Germany is not exactly famous for its vegetarian cuisine. When you think of German food Bratwurst and schnitzels are probably more likely to come to mind over anything veggie-friendly and meat is definitely a common theme amongst most of the national dishes: When I went over for the Oktoberfest in Munich last year I survived primarily on pretzels and beer (which was fine by me- I love both).
Berlin however, has a reputation as being somewhat of a vegetarian Oasis in the meat-loving land, and so I had been looking forward to exploring what veggie food experiences the city has to offer. My friend Elke and I booked this trip to Berlin on a bit of a whim, cheap easyjet flights and a rainy winter inspired the need for a holiday and I had wanted to go there for a while. Elke originally hails from Germany but lives in England and is now a vegetarian herself- a rare species I think- so I was lucky to have a native speaking veggie to guide me.
We originally thought it would be more of a party weekend than an eating weekend, but we found the nightlife a bit of a disappointment. Berlin’s arrogant-cool culture meant we didn’t even get into the club we wanted to go to –we got turned away with no explanation which is apparently a common occurrence in the city (we are not bitter though, I swear). In the end we were very happy to spend our time sightseeing, watching the world go by and eating our way around town, it was the perfect way to experience the city.
Traditional German Vegetarian food
Although most classic dishes do contain meat, we did manage to hunt down some meat-free German food options as it would have been a crime to go all the way to Berlin and eat nothing from Germany. We visited a traditional restaurant and beer garden called Prater Garten as we were blessed to have sunny weather and wanted to sit outdoors. The hope was to find somewhere lively but as we visited off-season, and on a Sunday it had a very laid back atmosphere. We ordered knödel mit Blattspinat, Kräuterschmand und Salat (Pan-fried Bread Dumplings with Spinach, Herb Dip and Salad) and Linseneintopf Würstchen (Lentil soup).
The knödel dumplings were really delicious, the description and photo do not fully do justice to how good they tasted. They were flavoursome and had a fluffy texture which went perfectly with both the herb sauce and the buttery spinach. I am planning on trying to recreate these at home even though they are probably not good for the waistline.
The lentil soup was also tasty and we washed both down with some amazing German beer and an obligatory giant pretzel, in fact coming to think about it every meal we had in Berlin was accompanied by beers and pretzels. There were also extra beers in between, including the monstrosity pictured below which Elke insisited that I try. Called Berlinger Weisse this strange, radioactive-looking beer is Waldmeister (woodruff) flavour and was for me, too sweet to handle. Lots of people seemed to be enjoying it though – I just think it tasted too much like a pine flavoured car air freshener to be considered edible. Try one and make up your own mind.