The number of people choosing a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle is growing all the time, but in many restaurants, we are disappointed to find that there is only a short and rather uninspired list of dishes for us to choose from. A whole different story unfolds when we enter the paradise that is an all-vegetarian restaurant. Finally, we can choose anything on the menu!
I have been a vegetarian for many years. More specifically, I am a lacto-ovo-vegetarian. That may sound like a medical condition, but of course it’s nothing of the sort! I have simply decided for ethical reasons that I do not want to eat meat and fish. Every so often, I meet someone who seems thrown by the fact that I also exclude fish from my diet, but to me it is the logical thing to do. I don’t see why my attitude towards animals should differ depending on whether they live on land or in the water. Wikipedia offers a lot of information on vegetarianism, including the different types, cultural origins and underlying motivations.
In this article, I want to showcase how varied vegetarian cuisine can be by recommending some restaurants. On the map at the bottom you can see where these restaurants are located.
This blog entry was originally published in April 2014 and was one of the first I wrote. In the meantime, the culinary scene has changed quite a lot, so I have updated the article extensively and have included a particular emphasis on vegan food options.
The opening times of some of the venues can vary significantly. For example, Alma sometimes remains closed when the weather is bad, and the Nora’s Deli stall isn’t always set up on Domshof square. It’s best to check the latest information before you go.
Vegetarian and vegan restaurants
This is a selection of restaurants and snack bars where you can find entirely meat-free fulfilment. All venues mentioned in this section also offer a broad range of vegan choices.
Vengo offers modern vegetable-based cuisine. Based in the Viertel, Bremen’s trendy bohemian quarter (but with a second location in the city centre), it always offers a small selection of soups, main courses and cakes. But the thing that makes this venue special is a glass counter from which customers can pick and mix all sorts of little goodies to eat in or take away. Simply decide whether you want to try three, five or seven different dishes and get started on your very own composition. My favourite spot is the sofa by the entrance, where you can sit largely unnoticed and watch the hustle and bustle in the street.
Peterswerder has long been home to the Vegefarm, which offers experimental cuisine. Neither fish nor fowl, but close enough. How about some vegetarian duck? Or maybe some vegan lamb? These deceptive dishes are served with equally unusual sides such as seaweed. The interior is quite purist in appearance. To me, this place is a great option for more adventurous eaters and those who generally like meat and fish, but have decided not to eat them for medical or ethical reasons.
Alma, a café and restaurant on the banks of the Lesum, is an ideal destination for an outing and a lovely spot for cyclists in need of refreshment. The menu features regional specialities such as kale stew, but also international dishes with an individual twist.
A modern take on Japanese cuisine is offered at ZeN. This restaurant, which is based in the former police station in the city centre, is still on my to-do list. The concept sounds fascinating though, and I will report back as soon as I’ve had the chance to give it a try.
Snack bars and takeaways
In Findorff, the Veganbar is the place to go for amazing burgers (although the pink unicorn burger sadly turned out to be a limited promotional edition), fries, vegan doner kebabs and falafel, as well as cakes for those with a sweet tooth. The ambience is not quite as convincing as the food and not all the options on the menu are necessarily healthy, but the flavours will bowl you over and make it worth every calorie. The Veganbar team usually also runs a stall at the Breminale festival.
Komagene is a fast food restaurant in Gröpelingen that sells a Turkish vegan/vegetarian speciality called ‚chee kofta‘ What could that be? I have yet to find out.
Morning, lunchtime, evening: the best cafés and pubs
These are the hotspots for a nice breakfast, a healthy lunch break, great coffee, or a bite to go with your after-work beer.
Café Marianne is an institution among coffee lovers and has an all-vegan offering. A bit tucked away in Bremen’s Steintor quarter, it mainly specialises in cakes – including some gluten-free bakes – but also serves breakfast. I haven’t tested it yet, so you’ll have to wait for my review.
A place I have been to is the little vegan coffee bar Soul near the crossing of Sielwall and Ostertortseinweg in the Viertel quarter. It offers a small but tasty selection of vegan breakfast bites, light lunches and sweet treats for dessert fans. Everything is fresh and homemade.
Another great little spot in the Viertel is Pressgut. The speciality of this venue are juices. But hungry visitors can also choose from a small menu of vegan soups, sweat treats and snacks. This place is like a shop with a café attached to it.
In the Neustadt quarter, right by the cemetery, Radieschen serves vegetarian or vegan lunches from Wednesday to Sunday. Guests in search of something sweet can choose from a cake counter that always includes some vegan bakes, and the ambience here is wonderful.
The pubs below are all located in the Neustadt quarter. Lots of new pubs, bars and restaurants are opening up in this area, making it a small but vibrant alternative to the Viertel. And to make things even better, vegetarians appear to have the upper hand here.
At the Panama bar, guests are welcomed by fairly loud electronic music – which might be worth pointing out as it is not necessarily what you would expect from a shabby-chic living room pub. In terms of food, vegetarian and vegan pizza and burger variations are served. The menu also features an excellent vegan gyros dish and potentially the best fries in the entire city.
Supplement from 29.09.2018: The Panama has just been closed. An update of the article will follow soon …
The cultural centre Kukoon is open from 2pm and offers a very small selection of vegetarian dishes. There is always a vegan dish on offer as well, and also a vegan cake option. In the evening, the Kukoon turns into a pub and venue for cultural events. There’s also a play area for kids.
The Karton is a little venue on the banks of the Kleine Weser river which offers a similar deal to the Kukoon. It has more or less become a canteen for the staff of the creative start-ups based in the nearby converted schnapps factory. It’s a comfy venue with lots of armchairs.
Eating out with everyone – vegans included
If you are a vegan and you would like to go out for a meal with people who have different food preferences, the following venues will accommodate all your needs. I only included locations that always have at least three vegan main courses on their menu. Soups and salads are additional options, so there should be enough to choose from.
I have not included any Indian restaurants, as most of them offer a good choice of meat-free dishes.
El Mundo is a big, very popular restaurant in the Überseestadt district. Booking a table in advance is definitely advisable. Driven by purely altruistic motives – of course – I ventured there with a dinner companion to sample and photograph some vegan cuisine. The food was absolutely delicious and the portions very generous. There were five vegan main dishes on the menu when we went there, plus further vegetarian options. The picture shows my order, which I enjoyed immensely: a whole braised aubergine in a lightly spicy tomato, garlic and coriander sauce, served with lavash flatbread, basmati rice and a side salad. My plus one feasted on fried polenta on a bed of fresh spinach, semi-dried tomatoes and king oyster mushrooms, served with teriyaki sauce and a side salad. El Mundo is probably the biggest restaurant in town and, in my book, it is excellently managed and offers very swift and friendly service. Given that we went there on a weekday, we resisted the temptation to order cocktails after dinner, but the selection sounded great.
Almost next door, at the other end of the Schuppen Eins complex and right by the classic cars, you will find Al Dar. This is the biggest and probably the most elegant Syrian restaurant in the region. In addition to some starter platters, the menu includes several vegan mains, among them – of course – falafel. However, vegan choices are a bit more limited than at El Mundo.
The Burgerhaus restaurant in the Viertel serves a variety of vegan burgers, nuggets and other creations. Ingredients such as vegan sausages/cheese/mayonnaise are flagged up on the menu, so there is a range of options to play with. The food is very tasty, but the ambience is closer to a simple diner or fast food joint than to a proper restaurant.
Kuss Rosa in the Neustadt quarter just about makes the list. Sometimes there are only two vegan dishes on their daily menu board, but there is also a snack menu to choose from, and about half of all dishes are vegetarian. All ingredients are organic, sustainably produced, seasonal and of regional origin. This is one of my favourite restaurants, not least because it is also a pub, so you can simply sit back and stay a bit longer after dinner.
Here are some further restaurants that I haven’t tested so far:
Nayla, a Syrian restaurant in Findorff, offers a wide range of vegan dishes that are marked with a little camel.
Kamayan in the Hulsberg quarter serves a mix of Nepalese, Philippine and African cuisine. A special feature of this restaurant is that diners eat their meals sitting on the floor, or – more precisely – on sand. This is really great, because it evokes the flair of a Bedouin tent. Another authentic feature is that many dishes are meant to be eaten with your hands. This restaurant always offers three meat dishes and three vegan dishes.
In the pedestrian area of Vegesack in the very north of Bremen, you will find the Esszimmer restaurant. Here, organic and regional produce is the star of the show, and there is always a range of dishes for vegans to choose from.
If you need even more ideas, the following suggestions may be useful.
On the market on Domshof square, Nora’s Deli sells tasty food bowls and desserts. Most of Nora’s food is vegan, and all of it vegetarian, very tasty and very healthy. The ‚Merry Christmas Bowl‘ (not the dish shown in the picture), for example, includes oven-roasted winter vegetables with chestnut and rosemary crumble, millet, lambs lettuce, endive, kale, pumpkin hummus, red onion relish, spiced oranges, cranberries, pomegranate seeds and persimmon fruit stars, caramelised pecan nuts and a honey & balsamic vinegar dressing. If that’s still not enough for you, there are plenty of sweet treats to snack on, for example little ‚energy balls‘ made with dates. Yummy!
Another food truck recommendation are the burgers and kebabs made by Ricarda Vegan. She and her truck can often be found in the Überseestadt district at the Europahafen marina, but they also pop up at many events.
And what about dessert? For vegans, I would recommend the ice cream parlour Eislabor. This little gem always has some great vegan and lactose-free creations to offer.
If you don’t really feel like going out for dinner, you can get vegetarian and vegan food delivered to your door from the Veggie House near the train station. The menu includes pizza and a range of other choices. I haven’t tried this option yet, and passing by, I was only able to spot two seats inside.
Something I’ve surely done more times than I can count is to get a bite to eat from the fast food kiosks that are so common in Bremen. For once, my personal favourite is not a predominantly vegetarian place. The truth is simply that a night out in the Viertel wouldn’t be the same without a veggie hot dog from Bratwurstglöckel Karatschi on the crossing of Sielwall and Ostertortseinweg. Not very healthy, but incredibly tasty and the ultimate comfort food. This shop may be tiny, but don’t be fooled – it is so popular that it doesn’t even bother with a website. It is open almost all hours, even late at night. (Rumour has it that only the content of the veggie hot dog is vegetarian, but not the skin around it. I have decided to ignore this hearsay, which dates from 2015.) A close second in the ranking of my favourite corner takeaways is Tandour, which sells a mean vegetarian (or possibly vegan?) falafel wrap.
There are also a number of markets where you can buy fruit and vegetables, but also flowers and all sorts of bric-a-brac. Sometimes, you will also come across the Bremer Strassencafé, a pop-up café, and other stalls selling delicious food.
The Breminale festival features not only an area dedicated to the BioStadt Bremen initiative for healthy and eco-friendly food, but also a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan food vendors. The Veganbar team usually runs a stall at the festival.
In addition, a vegan summer festival has been held for a few years running, and in 2017, a vegan Christmas market appeared on the scene. Further information on both events can be found on Facebook.
Can you recommend other places that serve meat-free food in and around Bremen?
I do hope that this was not an exhaustive list and that there are still more places for me to discover and test. If you know of any other purely vegetarian or vegan restaurants, snack bars, takeaways or pubs (I hear in London they have vegan pubs!), please leave a comment. I would love to hear about them.