Veganaki (Athens, Greece)

Bar at Veganaki

During my holidays in Athens we were staying conveniently close to an all-vegan place! I swear I didn’t plan it, but nevertheless it was a nice coincidence. Might as well use the opportunity to check it out, right?

Veganaki serves classic Greek street food – in vegan form. They are open the whole day, so you can pop in for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and in between. Veganaki serves coffee, tea, juices, beer and wine, pita wraps, sandwiches, salads, traditional savoury pies in several flavours and sweets. There are several gluten-free options available as well.

Freddo cappuccino at Veganaki
Freddo cappuccino

The café itself is quite small, there are some spaces inside and a nice terrace. However, the terrace is close to a busy street, so for seasoned big-city dwellers, or in the early morning when there’s less traffic. Inside the atmosphere is calm and cosy. The menu is available both in Greek and in English. They use fair trade coffee, and disposable and biodegradable packaging.

Cake at Veganaki
Cake with raisins!

I visited Veganaki twice, first to just check out the place and get some coffee and a piece of cake.  We tried a “freddo cappuccino”, a variation of Greek cold coffee. Freddo cappuccino is cold, foamed (plant) milk over espresso and ice. The freddo espresso is just the espresso over ice. Both of these are different from frappé, which is normally made of instant coffee. With the coffee we had a piece of home made cake with raisins. I really enjoyed the cake, the texture was very nice and fluffy.

Breakfast at Veganaki
The full breakfast table!

We returned another day to Veganaki to try the breakfast options. We had a toast with vegan cheese and tomato, a piece of courgette pie and a “lachanoulis” pita. The pita wraps and traditional pies can also be served as plates, including additional salad for a small surcharge. For drinks we had an orange juice and a mixed fruit juice, gottta work on those vitamins after all 🙂

The toast was basic and a bit dry, but that is also just the nature of toast.  The other toasts available are more common in vegan cafes; with hummus or avocado. I wanted to try the tomato-cheez version, since I used to eat those myself quite often, and they are a bit more special. I mean, vegan sandwich without hummus are pretty rare! (No hate for hummus, I love that stuff! But it is a bit of a vegan default option)

Savoury courgette pie and toasty at Veganaki
Tomato-cheez toast and a piece of courgette savoury pie

The courgette traditional pie was very nice, it was not too dry and not too soggy, good consistency. The lachanoulis pita; a pita wrap with home-made vegetable burgers, tomato, lettuce, mustard and home made vegan tzatziki, was good too. The sauce inside was just slightly spicy, which went well with the vegetable filling.

Pita wrap at Veganaki
Pita wrap! Filled with home made vegetable fritters, veggies and sauces

I really liked Veganaki, the atmosphere is nice, the food is good and very reasonably priced (especially for people travelling from Switzerland :D) and the staff is very friendly!

Toasty at Veganaki
Sunny breakfast in Athens ❤
Type of place: Greek vegan street food
Completely vegan: yes
Vegan desserts: yes!

Website  : https://www.facebook.com/VeganakiGR/

 

Takinoa (Nyon, Switzerland)

takinoa_entrance

Takinoa is a Swiss chain of restaurants, founded in 2013.  They are located in the cantons of Geneva and Vaud.  The name ‘Takinoa’ is a combination of the Greek “taki”, meaning speed, combined with ‘no’, so ‘no speed’ or slow. It is also a play on the pronunciation of the word ‘quinoa’, a famed super food. Additionally, their slogan is “food for joy”. Takinoa focuses of food which is good for the consumer, but also the environment. They use local, preferably organic, seasonal and biological products. But they also limit the amount of sugar and salt added to the food. More than half of the dishes they serve are gluten-free, lactose-free and vegetarian. There is also some choice in vegan dishes.

Refrigerator at Takinoa
Available food in the fridge; vegan, vegetarian, lactose- and gluten-free labelled

There is a changing menu, with juices, smoothies, salads, wrap, desserts, and (hot) bowls. The food itself is pre-made, packaged and refrigerated. For each item it is clearly listed if it is vegan, vegetarian, gluten-or lactose-free. They do use recycled plastic, but still it seems a bit wasteful, especially with the environmental message. The food that gets reheated is packaged in glass.

Cookies at Takinoa
Vegan cookies and energy balls at the bar

So you pick the food from the refrigerator, then you pay at the counter. You can also order the daily soup and drinks there. On the counter is also an assortment of cookies and cakes. There were even a few vegan cookies! When applicable the food is heated by the staff, and brought to you together with any drinks you ordered. After eating, you put your tray and the boxes, cutlery and bowls in the correct place. The procedure, and even the bowls reminded me of N & Co by Quinte & Sens. Service was less traumatic here fortunately.

Interior at Takinoa
Water is available for free

That is how it works, now what did we eat! I planned to visit Takinoa for a while, since I had the idea there was a lot of vegan stuff since I had been told it was all vegetarian. When I arrived, I found out that was not really the case. Takinoa mentions on their site that 70% of their food is vegetarian and 20% vegan, and that seemed about right with what I saw. I was happy to see that there were some vegan desserts, and the vegan dishes available were not only salads 🙂

Food at Takinoa
Pumpkin soup with bread, mango lassi, quinoa bowl and soba noodle salad

 

We tried the pumpkin soup, a quinoa bowl, a soba noodle salad and two desserts. I also had a small mango lassi (vegan, made with almond milk and curcuma) but I have to report it was not that great, it didn’t really have the mango taste I expected. The pumpkin soup was nice and thick, served with a generous piece of rustic bread. I do think the soup needed some more seasoning, but I guess this falls in line with the idea of Takinoa using less salt.

Noodle salad at Takinoa
Soba noodle salad with prunes, veggies and nuts. To the left the dressing we picked with it

The quinoa bowl was served warm, or rather flaming hot. Eat carefully! The bowl contained, apart from the quinoa, apple, carrot, some other seasonal vegetables, and balsamic vinegar. It was nice, the apple gave a natural sweetness to the dish. The soba noodle salad was very tasty, it had edamame beans, prunes, broccoli, a few sweet potato pieces, some mushrooms, salad and several types of seeds. We could choose our own dressing for the salad, but there was already some in the dish itself.

Apple crumble at Takinoa
Apple crumble dessert!

We tried two desserts;  an apple crumble with cinnamon and pistachio and a pudding-y dessert with Matcha tea and steamed pear. The apple crumble was just apple sauce with some crumble on top…a bit disappointing. The pudding was nicer, it was topped with goji berries, and had a very interesting texture.

Pudding dessert at Takinoa
Matcha pudding with steamed pear and goji berries

Afterwards, I had a coffee with a vegan cookie. The cookie was a bit salty, it went quite well with coffee. They also have vegan ‘energy balls’.

Coffee at Takinoa
Coffee with plant-milk and a cookie

Overall the food was okay, but a bit on the expensive side. If you take-out, the food it is a bit cheaper.

Type of place: health food
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: yes!

Website (French): http://takinoa.com/

Athens – Miscellaneous

A slightly different format today! Normally I write about a single place but today we’ll do a round-up with short reviews!  I was in Athens a few weeks ago, and I visited a bunch of  different food places. I didn’t get enough material to create a full post for all of them. Still, I want to give a shout-out to all the good food I had!

Greece is not really a place that is known to be very vegan-friendly, since the food is heavy on the meat and feta, but Athens is great for vegans! There’s a bunch of really good vegetarian/vegan-only places. I wrote about a few (Cookoomela Grill ,Avocado) and there are some more posts in my draft folder waiting to be uploaded! But also at the street food places, like Kumpirista, and more ‘traditional’ eateries, like Tivoli, you can get some good vegan food. There are some traditional Greek vegan dishes, for example, dolmades (rice-stuffed vine-leaves) and spanakorizo (spinach with rice), which are often vegan.

Graffiti in Athens

Street food

 

Oven Sesame:

Oven Sesame is a street food place found in two locations in Athens. The location I visited had no space to sit inside, but a small terrace in front. They serve stuffed sesame pita, salads, sides, sweets, breakfast and juices. The vegan options are clearly marked on the menu. I tried the vegan pita, which is stuffed with grilled vegetables and pink tahini sauce, with a side of potato wedges and a lemonade. Very good!

Vegan food at Oven Sesame
Fruit smoothie, vegan sesame pita, potato wedges and pink tahini dip

Website: http://oven-sesame.com/

Kumpirista:

Home of the kumpir (baked potato )!  I spotted this place because it was next to Cookoomela Grill! Kumpir are a popular type of fast-food in Turkey (Greece and Turkey influenced each other greatly).  The (huge) potatoes are baked in an oven, cut open, partially mashed and filled with all types of toppings such as herbs, sauces and vegetables. Generally the base recipe contains butter but this is subbed for olive oil in the vegan version. The vegan kumpir on the menu is served with couscous, black beans, olives, carrots, salad, aubergine and ketchup. But you can also create your own version with the available toppings.

Kumpir at Kumpirista
Vegan baked potato with allll the toppings!

Website: https://www.facebook.com/Kumpirista-874884449329618/

 

Lukumades

Lukumades are traditional Greek sweets. Also called ‘Greek doughnuts’,  lukumades are deep-fried dough balls served in sauce. Vegan options are not marked on the menu, but ask and the staff will tell you. When I visited there were several options, like powdered sugar, dark chocolate and peanut butter sauce. I tried the peanut butter and powdered sugar version…it is so good! The place itself is pretty popular, they also serve ice cream and milkshakes, but I don’t think those are vegan.

Lukumades
Lukumades in peanut butter sauce and with powder sugar

Website (Greek, English): http://lukumades.com/

Acropolis in Athens

Restaurants/Bars

 

Tivoli

A restaurant/bar with live music, which has been around since 1974. We arrived quite early (for Greek standards) so the place was quite empty still, but it seems to be quite popular usually. We actually ended up there by accident when looking for the vegetarian restaurant called Trivoli…it was a happy accident though because those dolmades were indeed *chefs kiss* They were served warm, which was interesting since dolmades are usually served cold. They were made according to an authentic Greek recipe passed down generations. Also serves a great eggplant dip!

Starters at Tivoli
Dolmades, eggplant dip and tasty bread

Website (Greek): http://tivoli-live.gr/

 

Yiasemi

Plaka is a pedestrian area, with a lot of stairs, and a lot of bars and restaurants. It is very cute and not just for tourists. In fact, this tearoom/restaurant was recommended to me by a Greek colleague! Yiasemi is a super cute café, with a terrace and an inside sitting area. They serve drinks, snacks, food and desserts. There were several vegan snacks and some possibly vegan foods, but unfortunately when we visited they were out of a lot of stuff, like the dolmades. We tried some roasted bread with olives and grilled vegetables, which was good. The atmosphere of the place is great! Perfect to unwind after a long day of touristing about in Athens.

Snacks and drinks at Yiasemi
Seasonal fruit lemonade, coffee, snacks and a cute & cosy atmosphere

Website (English) : https://www.yiasemi.gr/

Nefis (Geneva, Switzerland)

Interior at Nefis
I guess the colourful cows and milk cans are for the frozen yoghurt part of the shop…the display shows the packaged Turkish foods

A few weeks ago I passed a small café that sold both frozen yoghurt and authentic Turkish food. I was immediately intrigued because I like to try authentic food from different regions (as long as it is vegan of course!) and it is difficult to find authentic Middle-Eastern food here. (Also frozen yoghurt and authentic Turkish food seemed like a strange combination to me, if I am missing something please let me know!)

Drinks at Nefis
Interesting sour cherry drink

Nefis is very small, I think they do mostly catering and take-out. There is some space to sit inside, and there is a terrace as well. When we visited there were several vegan dishes available to choose from: lentils, hummus, dolmas (rice-stuffed vine leaves), a carrot dish and tabbouleh. The food is pre-made and packaged. They also sell some interesting drinks.

nefis_interior

We tried the carrot dish and some dolma. The carrot dish has garlic and it has an almost sweet flavour. The dolma are very delicately spiced- a dash of cinnamon gave a very interesting taste. The food was served with Turkish bread – not the standard flat bread but similar.

Food at Nefis
Dolma and carrot-garlic dish

We finished with coffee, unfortunately we didn’t get the Turkish coffee! I think they do serve it but you have to explicitly ask for it. However, the coffee is served with a Lotus Biscoff cookie…which is vegan 😉

Bread at Nefis
Turkish bread

I really liked the food at Nefis, but still the concept of both the frozen yoghurt and the Turkish authentic food is a bit strange. Additionally, there is very little information about them or their menu online. The staff was very nice, and the overall experience was pleasant.

Interior at Nefis
Colourful chairs
Type of place: Frozen Yoghurt, Turkish catering/café
Completely vegan: no

Website (French): https://www.facebook.com/pg/nefiscuisine/

 

Dos Caminos (New York, US)

Dos Caminos Interior
Inside Dos Caminos**

Dos Caminos is a chain of Mexican restaurants with several locations in New York. I passed by the Times Square one when I saw a sign with a specific mention of a vegan taco (served with vegan cream!). So I knew I had to check it out!

Dos Caminos is a bar and restaurant. It prides itself on having many different types of tequila, and the food served is Mexican, both street-food style and classic dishes. They also do delivery and take-away.

Dos Caminos interior

Dos Caminos has a brunch, lunch and dinner menu, but I believe the latter two are about the same. The menu is quite extensive, and at first glance not very vegetarian/vegan-friendly: the dinner menu is divided as follows: a guacamole section (several veg*n options), seafood dishes, street-food (several vegetarian options), taco’s (1 vegetarian that can be made vegan), traditional plates (1 vegetarian option), house specialities (no vegetarian options) and sides. There were some salads that seem vegan-isable too. I was happy to spot empanadas too, but unfortunately they cannot be made vegan.

Nachos at Dos Caminos
Nachos with three salsas

I was not surprised by the lack of vegan options, since the Middle-American cuisines tend to be pretty meat heavy and I came for the taco’s anyway 🙂

We started with the nachos with 3 salsas from the guacamole part of the menu. We expected there to be in fact guacamole, but we got indeed nacho chips and 3 salsa’s, but no guac! It seems that the guacamole here just means that it is a starter of some sort. The salsa’s were quite liquid-y and a bit sauce-like rather than chunky. They tasted okay, a bit spicy as expected. The nacho chips were nice, and we actually got a free refill since we were still snacking on them while waiting for our mains. So in true American style we took some home 🙂

Vegan tacos at Dos Caminos
Tacos with vegan cream served on some artsy contraption

The vegan tacos come in a set of 3 and are served on some metal construction, a bit strange, but I guess it is to keep their shape. It was not very easy to eat from though (#wewantplates). The filling consists of mushrooms, guacamole, onions, tomatoes, vegan cotija cheese and vegan cream. The filling is a bit spicy, but definitively not too much. It is also possible to order the tacos as a bowl, but I prefer the original format:)

Sides at Dos Caminos
Papas fritas with mole ketchup and plantains!

For sides we also tried the sweet plantains and ‘papas fritas’ with mole sauce. The plantains are very nice, and the ‘papas fritas’ (which are fries) nicely crisped, but needed some extra salt. This may sound like a weird combination with taco’s but we wanted to test some different things!

Papas Fritas as Dos Caminos

Unfortunately there are no vegan desserts available. Overall Dos Caminos was a nice place to have some taco’s and huge amounts of nachos. I am sure that in New York there are many more places to find good Mexican food though.

Type of place: Mexican restaurant
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: no

Website (English): https://www.doscaminos.com/

** When editing the pictures for this post I noticed a lot were not properly focussed and very dark 😦

Cuppins (Geneva, Switzerland)

Cuppins is a concept shop, first opened in 2011, in Lausanne. A few years later, in 2014, a second location was opened in Geneva. Cuppins consists of a tea room, where coffee (soy milk available) and tea are served, together with all sorts of cupcakes and pastries. Being a concept store, they sell cute items like jewellery and baby accessories. The (cup) cakes can be bought online from their website. Cuppins also create wedding cakes and do cupcake baking workshops.

Cuppins interior
Syrups on the counter

The interior of Cuppins can be described in one word: cute. Many cafés and tea rooms nowadays get into the more ‘rough’ minimalist decoration, no such thing here. There is a lot of pastel items and sweet drawings. For the pastries they often have a vegan cupcake version available, and they do gluten-free options as well.

Interior at Cuppins

We tried the only vegan option of the day which was a chocolate-peanut butter cupcake. The cupcakes come in both small and normal sizes. The normal sized ones are still pretty small. It was tasty, which is of course the most important!

Coffee and cupcake at Cuppins
Soy cappuccino with a vegan chocolate-peanut butter cupcake

This is such a cute place to have a coffee or tea! Though the amount of seats is small, the atmosphere is very relaxed and nice.

Interior at Cuppins
Teapot-shaped lamp!
Type of place: concept store, tea room
Completely vegan:  no
Website (French) : https://www.cuppins.ch/

Cookoomela Grill (Athens, Greece)

We found Cookoomela via Happy Cow; most vegans know about this great website, and if you don’t go check it! It is very useful to find vegan eateries in many different cities all over the world. For my blog, I prefer to write about places that are not ‘known’ to be vegan-friendly or listed on HappyCow … everyone likes to be the first to discover and report on a cool place! Honestly, it is difficult to find really “uncharted” new places since HappyCow is pretty extensive…. #firstworldveganproblems 😀 So I don’t mind to give a longer review on a “known” vegan place once in a while **

Cookoomela Grill

Cookoomela Grill is a completely vegan street food-style eatery. They make gyros, a traditional Greek meat dish,  from mushrooms and they serve kebab made of lentils. The place itself is very small. There are a few places outside to sit, and it was very busy. I believe they do mostly take-away. Fortunately, this type of food is made to be eaten on the go!

Cookoomela grill
Mushroom ‘gyros’ on the grill

Cookoomela Grill offers a few variants of stuffed pita, fries and a salad. We tried two of the pita, the “Cookoomela Kebab”; the lentil kebab with potato, homemade tomato sauce, salad and almond cream cheese, served wrapped in a pita, and the “Cookoomela Red”, a pita with mushroom gyros, avocado, home made tomato sauce, vegan mayonnaise, salad and potatoes (I only got a blurry picture of this one, it was already pretty dark!)

Ingredients at Cookoomela Grill
Pita ingredients

Even though Cookoomela is very small, they serve vegan desserts. Cannoli (are they the new hip vegan dessert?) in two flavours: chocolate and vanilla.

Lentil kebab pita from Cookoomela Grill
Lentil ‘kebab’ pita with veggies and almond cream cheez

 

I really like the street-food style and the vegan interpretation of classic dishes of the Cookoomela Grill. It was great to see this small place so busy as well. The only downside is that there’s not so much space to sit, but the food can be eaten while walking pretty easily.

** Not an ad (I wish!)

 

Type of place: vegan street food
Completely vegan:  yes
Vegan desserts: yes !

Website (Greek, English) : http://cookoomela.gr/