If you saw my posts on minimalist packing for a week in Hamburg and Hamburg’s Speicherstadt, you know that we spent the first week of May in Hamburg visiting family and friends. Living in Hamburg, I never had to seek out vegan restaurants as I was still vegetarian, which is a lot easier with regards to eating out. My expectations were quite high as I had already found a multitude of options on HappyCow. Compared to my previous travels as a vegan (Corfu, Bucharest, Rome, Brussels), this trip was so much more filled with exciting vegan options.
The day we arrived was the second day of the Osterstraßenfest, a street festival in the neighborhood of Eimsbüttel where our Airbnb was located. After mere minutes, we already saw a vegan food truck by Vincent Vegan that offered burgers. Jackpot, we thought, and went ahead and had a different vegan burger each. They were really good, and it was so amazing to walk around and be able to find vegan street food just like that. There was also a stall selling fresh coconuts for coconut water, absolutely delicious. (Might I add that, as I’m writing this, it’s Ramadan, and I’m fasting? A bit masochistic looking back on all these yummy foods.)
The next day we went to the town of Itzehoe to see my mother and brother who had reserved a table at an Asian restaurant. The owner was a bit confused when I asked if he had any vegan options, but once he understood what I meant he told me there were three different things I could choose from. I went for the Buddhist fasting meal to which I added a ton of sambal oelek not thinking about whether or not this would be vegan. Research for this post has shown that it might not be which is really disappointing because in Asian restaurants I depend on sambal oelek. I really need that spiciness, but from now on I might have to ask for them to bring me chili peppers as a substitute. Luckily, there are vegan versions available for home.
My mother had also made a super delicious vegan coconut cake with a coconut spread to add on top. It was her first ever vegan cake and so good that I will have to make it myself soon. She actually gave me some of the coconut paste to take home, but airport security was not cool with that, unfortunately. I don’t even want to know how much food is wasted every day at airports because security throws it out.
In the evening, as we took a walk through our neighborhood we stumbled upon a place called “Most Wanted Burger” - with a name like that it obviously caught my boyfriend’s attention. We were asked if we wanted a table for two, and my boyfriend said that I was vegan to let the guy know that only one person would actually be eating, but the guy replied that they had a vegan burger as well – as if it was the most normal thing in the world! This is what happens when more people are vegan: You walk into a random eatery, and they have vegan options.
In fact, Most Wanted Burger has two vegetarian burgers and the vegan pulled jackfruit burger which I had. I have to say that for me it was too sweet (probably the sauce they used), but if you like you don't mind that you should try it out. It was also the first time I tried jackfruit, but I can’t really comment on it much, as I think the sauce may have been a bit overpowering. (Unless, of course, that’s the taste of jackfruit, and it’s simply not for me.) The staff were very friendly, and the atmosphere was very relaxed.
Osterstraße 31. Open Friday to Wednesday 12pm to 10pm, Thursday 2pm to 10pm. https://www.facebook.com/pg/MostWantedBurgerHH
On Tuesday, we started going to some of the places I had found on the HappyCow app. The first stop was called HappenPappen which had reopened in a new location on that specific day. First of all, I loved the sign outside against racism, sexism, homophobia, and fascism. Those who are a bit more active in the vegan community know that there is a big problem in the activist movement with people who put animal rights issues above everything else completely forgetting about human rights issues. (Check out my post on intersectionality and the privilege of white vegan men, for my thoughts on that.)
I also love that from what I saw while we were there and from their facebook pictures, the owner and the entire staff appear to be female. (While women are often used in vegan advertising, they’re often underrepresented in vegan businesses.) HappenPappen has a weekly changing menu, and I went for the vegan quiche and garden salad while my boyfriend had the sweet potato and savoy cabbage curry with brown rice. What can I say? My quiche was absolutely amazing, I have no words for it. It was by far one of the best vegan meals I’ve ever had. How do I know that? Because after one month my taste buds still remember the flavors of chickpea and different vegetables. (Remember, it’s Ramadan as I’m writing this, so cruel!)
By all means, you must come here and check it out. The only reason we didn’t go back a second time was that there were so many other places to try, but next time I’m in Hamburg I definitely need to go back.
Feldstraße 36. Open Monday to Friday 12pm to 10pm, Saturday 10am to 10pm, Sunday 10am to 5pm. http://happenpappen.de/
In the evening, we went to another fully vegan place called Froindlichst. The atmosphere was really cozy, which was needed with the weather being typical for Hamburg - rainy and cold. I had the new Amsterdam pizza with broccoli, smoked tofu, hollandaise sauce, and cherry tomatoes, and my boyfriend went for one of their burgers with a lentil patty and aioli as one of the sauces.
The food was really tasty, and I loved that while it was simple (pizza and burger) they made an effort to add something special like the vegan hollandaise and vegan aioli. Both dishes were very filling so that we could, unfortunately, not try any of the desserts.
As we left, we saw that they also had several flavors of ice cream, but even if we had not been really stuffed already, it was too cold for us what with being used to the Greek weather.
Barmbeker Straße 169. Open Monday to Saturday 12pm to 10pm, Sunday 10am to 10pm. http://www.froindlichst.com/
The next day we met with a friend for lunch who works close to a place called Nasch in the up and coming Gängeviertel. This is actually a very old neighborhood that has been rediscovered by artists and activists, and with the Schanze area having been completely gentrified, the Gängeviertel appears to be the new center of the alternative scene in Hamburg. However, as it is surrounded by many companies in a business area, we also saw some men in suits having their lunch here. In fact, this place is so popular that, unfortunately for us, by the time we ordered, the daily dish was already gone. Nonetheless, we managed to have some really tasty food. I went for the vegan börek and a salad, my boyfriend ordered a quiche with a salad, and my friend had a large mixed salad. Again, the atmosphere was really cozy and relaxed, and the fact that it was really packed made our lunch even more interesting as my Pakistani friend and us ended up having a chat with a Sikh guy sitting at the next table.
The food was excellent and very filling. While it was not simply a veganized version of a traditional börek, it was really delicious.
Caffamacherreihe 49. Open Tuesday to Friday 9:30am to 6pm, Saturday 11am to 6pm, Sunday 12pm to 6pm. https://www.facebook.com/pg/cafenasch
Later in the afternoon, my boyfriend and I went to Café Koppel a cafe located in an artists’ center. I had a soy hot chocolate and since there was no vegan cake while we were there the waitress offered to make me a fruit salad instead which was probably for the better anyways what with all the great food I had been having up until then.
Koppel 66. Open Monday to Sunday 10am to 11pm. http://cafekoppel.de/
In the evening, we finally had to do what I had been waiting for forever – it was time for a vegan döner! Schanzendöner, right across from the metro stop Sternschanze, offers a vegan döner, but I thought why have one when I can have two? I was afraid that it might be too small, but actually, one would have totally been enough. It was so great to have a good döner after so many years (not that I’m usually a fan, but distance makes the heart grow fonder). I had it with the vegan cacık and the hot sauce. It was so good that I actually sent my boyfriend to get another one the next evening – and then got another one, but a dürüm this time, the night before we left. If you’re vegan and you miss having döner you definitely must have this. There’s not much vegan junk food that can compare to this deliciousness. As there are no seats, the best thing is to simply take it home, or, if the weather permits, you can sit outside to devour your scrumptious döner.
Schanzenstraße 99. Open Monday to Friday 10am to 2am, Saturday and Sunday 10am to 6am.
The next morning, I wanted to go to one of my old favorites, Mamalicious. I had gone there regularly when I was still living in Hamburg (I still remember it from its first location in St. Pauli, called “Don’t Tell Mama.”) Since leaving Hamburg, I sporadically checked their Facebook page, and was shocked to see a lot of bad reviews, so I was a bit afraid of what we might encounter. I had spoken with a friend who assured me that all was still well, but I was unsure anyway. Turns out there was absolutely no need for that. I had the vegan pancakes with Canadian maple syrup, and wow, were they good. In Europe, it’s very difficult to get North American style pancakes, but since the owner of Mamalicious is actually Canadian, she really makes sure these get done right. Having lived in Canada myself, I obviously drowned my pancakes in maple syrup not knowing when I would next have the chance. I so wish there was a place like that here in Athens.
Max-Brauer-Allee 277. Open Monday and Tuesday 9am to 6pm, Wednesday to Friday 9am to 7pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am to 7pm. https://www.facebook.com/supermamalicious/
Later, we met with a friend who took us to a Turkish/Kurdish place called Bona’me. There are several locations in Germany, and they follow the same concept as Vapiano where you receive a chip card upon entering which keeps track of your orders from different kitchens and you pay once you leave the restaurant. After placing an order, you receive a disk which will blink and vibrate to signal that you can pick up your food. Personally, I’m not a fan of this procedure. It’s highly impersonal and not actually more efficient than traditional ordering. People eating together will not necessarily get their food at the same time which defeats the purpose of going out together in the first place.
So much for the concept. The decoration is absolutely lovely. I guess you could call it modern oriental. Food-wise they don’t have a lot of options for vegans, but the ones they have are really good and filling. I knew I wanted to get the kısır salatası but thought that a salad might not be enough so I also ordered a çiftlik saç and got some bread with that as well. When I got the kısır, I immediately realized I had ordered too much. The salad was so huge that it was definitely filling enough for me (and, by now, you may have realized that I eat a lot!). Of course, I still finished everything, but if you come here to eat don’t feel the need to order different courses. Both meals were really good, but the kısır, in particular, was excellent and something I’ve been missing from my life for far too long now as Athens is not really a hotspot for international cuisine.
Overall, while I'm not particularly into the concept, I would highly recommend checking out bona’me because both the atmosphere and the food are great!
Burchardstraße 17. Open Saturday to Friday 10am to 12am. https://www.bona-me.de/hamburg
The next morning, we went back to Mamalicious for breakfast, and I had the French toast. It was even better than the pancakes, and what made it particularly amazing was the fact that they used cinnamon as well - I absolutely love cinnamon! I could add it to pretty much any sweet dish and would love it. I still drowned the French toast with maple syrup, of course.
In the evening, we went to an Indian vegetarian Ayurvedic restaurant called Gopalam close to the university campus. While all their dishes are vegetarian they will veganize absolutely everything for you if you ask them to. We started off with some pakoras, the obligatory papadam, and a lentil soup. Then I had my first shahi paneer in ages. Shahi paneer had always been my favorite Indian dish when I was still living in Canada. There was one specific restaurant that made the perfect shahi paneer, but ever since leaving Canada, I was unable to find such a good shahi paneer (and, in fact, many restaurants don’t make it at all). Going vegan obviously made the search for the best shahi paneer even worse, as paneer is a cheese. It is very similar in texture to tofu, however, so I don't know why more people don't offer it. I was really happy to finally be able to have a vegan shahi paneer at Gopalam. It was good, but still a long way from what I ate in Montreal.
I have to say that this was one of the least interesting Indian restaurants I've been to. Somehow it lacks in atmosphere, and the presentation of the food was in need of more effort. On top of that, it seemed that some of their meals were frozen. I glanced into the kitchen where I saw the owner cut open some frozen yellow cubes packaged in plastic which could very well have been the lentil soups for the next table.
I can't complain about the taste of the food but wouldn't say this needs to be on your priority list when visiting Hamburg.
Grindelallee 159. Open Monday to Friday 11am to 9:45pm, Saturday and Sunday 12pm to 9:45pm.
The next morning was already the last full day we would spend in Hamburg, and we went for breakfast at a place called Café ZeitRaum where I had the vegan breakfast which consisted of a müesli, toast, and some vegan spreads including jam. It was really good and filling, and I loved that there were so many different flavors. It was a culinary journey from sweet to salty and back to sweet again.
The cafe was very cozy which was needed again as it was raining in Hamburg as per usual.
Müggenkampstraße 45. Open Monday to Friday 9am to 11pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am to 10pm. https://www.facebook.com/Caf%C3%A9-ZeitRaum-155509157817042/
We had our final lunch at one of the two Loving Hut locations in Hamburg. It was my first time at a Loving Hut restaurant which is an international vegan franchise. I had heard a lot about them and have to say that it was a bit of a letdown. I had summer rolls followed by a dish of fried tofu with vegetables and a peanut sauce. While it was tasty and certainly very healthy, the presentation was a bit lackluster, and the flavors were not exactly impressive. I can’t understand the hype at all. I enjoy going out to get things I can’t make myself, but this felt like I could easily make an even better version on my own at home. I wouldn’t check out another Loving Hut location unless I go somewhere with no other vegan options.
Markusstraße 2. Open Monday to Friday 11:30am to 3pm and 5:30pm to 9pm, Saturday 5:30pm to 10pm. https://www.facebook.com/LovingHut.VeganAsiarestaurant.Hamburg/
One thing that I should mention is that I didn’t manage to find a great Franzbrötchen. Franzbrötchen are a typical cinnamon pastry from Northern Germany that you can’t find in other regions of the country. I have always loved them, but, unfortunately, they are not vegan. I thought it would be easy to find some vegan ones, but nothing caught my eye. I got two (one regular, one chocolate) from bakery chain Nur Hier as they were the only ones that advertised vegan Franzbrötchen, but the taste was below average. I was a bit disappointed as I missed these and now couldn’t get anything of the quality I was expecting.
Overall, I’m still overwhelmed by all the vegan choices in Hamburg. There were so many strictly vegan places that we barely tried out anything else. There were also quite a few places that I remembered from living in Hamburg, but we simply didn’t have the time to go to all of them. Next time I’ll be sure to check out more places and different dishes at the ones mentioned here.
Do you have any favorite vegan restaurants? Let me know in the comments below.
Half Bulgarian Turk, half German living life as an expat in Greece.