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  • Happy Veganuary! 10 tips for an animal-free start to the new year


Happy Veganuary! 10 tips for an animal-free start to the new year

Think this January might be time to convert to a cruelty-free, plant-based diet? Check out Berlin's top 10 finest vegan spots.

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 Photo: Tianfuzius

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).

Lucky Leek: Michelin-rated gourmet 

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Fine dining at Lucky Leek, vegan of course. Photo: Sebastian Happe-Hartanto

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, details.

Café Pilz: An Israeli feast

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Israeli cuisine, vegan interpretation at Café Pilz. Photo: Aida Baghernejad

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, details.

Maria: Fast food with a soul

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Meatball sub, cheeseburger and cheese fritters – all homemade and vegan at Maria’s. Photo: Aida Baghernejad

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, details.

AtayaCaffe: West Africa meets Southern Europe 

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A ‘Jollof Bowl’ at Ataya Caffe. Photo: Ataya Caffe

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, details.

Café Nullpunkt: Best buckwheat pancakes and more

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Photo: Cafe Nullpunkt

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.

  • Nullpunkt Friedrichstraße 23B, Kreuzberg, details.

Sotto: Pizza happiness

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Photo: Sotto

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, details.

Brammibal’s: The donuts that ate Berlin

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Photogenic donuts at Brammibal’s Donuts. Photo: Christin Ludwig

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 across Berlin, details.

Vöner & Wagenburger: Kebab delights

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Vegan kebab? Works especially well at Vöner & Wagenburger. Photo: imago/Bernd Friedel

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, details.

Alaska Bar: Vegan Spanish tapas

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Spanish tapas, vegan-style. In January 2021, the famous egg-free tortilla de patatas will be available to take away. Photo: Lena Ganssmann

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, details.

Tianfuzius: Top vegan Chinese cuisine

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Excellent vegan-vegetarian Chinese cuisine. Photo: Tianfuzius

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, details.