethical.
Tasty speciality coffee can be had from the mobile street vendor
Bremer Straßencafé on Tuesdays and hursdays around lunch. (The other working days it is supposed to be found at the Domshof in the inner city (on Mondays and Fridays), and on Saturday at the Pappelstraße in the Neustadt (supposedly at the neighbourhood market place) – if you can confirm this please let me know.)
The coffee isn't certified organic, but the cow milk used for coffee drinks is. Unfortunately the lovingly decorated coffee car (a former small scale butcher's market car which the owner refurbished and staffed with both, a barista coffee machine and a dish washer) is likely to be retired soon and replaced by a car trailer. On Thursdays the vendor may sometimes still be there after 2pm.
If you want to invest into regular supermarket prices, the new branch of the local Aleco organic supermarket chain on the campus of the economics (Wirtschaftswissenschaften) school of the university has a self-service cafe where you can get organic snacks and coffee drinks. Their coffee machine however is a fully automatic one, so do not expect serious barista fare here neither. Due to covid-19 restrictions the self-service cafe is closed for the time being, but you can get coffee and cake to take away, simply don't forget to bring your own mug and lunch box to avoid waste.
Obervieland is probably not the part of Bremen you will visit as a tourist, but if you happen to come here and are in the mood to mingle with natives step by the Gartencafé of the protestant St. Paul's parish in the former village of Habenhausen to have a coffee. There's fairly traded organic coffee, organic milk, organic soft drinks and drinking water bottled by a social business of the not-for-profit organisation Viva con Agua. The American cookies are of course home-made, and there are no fixed prices: You pay what you can, but please, be honest. The cafe is closed on Mondays and during the school holidays in summer.
Closed since the covid-19 pandemics
[Bremen, Neustadt, Schnoor, Worpswede, organic, fair, vegan, vegetarian, coffee, tea, lunch, cafe, breakfast]
Thursday, 31 August 2023
When dedicated zero waste convenience stores started to bloom in bigger cities like Munich during the covid-19 spring of 2020 Bremen already had three established package-free shops, with a fourth one that opened its door early in 2020. Back then some of the shop keepers were afraid that there might be too many to survive in a city of the size of Bremen, and after the pandemic years it's not all sunshine for these small businesses. However, Bremen hasn't seen the same series of zero-waste shop closings cities like Munich have. Even when you run out of food on a Sunday you can grab your jars and boxes and set out for refill.
Dedicated package-free supermarkets
My favourite is crowd-funded L'Epicerie Bio in the Neustadt neighbourhood, just across Wilhelm Kaisen bridge. Lovingly decorated in the style of an old colonial shop you would find an abundance of food, spices, sweets and wine, body care and household items here, including fresh fruits and veges and pet food by the gram. Since 2021 the shop has also been offering organic frozen food by the gram: samosas, falafel, French fries, veges, berries and more.
As you marvelled at the interior you could also buy a coffee or refreshment.
Unfortunately this will be history from around mid of October, 2023: To make ends meet the shop keeper had to find a less expensive location, and the good news is: Anne Marie is moving to the neighbourhood of Walle. The new shop will have another name, but she wouldn't tell me yet. The new shop will be smaller, offering all the food stuff as before, but only a basic set of toiletries and bodycare.
While L'Epicerie was as far as you get from the carrots-and-dungarees cliche of a traditional organic grocery of the 1970ies, the second package-free shop in the Neustadt looks exactly like a traditional Bremen organic cornerstore 2.0: The dusty shop window of Füllkorn, with some wilted potted plants makes it difficult for passers-by to even spot the place. Inside everything is spotlessly clean of course, and there's also a coffee and refreshment option. Unfortunately the shop was closed when I was there, but I'm sure it's friendly and welcoming, too. They have a milk tapping machine from the Kaemena farm.
The youngest package-free shop in town is
Die Füllerei in Findorff which opened in February 2020. With a beautiful flower-bed in front of it you cannot miss the shop even though I couldn't make it here during their opening hours. Unlike the two shops in the Neustadt there's a vending machine for fresh milk from the Blockland. Just from the looks clearly my second favourite which, in 2023, wants to turn into a co-operative. Note that the shop is closed on Wednesdays.
The tram stop "Am Schwarzen Meer", (in)famous for a fastfood-and-beer kiosk popular among the city's enthusiastic football fans has become a destination for conscious eaters: At the end of the Steintor road you'll find both, a Sunday-open package-free convenience store and a friendly CSA farm shop.
The first one, Selfair, has by far the most liberal opening hours of all package-free supermarkets I've visited so far. It's a pleasant combination of a traditional organic cornershop, a contemporary package-free supermarket and an immigrant shop with a good selection of oriental-style bread, baklava, pickles and mezze. The latter aren't organic, nor are about 3/4 of the fresh fruit and greens. However, there's an abundance of loose-weight and pre-packaged organic food items, spices, sweets, beverages and more. There's tinned food and preserved food and dairy products in glasses, and almost all beverages come in returnable bottles. They also have a section with zero-waste household items and sustainable toiletries, and in general the shop is free from plastic foil packaging. Many of the organic veges, bread and cheeses are bio-dynamic and local, and most of the conventional food is produced in the region, with little agrochemicals.
On the Northern side of the tram tracks you'll find
a small and inviting farm shop, the
Solawi-Hofladen. Despite the name it's not
only a pick-up point for the members of the community-supported organic Sophienhof farm, but a cosy farm shop run by two bio-dynamic farms, the Sophienhof and the Lütjenhof, and an artisanal fair-trade coffee roasters', all from the greater region. Needless to say that you can have a coffee after having filled local grains and pulses from gravity bins and bought meat, eggs, cheese, veges and more.
On a former parking lot inside the disused production areal of the Kelloggs company you now find an urban gardening project producing organic veges and hops in raised beds: During the warm season the
Gemuesewerft is not only a nice beergarden, but also sells fresh organic greens according to the season just a few meters from where they are harvested.
Organic corner shops and supermarkets
Package-free sale of bakery items and cheeses over the counter, loose fruit and veges as well as dairy products and drinks in returnable bottles and glasses are of course the norm in all traditional organic convenience stores like the co-operative Oecotop in the Neustadt, the Bio-Eck in Grohn with some gravity bins for unpackaged grains, or the Kornkraft supermarket in Habenhausen which offers a day cafe and is part of a small local supermarket chain.
Traditional co-operatively driven convenience stores in Bremen are all open to the general public by now, and so is Abakus in Steintor founded in 1998 which in 2020 repeatedly was voted one of Germany's best organic groceries. The shop which doesn't hide its political views doesn't have a working web site, but sells loose-weight grains and cereals. When I was there again in summer 2020 there was however an information that they wouldn't order more muesli unless the demand by members of the co-operative was bound to increase.
Body care and nice things
During the nice season Der Fährmann Antony ("Antony the ferryman") sells hand-made natural shea and cocoa butter from Ghana on a mobile booth on the Kaemena farm in Blockland. Come with your own jar, and he will happily fill it for you. The opening hours below should however be taken with a grain of salt – when the weather is too cloudy or even rainy Anthony may decide that the effort of his bicycle tour out into the Blockland wouldn't match his sales expectation. In summer 2022 there were also shortcomings as deliveries from Ghana took weeks longer than usual, and during our stay in August 2022 we met him not before 4 pm.
Out of Bremen
If you take a bicycle tour to Lilienthal (which – despite the fact that the Bremen tram no. 4 ends there –
isn't a part of Bremen, but a municipality in the adjacent state of Lower Saxony) you have even more options – check out the Lilienthal post.
[Bremen, organic, lunch, coffee, cafe, grocery, supermarkets, vegan, vegetarian, zero_waste, unverpackt, bodycare, gifts, butcher, fashion, solawi, CSA]
Saturday, 26 August 2023
Bremen offers plenty opportunities for an organic lunch ranging from a cheap and simple meal at a refectory to the posh organic business lunch.
For dinner there's significantly less choice – you may opt for fast food or a friendly place to meet friends, but to have an organic candle light dinner will be difficult. Don't expect highly sophisticated international cuisine – Bremen restaurants are best when it comes to local dishes based on regional ingredients (which are totally different from e.g. the meat-centric Bavarian cuisine) and rather adapt international influences than aim at an – whatever the definition may be – authentic experience of a foreign cuisine.
The food served in "Indian" restaurants in Germany usually does not have much in common with the food served in India – and the Punjabi food served at the – to my knowledge – oldest organic restaurant in Bremen, the
Krishna a short walk from the Southern end of either Wilhelm Kaisen or Bürgermeister Smidt bridge is also adapted to this idea of how Europeans are likely to like Indian food.
This is probably not a surprise since the restaurant generates its main business from its delivery and take-away service. The good news about it – there's always a spare table in the restaurant which now after more than ten years looks a little worn, resembling restaurants in India.
Since the main ingredients of the pakoras, curries and tandoori dishes – meat, dairy products and vegetables – are organic the food is much more palatable than in conventional "Indian" restaurants. You can choose between rice and naan bread as a side dish, and each curry comes with a salad (dressed with a balsamico-based dressing) in advance.
The menu hasn't changed much in all these years – lamb, chicken, fish, cheese (paneer) and/or vegetables in a gravy, and as a recent addition gravy with tofu as a vegan alternative.
You may wish to start your meal with an (organic) yogurt drink (lassi) and finish with a cup of chai or hot saffron milk.
There's also a selection of cold organic drinks. If you have the chance have a chat with the friendly Punjabi owner, but do not expect much flexibility from his staff which often even cannot remember the dishes and will ask you for the number on the menu when ordering.
Note that the restaurant is open evenings only.
For an organic pizza slice, a chili stew, sometimes pasta and
fairly traded organic coffee sailed from Honduras to Europe and transported by bicycle
pay a visit to the Biten food truck at the farmer's market at the Domshof in front of Markthalle 8.
Mind you that the truck leaves early in the afternoon and some days simply won't be there.
Clean and raw
Formerly located inside the Markthalle 8 food court Noras Deli took over the location of the Lei in the Viertel neighbourhood and now is simply dubbed Noras.
The place was refurbished in lounge style, and although the menu starts with two savoury dishes – a very palatable Buddha Bowl and a properly spiced chickpeas curry – it's more of a cafe during daytime turning into an American bar in the evening. It
offers coffee drinks, breakfast, pancakes, smoothie bowls, freshly made juices and shots as well as healthy sweets without refined sugar (don't miss the filled dates by the piece), both to eat here and to take away. There's a small range of carefully choosen wines and fully organic cocktails.
You can sit outside and indoors.
Regional – International
For a coffee or lunch break you have another opportunity in the vicinity: the
Bio-Biss im Alten Fundamt, a recreational place which has been offering organic food for many years, formerly under the name "Mundart im Alten Fundamt" and now in the second generation of tenants, as "Bio-Biss". In summer it's a pleasure to eat outside in the large backyard, with a kindergarden and a home for the elderly as neighbours. The menu changes daily and offers tasty seasonal food using predominantly local ingredients from their own farm or other organic farms nearby. The dishes are based on local food traditions or derived from Italian or Oriental cuisines, and always served both, as a regular and a small portion.
You may also have an organic ice-cream from the Kaemena farm.
A less sophisticated yet filling organic lunch for a cheap price can be had at the
Leckerbiss refectories run by the Bio-Biss caterers on the Radio Bremen campus in Vahr
within the refectory of the Bremen Senator for Children and Education in the city center.
On weekdays you can choose from two wholefood dishes, one of them vegetarian, and a soup. In addition there is coffee and some snacks. Not all ingredients and drinks however are organic. The
Bio-Biss refectory on the University campus opposite Universum unfortunately was closed in 2020.
The Neustadt neighbourhood with its virtually endless Buntentorsteinweg is the home of a very Bremen place: the (sub-)cultural center
Kukoon with its
predominantly organic, vegetarian (vegan-friendly) and socially responsible restaurant. Hearty and healthy, yet filling one-pot dishes and pasta dominate the menu. Needless to say that the place is a popular coffee (and cake) spot and a good meeting point for an organic wine or beer. The majority of drinks are organic, notably all warm preparations. On Sunday evenings the kitchen closes at 6 pm, but you still can come here on a soup or potato or pasta salad – except during the warm season when the team can be found at various pop-up venues.
For a romantic evening out or whenever you are in the mood for fine (but not pretentious) Northern dining visit the
Canova restaurant behind Kunsthalle. Many of their supplies come from organic farms in the greater Bremen area, among others from a gardener cultivating ancient and forgotten local herbs and vegetables. There are a few vegan/vegetarian and meat-based courses, but the focus is on responsibly sourced fish and seafood. The four-course menu was absolutely perfect after a leisurely day in the countryside; for the six-course menu you should probably come hungry. Of course, you may freely choose from the menu, too. During the warm season don't miss the
pleasure to sit on their serene terrace.
The team also runs the Cafe Sylvette inside the art museum.
Speaking of fine local cuisine: After a visit to the Universum Science museum near the university, the restaurant
Wels ("catfish") inside the hotel "Munte" serves fish from North-German shores and game from nearby forests, with organic vegetables. The vegetarian and vegan options also contain organic ingredients, but are usually inspired by international cuisines. The place, however, opens on Friday and Saturday evenings only.
Directly located at the Contrescape park, at the edge of the picturesque Fedelhören neighbourhood with its small owner-run shops
Café Heinrich is a popular day cafe serving classic German dishes like potatoes in their jacket and internationally inspired ones like Flammkuchen, the Alsatian pizza, predominantly made with ingredients from the region. The menu lists organic soft drinks and promises organic cheeses, bread and salami, but you should probably take these promises with a grain of salt and ask beforehand: When I was there the milk from the free-ranging cows of
a farm from the region turned out to be conventional supermarket-fare of the "Frischli" brand.
The place used to be open until 6 or even 8 pm, but staff shortness lead to early closing times in summer 2022.
If you rather opt for fast food aim for the city's central shopping area.
Opposite the back entrance to the Kaufhof department store you can find 1885 Burger, a self-serving American-type diner using
organic beef and bacon in their burgers. Start queuing at the left side and choose the type of patty and home-made bun you prefer. While the patty is being grilled before your eyes move to the right and specify the sauces, vegetables and condiments as well as your drinks (I'd suggest the organic Störtebeker beer). Some of the veges are organic, too, and most of them as well as the cheeses are sourced locally. Vegetarian cheese and vegan lentils patties are available, but you have to enquire whether they are organic. Pay at the till in the middle of the restaurant when you're ready to leave. Although the place is popular among supporters of the local football club Werder Bremen, it should be noted that there's no TV screen.
Another source of burgers with organic meat patties are the
Simpleburger foodtrucks. The meat comes from Welsh Black cattle raised at an organic farm in Ahausen/Lower Saxony. They also serve coffee drinks, and the milk used here is organic, too. While it is generally nice that they serve vegan and vegetarian burgers, you may not like them as these patties are highly processed, long-travelled BeyondMeat ones – not exactly what one expects from a company emphasising the regional origin of their food.
Eateries attached to public swimming pools usually are a contradiction in itself: Why do they serve such tasteless, unhealthy and often evil smelling fast food at places dedicated to healthy physical exercises? The restaurant Novazena at the Hallenbad Süd is a notable exception: Their burger is made from organic meat, and there are
organic soft drinks – a few more organic ingredients may be hidden in other
dishes, some of them Ethiopian-style (but no injeera). Honest, filling canteen food, and if the weather is nice you may sit on a spacious terrace.
Plantenköök restaurant next to the entrance of the city library tries to appeal to everyone: You can have, both, either a filling
meal or a sandwich for lunch – or celebrate dinner with a multiple-course vegan menu. Despite the announcements on their website: Don't expect fine dining. The restaurant is casual and pleasantly furnished with wood.
The waitress during my visit was friendly and open, but not trained professionally. I opted for a mezze board which was nicely arranged, tasty and filling though not elaborated. The three types of rolls it came with were very tasty and still warm from the oven, however quite solid: The friendly cook in the open kitchen is definitively passionate about food, but clearly not yet an experienced baker with artisanal control of the baking process.
On the other hand my drink, a home-made kefir with lime and ginger, was a pleasant surprise with its refreshing and surprising spectrum of tastes.
Just as Munich's Max Pett the place does not serve alcohol – very uncommon for evening-open restaurants in Germany.
In the kitchen they use organic ingredients, but the percentage may vary. If you have little money there's one so-called solidarity dish for which you pay between 2 and 10 euros depending on what you can afford. During my visit this was a chili sin carne. Overall a place I definitely recommend.
More to try
Here's a list of (partially) organic restaurants and eateries I found during my research but did not have time to visit. Your impressions are appreciated!
Alte Hafenstr. 30,
(predominantly organic vegetarian restaurant and cafe, international cuisine)
- Bio-Biss im Lichthaus, Hermann-Prüser-Str. 4 (organic restaurant)
- Lei, Sielwall 55/57 (succeeded by Noras)
- Leckerbiss-Kantine Senatorin für Kinder und Bildung, Rembertiring 8–12
Universitätsallee inside GW 1 (university refectory)
- Diverso, Münchener Str. 46 (since the covid-19 pandemics catering only)
- Kuss Rosa, Buntentorsteinweg 143 (resto bar, predominantly organic greens)
Martinistr. 70 (hot dogs)
Obernstr. 5-33, basement
- Veganissimi, Horner Straße 1a (vegan day cafe)
[Bremen, organic, coffee, lunch, dinner, snacks, restaurant, burgers, pizza, fastfood, takeaway, Indian, Italian, vegan, vegetarian, raw]
An evening out with organic dinner and later a civilized drink at a bar? While in other cities it can be quite challenging to find an organic drink outside of restaurants Bremen has dedicated American-style bars where you can have fully organic drinks and at least partially organic cocktails until late at night.
What about a (late) summer night drink with a view on the Weser river? The pop-up bar Papp at the South-Eastern side of St. Pauli bridge (the prolongation of Wilhelm Kaisen bridge) isn't as pop-up as its location in a shack near the river shore might suggests as it has been there since summer 2015. There's a spacious square under trees in front of the tiny bar, sometimes with live concerts or electronic music. During the day time you may come here and have a coffee (and cake), a soft drink or even a bottle of beer.
In the Viertel neighbourhood, near Sielwall the Heldenbar ("Heroes' bar") comprises the entrance to the Cinema im Ostertor where films have been shown continously since 1959. Before the covid-19 pandemics the rustic craft beer place had been notorious for its Wednesday quiz nights. While it is advisable to ask for organic alcoholic drinks (there's at least one organic gin and organic cider) most pre-bottled soft drinks are organic and fairly traded (as is the coffee).
If you prefer a lounge atmosphere or want to be sure that your drinks are 100 percent organic, simply proceed around the corner to Noras, however: this place closes too early to be a respectable bar – although pleasant it won't save your late evening.
[Bremen, organic, coffee, bar, beergarden]