Spice Girl’s Wannabe was playing in the old car radio when we were driving towards the bus station. I looked out of the window and there was Lenin standing bold facing a massive square.
I didn’t know what to expect of Minsk and it was wonderfully weird and nothing but boring. It seemed like the Soviet times and the nineties aesthetics had a baby that grew up to be a hipster.
Soviet palaces, grannies wearing fur hats shopping in the market hall. Hip cafés with stylish teenagers drinking coffee and eating pancakes, while on the other side of the street a row of factory workers walking out of the factory that looked like nothing had changed there since 1970’s. Except that the grey walls were now covered in colorful murals. Lenin’s head next to the factory looked away.
Minsk is not very glorious for a vegan but there are some restaurants and options between those endless meat aisles in the supermarket. I had some of the best food and worst during my stay. Again, at least not regular and boring.
Ulitsa Bogdanovicha 128A
Monkey Food’s website
“Your place was easy to find, there were so many signboards”, I said when ordering my first burger in Minsk. I had followed the signs through a concrete jungle maze to a small restaurant, the only fully vegan one in Belarus. The cashier looked at me and smiled: ”You are the first person ever to say that.” Maybe I was just lucky and came from the right direction.
Once again walking to get good food had led me to see areas I might otherwise have not visited. Broad streets were framed with tall block buildings and old factories, some still in use. Streets were spotless, not a single trash in sight.
There were couple of burger options at Monkey Food and I had the one with seitan. It was so yummy! One of the best burgers in the tour so far and inexpensive also. Well worth the couple hour walk I took. I returned the next day to eat a roll, with seitan again since it was so good in the burger.
Ulitsa Kalinina 7
After having one of the best burgers at Monkey Food, I had one of the worst later at Beetlejuice. I think I jinxed it when I said in an interview couple weeks before that I had not had a bad burger during my tour.
Beetlejuice serves also meat but there are vegan options. The place has a music themed interior, music legends are painted on the walls and Tina Turner was singing in the TV. Even though it seemed more like a bar than a fancy restaurant, the prices were quite high and there was quite formal table service. The menu had vegetarian foods marked with green color but I wasn’t sure which ones were vegan and me and the waiter had a bit of a language barrier as usual. But the burger was vegan so that was it.
The burger came with fries and although it seemed okay at the first sight, there was a weird aftertaste and the potatoes were quite raw. I think my biggest problem was the grayish patty that seemed like it had waited to be eaten a bit too long. At least after this I appreciate good (not grey) burgers again bit more. I did finish my meal like a true champion.
Next to Oktybr’skaya metro station (enter the shopping center from Kastryčnickaja square)
Underground shopping centers that are like labyrinths are one of my favorites in the former Soviet countries. The one that led me to Vega Burger was truly old school just next to the massive Palace of the Republic. I just happened to take a right turn and see disco lights that caught my attention.
Ambient music, couple of wooden chairs and tables, ladies buying knitting yarn in a tiny shop next to it. The menu was simple and had three items, one of them was vegan and it was the roll. So the choice was pretty easy. I think the presentation doesn’t get more simple than this (maybe if the napkins were not there). Don’t let the looks fool you, the roll was full of taste and delicious. Lunch disco at its best.
Ulitsa Internatsional’naya 23
Green Cuisine’s Facebook page
I had only little cash left the last day and decided to eat something small. Green Cuisine seemed quite posh but the service was really friendly. It is a vegetarian fine dining restaurant with many vegan (and raw) options and the menu is in English too. Vegan options included at least salads, risotto, soups and delicious looking juices and cakes. I had a Tom Yum soup. The portion was small but very tasty and I left happy.
In the end I did miscalculate my money though. I had enough for the food but not enough after that. I needed to change 10 euros more to rubles and I only had a 20 euro note. I walked to an exchange booth and showed the note and tried to explain if I could change only 10 euros of it. First I thought the cashier didn’t understand but then it got clear she didn’t have any 10 euros for me. The lady got frustrated, grabbed huge stacks of hundred and fifty euro notes in her both hands and waved them at me through the glass. Point taken. There wasn’t lack of absurd moments like this in Minsk and they truly made my trip.
Btw, there is also a vegan store Vegans.by in the center (Ulitsa Nemiga 3). It is not very easy to find inside the shopping center but just search for these pictures of a woman sniffing salad, haha. I visited the store and it did have vegan meats and milks too, even cake.
Burger count 13 countries, 23 burgers.