When I first visited Denmark ten years ago I was vegetarian and found it near impossible to eat well. At dinner at a host’s house I was presented with a meatloaf and then a look of confusion when I explained I didn’t eat meat. Or chicken. Or fish. Instead I had to eat potatoes and carrots and feel like a burden to my host. In fairness most of that trip was in the north which is probably still not as hot on veggie and vegan options like the cosmopolitan capital Copenhagen but I reckon that attitudes and understanding across the country have changed massively as it moves towards most sustainable and conscious cooking.
Around five years ago a collective group called Mad med Medfølelse (Food with Compassion) were formed with the intention of promoting the benefits of veganism, and it’s not surprise that since then Copenhagen has gradually evolved to a city which boasts several vegan restaurants and fantastic vegan options at other places. So researching this city was a welcome surprise! There are the higher end places like Botaniq and Raw42 which we didn’t have time to visit, but we certainly made a dent on plenty of other places in three days. If you’re concerned that Copenhagen is expensive please don’t let that put you off. Sure prices are more than anywhere else I’ve visited and I live in London so I’m used to pricier options, but a few days there won’t break your bank and you can shop in Aldi or Netto and have some meals in if you have an apartment or get smaller snacks from the abundance of bakeries.
I’d read that Kalaset in Nørrebro serves the best brunch in town so it was a no brainer of a first stop. Sitting outside and soaking up the sun was a great enough start to the holiday but then the food arrived and I was in heaven. The vegan brunch was a dreamy combination of falafel, lentil ratatouille with roasted vegetables and potatoes, olive tapenade, hummus, rye bread and sourdough bread, fruit, soya yoghurt with granola plus 100% homemade condiments: vegan ‘Nutella’, ketchup and jam. At 125KR (approx. £13) it is a pretty pricey option but if you gawp at the prices in Copenhagen you’d never eat anything, and once you taste the food at Kalaset the bill will not matter!
The next stop was Naturbagiet, an almost 100% vegan and gluten free bakery plus health food stockist nearby Kalaset. The women pointed at one whole shelf, bar a cheesy focaccia, and the whole of another shelf as being vegan! This included brownies, carrot cake, date energy balls, banana bread, pastries, breads. The choice was overwhelming! I’m a sucker for carrot cake so I went for that. It was an absolutely massive wedge and I ended up nibbling on it over the whole weekend. At 17-25KR per cake the prices weren’t ridiculous.
Our first evening meal was at vegetarian café Morgenstedet in the hippy freetown of Christiania. Luckily we made it here 15 minutes before closing, although that did mean that some dishes had already run out. However we got several dishes to share which actually was awesome as meant we sampled several things. The spinach and Persian herb soup with poppy seed bread was sublime – just look at it’s green goodness below! Next up was the Hokkaido sauce with ginger and lime served with brown rice and steamed rice which was full of zing and flavour. And finally a small plate of pasta salad with vegetables and crunchy but juicy carrot salad. This is one of the most chilled out places you could probably dine in Copenhagen, given it’s location, and you really get a sense of community feel. The main was 100KR, soup 50KR and side salad 50KR which shared between us was really reasonable.
Brunch number two followed the next day, this time at Café N. Another one I’d heard others rave about so I’m not sure if we just went on a dud day as whilst the food was good, it wasn’t amazing and the selection was rather random as the dishes didn’t really seem to go together. I went for the brunch at this 100% vegan café which included tofu, seitan, tzatziki, hummus, fruit, bread and salad, and there were two veggie balls which I presumed were the advertised croquettes, but as T’s dish came with some sort of pattie instead of veggie balls as on the menu we weren’t quite sure what was what! He went for the ‘N Plate’ which was mainly salads and some fruit (although just one slice of kiwi til I donated more to him!). It was still a good vegan meal, I just think our expectations were so high after Kalaset the day before. However, it is a more affordable option with both plates coming in at 99KR. Other options on the menu included a vegan burger which looked rather yummy!
In the afternoon we made a quick pit stop at DØP near the Roundtower, one of the organic hotdog stalls in town. The veggie sausage is indeed vegan and if you state you’re vegan they won’t put remoulade (creamy sauce) on it. Instead you get a tasty long hotdog inside a sourdough bun topped with crispy onions, raw onions, ketchup, homemade chunky mayo and pickled cucumber. At 35KR this is a perfect snack or small lunch. There’s also a bunless option of the sausage served in a box with stewed kale and beetroot.
We had so many ideas for dinner that it was nearly impossible to decide. So we opted for a happy hour cocktail at cosy German bar Von Fressen to mull it over. As soon as we saw their menu we knew we’d hit gold and it was burgers for dinner – my first in a long time as I’d gone cold turkey since my intense research of London’s top vegan burgers. This burger though blew pretty much all the ones I’d had in London out of the water! The patty was made from spinach and lentils and topped with olive tapenade, carrot, red onion, roasted red peppers, pickled cucumber and hummus, all within a brown seeded bun. Well, actually it was perched beautiful in a semi-tower which was so pretty I didn’t want to move it and which was quite a feat to build and get in my mouth – it oozed everywhere! I had to dismantle it and eat it in bits, but it still tasted just as good. We also shared some roasted potatoes which were crisp heavenly little pockets of fluffy potato – better than chips! There were several other vegan options on the menu too, including a delicious sounding brunch, so it’s a recommendation for any time of day. The burgers were 95KR and the potatoes 35KR which can be shared between two so again, not a bank-breaking meal.
After a small breakfast in the apartment of rye bread, tomatoes and cucumber we headed back to Christianhavn, this time to Copenhagen Street Food Market which has over 30 stalls from around the world. Situated on the riverside in a warehouse, several of the stalls are made from shipping containers and are all very industrial chic. Whilst it’s lacking in anywhere 100% vegan there are a couple of vegetarian places: one raw food with mainly sushi and juices on offer and one Columbian veggie street food where all options could be veganised. However there’s an abundance of vegan options at other stalls including Thai, Indian, falafel, pizza (of which there were 6 vegan options including asparagus cream and fried celeriac and almond pesto with garlic, tomatoes and gratined courgettes) and Korean – which I opted for from Bulko. Whilst tempted by the tofu bibimbap (rice with veg and tofu) I decided to go for the sweet potato noodles as I’d never had these before. The noodles are served on a bed of rice and vegetables and then topped with tofu, sesame oil and optional chilli sauce. A filling and delicious dish and at 80KR it was one of the slightly cheaper options in the market which ranged from 50KR for the pizza slices to 90KR for the Columbian food.
That evening we had intentions to go to a ramen bar or one of the bars on Blågårdsgade (Harbo Bar is run by vegetarian sisters and has good vegan options) but we ended up hanging out with some friends at a local festival and before we knew it, it was 9pm on Sunday night and most places stopped serving food. So our friend recommended Five Star for falafel on Nørrebrogade. It wass very basic but very affordable an ended up being a great little find. I was so hungry I didn’t take a photo of my falafel wrap (Tristan almost fell off his seat with shock!) but I can attest that it was mouth-watering magnificent. We went for the durum wrap instead of pitta, which was stuffed full of falafel, salad and hummus and served with chunky chilli oil on the side. I’d maybe go as far to say as it’s the best falafel I’ve had, not including the falafel guys on Chapel Market in London – I don’t think they’ll ever be beaten! It was also the cheapest meal we had at 35KR a wrap – a bargain in Copenhagen!
Three days in Copenhagen just wasn’t enough and there were so many other foodie discoveries to be made. I will most definitely be back!