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  • Writer's pictureAround the World in Vegan Eats

SAMPLING A TOTALLY VEGAN KARTULISALAT (POTATO SALAD) IN TALLINN, ESTONIA!

Updated: Oct 29, 2023


Hello from Tallinn, Estonia! Honestly, Tallinn has been on my travel bucket list for YEARS... and with its quiet and friendly vibe and incredibly beautiful fairytale architecture I'm sure you'll understand why! So visiting this city was an absolute dream for me - and for Mike, who had only visited once before, for a couple of hours while on a trip to Finland. I really fell in love with the towers and spires, hills and cobbles of the old town, and I was really impressed with the standard and variety of vegan food available here too!


Before we started to plan our trip though, I really had no idea about Estonian cuisine. To be honest, my knowledge of Eastern European cuisine was fairly limited, so I was delighted to have this opportunity to learn more! While we were researching the most popular and famous foods in Estonia, there were so many things that we could have picked for our Vegan Eats, but two dishes really stood out for us: Eesti Kartulisalat (Estonian Potato Salad), the subject of today's blog, and Munavõi (Egg Butter), which we're excited to share with you next week!


But wait, what exactly is Eesti Kartulisalat?

Eesti Kartulisalat, or Estonian Potato Salad, is a very special and beloved dish in the beautiful nation of Estonia. In fact, Kartulisalat is often found served at the most special celebrations, including birthdays! It's simple to make, and hearty and flavoursome to eat - it's no wonder that it is a homemade classic in so many Estonian households!


But what makes this potato salad special? Well, unlike the potato salad that Mike and I grew up eating here in the UK, Estonian potato salad is more than just potatoes and mayonnaise! Here, boiled potatoes are chopped up into very small cubes, before more vegetables - usually including peas, carrots, cucumbers, sometimes onions, and more - are added. Then the creamy mayonnaise is mixed in, before other ingredients of choice are placed on top, or mixed into, the dish. These last ingredients can commonly include boiled eggs and sausage.


Where did we try vegan kartulisalat in Tallinn?

Obviously a mayonnaise based dish is unlikely to be vegan as standard, let alone one that traditionally includes sausage and egg too. But we were determined to try this legendary dish while we were visiting Tallinn, so you bet we found a vegan one!


We headed to Ristikheina Kohvik (Ristikheina Cafe), a small cafe chain that have five locations across Tallinn. Now, we'll be honest - they don't have tonnes for vegans on their menu, so it's not necessarily somewhere that we'd recommend going if you want a hearty plant-based meal with lots of choice. However, one of the highlights of their selection of deli choices is their vegan potato salad! We visited the Ristikheina Kohvik in the Balti Jaama Turg street food court, but this dish is served across all five of their locations.


So come on - tell us all about the Estonian potato salad! How did it taste?

First of all, let me just say how cute the jars of kartulisalat are! Though the potato salad is served in these individual glass jars, don't think that the portion is small! This potato salad was hearty and filling... and we were so excited to dig in!!


With just the first forkful of this potato salad we were obsessed. We had been expecting something fairly similar, taste-wise, to British potato salad, a dish that we are both fans of. However this kartulisalat really was something else! With the variety of vegetables contained within that creamy and flavoursome mayonnaise, there was so much diversity in terms of the textures and flavours. The potatoes and peas were soft, while the carrots and onions added a bit more of a crunch. Though the flavours of most of the vegetables were subtle and delicate, the vegan mayonnaise tasted comforting, while the raw onions added a kick of flavour.


Genuinely, this Eesti Kartulisalat looked amazing and tasted even better: I would love to have this in a big dish to devour on my birthday, too!


How much did the plant-based kartulisalat cost - and was it worth it?

This delicious Estonian potato salad cost €4.50 per jar; that's approximately £3.90 or $4.76. We thought that this was good value for money for a fancy, plant-based cafe version of this Estonian classic: we had the potato salad for lunch and it was sufficient to fill us up for the rest of the day! Though it didn't have the additional toppings that are sometimes added to make a kartulisalat even more luxurious, it really was perfect as it was!


While we said that there wasn't much for vegans at Ristikheina Kohvik besides the potato salad, we still very much enjoyed visiting this cafe. The vibe of the street food market is great and there is plenty of indoor and outdoor seating - and we really liked their attention to detail in presentation, and their use of sustainable packaging too. The service was friendly and fast, and again, we were obsessed with the kartulisalat! So if we were back in Tallinn we would definitely go back to get our hands on more of their vegan potato salad!

Have you tried vegan kartulisalat in Estonia? Or elsewhere in the world! Where did you go and what did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below.


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The centre of Vienna with tall, historic buildings all around
Addicted to these views over Tallinn!

Where should I stay?

Tallinn is a gorgeous city with places to stay to suit all tastes, budgets, and requirements. If you're looking for a popular and well reviewed, but really affordable place to stay, look no further than Viru Backpackers who offer clean and spacious rooms, self-catering facilities, in a great location. Another great place is Draper Startup House, where we stayed while we were in Tallinn. With amenities catering to entrepreneurs and digital nomads, Draper Startup offer private and dorm rooms, as well as plenty of common areas to work and chill.


Tours & Experiences

Though Tallinn is a really walkable city, easy to explore and perfect for a self-guided tour, there are plenty of options if you'd like an organised tour or activity. Some of the most popular Viator tours can be found in the box on the left! If you have a little extra time once you've explored this stunning city, Tallinn is a great hub for exploring a little more of Estonia: this trip to Lahemaa National Park is really popular, conducted within a small group for a quieter, more personal experience.


Please note that the tours displayed on the left are automatically selected for their popularity by Viator, not chosen or recommended by us. Please check whether any food or drink based tours are suitable for your dietary requirements, and any animal-based experiences are ethical, before booking!

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