An interest in healthy eating has boosted the consumption of vegetarian food among Swedes. In the capital of Stockholm, there’s a multitude of restaurants for everyone interested in the green alternative. Let us guide you to some of them.
Chinese restaurant Lao Wai specializes in quality vegan, organic food. Photo: Emma Nilsson
Not that long ago, a request for vegetarian food was often met with slight disdain. Today, green food has entered school lunches and restaurant menus and there is much more acceptance, says Fredrik Larsson of Greenoption, a non-political organization promoting vegetarian eating.
“Interest, understanding and awareness of the advantages of vegetarian food have increased in Sweden,” Larsson says. “The time is ripe for green food and there’s a great deal indicating that it will be the food of the future.”
Some athletes eat vegan food in order to perform better, Larsson adds, defeating a common misconception that vegetarian food lacks protein and is not filling.
Cosmin Irina has been a vegetarian since 1993 and co-authored the Swedish vegetarian restaurant guide “Vego på stan.”
“A lot of people think that vegetarian food is boring, but so many restaurants prove the contrary,” Irina says. One of his favorite restaurants in Stockholm is Lao Wai, a Chinese restaurant where microwaves, canned goods and the much debated monosodium glutamate are banished.
Vegetarian Cosmin Irina enjoys the increase in choices for dining out in Stockholm and all over Sweden. Photo: Ryno Quantz
“Everything is vegan and organic and their spices prove that vegetarian food doesn’t have to be tasteless,” Irina says. He recommends Gong Bao Su Rou, a popular soy dish with dry chili, pepper, baby corn and roasted peanuts in a delicate sauce.
Lao Wai is located in the city’s Norrmalm district. The interior is pared down, simple, Scandinavian design and the place fills up quickly. Be prepared to wait for your food, as each dish is prepared individually.
Across town, on Södermalm, is Chutney, located in what Irina’s book refers to as “A vegetarian Bermuda triangle.” Chutney is a fairly typical vegetarian restaurant: laid-back and student-shabby. Portions are generous and flavorful and the vegan stews are tasty. This is one place in town where you can also order a glass of organic wine.
If you have any room left for dessert, there’s the Blå Lotus café, just a couple of doors down from Chutney. The vegan desserts at this India-inspired café are very reasonably priced, and while the menu is not strictly vegetarian, Blå Lotus does offer a number of vegetarian options.
The Blå Lotus café caters to a mixed Swedish clientele, and offers several reasonably priced vegan and vegetarian options. Photo: Emma Nilsson
All-you-can-eat buffets are also popular alternatives and Hermans on Fjällgatan is known not only for its huge vegetarian spread, but also for the spectacular view over Stockholm from its popular terrace. The buffet changes themes often, with influences from Asia, the Middle East, TexMex and the Mediterranean.
Leo Mickelsson Ujihara is a partner at the restaurant, which has been in business for 15 years. He says hummus, falafel and deep-fried pakoras are three popular dishes on the menu. Potatoes continue to play a big role in the Swedish diet and are also one of the main ingredients at Hermans. “We go through about 18,000 kilos of potatoes a year,” Mickelsson Ujihara says.
He believes that more people are becoming vegetarians because it's seen as a healthier alternative. “The ethical aspect has definitely increased as well because people are becoming more aware, largely thanks to the Internet,” he says.
Örtagården is another vegetarian restaurant offering a buffet. It's Stockholm’s oldest existing vegetarian restaurant, and has been on the scene since 1980.
With its high ceilings and grand piano, it’s a far cry from the funky Södermalm restaurants and not what you might expect of a vegetarian hangout, but the prices are reasonable and the all-you-can-eat hot and cold buffet will fill you up for the entire day. It’s a good vegetarian option in Stockholm’s Östermalm area, conveniently located above the elegant old food market.
Irina estimates that in addition to approximately 15 strictly vegetarian restaurants and cafés, there are an additional 30 or so semi-vegetarian restaurants. “I call them semi-vegetarian because almost 50 percent of their menus are vegetarian,” he says. “And many of these restaurants have the best veggies in town.”
He especially recommends such restaurants for dining in “mixed company”, with non-vegetarians. “Ethiopian, Indian, Persian, Lebanese and South East Asian restaurants, such as Abyssinia, Ellora, Little Persia and Malaysia (listed in Sweden’s best restaurant White Guide 2006), are very popular and have a big vegetarian selection,” Irina says. “And if you’re on a tight budget, almost every hot dog stand has a vegetarian alternative.”
Five veggie hotspots
This is where you can find our pick of vegetarian restaurants in Stockholm. Source: Google Maps
1. Lao Wai
Luntmakargatan 74, Stockholm
Katarina Bangata 19, Stockholm
3. Blå Lotus
Katarina Bangata 21, Stockholm
Fjällgatan 23, Stockholm
Nybrogatan 31, Stockholm
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Freelance writer Cari Simmons is an aspiring vegetarian. Eating her way through this article has contributed to that cause.
The author alone is responsible for the opinions expressed in this article.
© Photos 1 and 3: Emma Nilsson
© Photo 2: Ryno Quantz
Other related links
- Stockholm Food & Beverage Show – Good Cooking November 9–11, 2007, Stockholm International Fairs
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