Our biggest surprise in Finland was how vegetarian friendly it is. Traditional Finnish dishes are fish and meat heavy (they even eat reindeer in Lapland!) but there’s a growing organic food scene and many Finns are vegetarian. We ate lots of delicious food and even experienced one of the best meals of our lives.
Travelling as a vegetarian in Finland was easy. Even up in Lapland all restaurants were familiar with vegetarians and had meat-free options on the menu. In Helsinki we were spoilt for choice with many vegetarian restaurants to choose from.
The word for vegetarian in Finnish is kasvissyöjä and kasvisruoka means vegetarian food. We never needed to use these as everyone spoke good English and was happy to translate menus for us.
All the vegetarian restaurants we visited in Helsinki were casual, self-service places and many are only open at lunch. This meant prices were reasonable (usually around €10 per person) but it would be nice to see a higher end vegetarian restaurant for dinners. For a special meal see the vegetarian friendly section below.
Vegetarian Restaurants in Helsinki
OmNam was probably my favourite vegetarian restaurant in Helsinki. It’s a bright and modern space in the centre of the city. There’s a salad bar, daily specials and soups, smoothies, cakes (including raw vegan), and coffees. The menu is in Finnish but the friendly staff explained the options to us: €8 for soup, €11 for a large salad, €12 for the main dish or salad and soup, and €16 for the main and salad. We opted for salad and soup which were excellent with lots of interesting salads. On Thursdays they make dosas but get there early as they are very popular.
OmNam: Annankatu 29B. Open for lunch Mon-Sat 11am-3pm.
Zucchini is a casual lunch place with a central location near the Esplanade and is very popular—we had to share a table. Every day they serve a different meal for €10, and soups and desserts are also available. The menu is in Finnish but the staff were happy to explain the options—we had the day’s special of tomato and goats cheese pasta, roasted root vegetables, salad, and bread. Portions were huge and one plate was enough for us both to share for a light lunch. The food wasn’t fancy but it was very tasty.
Zucchini: Fabianinkatu 4. Open Mon-Fri 11am-4pm.
The biggest vegetarian restaurant in Helsinki, Silvoplee has a huge vegetarian buffet where you pay by weight. I’m not usually a fan of buffets but this was excellent—fresh, delicious, lots of variety, and not too much fake meat. It cost us about €10 for a large plate of food but it would be easy to get carried away! Next door they have a smoothie bar that’s open from 8am for drinks, snacks, and raw vegan cakes.
Silvoplee: Toinen linja 3. Open Mon-Fri 11am-8pm, Sat 11am-6pm.
We didn’t expect to find a vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant in Helsinki! The food at Sen Chay is surprisingly good—we especially enjoyed the rice noodles with curry sauce. Dishes cost €9-10 and portions are a good size. It’s a small simple place that’s hidden off the main road in an inner courtyard (look for the sign on the street), but it’s easy to get to by metro, tram or bus to Hakaniemi. This is a great option for dinner when most other vegetarian restaurants close.
Sen Chay: Siltasaarenkatu 3-5. Open Mon-Fri 9am-8pm, Sat 12-8pm.
In the hip Kallio neighbourhood there are two vegetarian fast food places on the same street—Just Vege was our favourite. They offer a variety of falafel pitas and veggie burgers, with interesting toppings like pesto and goats cheese. We opted for the €10 meze platter which included falafel, pita, hummus, marinated eggplant, bulgur salad, and more. It’s a good option for a quick meal especially in the evenings, on Sundays, and national holidays when other vegetarian places are closed.
Just Vege: Vaasankatu 15. Open 11am-10pm every day.
Just down the road from Just Vege is Soi Soi, another vegetarian fast food joint. They offer a range of soy burgers and seitan kebabs with interesting toppings. We aren’t fans of fake meat so went for the tofu burger which was disappointingly just a slab of tofu with salad, rather than a patty. If you like soy and seitan it’s worth giving it a try as they are popular.
Soi Soi: Vaasankatu 9. Open Mon-Thurs 11am-11pm, Fri & Sat 11am-2am, Sun 1-7pm.
Vegetarian Friendly Restaurants in Helsinki
Most restaurants in Helsinki offer vegetarian options. Here are a few we enjoyed:
For a special meal head to A21 Dining for a cocktail-paired gourmet 5 or 7 course meal (from €65). Each dish is inspired by a Finnish painting and uses local ingredients. Book in advance for a vegetarian menu. Read more about our memorable meal at A21 here.
A21 Dining: Kalevankatu 17, Tues-Sat 6-11pm.
We only visited Juttutupa as it was next to our hotel (the wonderful Scandic Paasi) but really enjoyed the food. It’s one of the oldest restaurants in Helsinki, dating back to 1884, with a relaxed gastro pub atmosphere. There were three options in the vegetarian section of the menu, plus a few interesting meat-free pizzas. Both the pizza and the courgette ravioli we had were very good. Mains cost €12-18.
They also offer room service to the Scandic Paasi and we were seriously tempted to have a night in with another of their pizzas, but we were too dedicated to reviewing the city’s vegetarian restaurants for you guys.
Juttutupa: Säästöpankinranta 6. Open from 10.30am-11.30pm, Sun 12-10pm.
Mount Everest Nepalese
Nepalese restaurants are strangely popular in Helsinki and there are many to choose from, all with vegetarian dishes. At Mount Everest we had aloo gobi and bhindi masala which were pretty tasty and cost €14 each including rice, salad, yoghurt, and a huge naan bread. Like all the Nepalese restaurant menus we looked at it was pretty standard Indian fare, so I’m not sure what makes them Nepalese.
Mount Everest: Vilhelmsgatan 9 (plus a few other branches). Open 11am-11pm.
Finland invented Restaurant Day where anyone can set up a restaurant for the day—in their home, garden, or on the street. It has now spread around the world and takes place four times a year. We were lucky to be in Helsinki for one in May when restaurants and stalls sprung up all over the city. We went to Bear Park in Kallio where locals of many nationalities had set up stalls—Thai, Mexican, Spanish, Italian, African, Tibetan, and Indian, plus desserts. There were plenty of vegetarian and vegan dishes—we enjoyed peanut tofu noodles, tomato and tarragon soup, and chocolate cupcakes. It was a fun atmosphere and is definitely worth trying to be in Finland for.
See the Restaurant Day Facebook page for upcoming events.
More vegetarian restaurants in Helsinki that we didn’t get to try:
- Ho Dai is an inexpensive vegan Asian buffet in Kallio. It was recommended to us but looks a little fake meat heavy for our tastes. They are open 11am-4pm on weekdays.
- Organic fine dining restaurant Chef & Sommelier does a vegetarian tasting menu, but we couldn’t get a reservation so book in advance.
- Veggie is popular but it’s a little far from the centre.
- Kippo has vegan sandwiches and frozen yogurt.
- See Happy Cow for even more ideas.
Vegetarian Finnish Dishes to Try
While traditional Finnish food features lots of fish and meat there are some meat-free dishes you can try:
- Karjalanpiirakka – Karelian pastries come from the part of Finland close to Russia. A rye crust is traditionally stuffed with barley, although rice is more common these days.
- Salmiakki – Many Finns are addicted to this salty black liquorice. It’s certainly an acquired taste!
- Korvapuusti – The Finns do cinnamon buns well.
- Ruisleipä – A dense rye bread made from sourdough is the bread of choice in Finland.
- Berries – In the summer look out for blueberries, lingonberries, cloudberries, and sea buckthorn.
- Chocolate – We became completely addicted to Fazer’s milk chocolate.
To learn more about vegetarian and organic Finnish food we recommend taking a walking tour with Happy Guide Helsinki.
Helsinki Vegetarian Restaurant Map
Finland may not have a culinary reputation worldwide but we discovered a booming food scene in Helsinki that takes advantage of fresh local ingredients and has plenty of meat-free options—it’s a fantastic city for vegetarians to explore.
Many thanks to Visit Finland who sponsored our trip.
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