Following research, we loved what we saw about Chaparro and asked to drop by to take some shots. They were kind enough to provide us with the following meal, however all thoughts and opinions are – as always – formed independently and without agreement to be favourable.
Returning to Berlin was always the intention after we went vegan for four weeks with Veganuary because having visited during October of the previous year we knew that finding great vegan food was going to be easily possible.
Berlin has an incredible amount of restaurants and health food shops that cater to those who follow the vegan lifestyle and diet, and every year the number of places that offer vegan products or dishes on their menus continues to grows, so much so that you can walk into a number of cafes and restaurants in the city when both carnivores and vegetarian/vegans can all eat with at least something on the menu that they can easily order.
One restaurant in particular that also offers vegan options amongst its more traditional food selections is Chaparro Cocina Mexicana, but there’s nothing too ‘traditional‘ about the food on offer here as it’s not German cuisine that inspires the menu, but a man from Mexico.
Originally from Mexico City but now permanently living in the German capital, restaurant owner and chef Raul Arriaga has been running his Mexican kitchen and catering business for several years and with great success in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin where so many people from across the city travel to for its fantastic and crazy street food scene that was so well documented by Calli and Travis of Have Blog Will Travel.
It doesn’t take much imagination to understand just why people love dropping by Chaparro for a quick burrito to-go or a plate full of burritos. It’s a combination of the welcoming singular member of staff, the fantastic authentic decor that transports your halfway around the world to a street side bar in Mexico City, the smells coming from the kitchen as you sip on a cold soft drink, and it’s the taste of the food when it meets your mouth.
Most of our Mexican food consumption in the past was homemade and in no way authentic to Mexican cuisine, no matter how well prepared it might have been; but we’ve long been fans of the choices on offer; so being able to drop by and sample some handmade tacos as prepared by a professional was certainly going to be a treat.
Beforehand, we had of course done our research about what vegan options were on offer in Berlin after the really helpful tips from vegan travellers who recommended that we check online resources such as Google and Foursquare before we arrived for restaurants that either are strictly vegan or offer vegan products, just as Chaparro does.
Unknowingly, we were about to try something new that we’d not heard anything about before, but are now keen to try again, and again, until we can’t take another bite.
We chose to take a plate of tacos each and typically you’d be asked to choose a filling and a sauce to fill them, but rather than the meat-based options that might normally come with them, we had the choice of three for vegans that we couldn’t help but take one of each of. We of course chose the vegan chorizo filling as I can’t ever get enough of it, we also chose the grilled vegetables as I’m a huge lover of mixed veg, and for the third taco we chose something we’d never even heard of before – nopales.
We don’t know if it was the natural taste or the preparation by Raul, but the flavors of the nopales blew us away. They have a smoky taste, but with a sweet tangy kick that we can’t relate to any other vegetable that we’ve ever tasted. There’s something special about these young cactus leaves that really got our attention.
For me the chorizo was pretty special too, not just because I love those spices, but because the method used to create it wasn’t at all like any I’d tried before either as a meat eater or vegan. Aparently the method of making chorizo in Mexico isn’t the same as the one in Spain as rather than using smoked paprika to create that distinct flavour, they instead use a combination of handpicked chilis that have that extra bite, making for a uniquely hot kick in the chorizo; so being able to try this vegan alternative was a real buzz for me.
Franca loved the grilled vegetables the most, though she was quite the fan too of the others; but she’ll always favor the subtle flavours that the right combination of herbs and good preparation can give to fresh veg.
A New Addiction
For me, Mexican food has become a new craving that I have to itch. Before hand I didn’t really understand why so many people the world over crave for a good burrito of a plate of tacos, but after eating at this particular Mexican restaurant in Berlin I’m beginning to see what all the fuss is about, especially for that fiery chorizo, but more so for nopales and the many ways that I’ve yet to try them.
And to make matters worse, having recently read about all of the other great vegan options for people in Mexico as so well covered by David of That Gay Backpacker, I’m more keen than ever to try more fantastic food like the food on offer at Chaparro. In fact, I’m thinking of having lunch there today. Join me?
Chaparro Cocina Mexicana
Wienerstrasse. 15-A, 10999 Berlin, Germany
Are you mad for Mexican food?