Valya (Geneva, Switzerland)

Inside Valya

For those who do not follow my instagram, first, go check it out, I post more regularly there, and second, I recently moved! I am now living both in Ukraine and Switzerland. And of course, a week before leaving Geneva to go to Kyiv, I found a cute little café around the corner of my apartment! I decided to quickly pop in for a coffee and a dessert.

Sign at Valya
I’ll have to try their Matcha to see if this claim is correct 😀

Valya serves local, seasonal and biological food, with a specific focus on superfood and nutrition for well-being and health. A lot of the available food is also raw, the idea being that raw food is more nutritional. In addition to caring about the health of humans, they care about the health of the environment, serving 100% bio degradable packaging. Valya offers cold-pressed juices, soups, bowls, coffee, (almond based) drinks, sweets and desserts. There are some vegan options available, which is marked on the menu. There are also several gluten-free options.

Vegan items at Valya
Vegan juices and breakfasts in the fridge

The place itself is quite small, there are a few seats available, but it seems to be mostly take-away focused. A lot of the food is premade, and refrigerated. I tried a turmeric latte (also called golden latte), and a slice of banana bread. These turmeric lattes are kind of a new popular beverage. Turmeric is supposed reduce inflammation. That is always nice, of course. This specific version is based on almond milk, has some coconut oil, a dash of cardamom, and is sweetened with dates and cinnamon.

Turmeric almond latte and banana bread at Valya
Turmeric latte with almond milk and a slice of banana bread

It was the first golden latte I had every tried! I am so behind on things #worstbloggerever. The latte had a nice foam but it was a bit tepid. Maybe that is normal with these type of drinks, but I personally would prefer a hotter beverage. I really liked the banana bread, it was nicely moist and very good. I think most of their sweets are vegan, they also had some energy balls and other stuff.

Vegan bowl at Valya
This vegan bowl looks good!

 

 

 
Type of place : Superfood bar/takeout
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: yes!

Website (French): https://valya.ch/

Akiko (Geneva, Switzerland)

Interior at Akiko

Akiko is a chain of modern Asian fusion restaurants in Geneva. There are currently three locations, and I have visited the one closest to the main train station several times. The restaurant has an East Asian-inspired feel, modern interior and upbeat 90-ties musics. There are plenty of places to plug a phone charger, which is always nice. Apart from eating in, they also do take-out.

Drinks at the counter at Akiko
Choice of drinks and ready made food

The food is East Asian fusion, so think Pad Thai, spring rolls and fried rice. For drinks there is the standard soft drinks, but also some special drinks, like lychee juice. They also have bubble tea! There are quite some vegan options, even for the bubble tea!  It is not completely clear from the menu what is vegan but the staff is pretty helpful.  You order at the counter, pay and you get a little buzzer that tells you when the food is ready.

Interior at Akiko

For the mains there are some pre-configured dishes, but you can also create your own. We tried this, for vegans there are two options: tofu or vegetables, and then you choose either a plate (like noodles or Pad Thai) or rice and a sauce. We tried the Pad Thai version with tofu, which we were told was vegan. However, while we were waiting for our food (with the little timer) someone came to us to say it is usually served with egg! But it was easy to leave it out.  There are also vegan desserts: Japanese Mochi (tiny balls of rice with bean paste, sounds strange and non-dessert-y for those used to Western cuisine, but it tastes great!)

Spring rolls at Akiko
Spring rolls!

We tried the spring rolls, served with a good dipping sauce. The rolls are nice and crispy, fried on the spot.  The Pad Thai is served with mung bean sprouts, noodles, spring onion and peanuts. Tasty and sticky, as it should be! The portion is pretty big by the way. For drinks we had a matcha and taro bubble tea with soy milk.

Food at Akiko
Bubble tea, spring rolls and Pad Thai with tofu

Akiko is a nice place for a quick and filling meal. The staff is nice and accommodating, and food is good.

Type of place : Asian fusion restaurant
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: yes!

Website (French): https://www.akiko.company/#!

Street Beirut (Geneva, Switzerland)

 

Another Lebanese restaurant today! Well, what can I say, hummus is just one of the main food groups in veganism 🙂 Street Beirut is on the more modern scale of Lebanese restaurants, closer to Homous & Co than to Le Cèdres du Liban. When we visited on a Saturday for lunch it was busy and quite noisy. Part of the room was reserved, so I think with all customers being put in one half of the room this added to the noise.

Interior at Street Beirut
Since the place was pretty packed I couldn’t make a lot of pictures of the interior unfortunately

On the menu you can sandwiches, salads, warm dishes, and platters. It is marked which options are vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free! Street Beirut also serves mezze, but it was not clear which of these were vegan. During the week there is a daily menu as well, with different warm dishes every day (from what I spotted, mostly non-vegan stuff..). There are no vegan desserts, unfortunately. There’s also a take-away and delivery option.

Falafel platter at Street Beirut
Falafel platter: Falafel with tahin sauce, moutabal, hummus, tabbouleh and the magical pickles!

We tried the falafel platter; which consists of falafel with tahin sauce, tomatoes and salad.  All platters are served with taboulleh, hummus, moutabal, pickled turnips (?) and flatbread. We didn’t get the bread until we asked for it though. The moutabal and falafel were good, nothing interested to report..you cannot really go wrong with these I think!  The tabbouleh was a bit disappointing, it was chopped very coarsely. The hummus was good, very soft. The thing that really stood out for me were the picked beets or turnips. The internet tells me they are called ‘Kabees El Lift’, but please correct me if I am wrong 🙂 On the menu it was just ‘cornichon’, which means ‘pickles’. They were a bit salty and sour, I never had them before, and I really enjoyed them!

Pita at Street Beirut
Pita served in the smallest grocery basked 😀

I got a mint tea with it; it is sweetened with sugar and not with honey. In fact, our server was a bit confused when I asked about it.

Tea at Street Beirut
Nice tea pot

Overall the service was okay. The place is more of the hip fast-casual type, not too fancy (except for those magical pickles). I did find it expensive for what we got, especially since the atmosphere was rather casual.

Wines and tiles at Street Beirut
Nice tiles
Type of place : Lebanese fast-casual restaurant
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: no

Website (French): https://streetbeirut.ch/

Biofred (Geneva, Switzerland)

Entrance of Biofred

Biofred is a small shop which sells biological products, including many gluten- and lactose-free products. In addition to the shop section there is also a small café with a changing daily menu. They offer warm dishes, sandwiches, salads and desserts. For drinks: smoothies, juices, coffees, etc. Not all food on offer is vegan or vegetarian, but there are several veggie choices.  They serve breakfast as well as lunch items. They also do take-out.

Shop at Bio fred
Part of the shop

The space inside is very small, there are two tiny tables inside and one outside. There is relaxing music, and a chill atmosphere. I don’t think there is a bathroom, though.

Menu at Biofred
Colourful menu!

They use a lot of ” superfoods” in their dishes, like algae-paste, spirulina and maca. They also use a water which has been treated with a specific osmosis process, of which I am …. not sure what to think. They also sell water which has been filtered by this specific process by the litre.

Daily soup at Biofred
Courgette-sweet potato soup

There are several vegan options available, and we were hungry, so we tried several different things. The daily soup was made with courgette and sweet potato.  The soup tasted mostly like the sweet potato, I didn’t really taste the courgette. There was a hint of anise, which was interesting. It did need a bit more seasoning, I think. Strangely enough, it got served kind of lukewarm. The daily warm plate was a lentils with brown rice dish, which is a great and classic combination, of course. The lentils were nicely spiced, but again the plate was a bit lukewarm. (For both the daily soup and warm plate there is a normal and a large version, we took the normal version)

Daily plate at Biofred
Daily warm plate: Rice with lentils

We tried both vegan sandwiches; one with avocado & hummus, and one with pesto-tofu and lemon-almond paste. Both also have algae paste and a variety of vegetables. The bread itself is very tasty, but the sandwiches were not very big. The filling of both sandwiches are nice, specially the tofu is interesting with the spices. They did taste a bit the same though, probably since a lot of ingredients were the same.

Sandwich at Biofred
Avocado sandwich with a cute heart-shaped bun ❤

For drinks we had a smoothie and a fresh-pressed juice. The strawberry smoothie included, besides strawberries, apple, banana, ginger and fig, on a base of rice- almond milk and the Jus-Jitsu contains apple, kiwi, fig and ginger. Both are fine, but not very special. Also they were served in plastic cups, which was a bit strange. Especially since the cutlery and plates were not plastic.

Drinks at Biofred
Jus-jitsu and smoothie

I have to say the service was not spectacular. While the staff member was very nice, she was on her own and she was very occupied by  a (regular?) customer. After a while it got very busy with people getting take-out, I noticed quite a line developed. We had to wait quite some time for our food, even though we were the only people, apart from one other person. I mean, this is not a fast-food place where you expect your food within 5 min, but especially for the soup and plate, which were already made, it was a bit strange.

Outside biofred

Overall I liked the food. Biofred is one of the few bio-eateries that is open on Saturday. Most vegan/bio-places are only open during the week. However, it was pretty expensive for what you get. The food was made with attention to detail, and of course they use biological products (and that special water) so that is the reason why I guess. Bio-oriented/vegan places, often tend to give small portions, at least in Switzerland. Still, I think it is good to mention.

Type of place: Biological/health shop and café
Completely vegan: no

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

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/

 

Taco Rico (Geneva, Switzerland)

Sign outside Taco Rico

Fresh, quick, authentic, delicious. That is how Taco Rico, a TexMex bistro in Geneva (at two locations) describes themselves. I cannot vouch for the third point, but the rest seems very much true.

Interior at Taco Rico

A while ago I wrote about the Burrito Brothers and there are some interesting parallels between the origin stories of both these places. The Burrito Brothers was founded by two Mexican-born, California-raised brothers. Taco Rico was inspired by a Swiss person staying in New York, who, after eating a delicious Mexican meal, decides to open a Mexican restaurant in Geneva since such a thing didn’t exist yet. The staff at Taco Rico was trained by a Mexican chef, and all food is home-made. The founders’ family also work in the restaurant.

Taco Rico
Ingredients for the filling the tacos

The ambiance of the place is quite nice, with cheerful 80s-90s music (a tad loud maybe). There is some nice art on the wall and comfortable seats. On the menu you can find the usual suspects; burritos (also available as salad), tacos, quesadillas and nachos. The nice thing is that for both the burrito and the taco a vegan *and* a vegetarian option is possible. Many burrito places offer just a vegetarian option!

Nachos with guacamole at Taco Rico
Nachos with guac because of course

When I visited I tried the vegan version of the burrito and the tacos, and nachos with guacamole. The filling is the same in both cases: basically everything that is available that is vegan, so rice, beans, corn, a bit of salad, tomato, onion, guacamole and peppers (you can pick & choose the ingredients as you prefer).  The spicy sauce is also optional, and there are several hot sauces available if you decide you need more spiciness. The burrito is pretty expertly wrapped, almost nothing fell out!

Burrito at Taco Rico
Expertly wrapped burrito with all the fillings

For drinks there are the soft-drinks, coffee, tea, beers and even Margarita’s. They serve some desserts, but nothing vegan.

Tacos at Taco Rico
Tacos!

Obviously, I cannot help but comparing Taco Rico with Burrito Brothers, since both places serve quite similar food at a similar price point. The variety of ingredients at the Burrito Brothers is larger, they have for example mushrooms as well, but they only have pre-defined combinations (obviously you can ask for stuff to be left out). For me, the big downside is that you have to pay (quite some) extra for guacamole, even if you leave out the cheese and sour cream from the vegetarian options.  Personally I preferred the ambiance at Taco Rico, it was just a bit less fast-foody, there is more space to sit and the chairs are more comfortable.

Hot sauces at Taco Rico
Need more spice?
Type of place:  Tex-mex Restaurant/take-out
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: no

Website (French) : http://www.tacorico.ch/index.html

Be Kind Cafe (Geneva, Switzerland)

Exterior of Be Kind Cafe
Bio, vegan, home-made

This cute café in Geneva has opened only a few weeks ago! I had read about the opening of Be Kind Cafe, and since the initial opening coincided with a day I was off of work, I was excited to visit! Unfortunately, the opening was postponed due to water issues.  It took a while before I could visit, since they are only open during the week and I have a full-time job in another city. So when I finally had the chance to be in Geneva around lunchtime, of course I directly wanted to visit the Be Kind Cafe!

Counter at Be Kind Cafe
Cookies on the counter!

Be Kind Cafe offers breakfast foods, coffee and pastries, and lunch. There is a daily lunch menu, with some standard items but the exact ingredients are different per day, and change depending on the season and availability, since they use almost exclusively biological and local products. There are some larger dishes, like a burger and a savoury pie, and smaller foods like sandwiches and soups. For drinks there are juices, hot drinks like coffee and tea, but also wine and beer. You can eat in the café itself, but they also do take-away. The atmosphere of the café is very relaxed, it was quite spacious, hip and still cosy. A place to sit with a nice cup of coffee and a delicious vegan meal.

Inside the cafe
A relaxed, cosy atmosphere

When I visited I tried the daily bagel with a side of roasted potato wedges. The bagel was on the smaller side, and contained salad, roasted pumpkin, vegan ‘ricotta’ and almonds. The tastes went very well together! The bagel bread is very tasty and toasted rather than soft. The potatoes were well-seasoned, large, nice and crunchy.

Be kind Cafe food
Bagel with a side of potato

For a drink I tried the kefir with figs. I know kefir as a yogurt-product, but this was rather a fermented fruit juice.

Bagel close-up at Be Kind Cafe
The bagel was properly stuffed with vegetable goodness !

There are several desserts available, there are some standard on the menu but there are also some daily variations. I tried the apple crumble with oats, with vanilla ice cream on top. With it, a coffee of course 🙂 The crumble was great!

Dessert at Be Kind Cafe
Apple crumble with oats and vanilla ice cream

I really like the Be Kind Cafe, the food is good and service great! The only downside is that they are only open on weekdays. I really do have to get back one day for their breakfast menu though; vegan croissants! Also I’d love to try the vegan burger they offer. And the other cookies I didn’t try yet…so yes, I will be back 🙂

Type of place: breakfast, lunch, café
Completely vegan: yes
Vegan desserts: yes!

Website (French): https://www.bekindcafe.ch/