For work reasons I was in Zürich, a city that I really like. It is quite far from where I live, but it is worth the journey.
I had heard from my colleagues that there is a bakery very close to where we would meet that had vegan cakes and quinoa bowls. Last time I was nearby it was unfortunately closed and we got pasta instead (how unfortunate ;)) but today it was open! The bakery is very small, but there are a lot of options. Everything is either vegan or vegetarian.
They offer a warm dish, salads, wraps, soups, chia pudding, birchers, salads, coffee, tea, cakes, smoothies. I tried a dish of the daily menu: älplermagronen with vegan cheese. The älplermagronen is a traditional Swiss dish of potatoes, pasta and apple sauce with cheese and butter. Other dishes on the daily menu were a quinoa bowl with cashew cream and spinach soup.
I also got a sweet potato brownie and a piece of chocolate cake for research. I liked that these were not overtly sweet.
The Burrito Brothers is a Swiss chain founded by Mexican-born and California-raised brothers. The dishes on offer reflect this heritage; a mix of Mexican recipes mixed with Californian street food style. Most of their dishes are meat-based but there are several vegetarian options which can be easily be prepared fully vegan. They do take–out as well.
In general, the Mexican cuisine is said to be easily ‘veganisable’. I haven’t eaten a lot of proper Mexican food, so I cannot really vouch for that, but that is something to keep in mind !
Hot sauces at Burrito Brothers, Geneva
I have visited the Geneva and EPFL campus locations. The Burrito Brothers at the EPFL campus is in a food-court type space, so the sitting area is shared with several other restaurants. The Geneva location offers a more relaxed eating experience. You order downstairs, where the food is prepared, and there is a small area upstairs with tables. The food is then brought up to your table. The idea of the Burrito Brothers is very much street-style, so the food comes wrapped, in small baskets and you have to get your own utensils. The preparation is also very fast, in line with that philosophy.
The staff at the Geneva location were very pleasant and accommodating both times I visited. They are also quite knowledgeable; when I asked for the vegetarian burrito without sour cream and cheese they correctly deduced I was vegan 🙂 I have tried both vegetarian burritos (the Berkeley and the Presidio) in a vegan version (sour cream & cheese replaced by guacamole) and the nachos with guacamole.
The first time I visited I believe I didn’t have to pay extra for subbing sour cream/cheese for guacamole, but the few times I visited after I had to pay 2.50Chf for the “added” guacamole, which is a bit unfortunate.
Both the Presidio and the Berkeley have a base filling of rice, black beans, corn and pico de gallo. The Presidio has mushrooms in epazote (a type of Mexican herb) and the Berkeley has peppers and onions in addition to the base. While only the Berkeley is mentioned on the menu in the small “baby burrito” version, the staff were fine with making the Presidio as a small version too. The first time we went I was very hungry, but having half the nachos+guacamole plate and a normal-sized burrito was quite a lot of food! The next time we opted for the nachos+guac with two baby burritos (for two people) instead. So just a heads-up, you won’t leave this place hungry.
I have not yet tried the soft taco plate or the salad, which might be made vegan. The quasadillas are always made with cheese, which is not so surprising:)
In addition they also offer some interesting drinks from the German soft-drink brand Fritz Kola with e.g. sparkly melon flavour. They also offer their burrito in bowl-form, so without the wrap, as a gluten-free option.
Another day in Venice, another gelato ! Gelato Fantasy was quite busy when we visited and I can see why. They have a lot of interesting flavours like peanut butter and cheese cake, but most are unfortunately not vegan. They do have several vegan options, like raspberry, lemon and dark chocolate. (There’s also crêpes available but I didn’t inquire about those)
I asked about whether the cones were vegan and was informed the standard cones are not, however they do have vegan cones. I really like cones so I am always happy when vegan cones are available!
The staff knows about veganism (nice, saves time explaining) and they are also knowledgeable about allergies; I was asked if I was vegan or allergic, and was explained that in the latter case they’d explain potential cross-contamination.
Sometimes you just want pizza. Or at least I do. I can’t speak for everyone! My dad makes great pizza, a large square one with a thick crust. He excels in interesting combinations, like tofu and rice (on the pizza yes, don’t knock it till you tried it!)
Due to a lack of nearby dads we ventured out to Pizza Leggera, a restaurant which is known to have vegan pizzas and pastas. They also have gluten-free options. Pizza Leggera is an international chain, with restaurants in Italy, Mexico and Switzerland.
There’s no menu on their web site. I expected they’d offer some traditional Italian pizzas, sans cheese, but I was curious if they’d use “fake cheese” as I had heard some places do. When we arrived we found that the restaurants seems to be a pretty traditional, so no “fake cheese”. They do however have some interesting and non-traditional toppings, such as tofu.
To be very honest, I think most pizza places will be able to provide a vegan pizza, since pizza dough is traditionally vegan (might not be true for “fast-food” pizza places like Domino’s by the way) and tomato sauce too. Then just add veggies or mushrooms and leave out the cheese.
Pizza Leggera has large stickers on the windows noting “Gluten-free” and “Vegan” options. Nice! There is a terrace with roofing outside and a large seating area inside. We were pretty early, so service was quick. There were several dishes on the menu specifically marked as vegan. We had a pizza funghi and a pizza with grilled veggies and tofu. The pizza was surprisingly light, with a thin crust. I would recommend to try it, not just for the vegan pizza (I am sure the topping of the funghi pizza can be made similarly at other pizzarias) but for the special crust.
The big downside of this place? No vegan desserts 😦 And with the pizza being so much lighter than at most places, we definitively had some room for them!
There is of course tea and coffee available, but unfortunately no soy creamers.
We found this tiny bakery when walking around the maze that is Venice looking for some focaccias. A shop window promoted vegan pastries, but it was a bit unclear where the bakery itself was! The entrance was in fact in a different street, but it was easily findable from the other direction. While the advertisement mentioned both sweet and salty pastries (in both vegan and non-vegan variety) it was mostly sweets in the shop. Well, the focaccia would have to wait !
The actual vegan offering was limited: some cookies and packaged muffins. But the cookies looked very good, and I am all for supporting businesses that offer vegan foods. The bakery has a small seating area and also offers coffee. Soy milk is available. (Later I found that this place is mentioned on HappyCow and that they also have other milk alternatives as well)
The cookies were very tasty, they had some kind of jam inside. The coffee was not stellar. That might also be due to my standards shifting after drinking many great Italian coffees the last few days 🙂
Type of place: bakery
Completely vegan: no
In October the temperatures in Venice were still nice enough to enjoy a gelato. Fortunately there is no lack of gelato counters.
In general the fruity, sorbet-style ice cream has a higher possibility of being vegan, since it is water-based, whereas the creamy flavours tend to be milk-based. In general the cones are not vegan. But it never hurts to ask to be sure; I found that occasionally the fruity flavours still contained milk.
Gelato Di Natura actually mentions on their shop window that they have vegan options. So I had to pop in to verify, of course 🙂 There are several vegan flavours available and their cones were vegan! What was specifically nice was that there was also a creamy flavour (cherry) which was vegan. It was made with either rice or soy milk.
As an aside, I was a bit surprised that when I asked if the cones were vegan, I got informed it was but that it was not gluten-free. For me veganism and gluten-free eating are completely separate things. Gluten-free is for people with allergies, whereas people that eat vegan do not necessarily have allergies but rather choose to eat animal-free. Anyway, I do not know enough about gluten to know if it naturally appears in ice cream, but if it is something you want to avoid ask the staff about the gluten-free options available.
I understand from their website Gelato di Natura also has counters in Palma de Mallorca (Spain) and Dublin (Ireland), and soon in Denmark!
After hearing many good stories I finally made the pilgrimage to the Vegan JunkFood Bar (VJFB). There are people that are vegan for health reasons, so this might not be for them. Though, I’d still wager this vegan junkfood might be more healthy than standard junk food. I’ll admit I am biased though!
So in the Netherlands there is this concept of the snackbar or cafetaria. This is a food counter where you can buy fries, ice cream and a variety of (mostly meat-based) snacks. The most interesting thing is that almost all snackbars have a very similar decor and setup, even among different franchises. Note that these cafetarias are very different from chains like KFC and McDonalds in the visitors, people working there and the food on offer. Anyway, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for vegans, but from a cultural anthropological view point I’d say visit one. Btw, the oil used is almost always plant-based, so if the fries and meat are not from the same fryer, try some raspatat. It’s good stuff. (I believe these types of snackbars are a specific Dutch thing, feel free to correct me if I am wrong!)
Now to say that the VJFB is “just” a vegan snackbar won’t do justice to the concept. I mean, sure they have typical snack bar foods like the “kapsalon” and “bitterballen”. And they have the typical plastic boxes in which those foods are served in standard snackbars. But the food is, apart from being completely vegan, fancier than what you would expect in a snackbar. Like a sprinkling of sesame seeds over the fries. The burgers are not plasticy but huge and fully loaded with goodness.
We had: the original VJFB burger, the Sumo burger, sweet potato fries, Pakistani bitterballen and fried onion rings. And yes, we ate that all, it was a lot of food, and all very delicious. Don’t come here with a small appetite!
Pakistani bitterballen and sauce in typical plastic box, sweet potato fries and burger in the background.
The burgers are loaded and took some dexterity to eat properly.. no sad patty on a flat bun here! I also really enjoyed their take on bitterballen. I have no memory of eating “actual” bitterballen, but I doubt they are as good as these. In the end I’d say all the dishes, while “junky” are not a substitute but rather an improvement of their original versions.
There is also vegan ice cream for dessert, several different flavours.
There are now two VJFB locations, fortunately, because the first one was getting so popular it was almost impossible to find a seat!