Riga is a hidden pearl that always manages to surprise curious travellers completing their Eurotrip. It’s the capital of Latvia, a small Baltic country with a population almost reaching 2 million. Even though we are still taking baby steps toward mastering a range of vegan and gluten-free trends, there are already a number of cosy eateries scattered across the city. These cafes are prepared to cater for your refined tastebuds hungry for a raw or plant-based bite. So, let me walk you through my go-to vegan places in the Latvian capital.
Words: Aleksandra Medina
1. RAW GARDEN
Raw Garden #Savant
Photo: Instagram @wellbeingcafes
Raw Garden, located on Riga’s oldest bike lane on Skolas street and Riga’s newest bike path on Krišjāņa Barona Street, is one of Riga’s best known vegan restaurants. Raw Garden is also the city’s first raw food restaurant, where the food is prepared in temperatures no higher than 45 degrees Celsius: a way to ensure the meal is still packed with the maximum amount of vitamins and enzymes. Their meals are gluten and lactose free for a desirable acid and alkaline balance. Alongside their raw meals, visitors can also treat themselves to a range of vegan coffees, smoothies and juices, and buy packaged super-foods (like protein powders, wolfberry-buckwheat muesli and quinoa seeds) from their in-restaurant store.
Skolas street 12, Krišjāņa Barona Street 21
Photo: Instagram @ximzavivka
One of the city’s newest restaurants, Terapija, opened its doors in June 2016. Terapija offers a wide range of vegan meals for low prices. The average price for a dish is around 5 euros. In the evenings, the restaurant switches to a craft beer and beverage bar, turning into a not-to-be-missed youth gathering point in Riga.
Bruņinieku Street 69
3. FAT PUMPKIN
Fat Pumpkin #Savant
Photo: Instagram @healthyfoodiebliss
In their own words, Fat Pumpkin is “The restaurant for Vegan and Vegetarian cuisine in the Old Town of Riga, with all of its dishes made from local high quality ingredients and turned into art on a plate and a tasteful pleasure”. The local vegetarians and vegans have fallen in love with the restaurant’s wide range of starters and main dishes. But they’ve probably fallen even more for their delicious home-made fresh raw and baked cakes, tarts and power balls, paired with refreshing and energising super-smoothies.
Grēcinieku Street 11
Photo: Instagram @botanogova_kate
By coming up with something new and exciting every day, MIIT keeps their vegan and gluten-free offers captivating. Perhaps that's why their loyal customers keep returning again and again. Alongside their breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, they also have a special pancake brunch offer every Saturday and Sunday from 11a.m. to 4p.m. What could be better than a slow Saturday brunch with vegan pancakes? Well, as they say “a good cup of coffee needs a companion”. Let me decode: they offer a lovely range of freshly baked cookies, brownies and avocado and pumpkin cakes. Of course, entirely vegan and gluten-free options are included as well.
Lāčplēša Street 10
5. BHAJAN CAFÉ
Bhajan Café #Savant
Photo: Instagram @ir.bene
Hidden in the beautiful Art Nouveau style Center of Riga is the Bhajan café. Why you shouldn't miss this spot: sophisticated vegan dishes are combined with the peaceful atmosphere of this historic area in the Latvian capital. Perfect for treating one’s body and soul to culinary experience on a relaxing weekend. As a fusion of Western European dishes and Eastern European atmosphere, the café offers a wide range of all-vegan cakes, biscuits and snacks, paired with a cup of coffee or tea. Some of the sweets are even made without flour and sugar. For some extra energy in the morning, Bhajan café welcomes the city’s early birds to start their day with in-house freshly made juices and smoothies.
Antonijas Street 10