Long time no see! I got back from a holiday in my hometown Helsinki a few days ago and I’m still missing it quite a bit. I have a lot of pictures to share with you though and I obviously thought it would be best to start these posts out with a food related one first. First things first, right?! I picked out three lovely places I visited on my holiday that I would really recommend to anyone going to Helsinki, so, without further ado:
Shopping centre Kluuvi, Aleksanterinkatu 9, Helsinki
I’m sure you’ve noticed my obsession with Mexican food already – I think I love it more than any other cuisine! Mexico is definitely up there in my top 3 travel destinations (other two being Cuba & the Caribbean in case you were wondering..!) and I can’t wait to one day trial the authentic cooking by travelling there. Before that happens though I will have to make do with the (luckily many!) restaurants you can find on this side of the world.
As my friends and family know my food preferences pretty well, I was recommended this lovely little restaurant called Ahorita that had opened in Helsinki quite recently. It’s more of a (quality) fast food place than a dinner restaurant, but this means it’s absolutely perfect for lunch. They had 3 vegetarian options – cheese, crumbled tofu & veef (=vegetarian beef) from which my favourite had to be the cheese one, but all of them were really good. At lunch time you get 3 tacos with nachos and dips with a drink for only 10€ – a pretty good price for all of that if you ask me! As far as I know two out of the three veggie options are also vegan which is really good for a street food place!
Bulevardi 15, Helsinki
Ever since I became a vegetarian I’ve been more and more into Middle-Eastern food which is a very new territory to me since I used to be really picky when it came to different types of cuisines. If you had told past me two years ago that I’d be eating vegan mezze platters and actually loving them, I would’ve never believed you (and neither would have my mom for that matter..)! So now that I have finally admitted I was just being scared of trying out new things I’ve especially fell for the yummy world of falafel, hummus and, of course, halloumi, and I’m eager to try out as many restaurants as I possibly can.
Levant is one of these restaurants, and it’s also yet another great lunch option if you’re in the central Helsinki area. The food is cheap but very tasty and the service was really friendly and efficient. Their main menu is pretty affordable as it is, but they also serve a few different lunch options for a cheaper price every day from 11am to 2pm.
Kaivopiha, Mannerheimintie 5, Helsinki
Okay, so now that you have two great lunch options at your hands I thought I’d throw in a great dinner place too. Oficina is a Latin American restaurant in Kaivopiha, close to the central railway station and it serves super flavourful food in a quirky & colourful setting. I have to say that I wasn’t entirely convinced I was going to enjoy my meal that much as even though the place isn’t a chain, it’s part of a bigger firm that owns a lot of bars and restaurants in the area, and I was suspicious of the food being a bit bland and boring. Luckily I was wrong and they really pleasantly surprised me with the food!
I ordered the quinoa steak with guacamole, roasted peppers and mango salsa and I enjoyed it so much that I have to say I think it was one of the best restaurant meals I had during my entire trip. The guacamole was amazingly chunky and proved to be a perfect companion for the spicy sauce and all the side dishes were wonderful too. I wouldn’t usually recommend big chains like this but as my own preconceptions of it were proved so wrong I thought they deserved a mention. It’s not gourmet food or worthy of a Michelin star, but if you’re looking for simple and tasty food in a fun environment, I would definitely recommend Oficina. And hey, who knew Quinoa steaks were actually really good?!