Five culinary highlights in Munich
In Munich, the cosmopolitan city with a heart on the beautiful Isar beach, hardly a day goes by without a new restaurant opening somewhere and another having to close somewhere else. The competition is fierce and it is difficult to generate high rents or lease taxes. In the Munich speculative shark tank, only large gastro chains can often exist either with chic or with Ballermann charm or some pseudo-motto focus. But even in chic Munich, with its decorative house facades that have been perfectly restored almost everywhere and a complete lack of vacant lots for a long time, more fine alternative gastro flowers with ideas suitable for grandchildren and sustainability standards have been blooming for some time.
However, there were actually innovative organic restaurants in our cosmopolitan village back in the days when people did not yet fill our traditional sunbathing lawns, the bike paths, the kindergartens, and you could still find affordable apartments and places in restaurants in Munich also during the week without reservation. Some of these bars have stood the test of time and have continued their idealistic concept for decades. I have the honor and pleasure of presenting some of these species here.
1. Prince Myshkin - Munich's vegetarian pioneer
Where vegetarian and vegan restaurants are now springing up one after the other (and unfortunately far too often soon disappear again), there used to be fallow land as far as vegetarian cuisine was concerned. Of course you could also find dishes without meat in all restaurants - whether German, Italian, Greek or other. But sometimes that was just pasta with sauce or often just side dishes or salad. But then Torsten Blüher seized an opportunity in 1984 and was in the former brewhouse of the Hacker brewery, right in the middle between Marienplatz and Sendlinger Tor Prince Myshkin opened. The first purely vegetarian restaurant in Munich and one of the first in all of Europe. Since then, the Prinz Myshkin has been a fixture in Munich's restaurant scene.
Upon entering the restaurant, the view falls into a large columned hall full of smaller and larger tables. Golden lamps seem to float below the ceiling. Upholstered benches run along the wall and to the right is a metre-long illuminated glass counter full of cakes, fruit, antipasti and other delicacies.
On the high walls are individual colorful pictures that seem to have been made for this location with their strong presence and conciseness and yet a harmonizing effect. Torsten Blüher always wanted to convey this mood with his prince. No dogmatic vegetarianism, but the good feeling that healthy eating causes in a relaxed atmosphere.
The audience is mixed. Many guests who come today have eaten here with their parents or grandparents before.
Torsten Blüher is also still in contact with many former employees. Some of those who have been in the kitchen here over the years have gone on to open restaurants themselves, often with a vegan/vegetarian focus, somewhere around the world.
Enjoy a delicious meal away from the chic crowd in Munich
Neither then nor now was the Prinz Myshkin a place for Munich's chic crowd. There are no extravagant dishes here, but beautiful and inspiring dishes without meat. Something like tofu stroganoff - marinated tofu cubes in the typical delicious sauce. Or Spinach and ricotta dumplings with sage butter, parmesan and roasted pine nuts. Seitan ragout with potato gratin, Thai curry or gratinated buckwheat pancakes with filling are also on offer. Vegan alternatives have long been available for many dishes. Such as with the delicious tagliatelle with truffles or the chocolate mousse.
The food is mainly fresh ingredients, many of which are organic and regional. When it comes to pizza, you can choose between classic dough or whole-grain spelled. In addition to the dishes from the menu, there is also a weekly changing seasonal offer. By the way, the Prinz Myshkin is a good address if you really have an appetite and are hungry, because the portions are usually quite large.
2. Bellevue Café - social, colourful, delicious!
It all started with a "gorilla" campaign for the preservation of an admittedly rather run-down house in the middle, but really in the heart of downtown. All three houses on the property were to be demolished to make way for a massive and expensive new build. Instead, a group of activists in gorilla costumes, including several celebrities, stormed the building and renovated one of the apartments, which was considered unsanitary. Thanks to the positive publicity of the campaign, they achieved the desired goal. The houses were allowed to remain, were restored and today, as the social project Bellevue di Monaco, stands for Munich's colorful welcome culture.
Refugees are accommodated in the apartments, and there are sewing and bicycle workshops in the basement. There are German courses and all kinds of advice, sports, cultural events and much more. It is a window into the city and a special place for exchange between locals and refugees Bellevue Cafe thought. Located directly at a crossroads, it is visible from afar with its large panes of glass and bright furnishings.
There is a standard menu and a changing weekly menu with international vegetarian and vegan dishes. The compilation is planned together with the employees with a refugee background from different nations and also prepared by them.
A Syrian semolina dish or a Lebanese bread salad, a Senegalese bean stew or the colorful mezze plate taste great - just really original and homemade.
And as is to be expected with a social project, but quite an exception for Munich, guests can decide the price for lunch and Saturday brunch themselves in solidarity.
The amount of ingredients required is always planned very precisely so that there are few leftovers that might otherwise have to be thrown away. Buying is mostly local, fresh and unpackaged and, where possible, in organic quality. The vegan croissants are a highlight of the Fairtrade coffee, optionally with organic milk or an oat alternative. Cakes and tarts made from organic ingredients are made by a confectioner for the café. And the lemonades and gin and tonic are also “organic” here.
For energy-saving temperature control of all these delicacies, there is now finally a more attractive and energy-efficient refrigerated counter and refrigerated cell.
Incidentally, special attention should be paid to the furniture. The chairs and tables were developed as a project with students and refugees especially for the Bellevue Café. They are assembled in regular workshops and offered for sale as individual pieces with individual motifs. The proceeds from this then flow entirely into other social and colorful projects of the Bellevue di Monaco.
Sitting on this furniture, eating, drinking and chatting, you will find a colorful mix of people of all ages in the Bellevue Café. Contacts between strangers are easy, whether stimulated by enjoying the exotic dishes or by the special multi-sided shape of the tables, which is intended to promote communication. And maybe the people who come here are simply open-minded by nature.
3. RUFFINI – organic cantina without a boss
It has been around since 1978 Ruffini in Munich Neuhausen. It was founded by a few long-haired "children of the 68 movement" who wanted to do "everything differently" back then. From the beginning everything should be discussed, decided and carried out collectively. Every shareholder had equal rights and was responsible for everything. And that's how it's been working for more than 40 years now.
However, where in the past the individual partners were sometimes more and sometimes less experienced in the preparation of the dishes in a rotation process, a permanent crew of passionate, career-changing chefs now reigns in the kitchen. The menu at Ruffini has always been organic, Italian and Mediterranean. The daily offer is written on a large board right at the entrance. Simple classics come with special ingredients. For example, the Insalata Caprese with mozzarella made from buffalo milk or the Pasta Bolognese with lamb instead of the usual beef. There are always delicious dishes for vegetarians, such as pasta with aubergine sauce, creative vegetable risottos or salads with marinated cheese. There is a wine list of the best quality to go with the large selection of cheeses.
In general, the Ruffini with the large guest room and the beautiful roof terrace was actually only supposed to be a wine bar. Right from the start, the operators have made more and more contacts with various social or organic winegrowing companies, especially in Italy. Every year, the wine group of the Ruffini shareholders goes on a wine trip to the wine growers and to the wine fair in order to be able to present their latest discoveries at Ruffini to the people of Munich who stayed at home.
But good, yes very good, that the founders of Ruffini were forced to take over and run the bakery and bakery in addition to the restaurant. Because there are people who say that Ruffini has the most delicious dishes Cake in Munich. This is of course a matter of taste. So I'll say it diplomatically: there could be something to it.
If you look closely, you can still discover remnants of history here and there in the bright restaurant. Parts of the furnishings come from times long past and often forgotten. Some chairs and tables are actually antique leftovers from the 1930s. However, the attitude and spirit at Ruffini have been unwaveringly freedom-thinking and communal for over 40 years. This is also reflected in the whole atmosphere and the interaction between guests and employees.
The Ruffini is somehow still as sustainable and beautifully "different" as the founders wished it to be back then.
4. KLINGLWIRT – Bavarian and organic
When you're in Minga (Munich), I'll have a Bavarian meal afterwards. But sustainable sois stop be. Yes, my friend, you go to the Klingwirt in Haidhausen.
Whether it's a hearty roast pork or an a gscheide snack, meat or fish patties, dumplings or potato salad and an apple strudel with vanilla sauce, you'll find it all here. But in organic quality and regional. Sonja Obermeier comes from a host family and after grandpa's inn had long since closed, she thought she would open her own, under the same name but with a new concept. She eats vegetarian to vegan herself and climate protection has long been a central topic for her personally. So only regional and organic quality came into question for your restaurant.
Out in the country where she comes from, she knows the farmer with the happy free-ranging chickens and the Herrmannsdorfer organic meat farm is also nearby. And so all the high-quality regional and organic ingredients are now processed into typical Bavarian dishes in their cozy red-painted restaurant in the middle of Munich. With meat or without meat and more and more vegan dishes are on offer.
Some dishes are available in sizes small, normal, large, so that there are as few leftovers as possible that then have to be thrown away. After all, not every modern guest has such a pig stomach as the original inhabitants of the region, who used to work hard. And modernly there's here in the Klinglwirt Incidentally, there are also changing tables in the men's toilet. A shelf with children's books and games is available in the hallway for the little guests, and the grown-ups can also play cards here. Just like in a real pub.
In order to operate as ecologically and climate-friendly as possible, green electricity is of course used, deliveries come in reusable packaging and disposable packaging is compostable. The wall paneling that was already in place has been refurbished and the tables are also old.
Sonja Obermeier's concept worked. Your Klinglwirt is on a quiet street corner opposite a small church. This almost feels a little bit village despite being in the middle of the city. The clientele consists of regulars and walk-in customers from the district, but there are also many from further afield who value the consistent sustainability concept. The same is true for the employees, who like it and who therefore explicitly want to work here and not somewhere else.
Wanting to do good also creates a good mood.
Sonja Obermeier's best friend has written a humorous book about the adventure of opening her own pub. The restaurateur herself has recently started Business Coaching for the transition to sustainable gastronomy.
5. SIGGIS v/gan dine & co – vegan rocks!
It's around the corner from some of the busiest hotspots in Munich's trendy district on a slightly quieter street SIGGIS v/gan dine & co Opened in 2020 in a historic location. Older Munich residents will probably still be familiar with the “Joe Peñas” and the “Juleps”, which served Tex-Mex and cocktails here for years. The Siggis team has taken over much of the existing furniture and equipment and upcycled it to save resources. Here and there you can still see a few nostalgic old tiles, but on the walls there are now new, beautifully framed photos of living and deceased godfather chickens and goats, which SIGGIS helps to maintain.
Because the founder Sigrid Lutz has long been a vegetarian and vegan, primarily for animal-ethical reasons. After attending a cooking class with Sebastian Copien, she came up with the idea for "SIGGIS v/gan". Meanwhile, together with her son Florian Högel, she has been pushing this idea forward for a few years.
The restaurant in Munich was opened in 2020. Burgers, coffee and more were to follow. They only made it through the lockdown with the support of friends of SIGGIS, whose names are now immortalized on a pillar in the restaurant.
SIGGIS is still looking for fellow campaigners and world improvers who would like to make a contribution according to Sigrid Lutz's motto: be the change you wish to see in the world.
The company's website counts the company's saved tons of CO2 and hectoliters of water. The trees planted on a blackboard in the restaurant. Flyers and information material for all sorts of sustainable alternatives to read or take away are available on a counter. The motive is very clear: to make the world a bit better, fairer, more sustainable and more beautiful for all beings living in it.
That's why SIGGIS processes products that are produced as fairly as possible and are regional. Of course only with green electricity. It is also important for the company to offer its employees a fair and pleasant working environment.
The chef Sebastian Copien has been a close collaborator of SIGGIS right from the start. He has taken on the training of the restaurant's chefs and is also instrumental in putting together the menu and developing the dishes. SIGGIS now has all sorts of delicacies, some of which are well-known, from European, Arabic, Japanese or Indian cuisine. But all 100% vegan and titled with suitable, funny or fancy names. For example the "CUDDLY" wrapped dates, the anti-hunting schnitzel "CRISPY" with mushroom cream sauce or "IMMUNE", the planted.pulled pork chimichurri gyros. A vegan lasagna is also on offer. And of course wraps and beyond burgers and salads and a wide variety of finger food. Also gluten-free pasta and various milk alternatives, including a homemade "house milk" based on cashews. There is sure to be something for every taste.
Just how meatballs without meat can taste like meat or vegan tartar sauce like the originals with egg, that remains a real secret.
The vegan cakes and "cream" tortes are made by a confectioner especially for the Siggis. My personal tip for dessert, however, is DELICIOUS in the truest sense of the word – the dark chocolate mousse with peach puree.
Have fun on the culinary tour through Munich's gastro offers! If you are looking for other delicious highlights in other cities, you will find them here:
© Photos: Prince Myshkin, Bellevue Café, Ruffini / Peter von Felbert, Klinglwirt, Siggis v/gan dine & co