First things first, what did we eat in Riga, Latvia? Despite the language barrier and lack of info on plant-based options, we did find some nice places and vegan eats. Old Town has some lovely cafes and bars with a great atmosphere but most veggie restaurants are located outside of it. Vegetarian seemed to be more of a thing in Riga and you’re more likely to find vegetarian restaurants than vegan ones.
On this trip we didn’t have our own kitchen as we stayed in a hotel. This means we ate most of our meals out. On some occasions we also skipped meals and snacked but that might happen while travelling! Here’s what we found vegan in Riga.
Double Coffee Old Town
Vaļņu iela 11, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050
You will probably spot a Double Coffee or two of this Latvian chain of cafes. Their branches are pretty cosy and a nice place to hang out in. There’s also the Caffeine chain but we didn’t go to any as they were always quite packed with people. We went in for coffee at the ‘Old Town’ Double Coffee at least a couple of times. It was a large an ambient space inside. They have table service and a fancy menu in form of a magazine, which is creative!
On the beverage menu is the usual – variety of coffees, teas some mocktails and fresh fruits juices or smoothies. They offer at least soy milk as plant based option. It costs +50 cents (dairy should stop being subsidized?). They have matcha latte, which I’m glad I tried, it was very well made and strong. I once also ordered the fruit smoothie – filling combo of pure mango, kiwi and strawberries. We didn’t eat anything there. They have a food menu but don’t bother looking, there’s nothing much plant based on it. You can find some onion rings or potato fries if you like.
Strada Coffee & Tea
Jāņa iela 5, Rīga, LV-1010
On a pretty street not far from the St. Peter’s church in Old Town, you will find this local design cafe serving speciality coffees and also aero-pressed. We ordered one regular cappuccino with oat milk and an aeropress coffee. It was a cool place with modern artwork and design. Service wasn’t so great at the time, there was just one guy and he didn’t seem so interested in taking our order. But whatever, the coffee was strong. I had it on almost empty stomach – we had just finished the free walking tour of Old town Riga!
Only later, while writing this post, I found out that among the speciality coffees they serve is also ‘Kopi Luwak’. If you didn’t know: it’s the one where an animal ingests coffee beans and what comes out of it. Kopi Luwak is obtained from the feces of Asian Palm Civets – a small mammal native to Southeast Asia now threatened due to poaching and illegal trade. Why? Poop coffee, everyone! Sold under the idea of a speciality, luxurious and expensive coffee. In reality, it’s not even coffee but a form of digested coffee beans.
It’s sad to see this place selling such stuff. I don’t know where their kopi luwak originates from but it’s simply unethical to be selling it. Asian Palms civets are found to be caught from the wild, caged and force fed coffee berries for this. Not to mention, this increases the risk of zoonotic diseases !!
It would be a good idea to check out the highly rated Crumble Cake just opposite Strada (we wish we had gone there instead). Also at the end of the very same street, you will find the next café.
Kalēju iela 23, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050
Spotted this place on our first day in Riga, it was only a minute away from our hotel. Situated in a fancy building at the corner, it looked like the perfect place to go for a snack. It said on the display that they have ‘natural ice creams’ and we were sure to find something vegan. We went there only on our last day in Riga and were surprised to find vegan waffles on menu.
It was a pretty good treat along with the strawberry sorbet scoop. The staff was eager to give us advice on what to teas to try. They had a variety of herbal teas and we went with a pot of Rooibos. We wish we had time to go there again, I sure wanted another waffle! They also have vegan salad bowl if you need a proper meal.
Mūkusalas iela 3, Zemgales priekšpilsēta, Rīga, LV-1048
How awesome is this!? The National Library of Latvia in Riga has it’s own vegan café. The library building is a sight you will see on the other side of the river from Old Town, it stands out with it’s modern architecture. We found Divi Raini listed on HappyCow. Unfortunately it was closed when we visited. There was a note on the door. Things are unpredictable in the covid times. I thought of mentioning it anyway as it seems like a good place.
Lāčplēša iela 10, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1010
This happening cafe serves great coffee & food. It’s outside Old Town so you might need to take a bus or cab depending on where you’re staying.
I had a herbal tea with lunch and tried the vegan sandwich with ‘salmon’, avo and vegan cream cheese. I didn’t like it as they used dill and it actually tasted fishy, gave it to J and ordered a lunch bowl – which was a good choice! It was warm and nourishing – salad, quinoa with sweet potato soy chili. Since this is a vegetarian place it’s good to specify you want the vegan version just in case. Lunch bowls were about 6€. And most of the desserts were vegan!
Grēcinieku iela 11A, Centra rajons, Rīga, LV-1050
If you’re looking for a great place to eat or drink in Old Town, this is it. Again, this was not far from our hotel (Wellton Centrum) and we spotted the signboard outside saying something about ‘vegan dishes’ on our first night out in Riga. Cosy place with good vibes. It’s local name is something we can’t pronounce – Grēcinieku Ezītis Miglā.
While most of the restaurants in the Old Town serve the kind of food that should have stayed in the medieval ages, this one is more contemporary with some fresh plant-based options to choose from (also fast food). We were there on two occasions, once just for drinks and fries. The next time we tried their vegan wrap and falafel burger (vegan). The burger was really good and came with a tasty salad. The wrap was a tofu, bean and veggie wrap with lots of sweet chili sauce.
Gardā pupa – vegetarian
Zemgale Suburb, Riga, LV-1048
This place was a saviour. We were hungry and couldn’t any place open with good options and we came across this vegetarian lunch buffet restaurant. In fact, we walked here all the way from the National Library of Latvia (it’s on the same side of the river). It’s by a main road and beside some hardware store. A calm restaurant run by a couple of women, serving very homely food. Everything on the buffet was vegan the day we went.
There was peppery gravy with soy, chili sweet corn, noodle soup, veggies and barley rice. We couldn’t believe that a whole plate of food for 2 people cost less than 10 euros. Healthy and satisfying lunch. They also play classical music 🙂 Payment accepted only in cash as some other places in Riga.
Dzirnavu iela 113a, Latgales priekšpilsēta, Rīga, LV-1011
When I travel to other countries, I always end up going to the Indian restaurants there. Banana Leaf was one of the best finds. They had most staple south Indian dishes on the menu – dosas, idli, vada, etc. On the menu they have marked items with a green leaf but this just means vegetarian and could contain dairy. We went here a couple of times just to have as many dosas as possible before returning to Finland. The food was much like home-made Indian food that every Indian living abroad misses!
The staff was friendly and one of them also made sure everything was vegan (I assumed puri was but they told us that batter had milk in it.. why oh why?). So we had Pakoras, plain dosas, Podi dosas (with fried lentil powder) and masala dosa! They came along with spicy sambar and some watery chutney. We also had the chana masala with rotis, it was pretty good. Overall good value for money. Finding the place may be tricky, it’s located inside a complex and you have to walk towards the inner square.
Delisnacks and other places
After arriving late on an evening in Riga, we hopped through a few bars after checking into the hotel in Old Town. Delisnacks was one of the few places around that was open and thankfully a vegan burger was on the menu! It was affordable and just what we needed then. The burger was basic, with a potato fritter patty. We had them again on another day.
Walk to Wok was another place we tried and it was a bad experience. So it’s a noodle and wok place where you can pick and choose your ingredients and sauces. They do have many veg, mushroom, and nuts as topping. Before going, I read in reviews that they put egg by default in all their noodles so while ordering we asked for the noodles with no egg but guess what, I found bits of egg in mine.. didn’t bother asking for another plate, trying to separate stuff out. Sadly had to waste some food. Moreover, the whole place smelt like fried eggs so we left asap. It’s cheap but we don’t recommend this place.
Accidental finds: A kiosk in front of the central market area stocks some veggie samosas! To be sure, we asked the lady at the counter if they are vegan (Vegetable, yes? egg, milk?) She shook her head and said no to egg and milk and pointed to the spinach, zucchini and mushroom samosas. We tried all of those and they were a pretty good snack, filled with plain steamed greens and mushroom.
Places we couldn’t make it to this time: Terapija, Green Pumpkin, Nirvana, Kozy Eats etc. were among the best rated veg restaurants in Riga but we’ll leave that for the next time!
I will also review each dish from Riga on Abillion. If you haven’t heard of it yet – it’s a free worldwide vegan food and product review app. By writing reviews we also raise money for donation to sanctuaries.
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