Written by Brent Morrissey
“Where do I take my carnivorous friends to eat a vegan burger that will pleasantly surprise them?”
It’s a common question many vegans & vegetarians face when trying to convince their meat eating friends that they can indeed enjoy a juicy & filling burger just like everyone else. So how does Helsinki fair for the vegan burger challenge?
Finland isn’t exactly renowned for its cuisine, as former French President Jacques Chirac once famously said after a state visit to Finland, “If it wasn’t for the British cuisine, Finland would have the most tasteless food in the world,” or something along those lines. I can’t help but find some truth in that statement, after all what is a famous Finnish dish? Fish & potatoes? However, his visit was before the times of ´Nyhtökaura´ the revolutionary Finnish Pulled Oats. A fairly simple concept yet manages to grasp that meaty texture and is loaded with protein, even more so than soy and of course red meat. So, is it good in a burger? In short, Yes! However Helsinki has more to offer than just pulled oat burgers, so here’s a list of the places worth checking out on your visit to Helsinki, all to help you avoid those flavourless tofu burgers.
Let’s start with this little gem in the heart of the Sornainen district if Helsinki, Bar Loosister. Loosister a rock´n´roll bistro bar has a very generous Vegan Menu with burgers, pizzas, hotdogs, salads & nachos, even a couple desert options. The menu also is awash with vegetarian & meat options, so there really is something for everyone. So how does it fair? I give this a generous 8/10
The burger itself is great, the crispiness of seitan is just right & is adorned with vegan cheese & mayo giving it a very juicy texture and over all its very filling. The bun is equally impressive and considering the bun is roughly 40% of most burgers it is too often a neglected ingredient. Its pretty great value aswell at 14,50e including fries or a side salad. Highly recommend this place, a cool atmosphere with a whole bars selection of drinks & cocktails. Fair prices, good food and right next door to two fully vegan stores ´Vegekauppa & Heluna Shop´.
Bistro Badenbaden at Hietsu beach, now this may come as a surprise and is well hidden out of the way of the central streets of Helsinki. Good burger? Yes. Good fries? The best! The sweet potato fries that come with the vegan burger here are hands down the best fries I have found in Helsinki.
The burger itself is a vegetable patty topped with the vegan cheese, mayo & a delicious bun and this really does deserve a magnificent 9/10. With a price of 18.00 euros it does get its monies worth with quality fresh ingredients and the best fries in town along with a panoramic view of Hietalahti beach. Bistro Badenbaden also have a location at Hernesaari.
A midnight burger? O´Learys will be the place to go. With the kitchen open until 1am on weekends O´Learys has 5 Vegan options all using the famous Swedish Oumph. At 16.90e the burger deserves a cool 8/10. BBQ & vegan cheese, everything your average meat eater is afraid to give up. Although the burger could be larger the juicy flavour and generous portion of fries does make this a decent meal, especially late at night or if you are at the airport, or in the Espoo Sello shopping centre.
Löyly, one of Helsinki´s coolest places and overall a must visit location. If the world famous architecture of the wooden seaside sauna isn’t enough the kitchen also serves the famous Finnish Pulled Oats, and in a burger too! At 18.00e including fries this is the best pulled oats burger in town, and just maybe the best view in town and deserves a cool 8/10. Eat inside by the large fireplace or outside on the bustling terrace with the sea breeze, guaranteed this place won’t disappoint, it does get rather busy however and there are no table reservations.
So how about the disappointments of the Helsinki Vegan Burger Challenge, there are a few. Most notably Naughty Brgr on Lönnrotinkatu, also made with Finnish Pulled Oats however this burger was dry & boring and only just scrapes a 6/10. With a price of 16.90e with skinny fries this place does not come off as good value for money, with McDonalds style service, paying extra to have fries and the overall atmosphere this place isn’t worth a visit. As for that famous flavourless tofu that can give veganism a bad name, Kiila is the place to go. Probably the most disappointing burger in Helsinki and barely passes for a 5/10.
Overall, eating in Helsinki is surprisingly easy as a vegan, and there really is so much more to Finnish vegan cuisine than Burgers. For the sake of this article and all you burger lovers below is a list of the top ten burger joints to check out on your visit. Worth keeping in mind, especially if you are on a budget, all Finnish supermarkets & mini-markets now stock a good selection of ready-made microwave burgers, some starting from as low as 1e.
So, 10 Vegan Burgers to try in Helsinki? All prices include Burger & fries.
- Bistro Badenbaden, 18e – 9/10
11, Hiekkarannantie, 00100 & Hernesaaren ranta
- Bar Loosister, 14,50e – 8/10
Hämeentie 50, 00101
- Löyly, 18e – 8/10
Hernesaarenranta 4, 00150
- O´Learys Bakers, 16,90e – 8/10
Mannerheimintie 12, 00100 + several other locations
- Hard Rock Café, 19,95e – 7/10
Aleksanterinkatu 21, 00100
- Chicos, 16,90e – 7/10
Mannerheimintie 68, 00260 + other locations
- Morrisson´s, 15,50e – 6/10
Ateneuminkuja 1, 00100
- Soi Soi, 10,50e – 6/10
Vaasankatu 9, 00500
- American Diner, 15,90e – 6/10
City Käytävä, Kaivokatu 8, 00100
- Friends & Brgrs, 12,50e – 6/10
Mikonkatu 8, 00100 + other locations