Foodie Travel Guide: The Baltics
And so our incredible holiday around the Baltic sea has finally come to an end. We had such an amazing time, and it was such a treat to spend every waking moment with my little family of three. A bunch of people have been asking me where we we ate along the way, so I thought I’d put together a wee guide with our favourite foodie spots from the four cities we visited – St Petersburg, Helsinki, Tallinn and Stockholm. It’s always something I love to have when travelling, a list of recommendations from a trusted friend (or Lonely Planet/Trip Advisor!). So whether you’ve got a trip already planned to St Petersburg, Helsinki, Tallinn or Stockholm, you’re feeling inspired to put it on your bucket list, or you’d just like to catch a few more pics of our travels, I hope you find today’s post helpful. (Disclaimer – most of the photos are of Mila rather than sights as such, so if you’re keen for a Mila fest, click on through!).
I’d love to hear what you think, and whether you’d like to see more Foodie Travel Guides like this one on the blog. Let me know in the comments below if so, and if so for which cities (Auckland? Sydney? Melbourne?). Next week I’ll be back with a new recipe (and my inaugural YouTube video I promised), so til then have a wonderful week and stay happy and well.
Zoom café – my fav spot in St Petersburg. Super funky little cafe on an unassuming street, always packed and doesn’t take reservations (unless you have a baby, which was great for us!). Not all vegan/vege but plenty of options – the parsnip, celery, fennel and walnut salad, sauerkraut salad, and potato pancakes are all amazing. Super kid friendly but still hip enough for the kidless to enjoy (and they definitely were there in droves – queuing out the door). Gorgeous décor, kids play-things everywhere including huge oversized soft toys sitting at each table (eat your dinner with a giant teddy bear?). Needless to say, we loved the food, and Mila loved the environment!
Ukrop – cute spot with amazing décor including swing chairs hanging from the roof. All vegan and vegetarian, we had the sundried tomato zucchini noodles, lentil burger with avo smash, matcha cheesecake and carrot tart. Yum (and super cheap compared to NZ, as is everything in SP).
Samadeva – a classic yogi (and student) hangout, super good value and again all vegan/vegetarian. The lunch special is great value – soup, salad, hot meal and a drink, all for under $5. Student discounts too (if that’s you!). No Michelin stars here, but delicious food and we loved it so much we went back twice. Great vegan desserts and cookies too (the vanilla Napoleon cake is divine).
Marketplace – an awesome deli beautifully laid out, apparently this is a modern take on the Soviet style canteens of old. Don’t worry, no soviet food here though, just fresh delicious beautifully presented deli style food – salads, veges grilled in front of you, potatoes, soups. Not pure vege but enough options to keep any herbivore happy.
Idiot – you wouldn’t even know it’s pescetarian unless you looked hard at the menu. Mostly vegetarian, with some fish options. Set in a communist style underground almost bunker style room, with large maroon velvet couches. Feels like you’re eating with Stalin. The mushroom dumplings are delish.
Troitsky Most – good for a quick bite after far too many hours at the nearby Hermitage Art Museum. It’s just round the corner, is all vegan/vege, and is mostly pre-made so service is super quick (good when you’ve got a schedule of back to back sights planned). Again no Michelin star contender, but tasty food and pretty good value for the touristy area.
Raw n More – was surprised to find this was the only real vegetarian restaurant in Helsinki! (Well actually there is one other called Zucchini which we walked to, but alas it was closed for the summer). This place is super cute though – just a small cabinet style spot, but delicious raw cakes and lasagnes/pizzas/wraps. I spoke to the ladies who own it and they confirmed that yep it’s the first and only raw café in Helsinki! Worth it for the trip out of the centre, even if just for takeaway cakes (which we did – yum). The Lingonberry and Lemon Cheesecake was my top pick (and my first time trying lingonberries – a tart bright red berry smaller than a blueberry, which grow in abundance in Finland). The chocolate and orange Tiger Cake was also delicious (reminded me of my Chocolate Orange Tart from back home).
Rataskaevu 16 – number 1 on Trip Advisor for foodie spots in Tallinn, and with a waiting list about five days long. Worth booking in advance though! Not pure vege but lots of options that have clearly been well thought through (aka not just meat and vege with the meat removed). The crunchy buckwheat salad and two-pea cutlet (chickpeas plus split peas) with cashew cream and micro greens were delicious – definitely made me want to recreate back home! Gorgeous relaxed and rustic interior too – this spot is super hot right now so definitely book if you’re visiting Tallinn.
Vegan Restaurant – yes, a 100% bespoke vegan only restaurant, in Tallinn old town. I was pretty shocked to walk past this our first night, and with queues out the door too! They’re 2nd on Trip Advisor after Rataskaevu 16 above, and again at least four days before you can get a reservation. I spoke to the manager and she said that since they opened two years ago, and had been #2 on Trip Advisor, pretty much every other mid to high end restaurant in town had added at least one if not more vegan options to their menu. Which is very noticeable when you walk around – vegan options everywhere! Definitely not something I was expecting when we came to Tallinn. It was so awesome to see the plant-based food scene pumping, and attracting so many non-vegans too. The food they’re pulling out in this town is all round amazing. Who would’ve thought – Tallinn was such an incredible foodie find!
Aed – on the same strip as #16 and Vegan Restaurant. Again amazing food, not fully vegan but every main on the menu has been set up as a fully plant-based, dairy free, vegan dish, with the optional addition of meat (how it should be! Come on Auckland…). Which means everything tastes fabulous as is, not as if something’s missing which can often be the case when restaurants try to offer a veg option. Gorgeous rustic interiors again, great for a romantic dinner date. We loved the crunchy buckwheat and beetroot salad, and stuffed micro peppers with cauliflower raisin couscous, hummus and micro greens. These three spots are actually all owned by the same owners we found out after, and it shows – they are all right on the money.
Pegasus – a funky 60’s style spot, which clearly attracts the up market local crowd (although pricing, as with everything in Tallinn, is super reasonable – a gourmet lunch/dinner for under $10!). Not pure vege but a handful of totally delicious options. We had the grilled zucchini stuffed with black lentils and a béchamel sauce, with a grapefruit and cherry tomato salad. Worth visiting just for the complimentary house-baked pumpkin and hemp seed rye bread – hands down the best bread I’ve ever tried (ever).
F-hoone – off the beaten track, well outside the old town and tourist traps, this one is only locals here. Super cool old industrial area beside the rail track which has been converted into a bunch of hip restaurants. You will not be disappointed. Has a whole vegetarian menu of its own (one page is their regular menu, the second page is all vege – woop!), with lots of vegan options. The falafel, quinoa and rocket salad with cashew cream was great, and clearly others thought so too – the two neighbouring tables we sat by had all ordered it as well. Free rye sourdough bread too, as with most places in Tallinn – they sure know how to make good bread!
NOP – outside the old town on the way to a nearby castle, a cute local café in an unmarked back street building. Clearly on a health vibe, with a handful of good vege and vegan options. The veggie power bowl with peanut sauce, tofu and seeds was delish, as was the “Quinotto” (quinoa risotto) and their Raw Blueberry Cake. A little more expensive than the others, but you’ll feel virtuously healthy afterwards.
Chutney – my favourite spot in Stockholm, pure vege, with heaps of vegan options. The Tofu Three Ways is amazing, complete with huge chunky potato wedges, a delicious vegan bearnaise sauce, and massive salad. Great range of vegan and raw desserts too – we had the raw banana and peanut cake. The free salad bar on the side which you can enjoy before your meal arrives which was a fabulous touch and just what we needed after a hard afternoon’s site-hitting. Definitely go here if you’re in Stockholm!
Hermans Tradsgarden Café – my second favourite in Stockholm, this place is a full vegan buffet perched on a cliff with the most amazing views down over the old town. It is massive and PACKED, and obviously super popular. Everything we tried was fabulous – from the vegan lasagna, to the range of delicious raw salads, the house-baked bread, hummus and homemade dips, and the outdoor vege BBQ complete with vegan meatballs and marinated capsicum, eggplant and zucchini. Students pay half price and get a free drink (including some lovely Swedish brewed kombucha) so take your ID. Go to Chutney on day one, then here for dinner day two. Awesome in the long warm evenings with the incredible view – we stayed til late and it was still light (the top photo was taken here at 10pm!).
Hermitage – a good spot in the old town with another all you can eat vege buffet. Not as outstanding as Hermans, but definitely our top pick in the old town for tasty, well priced, vege fare. Heaps of options to choose from.
Pom & Flora – a tiny café that I was recommended by David and Luise from Green Kitchen Stories (who live in Stockholm), this place is worth a visit for lunch if you’re in the Sodermalm bohemian district. Does cute rye bread toast toppers, with avo, radish, rocket, hazelnuts, and lots of crunchy flavoursome dukkah and za’atar. Not dissimilar to what you could make at home, but beautiful presentation, great flavours, super fresh, and perfect for a delicious quick lunch between sites.
Stikki Nikki – an awesome chain of organic gelato shops with a changing menu of quirky unique flavours. Think coffee and cardamom, chocolate and mallowpuff balls, lingonberry and yoghurt, and hazelnut and meringue. Lots of vegan options, with a handful of locations around Stockholm. You simply can’t do Scandinavia without doing their incredible ice cream!
So there it is. My guide to our favourite plant-based foodie eats in the Baltics. I hope you’re feeling inspired to put these gorgeous cities on your bucket list of travel spots, and check some of these places out. I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below, or if you’ve been to any of these places before. And if you enjoyed this Foodie Travel Guide and would like to see more of these, please let me know below too!
Next week I’ll be back on the recipes (and that video I promised). Until then, stay happy and well.
PS If you enjoyed this post, or have friends who are planning on visiting any of these cities anytime soon (and love their food), feel free to forward this list on. I’d love to support these little businesses who are all doing amazing things for vegan and plant-based living.