Finland, often overlooked in favour of its better known neighbour, Sweden, is unlike any of its Scandinavian neighbours. After hundreds of years of being a political gambling chip between the Russians and Swedes, you can see elements of both countries' influence in Helsinki. Finland's capital is visually distinctive with striking art nouveau structures like the Central Train Station sitting just minutes away from modernist buildings like the Opera House, and it boasts plenty of cultural and architectural points of interest as well as fabulous and funky vegan-friendly dining. Our woman on the ground, Venla Styrman, lists some of her favourite places to eat.
Ihana Kahvila means 'lovely cafe' in Finnish and that is exaclty what this cafe is, lovely! Found in a re-purposed shipping container right in the heart of Helsinki's urban harbour area know as Sompasaari, Ihana Kahvila is the perfect place to relax in the sun on a beautiful summer day. It is a little out of the city centre but can be easily reached using Helsinki's City Bikes which are dotted throughout the city. The menu changes daily and always includes good vegan options such as quiches, sandwiches cakes and coffees. Conveniently located next to the tiny Sompasauna, a 24 hour traditional wooden sauna that encourages you to cool down by jumping in the sea between sessions, Ihana Kahvila is a great stop off on your Finnish adventure.
Address: Kalasatama, Sompasaari (Nihtikuja) 00580 Helsinki
Another shipping container coffee spot, Cargo serves food throughout the day and is a great breakfast spot. Cargo specialises in gluten, sugar and dairy free food which celebrates colour, flavour and seasonal produce - and their their excellent salads are a must try. The Cargo rooftop is good spot to enjoy a drink or juice and watch the world go by . Located near the city centre Cargo is a great spot to meet up with friends.
Address: Ruoholahdenranta 8, Helsinki
Located in a renovated 1950s kiosk which is an architectural gem in its own right, Jänö (or 'Bunny' in English) is Helsinki’s one and only vegan kiosk. Peddling the ever popular traditional Finnish kiosk snacks like sausage & potatoes, chips & nuggets and of course beer, Jänö is a great place to meet up with friends and while away the evening people watching. They also serve vegan Döner pitas, ice cream, coffee and variety of drinks like smoothies and juices. Jänö is only open during summer, from May to September.
Address: Museokatu 12, Helsinki
Silvoplee is a stalwart of the Helsinki vegetarian scene and is hugely popular among Helsinki residents and visitors. Located near by Hakaniemi Square, a busy part of central Helsinki, it can get pretty busy around lunch time. Silvoplee has an informal ambience thanks to its buffet style set up where food is priced on weight. The menu selection is broad with hot dishes, raw food and spreads on offer. Breakfast is also available from their cafe which is located next to the main restaurant with freshly squeezed juices, smoothies and raw cakes.
Address: Toinen Linja 7, 00530 Helsinki
Fat Ramen’s vegan ramen soup is the perfect comfort food on a cold and rainy day, thanks to its slowly stewed rich broth, generous chunks of smoked tofu, fresh and chargrilled root vegetables and perfectly cooked noodles (gluten-free options are available). The tofu ramen (pictured below) is on eof the best bowls of anything we have ever had; harmonious, rich and satisfying this meal is a firm favourite!
Fat Ramen is situated in the atmospheric Hietalahti Market Hall by the sea, near Hietalahti square, famous for its summer flea markets.
Address: Hietalahden kauppahalli, Lönnrotinkatu 34
Bali Brunch Helsinki
The absolute where-to-go for a hungry vegan is in Vaasankatu street Kallio. On this little street there are plenty of vegan fast food restaurants one after another, such as Soi Soi, JustVege Levant, Street Gastro, and just around the corner Bar Loosister, but the absolute gem of them all is Bali Brunch Helsinki, an unassuming restaurant serving Bali street food.
The food is always fresh, adequately spiced; well prepared and traditional. It’s almost like stepping into a genuine Balinese warung.
Address: Vaasankatu 13
A one star Michelin restaurant, Grön is a tribute to modern Nordic gastronomy. It’d be a shame not to add this restaurant to this list, though price wise it does go to my ”if i were a rich girl” category. Grön’s food is simply beautiful and made with fresh, seasonal and local ingredients. Whilst not a strictly vegan restaurant, it does offer a vegan menu where dishes such as New potatoes with black currant leaf flavours, sorrel and grass sauce and Buckwheat ”Pâte Brisée” topped with lovage and fresh, fermented and dried peas will dazzle even the most discerning of palates.
The wine list is also interesting, with plenty of natural and bio wines on offer.
Address: Albertinkatu 34