Vegetarian eats in Europe

I have been a vegetarian my entire life. My parents weren't hippies but they were progressive and ahead of their time, and while I had the choice of eating meat (my brother does), I choose not to.

Finding vegetarian friendly restaurants in Europe isn't too difficult. Actually, in most cities and larger towns it is quite easy. Many restaurants will indicate on the menu which items are meat-free or even vegan but some smaller towns (looking at you France) I have been served meat in dishes even after telling the waiters (in their language) that I don't eat meat. I have learned that I have to say "no chicken, no pig, no cow, no fish" for them to fully understand what no meat means. Or when in doubt I stick to pizza and cheese omelettes.

Even though I have a vegetarian diet, I am not a huge fan of "vegetarian/vegan only" restaurants. Part of it is bias as growing up the only vegetarian restaurants were "crunchy granola" type establishments - if you catch my drift; I may not eat meat but that doesn't mean I am a health nut. But I have seen a change in the restaurant industry - "normal" restaurants now usually have at least one vegetarian dish (or one that can be adapted to be veggie friendly) or there are modern "vegetarian" restaurants that I have seen popping up which are more about creative veggie recipes versus the standard hummus, veggie burger and soup options.

One of my favorite vegetarian restaurants is, surprisingly perhaps, in Munich - the land of sausages and beer. The restaurant is called Prinz Myshkin and it is located in the central historic area of Munich. We often make pit-stops when driving across the continent just so we (I) can eat there - it is that good in my opinion. What makes it so good? First, the ambiance. It is in a light-filled room with large glass windows and high ceilings, and is decorated with modern art and foliage. Very comfortable and airy space. Then there is the menu - there is a wide choice of options from pasta and noodle dishes to a variety of salads to ethnic choices (Indian, Asian, etc) to adaptations of German dishes to beautiful looking desserts (always too full to try but they look lovely!) They also have daily specials and that is what we typically order and they have always been top-notch. Definitely a "must" when you are in Munich! Restaurant address: Hackenstraße 2, 80331 München, Germany Open at 11am daily to midnight.

Munich also has an amazing daily food market at Viktualienmarkt (not too far from Prinz Myshkin). Make sure to stop by and get a freshly made juice, marvel at the exotic fruits and to pick up some locally made crafts as souvenirs.

Another favorite vegetarian-friendly place is in Amsterdam. It is a small local chain called Soup en Zo. They have 3 locations around Amsterdam and they feature freshly made soups (which made me love soup), a couple different salads and sandwiches (not at the Jodenbree location). The soup menu changes daily and they indicate which items are vegan or vegetarian so it makes it easy to choose what to order. I get excited when they have the Moroccan chickpea soup or anything potato. But I also love the cold gazpacho when it is hot out - so refreshing. The two locations we typically go to are at Spiegel (located at Nieuwe Spiegelstraat 54 on corner of Kerkstraat - not far from Leidseplein/Leidsestraat) or at Jodenbree (Jodenbreestraat 94 - a few doors down from the Rembrandthuis near Waterlooplein). The Spiegel location is small and does not have seating but we get it to go and take it to the nearby canal and have a picnic while watching the boats go by. The Jodenbree location is larger and has limited seating inside and a terrace outside. Zo lekker! (click on the location and you can choose "English" as the language for the daily menu)

Another favorite of mine in Amsterdam is the Indonesian rijsttafel. "Rijsttafel" translates from the Dutch to mean "rice table" and refers to an elaborate meal that is sort of like a buffet but just for your table. The dishes are served tapas-style and include specialties like spicy peanut satay, tempeh dishes, egg dishes and of course, rice dishes. You are typically given at least a dozen (r more!) different dishes to try. And it is amazing! There are several rijsttafel restaurants in Amsterdam but my favorite thus far is Kantijl & De Tijger. They do an excellent vegetarian version and are located in the heart of Amsterdam - near Spui. Pricing is reasonable for the amount that you receive. They also have a "to-go" location next door in case you are in a hurry (or want to do a picnic!)  Address: Spuistraat 291-293, 1012 VS Amsterdam

These are just a handful of my favorite restaurants in Europe that are vegetarian friendly. Have a recommendation? I'd love to hear about it - please comment below!

Happy eating! :)

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