Vegan travel: Berlin

Prices: $$

Berlin is unlike any city I’ve ever visited.  Aside from its striking, and often emotional, displays of history, the city is brimming with a lovable grittiness that can’t be found elsewhere.  Outside of the historic (read: sorta touristy) Mitte neighborhood, you’ll find yourself amidst a graffiti-ridden city full of captivating art culture and, you guessed it, a shocking amount of awesome vegan food!

GETTING AROUND

As far as transportation goes, Berlin isn’t exactly a walkable city (especially coming from Amsterdam directly before).  The neighborhoods are a bit spread out, but everything is completely connected by tram (which runs 24 hours) and metro.  While public transport is convenient and quick, it’s not my favorite way to see the city.  I much prefer to be outdoors, navigating on my own, if the weather permits.  While Berlin is a bit too spread out to walk everywhere, recent developments have made it a much more bike-friendly city.  I’d recommend renting a bike for at least one day to get around the city.  Rentals are easily available around the city for about 10 to 15 euro per day.  DB Bahn, the train company, actual has multiple outdoor portals with rentable bikes, so you can hop on a bike at one end of the city and return it all the way across town.

Onto the food:

1. Lucky Leek (Kollwitzstr 46, Berlin, Germany 10405)

After spending a rainy afternoon at the Hamburger Bahnhof (a modern art museum housed in an old train station.  If you’re a fan of Warhol, Liechtenstein, and modern art in general, I highly recommend it), I was ready for a good meal.  I’d read about Lucky Leek online and heard good things through an employee at my hostel, so I jumped on my bike and hit the dampened streets of the city toward Prenzlauer Berg.  The small restaurant is tucked between local boutiques and sidewalk cafes in this charming neighborhood.  Here you’ll find an all-vegan menu that changes daily and always features fresh ingredients and homemade vegan proteins.  To start, they served a complimentary beet dip with sliced bread.  I ordered the special of the day, which was a dish of sesame-crusted seitan served atop dumplings, bok choy, and mushrooms and garnished with fresh basil.  I expected the basil to clash with the rest of the asian-inspired entree, but it ended up being harmonious and perfectly savory.  The meal felt really upscale, but at around $14 euro for an entree, it’s still a bargain considering the quality of the food.  This is in contention to be the best dinner I’ve ever had, anywhere. 

2. Voner (Boxhagener Straße 56  10245 Berlin, Germany)

Walking along the streets of Berlin, it’s hard not to notice the abundance of doner kebab stands; they’re about as ubiquitous here as Starbucks in the US. This traditionally Turkish sandwich is probably the most popular quick eat in the city. Vegans and vegetarians can get in on this phenomenon at Voner, where the sandwich has been reimagined using seitan in place of the shawarma meat.  For less than 4 euro, you’ll be handed a sandwich served on warm, crispy, chewy bread, brimming with seitan and lettuce, and doused with your choice of sauce (I went with spicy and garlic, at the recommendation of an employee). This is not to be missed, y’all.

3. Goodies (Warschauer Straße 69  10243 Berlin, Germany)

For breakfast or an afternoon pick-me-up, stop in at Goodies, where you’ll find an assortment of vegan treats.  They even have sugar free and raw options. On my first visit I chose the sugar-free coconut banana bread, which was lightly sweet and a bit dense and one hundred percent delicious.  I also tried the blueberry-orange scone, which was good, but I’m partial to my own scones.  Also try their unbeatable soy latte, served in a tall glass that shows off its gorgeous layer of foam.

Located in the dynamic Friedrichshain borough, Goodies is the perfect starting point for a walk along the East Side Gallery, the longest intact stretch of the Berlin Wall, now covered in commissioned murals.  From there, check out the neighboring Kreuzberg for a dose of street art, one-of-a-kind shopping, and the bustling outdoor Turkish market that’s held every Tuesday and Friday. At night, head back to Friedrichshain and check out its eclectic mix of bars.  There you’ve got plenty of choices: A dungeon-esque metal bar, a Big Lebowski-themed bar, or one that has the feel of a soviet-era living room.  Berlin’s nightlife is quite the spectacle, but it barely gets going until 2 in the morning, so fuel yourself with some hearty vegan food before a night out.

Find more info great vegan/vegetarian food in Berlin from Happy Cow.

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