Your guide to Russia’s vegan cafes: from the healthy to the downright indulgent

Your guide to Russia's vegan cafes: from the healthy to the downright indulgent

Russia has a reputation as a no-go zone for those dedicated to an animal-free diet. Recent years, however, have seen the rise of a number of innovative and delicious outlets in its major cities, meaning vegan visitors never need go hungry again. Here are 7 of the best.

2 May 2019
Top image: Flora No Fauna

Situated in the centre of St Petersburg, Hood Street Food serves vegan junk food to those with a healthy appetite for carbs. All of Instagram’s latest food trends are on offer here: from towering charcoal brioche burger buns to spicy hot dogs and silky glazed donuts. Try the signature Sweet Baby Burger, with deep-fried tofu and sweet chilli sauce, or the vegan version of the classic Soviet dessert medovik — a honey cake without the honey. You never need go hungry again in St Petersburg, as the cafe is open 24 hours at their new location on Konyushennaya. Seating is limited but you can find them on all popular food delivery services.

Where: 2v Konyushennaya ploshchad

Horizontal is a small cooperative DIY corner serving takeaway vegan lunch options. Their main specialties are salad boxes, wraps, and burgers, but make sure to try their fried tofu and spinach dumplings and the lemon and coconut cream mille feuille cake. The hole-in-the-wall kiosk is situated on the ground floor of Loft Project Etazhi, an arts and design cluster, and the owners of the cafe support local equality and ecology activism. To help reduce waste, they also offer a 10 per cent discount on food and drinks when you bring your own lunchbox or coffee cup. Animals bar, situated in the same courtyard, is also owned by the cooperative and offers a sit-down experience.

Where: Ligovsky prospect 74, entrance from the courtyard

Fika is a vegan bistro in the Petrogradsky district of St Petersburg that recently reopened after a drawn-out move from a smaller location in the centre of the city, where it had garnered a cult following. Their new location is bigger, and the menu has expanded to match it. There’s no limit to what’s on offer other than the vegan ethos: you can get lasagnas, pies, noodle bowls, or Japanese onigirazu sandwiches. Try the waffle sandwich if you’re up for something new — Belgian waffles are used instead of bread, with a vegan cream cheese, sun-dried tomato, and vegetable filling. As an homage to their name, which means “small coffee break with cake” in Swedish, Fika also serves cinnamon buns and coffee with perfectly-foamed oat milk.

Where: Aptekarsky avenue 2, entrance via the courtyard, reached through the arch

Mokh is an inventive cafe that takes vegan food to the next level. It’s situated across two locations in Moscow: Volna bar in the Artplay centre, and, on weekdays, LES cafe on Pokrovka street. Don’t let the lack of a permanent physical location put you off: their food, especially the desserts, are famous, and not just amongst vegans. Some of the cafe’s classics include a dairy-free cheesecake topped with caramelised apples and a peanut cake with miso caramel. Look out for their special themed supper dates — the most recent one focused on fermentation, with kimchi, sourdough, vegan fermented cheeses, miso, kombucha, and more.

Where: LES cafe on Pokrovka 9 (weekdays only); Volna bar in the Artplay centre on Nizhnaya Siromyatnicheskaya street 10/7

Moscow’s Flora No Fauna, located in the city’s revamped Central Market, endeavours to serve food that is not only healthy but also beautiful. The focus on aesthetics and nutritional value doesn’t mean that the taste lags behind. Try the Earl Grey tea and dark chocolate mousse, raw chocolate, date, and orange tart, or the chocolate biscuits with matcha cashew cream. Remarkably, none of the desserts contain any refined sugar, so feel free to order two of each. There is also a choice of breakfast and lunch dishes, from sandwiches to scrambled tofu and superfood bowls.

Where: Rozhdestvensky boulevard 1, located on the ground floor

If Mokh and Flora No Fauna haven’t filled you up already, then small vegan cafe Veganutye is a must-try. It’s located in Depo, a giant food market filled with stalls and cafes focusing on all kinds of cuisines. Your head will be turned by the sheer range of imaginative ways that humans have come up with to avoid gluten and refined sugars as well as any animal-based products. Start with the raw margherita pizza (with “dough” made from linseed and almonds topped with tomatoes, cashew cheese, and herbs) and finish with a vegan version of a Snickers bar, with coconut milk caramel that has already gained confectionary cult status.

Where: Lesnaya street 20, corner 76 on the ground floor

It can be a struggle to find exclusively vegan joints outside of Moscow and St Petersburg, with vegetarian cafes being your best bet, but this Kazan establishment is fully animal-free. The majority of the menu is made up of classic vegan dishes like falafels, hummus, and bean burgers, sprinkled with Russian classics like syrniki — small fried cheesecakes, made here with tofu instead of cottage cheese and aptly named tofniki. Look out for seasonal classics like Russian blini in the spring and a vegan adaptation of the New Year salad known as “herring in a fur coat”, here made with vegan mayonnaise and nori seaweed instead of fish.

Where: Mardzhani street 18

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