Make the most of the long summer days with a trip to Finland’s seaside capital to explore its new crop of vegan and vegetarian-friendly cafés and restaurants. Everything from Finnish berry cocktails, raw rainbow brownies and the best places to forage mushrooms
Check out our top 10 places to eat and drink in Helsinki:
Top-notch service is a key element at Andante, a hip flower and coffee shop. The team serve mean coffees and matcha lattes, and the talented pastry chef has a passion for raw cakes; try a blackcurrant and lingonberry cupcake.
Vegetarian café, Cargo, takes its name from the container stores it’s bolted together from. Order a purple haze mocktail, made with wild Finnish berries and rose petals, and a kale caesar with avocado or a vegan burger with wild herbs and cauliflower fritter. It also has one of the best terraces in town for open-air dining.
Local Finnish design shop LOKAL is great for quality souvenirs (look out for Anna Kantanen’s elegant coffee pots). It also has a coffee shop that serves local ice creams in summer – try the blackcurrant leaf.
New Nordic Restaurant Grön does New Nordic cooking extremely well, using a wide range of ingredients. You’ll find wild plants, preserved foods and natural wines on the menu all year round – there’s always a choice between à la carte or a four-course menu of the day. Typical dishes include milk ice cream, roasted sunflower seeds, green coffee bean oil and roasted sunflower seed caramel. It’s great-value fine dining.
Date + Kale
The spanking new restaurant area on the fifth floor of Kamppi shopping centre is home to some great spots for a quick lunch overlooking the city. Favourites include Date + Kale, which does a busy trade in raw rainbow brownies and energising plant-based food bowls and dips; think coconut curry with sweet potato, cauliflower, lentils, coconut milk, pomegranate, coriander and black rice.
Expect new-wave brasserie food at The Cock. Run by Ville Relander and Richard McCormick, two stalwarts of the local restaurant scene, it’s known for its relaxed atmosphere (everyone is welcome, dressed up or down, at any time of day). Try the broccoli tempura with wasabi yogurt and avocado or the arancini with spicy tomato sauce and kale pesto.
A warehouse-style venue with modern bistro food, BasBas is also home to the best wine bar in town, with a hip clientele and small plates to share; think avocado and fennel on toast. The main menu is strong on classic French dishes made with quality ingredients. Great service is also part of its success.
A tiny coffee roastery and café, Maja is set in a 1970s shopping centre on the outskirts of the city, close to some lovely wild spaces. Fuel-up with a Kono drip coffee then head off island-hopping on foot or by bike. Close by are Lehtisaari and Kaskisaari, two of my favourite foraging spots for wild berries and mushrooms. Follow @majacoffeeroastery on Instagram.
Going strong for around 20 years, Silvopleeis the best-known vegan restaurant in town. No-one goes there for the decor but the lunchtime buffet (plates are priced by weight at the till) is packed with delicious homemade salads, dips and bakes. There’s also a café attached, serving smoothies, coffees and a collection of raw cakes.
A simple, stylish bistro serving classic Scandinavian dishes with great care, little fuss and a modern twist, Vinkkeli is one of the best restaurants in the city. Seasonality is big here – dishes often come laced with just-picked ingredients, such as a white chocolate panna cotta dotted with redcurrants – and it offers great wine pairings.
HOW TO DO IT
Return flights from London to Helsinki cost from around £85 (norwegian.com).