By now, ‘vegan January’ – or ‘Veganuary’ if you’re into clunky portmanteaus – is a solid fixture in the Berlin gastro calendar. If we’re honest, it feels pretty good to forgo meat and animal products for a while after the greasy excess of Christmas.
Berlin makes it so darn easy. The selection of vegan restaurants, cafés and shops offering plant-based treats make it less of a sacrifice and more of a month-long culinary adventure. And who knows, you might even… stick to it?
From fast food to fine dining, Spain to China, here are some of our favourites (including takeaway and delivery info, if eating indoors isn’t your thing right now).
Lucky Leek: Michelin-rated gourmet
Before there was Oukan and its flashy vegan fine dining menu, there was this Bib Gourmand-winning pioneer in Prenzlauer Berg. Instead of merely imitating meat products, chef Josita Hartano chose to invent her own cuisine – think red cabbage risotto, celery sashimi and chickpea wontons. These dishes and more are served in a three- to five-course set menu (€39-63), optionally paired with wine. The restaurant’s lockdown delivery special is no longer available, but its website reassures us it’s installed a state-of-the-art air filter.
Lucky Leek Kollwitzstraße 54, Prenzlauer Berg, Wed-Sun 18-22
Café Pilz: An Israeli feast
In summer 2020, Café Pilz took over the premises of former brunch temple No. 58 Speiserei. Named after a historic café in Tel Aviv, the charmingly small space presents Israeli-rooted cuisine in miniature. What does that mean? Small plates for a reasonable €3 to €4 each, suitable for sharing but also very tasty on their own, served with house-baked pita bread. Of course there’s great silky hummus, a point of honour, but also roasted aubergine, the most amazing jacket potatoes in town, and much more.
You don’t even notice that all the dishes are vegan unless someone points it out. There’s no delivery and takeaway customers won’t get the full experience, so the corona-squeamish should bookmark this one for spring.
Café Pilz Weinstraße 58, Neukölln, Thu-Sun 12-22
Maria: Fast food with a soul
The conversion of this New Age-y yoga café into an Italian American diner some years ago mirrors the overall trend in the Berlin vegan scene: less juice and salad, more carby, cheesy gluttony. “I want to make classic Italian-American comfort food, like in a New York deli,” says Maria’s eponymous owner. Just without animal products. And homemade – right down to the cheese substitute and the burger patty. It’s that extra effort that makes Maria’s cheeseburger, topped with a crunchy fried onion ring, one of the most satisfying vegan fast food items in town. Eat it on-site or get it delivered via the courier collective Khora.
Maria Vegan Comfort Food Falckensteinstraße 37, Kreuzberg, Mon-Wed 12-16, Thu+Fri 12-16, 18-23, Sat 18-23
AtayaCaffe: West Africa meets Southern Europe
The vegan restaurant is a joint venture in which Italian and Senegalese cooking traditions meet. The result? A hella colourful spread! Whether you get the gnocchi, the mafé or the always-in-demand Sunday brunch spread, a meal here turns Veganuary in grey, grey Berlin into a kaleidoscopic escape. There’s no delivery, but you can order dishes for takeaway.
Ataya Caffe Zelter Straße 6, Prenzlauer Berg, Tue-Thu 12-16, Fri+Sat 12-16 & 18-22, Sun 11-16
Café Nullpunkt: Best buckwheat pancakes and more
Across from the Jewish Museum in the newish Frizz23 project, this stylish café isn’t just vegan, but gluten-free and organic as well. Layered with pear compote and maple syrup, their buckwheat pancakes (€11.50) arrive in a massive stack tall enough to share with a friend or, considering their skilful presentation, any nearby curator. The savoury pancakes are also a treat, a Korean special with kimchi (€9). Lunch offers change weekly, ranging from miso soup to tofu dishes to more buckwheat – in the form of soba noodles. No delivery, but you can order online for pickup.
Nullpunkt Friedrichstraße 23B, Kreuzberg, Wed 12-14, Thu-Sat 12-22, Sun 10-16
Sotto: Pizza happiness
Italy meets Finland and opens a pizzeria in Berlin – that’s pretty much the story behind the half-vegetarian, half-vegan Sotto, a Wedding institution since the moment it opened three years ago. The crust, cold-fermented and crispier than the Neapolitan norm, is delicious even before adding toppings like smoked carrots, kale and potatoes, or pumpkin and almond cream. There’s no delivery, but you can pick up pizza to go and good Italian wine by the bottle.
Sotto Neue Hochstr. 25, Wedding, Tue-Sun 16-22
Brammibal’s: The donuts that ate Berlin
Donuts being vegan is almost unthinkable… or at least, it was before a certain millennial-pink franchise came along. Now vegans and omnivores alike queue up at Brammibals’ multiple locations to pick up a box of its creative and highly Instagrammable dough rings, made without eggs or butter and topped with everything from fruit to cookie dough to coconut “bacon”. Look out for the Monday cinnamon rolls and the monthly charity specials, €1 from the sales of which go towards Berlin’s animal rescue organisation.
Brammibal’s Donuts several branches, including Alte Potsdamer Str. 7, Mitte
Vöner & Wagenburger: Kebab delights
The owner’s place of residence, a former punky trailer park at Rummelsburger Bucht, gave this Friedrichshain burger shop its name. Originally, the burgers were sold directly from an old circus wagon at festivals. Now, the shop’s Vöner Kebab is even more popular. A Vöner plate with homemade fries, cheese substitute and fried onions is a particularly dirty treat. Veganuary in Berlin would be unthinkable without kebabs, after all. Bonus tip: Pi-Love in Neukölln also does a really decent vegan döner.
Vöner & Wagenburger Boxhagener Straße 56, Friedrichshain, Sun-Thu 12-18, Fri, Sat 12-20
Alaska Bar: Vegan Spanish tapas
Delicious after-work tapas and drinks, with nary a slice of ham or a hint of egg to be found. There is, however, lots of cheese – made with cashew, spread on sourdough toast with smoked carrot “salmon” or served with marinated aubergine, olives and crispy breadsticks. Classic Spanish bites like croquetas or patatas bravas with vegan mayo and Sichuan chilli oil are stellar as well.
They offer takeaway, but the food’s best enjoyed on-site, as part of a long, leisurely evening in which drinks turn into dinner and back again.
Alaska Bar Reuterstraße 85, Neukölln, Tue-Thu 17-24, Fri 17-2, Sat 12-2, Sun 12-24
Tianfuzius: Top vegan Chinese cuisine
Berlin’s first vegetarian Chinese restaurant offers a culinary range that stands out from the city’s standard Chinese fare. Think hot and sour soup with water chestnuts, a clear winter melon soup, or warm, spicy noodle salad with pickled vegetables to start, followed by potato and cauliflower hotpot or smoked tofu with celery. You can eat in, pre-order food for takeaway, or order delivery via Wolt or Lieferando. And of course, the city’s vegan Asian options don’t end there – check out this list for a full rundown.
Tianfuzius Regensburger Straße 1, Wilmersdorf, Mon-Fri 12-15.30 & 17.30-23, Sat+Sun 12-23