Zara 2001 (Geneva, Switzerland)

The first time I had Ethiopian food was in Geneva, one of the first posts on this blog (Awash) and I really enjoyed it. Zara2001 is another Ethiopian/Eritrean restaurant in Geneva. The interior is very nice, with African art on the wall. Some of the tables were relatively low, and there is not a lot of space. Also it was a bit chilly.

Zara2001 Interior
Table at Zara2001

The food is predominantly Ethiopian, though there are a few Indian dishes on the menu as well.  There is a clear section on the menu which is vegetarian (meaning vegan in this case) which lists four dishes. Three of those dishes can be served in a combination plate, which we had, because choosing is hard.

Injera at a table in Zara2001
Injera with salad and sauce served on the large plate

The dishes that were included in the combination plate are a spinach stew with spices and peppers, tumtumo: lentils with garlic and spices, and alecha: potatoes with carrots, green beans and cabbage. The latter is a bit more spicy. Unlike at Awash the dishes are not served directly on the injera, but came in separate bowls. The injera comes with salad and some spicy sauce. We also got a second plate with more injera.

Alecha, spinach and tumtumo at Zara2001
Alecha, spinach and tumtumo (sorry for the blurry photo…I am a bad food blogger…)

The service was a bit slow, even though the restaurant was empty. We did come at a strange time though, between lunch and dinner. The food was good and the price reasonable. I still need to practise eating with injera, so I think I’ll explore some more Ethiopian restaurants!

 

Type of place: Ethiopian/Eritrean restaurant
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: no desserts at all

Website (French) : https://www.facebook.com/pages/Caf%C3%A9-Zara-2001/164600906888464

Aux 3 elephants (Paris, France)

This Thai restaurant is located on a quiet street in the centre of Paris. The restaurant itself was bustling! I have had good experiences with Thai food, and a quick glance on the menu showed a complete “vegetarian” section, which is always promising. Thai cuisine tends to be milk-free, but eggs are used for example in noodles. So, I asked the staff whether any of the vegetarian dishes were vegan. After a short discussion I found that all the “vegetarian” dishes are actually vegan! Even better, but a bit confusing.  However, the word vegetarian used to denote what is vegan now, maybe that is why.

Coconut drink at aux 3 elephants
Coconut drink

After the initial confusion was cleared up, we ordered our drinks. I had the coconut water, which had actual pieces of coconut. Can recommend! Since we didn’t feel very hungry we skipped the starter. For the main course we had a curry with vegetables and tofu with cashew nuts, with normal and sticky rice as sides. The sticky rice was particularly nice, and it came in a small basket! The curry was a bit spicy but not overtly so.

Rice and tofu dish at aux 3 elephants
Tofu with vegetables and peanuts dish and the little basket with sticky rice

There were actual vegan desserts! This was not marked clearly on the menu, so it was a nice surprise. I had a dessert with mango, sticky rice and coconut milk.  This combination was simply heavenly! It was very sweet, but not overtly so. The taste of the mango and coconut milk go very well together, and in this simple dish they really shine!

Curry with rice at aux 3 elephants
Curry with rice

The only thing what bothered me was the confusion between the waiter and me about what was vegan and what not, which might be caused by the language barrier (my French is okay, but I am far from fluent). Also my question on whether the dessert was vegan was answered a bit snappily. On the one hand, it was a busy night. On the other hand, restaurants don’t put a full ingredient list on their menu. I rather ask and be sure, then not order to be on the safe side. Especially since Aux 3 Elephants serves desserts that do have egg and milk and this is not clearly marked on the menu card.

I think this might be a general thing that vegans (or those with allergies) can come across.

Mango, coconut milk, sticky rice at aux 3 elephants
Mango, coconut milk, sticky rice ❤

Overall, my experience was a pleasant one!  The service was extremely fast, the prices good and the food delicious. I would definitively go back!

 

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

Website (French) : http://www.aux3elephants.com/

Le Cèdres du Liban (Geneva, Switzerland)

The Middle-Eastern cuisine is well-known (and loved!) for the vegan staples falafel and hummus. While Geneva boasts already several Lebanese places, with diverse price ranges and qualities, another Lebanese restaurant in Paquis recently opened.

Le Cèdres du Liban is definitively more “up scale” than many of other Lebanese eateries which are more of the kebab fast-food/snackbar type places. The interior is stylish and minimalistic, with Arabic music playing. There is a small terrace outside and several tables inside both on ground level and on the first floor. However, when we visited the first floor was closed.

Table at le cedres du liba
Ready to eat…

On the menu a vegan and vegetarian mezze plate are clearly marked. The vegan one has 6 and the vegetarian one 8 small dishes. There are also full-plate options but I like these sampler plates. Also none of the full plates were vegan (or even vegetarian, for that matter)

The vegan plate had two types of dips: hummus and moutabal (baba ghanoush). Their hummus was good, it was not overly oily as some places make their hummus. Additionally there was a small bowl with tabouleh, 3 falafels, some moussaka and  1 warak arise (rice-stuffed leaf). I thought that one was specifically interesting, I hadn’t had one before at a Lebanese place. The plate comes with a small basket of wrapped flatbread.

Vegan mezze at le cedres du liban
Mezze!

Drink-wise, apart from the standard juice and soda pop, there are 2 Middle-Eastern drinks: Ayran (yoghurt-based) and Jallab, which is made with rose water and date syrup. I am not sure if they have vegan dessert options. If I go back, which I plan too, I’ll update this post with more info.

The portions were generous and the dishes were good. Unfortunately the bread was very cold, like it had been recently defrosted.

Mint tea at le cedres du liban
Warming sweet mint tea

Overall we had some bad timing: the heater in the restaurant was broken. Outside was 10 °C and inside it was quite chilly. The service was friendly but not great. We had to wait a while for our food (and it was not busy)  and we never got a chance to order more drinks. We did get some free mint tea to compensate. The price for the food was very reasonable overall.

 

Type of place: Lebanese restaurant
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: ?

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

Bar da Gino (Venice, Italy)

We first came across Gino when looking for a spot to have a coffee. Standing at the bar, preferably. Blending in with the locals and such. I assumed they wouldn’t have milk alternatives for the coffee, but I was wrong! So I had a delicious soy cappuccino.

We didn’t really look at the menu, but we happened past it a second time and we had a drink just to sit down after a long day of walking. Inconsequential side-story: we sat down at one of the dinner tables but since we only wanted to drink the waiter asked us to move to another table. Then I saw a lady ordering a delicious-looking bruschetta and we had dinner anyway. Sorry waiter..well I’m sure he got over it.

So we asked for the menu and we found actually several vegan options: several bruschetta, a vegan lasagne (!!) and a vegan pasta option.

Bruschetta with olive oil and cherry tomatoes at Bar da Gino
Bruschetta with olive oil and cherry tomatoes

 

For our starters we tried two bruschetta; the ‘toscana’ which is a basic olive oil and garlic one and the ‘umbra’, which also had garlic and olive oil but also cherry tomatoes and oregano. The bruschetta were crunchy and the portions generous.

Bruschetta with olive oil and garlic at Bar da Gino
Bruschetta with olive oil and garlic

Of course I wanted to try the vegan lasagne for my main course. Interestingly enough, I had seen several other places that had a vegan lasagne. I was still a bit cautious (translation errors do happen), so I asked with the waiter to be sure.  He confirmed that it was really vegan. It was very delicious!  We also tried the vegan pasta in red sauce. A classic, and very good as well.

Vegan lasagne at Bar da Gino
Vegan lasagne !
Pasta with tomato sauce at Bar da Gino
Classic: pasta with tomato sauce

There were no vegan desserts available, but we could close the meal with a nice coffee, a soy cappuccino in my case.

Overall this place seemed quite busy, it is a bit higher priced. Service started out fast but when we asked for the bill we had to wait a while (might have been due to a shift change). But overall, food was good and it was a nice surprise to have vegan lasagne!

Soy cappuccino at Bar da Gino. I know you are not supposed to drink cappuccino after breakfast ..
Soy cappuccino
Type of place: Italian cafe, bar
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: no

Website : None

Vietnam in Paris (Paris, France)

Table setting at Vietnam in Paris
I can eat with chopsticks, but I am sure my technique is lacking!

As the name already suggests, Vietnam in Paris is a small Vietnamese restaurant in Paris, more specifically in the 2nd arrondissement. I was in Paris for the weekend with my mom, and we stayed in a hotel nearby. I had read about Vietnam in Paris before, so I was interested to check it out and my mom kindly agreed to join 🙂

Sign with "100% vegan" in Vitetnam in Paris

This restaurant is relatively small, and the interior is very nicely decorated, with beautiful art on the walls. The (fully vegan) menu is simple and small, there are 5 starters, 5 main courses and 6 desserts. I prefer a small menu, it reduces the stress of choosing, which is something most vegans are not used to since there are usually only a few options if they go out for dinner! Also, in a smaller place like this with 1 cook,  1 person can most likely not cook many dishes very well (yes I have watched a lot of restaurant shows…)

Vegan nems at Vietnam in Paris
Nems!

We arrived quite early for Parisian standards, which was good because we didn’t make a reservation and the restaurant filled up completely! There was one very large group though, which took up over half the seats available, so I am not sure if the restaurant is full every day. I won’t be surprised if it was, the food is delicious!

Vegan Vietnamese crepes at Vietnam in Paris
Vietnamese crepes

The service started relatively fast, even though we were not asked for drinks. We started with the nems and crepes. I felt the sizes were a bit off; the crepes were quite a bit smaller than the nems. Both tasted very good. After we got the “plat du jour”  and a curry. The main course arrived quite fast after the starter.

Curry with tofu and rice at Vietnam in Paris
Curry with tofu and rice
Plat du jour at Vietnam in Paris
Plat du jour, or today’s special; tofu, rice and vegetables

Unfortunately after this the service started to slow down. We weren’t offered a second drink and had to wait very long before we could order dessert (most likely due to the large group) Since several desserts looked good I wanted to try the “thé gourmand” which is a tea and 3 small samplers of dessert but they were all out. Instead I opted for a taro pudding.

Taro pudding at Vietnam in Paris
Taro pudding!

Overall the experience was very pleasant, the food was very good, and the prices very reasonable. It was unfortunate that the service was lacking a bit,  it was most likely due to the large group. I guess it would have been better if they would close the restaurant completely when a group that large would enter, but I don’t think that it is something that would occur that often that it would be a deterrent.

Type of place: Vietnamese restaurant
Completely vegan: yes
Vegan desserts: yes

Website (French) : https://www.facebook.com/vip.saveursduvietnam

Hotel Malibran (Venice, Italy)

Venice is full of cute little spots and terraces where you can sit and soak up the sun (when available) with a nice drink or some food. While looking for a nice place to grab lunch we found a small square with three restaurants. We decided on the Hotel Malibran, as a glance on the menu card revealed several vegan options: a starter, 2 pasta variations and a pizza Marinara (tomato sauce with oregano and garlic).

The view from the terrace at Hotel Malibran
The view from the terrace

While Italian cuisine might not look like it in the form we mostly see it outside of Italy (cheese!), it is generally quite vegan friendly. Almost every Italian restaurant will offer at least one dish which is vegan or can be made vegan by leaving out the Parmesan. That dish is either pasta with tomato sauce, or pasta with garlic-oil sauce. As I had mentioned in my post on the Pizza Leggera , if the pizza is made from scratch it can often easily be made vegan. Unless the pizza is heavily cheese-based this is generally a good option.

Starter at Hotel Malibran consisting of several grilled vegetables
Grilled vegetables: eggplant, bell pepper, tomatoes, carrots, courgette and potato.

After we sat down at Malibran, we got some breads and a drink. Since it was lunch time and we needed to keep some stomach space for all the other delicious food available, we shared the vegan starter, which was grilled vegetables. Interestingly there was a potato among the vegetables. Haven’t seen that before!

Pasta with tomato sauce at Hotel Malibran
Pasta with tomato sauce

For our main course we wanted to try a pasta and a pizza. You know, to get a well-rounded review. For the pasta we choose the spaghetti with tomato sauce. For the pizza we decided to get adventurous. Sure, there is a vegan pizza, but let’s up the ante a bit. The vegetarian pizza Vegetariana has grilled veggies and mozzarella, so we asked for that one without mozzarella. Interestingly, the grilled veggies were the same as those of the starter (yes, also the carrot and the potato). Well, you cannot blame them for being efficient. It was very tasty. Now I do not know if they put some additional veggies to make up for the lack of mozzarella, but overall it was just good stuff.

Vegan pizza with grilled vegetables at hotel Malibran
Vegan pizza with grilled vegetables

Dessert-wise we were less lucky. There was lemon ice on the menu, but after verifying our waiter told us it did have milk. Fortunately they did have soy milk so I got a nice soy cappuccino to finish off.

Soy cappuccino at hotel Malibran
The older couple sitting next to us was very confused by me trying to make the perfect image of the cappuccino 🙂

Type of place: Restaurant, Hotel
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: no
Website (Italian, French, English, German) : http://www.hotelmalibran.com/restaurant.html

Burrito Brothers (Geneva, Switzerland)

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 !

Table at Burrito Brothers in Geneva showing hot spicy sauces
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.

Nachos with guacamole at Burrito Brothers
Nachos with guacamole

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.

 

Wrapped burrito Berkely at Burrito Brothers
Baby burrito Berkely

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.

Type of place: Burrito Restaurant/Take out
Completely vegan: no

Website (English, French, German) : http://www.burritobrothers.ch/

Pizza Leggera (Geneva, Switzerland)

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.

Vegan pizza with grilled veggies and tofu at Pizza Leggera
Pizza with grilled veggies and 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.
Vegan pizza funghi at Pizza Leggera in Geneva
Pizza Funghi

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.

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

Website (Italian, English, French, Mexican* ): http://www.pizzaleggera.com/

* they have restaurants in Mexico, but I guess that the language used for the Mexican version of the site is Spanish

Vegan Junkfood Bar (Amsterdam, the Netherlands)

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!)

A wikipedia commons image of a dutch snackbar
Image from Wikipedia showing a typical cafetaria. Note the small green “trees” between the frozen snacks on offer.

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!

Vegan bitterballen and sweet potato fries at VFJB.
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.

A huge burger and other snack foods at Amsterdam VFJB
Loaded vegan burger with onion rings and Pakistani bitterballen in the background!

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!

Type of place: Junkfood, takeout
Completely vegan: yes
Vegan desserts: yes !
Website (English) :  https://www.veganjunkfoodbar.com/

Awash (Geneva, Switzerland)

The Paquis region near Geneva Cornavin station is an interesting and lively neighbourhood. There are several great restaurants and one of those is the Ethiopian restaurant Awash (which is technically just outside of Paquis). It is tucked away near the train tracks, off the main street. From the outside it seems small and quiet, but once inside you find a busy colourful restaurant. When we visited it was quite busy and there was a lady selling jewellery on a small stand.

I had never been at an Ethiopian restaurant so I was very curious to try. There are several Ethiopian restaurants in Geneva, and the Ethiopian cuisine is known to be vegan-friendly. Awash states clearly on their site that they cater to vegetarians, so it would be a good introduction to Ethiopian food.

The restaurant serves both meat and vegetarian dishes. The vegetarian dishes turned out to be vegan! All food is served with injera, a type of pancake/spongy bread. The injera is used as cutlery to scoop up the food (I have to admit we asked for a spoon as we were not so good handling the injera!) The taste and structure of injera is quite special.

In total there are four vegan dishes, we chose the sharing plate which has a bit of each. The dishes were: red lentils (misir), salad, yellow beans and green vegetables with sauce. The food was served on a large round platter, and the various dishes were put on top of several injera, which soaked up the flavours nicely. There was a second plate with additional injera to use for eating.

The menu on the site is a condensed version, I couldn’t locate a full menu. There are in fact starters and dessert.  I haven’t tried the starters when I was there, so I am not sure if there was a vegan option. I did notice other people order something like samosa’s, which tend to be vegan. The only dessert available when I visited is baklava, which was unfortunately not vegan.

Overall it is a place with a great atmosphere, and delicious food!
Ethiopian sharing platter at Awash
The sharing platter on top of the injera.
Type of place: Ethiopian restaurant
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: no

Website (French, English): http://www.awash.ch/