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In Riga, you can feast like a king. Whether you are vegan or omnivorous, you get your money’s worth. If you think of European cities, Riga certainly would not be on top of the list. Why should you travel to Riga? Is it worth it? And what are the vegan options there?
Visiting Riga, is it worth it?
Riga is no metropolis like London or Paris, but there is a lot to discover. In 5 days, we went through the Old City several times. But within the quite small area, there is so much to discover. Besides the many churches and other historic buildings, there are numerous interesting museums, bars, and shops. We would have needed more days to explore all the different spots. You should definitely take advantage of the native‘s insider tips. Riga has so much more to offer than at first sight.
I put my focus on the food. I love food and the Latvians, too.
„Latvians are foodies“, said our tour guide Gita, as we began our tour at the famous and often photographed “House of the Black Heads”. On the one hand, there are many Fine Dining restaurants that you can find all over the city. On the other hand, you can above all taste it. There was not a single dish that wasn’t tasty. This has never happened before! And to be honest, I would describe myself as really skeptical.
Vegan food in Riga
Eating vegan is no problem at all. In renowned Fine Dining restaurants as well as cute coffee houses and natural food restaurants we feasted like queens. We felt like we were in a different time with the medieval architecture and furniture and centuries-old originals. Riga enchanted us completely.
My sister is as obsessed with food as I am but she does not upload as much on Instagram as I do. She has already traveled with me to Iran and she joined me on road trips to Italy and the Netherlands. I highly recommend the blog posts on these trips.
Below I will present to you some food spots that we liked very much. I considered especially the variety, the taste and the atmosphere of the restaurant.
Maybe you have heard that name before. This is because healthy snacks are also sold under the same name, e.g. at Foodist and in organic shops in Germany. 2 years ago, I tried raw food cookies, which are now sold as “slow-dried” products. Liane, the marketing representative of The Beginnings, recognized me in the shop and gave me a selection of the products. I was so happy! The best thing about traveling is that you can find like-minded people everywhere. I can highly recommend the almond biscuits with cranberries. My sister and I are both huge fans of the hearty almond-based crackers. They are perfect for health-conscious sweet toothers!
The Beginnings stands for healthy and nutritious products. The menu is also designed according to this concept. Although the restaurant is not completely vegan, most dishes are plant-based. The restaurant calls itself “Healthy Vegan Restaurant”. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it? That’s why it lands in 1st place.
Menu: various burgers, salads, bowls, noodles, raw food dishes, rice dishes, many smoothies, matcha, kombucha, cakes, raw food balls, snickers
Furnishings: Cosy, simple, spacious, shop in a restaurant
Secret Tip: Try the homemade Kombucha! It tastes very mild with a pleasant peach note. If you haven’t been a Kombucha fan yet, you are sure to like it!
Overall rating: 10/10
Terapija Vegan Cafe
On weekends, you can have an excellent brunch here. The whole buffet offers vegan dishes. During the week, the restaurant offers delicious burgers and other vegan dishes at low prices. The salads from the buffet are very creative and contain healthy ingredients. Next to The Beginnings, this is my favourite restaurant.
Healthy + vegan + delicious = goals.
Menu: Salads, warm dishes, burgers, houmous, wraps, cakes, raw desserts, summer rolls, soups, seasonal dishes.
Furnishings: Cosy, medium size, wooden chairs, many plants, “Insta-worthy”
Secret Tip: If you like Tiramisu, try it! It does not taste much like coffee, but the biscuit base is a fluffy dream. It’s great that there is the layer of fruit in it. I love it!
Overall rating: 10/10
In Riga, there are numerous coffee and tea houses, and they all invite you to linger. Latvia’s cold climate is definitely one reason. In September, the temperatures were between 3 and 15 degrees. If it is that uncomfortable outside, the Latvians make it the more comfortable inside. Many bring their laptops or study stuff and stay a little longer. However, some coffee houses have a prohibit the use of laptops between 12 and 16 o’clock.
In the MIIT Café you can have breakfast, lunch or dinner, and you can try the dishes of the day. We wanted to try the brunch but were a few minutes too late. At 12 o’clock, the buffet is set up with lunch dishes, and they do not serve breakfast anymore. Instead of having waffles and pancakes, we decided to go for a sandwich, wraps and banana bread. We also had the most authentic homemade Snickers in Riga. Everything tasted very good, but for me, it could have been a bit spicier. The staff toasted the sandwich on request, which took about 10 minutes. The dishes are all vegetarian or vegan.
Menu: Salads, desserts, wraps, sandwiches (also for take away), cakes, snickers
Furnishings: Very comfortable, comfortable sofas, tables for 2-4 persons, small but cozy
Secret Tip: The banana bread! It costs only €1 and tastes great.
Overall rating: 7/10
As the name suggests, many dishes are served with pumpkin. The restaurant is also decorated with pumpkins. The menu is completely vegan and offers various dishes, from hummus and soups to burgers, pasta and homemade mulled wine. This tasted like warmed up red wine, not as sweet as we know the one from the Christmas Market.
The prices are relatively extremely high. For a cup of wine we paid €6, and for the main courses we paid around €10, for Riga it is unusually high. But the location is amazing, as the restaurant is surrounded by the enchanting Old Town. At the Indian restaurant next door, the prices were moderate. We still wonder why Fat Pumpkin demands such high prices.
Menu: Salads, noodles, burgers, houmous, starters, soups, mulled wine, snickers
Furnishings: Cosy but chic, perfect for dinner
Secret Tip: Here we had the best Snickers. The caramel is just like the original.
Overall rating: 8/10
We have not been able to visit all restaurants with vegan options, of course. It was therefore important to us to visit at least the purely vegan ones. Nevertheless, we could have easily tried something new every day for 2-3 days more. There are many vegan-friendly restaurants in Riga.
We visited these spots and can recommend them:
- Valtera Restorans (fine dining)
- 3 Chefs Restaurant (fine dining)
- Bhajan Café (completely vegan, try the Oreo brownies!!)
- Indian Raja (delicious Indian food)
On Instagram you wrote down your tips in response to my story sticker. So, here are some more restaurants and coffee houses that you recommend in Riga:
- Garda pupa (veggie)
- Tearoom RUNA (vegan)
- Zeroveikals (Zero Waste Shop)
- Herbarijs Cafe (for the view!)
- Maza Terapija (veggie)
- Nirvana (raw food)
- Mr Fox
More cool things to do in Riga
During our stay in Riga we didn’t just eat, of course, even though it sometimes seemed like that in my Instagram Stories. 😀
We walked around a lot, took a guided city tour (highly recommended!), and visited the Central Market with locals. By the way, this one is not really touristic and highly recommended. You can leave out the meat and fish halls and just have a look at the architecture as well as the fruit and vegetable market. I always find it really interesting to see what people in other countries eat. In Latvia, mushrooms and cranberries grow wild in the forest and are offered at every corner, and all other kinds of berries, some fruits and a variety of local vegetables.
We spent the first 3 nights in the Grand Poet Hotel. This is a very artfully furnished 5* hotel with a spa landscape and a sumptuous buffet. The porridge is boiled with water at the breakfast buffet and is therefore vegan. They also offered granola, chia seeds, soy milk, various fruits, nuts and seeds, dried fruit, mushrooms, potatoes, green beans, baked beans, bread, pickled vegetables, olives and raw vegetables. Our only suggestion for improvement would be including vegan spreads like houmous. The hotel offers 4 different sauna rooms from 40 to 100 degrees and a swimming pool. The Junior Suite was a dream. We were really happy.
I would also like to give you some shopping tips, but unfortunately, we didn’t really find anything to recommend. Some of you recommend the Humana, 3 of which are very close to each other. This is a very cheap second hand shop. In the Brivibas iela (this is a street) there are a few more cute shops and outlet stores for bargain hunting. In the BOLD Concept Store you can find quite expensive designer pieces by local artists. The bookstore Mr Page has also been recommended several times.
The Black Magic Bar was unexpectedly one of my above all highlights. At first, I was sceptical when our tour guide Gita told me about the local liquor called “Black Balsam”. The traditional brew contains 45% alcohol and a lot of regional herbs, flowers, oils and berries according to an ancient recipe. The drink is said to have digestive and medicinal beneftis, which is why it is not only suitable for intoxication. My sister and I shared a warm black currant juice refined with “Black Balsam” in the dark medieval cellar (we reached it by entering a bookcase and decorated like Professor Snape’s laboratory for potions).
Conclusion: Unexpectedly delicious and an unforgettable experience.
Conclusion: 5 days Riga
Apart from the weather, I can’t write anything bad about Riga. That’s why I recommend it to you: Visit Riga, if it comes up! It was recommended several times to plan a little more time and to visit Vilnius or Talinn and Helsinki. Also St. Petersburg is not far away from Riga. Maybe next time I’ll make a road trip through the region. But then definitely in summer and not in September, where temperatures around zero degrees are common. From October on it can even snow. In December, the city is worth a visit again, because Christmas is celebrated very extensively twice in a row (Christian + Orthodox).
Next time I would definitely visit some of the museums (e.g. the occupation museum) and the Petrikirche. From there you have a wonderful view on the city. The ticket office closes at 5 o’clock, so get there in time! Going up costs €7 for students and €9 in regular. Unfortunately, we missed the opening hours, although we would have liked to have seen the city from above. Maybe you will make it!
And finally a big thank you to Air Baltic for the pleasant arrival and departure and @rigastories for organizing a cooking workshop, a Pancars Rally through the city (highly recommended in larger groups, the invitation to various restaurants and the outstanding organisation of our trip!
Thanks for reading & enjoy your Riga trip!
P.S.: We were experienced 2 magical sunsets – I have heard in the Baltic countries they are particularly beautiful.