Le pain quotidien (Geneva, Switzerland)

Terrace outside of le Pain Quotidien in Geneva
Outside of le Pain Quotidien in Geneva

 

A few weeks ago we were out and about in Geneva, looking for a place to eat a small lunch. I knew that le Pain Quotidien has several vegan options, I like bread, so I wanted to check it out! I was under the impression that le Pain Quotidien is pretty common in Switzerland, but that was actually not the case. But it turned out that we were close to the Geneva LPQ somehow, so that was a nice coincidence.

Le Pain Quotidien (“the daily bread”) is an international chain restaurant of Belgian origin. In Switzerland you can find them in Geneva, Lausanne and Zürich.  LPQ consists of an actual bakery, where you can buy your baguettes and breads, and a place where you can sit and have a coffee with breakfast, brunch (not vegan) or lunch. They serve pastries, salads, sandwiches and ‘plates’. For drinks there is coffee (no soy milk, at least not in the Geneva location), tea, juices, and a variety of other cold drinks.

Their menu card clearly notes the vegetarian and vegan options, which is very nice. There are quite some options actually, which all looked nice, so this review is the result of 2 visits. Else I couldn’t have eaten all of it 🙂

Guacamole "snack" at LPQ in Geneva
Guacamole with bread

The first time it was very warm inside, so we sat outside on the terrace. It was very windy outside, but the temperature was still comfortable enough. There were several jams on the table (fig, rhubarb and strawberry) which seemed vegan. We ordered the daily juice (orange, apple and blueberry) with two small dishes: hummus and guacamole with several breads.

Hummus with bread at LPQ in Geneva
Hummus with bread

The hummus and guac were good, but they could have supplied a bit more bread as the ratio topping-to-bread was a off.  The menu offers two vegan desserts:  a fruit salad and a chia pudding. We shared the chia pudding, which has a nice creamy consistency, which was topped with fresh fruits. It was not overtly sweet, which I personally prefer.

Chia pudding dessert with fresh strawberries at LPQ in Geneva
Chia pudding dessert with fresh strawberries

The second time we went in more hungry. This time we sat inside, where it was less warm but the coffee machine broke so they had no warm drinks. Oh well, these things happen. We got an ice tea and lemonade to go with the food. We tried a hummus and grilled veggies sandwich and a quinoa plate. The sandwich is nice, and quite big. The quinoa plate is loaded! It comes with carrots, quinoa, gaucamole, two types of hummus and several delicious slices of bread with nuts.

Sandwich with grilled veggies at LPQ in Geneva
Sandwich with grilled veggies

The price of LPQ is a bit higher than many other bakeries, but not all bakeries offer so many (clearly-marked) vegan options nor the possibility to sit down. Overall the atmosphere is very relaxed.

Quinoa plate at LPQ in Geneva
Quinoa plate, on the left there is the quinoa (red) with the red and standard hummus and guacamole underneath
Type of place: bakery
Completely vegan: no
Vegan desserts: yes

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

* The menu is different in different countries

Klara’s Kitchen (Zürich, Switzerland)

 

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.

Vegan wraps on offer at Klara's kitchen
Vegan wraps

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.

Milk alternatives in the window of Klara's kitchen in Zurich
Klara’s kitchen
The Kitchen is only open during weekdays.
Type of place: Bakery /Take out
Completely vegan: no

Website ( German) : https://www.klaraskitchen.ch/

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

Lemoncha (Geneva, Switzerland)

Bubble tea is a Taiwanese drink based on tea (no suprise there!) which contains bobbles of e.g. tapioca. It is getting more popular in Western Europe, a development I am totally okay with, because I love bubble tea! In Geneva there are several places which offer bubble tea nowadays. My favourite of the bunch is Lemoncha. It is quite popular, and especially in the summer there were long lines. Still, the waiting time was not bad as the process of making the drinks is fast. Choosing the drink is what takes most time!

Closeup of the Lemoncha counter
Tea samples and tea plant at Lemoncha

Lemoncha differs from most bubble-tea places that I have seen in the sense that they really focus on the “tea”-part. They offer several types of tea, such as genmaicha, earl grey, etc. On the menu are also fruit-flavoured drinks (which can be made vegan) and coffee (vegan too I suppose, though I have never tried them) .
Additionally several drinks noted as “lattes” are offered, which do contain milk since those are made from pre-made mixes which contain milk.

It is very much a choose-your-own-adventure place, but there are also standard combinations possible if the choices are too overwhelming:) You pick the types of bubbles, tea/flavours and milk (cow, soy, rice, almond). Most bubbles are vegan, but not all. Best to ask the staff about it, they are nice and knowledgable. The tapioca bobbles are the standard option and they are vegan. The drinks can be made cold or warm, and the amount of ice and sugar can also be modified.

In addition to their delicous drinks Lemoncha also offers vegan cookies and cakes! However, these are not always available as they are very popular and often sold out.

Lemoncha tea and pastry
Lemoncha tea and pastry

Type of place: Bubble tea takeout
Completely vegan: no
Website (French only): http://www.lemoncha.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/