Where to find Helsinki’s fleet of food bikes


Gastro bikes are the hottest street food trend. If you are strolling about Helsinki, keep an eye out for the food bike gang. Location and opening hours vary so it is best to check the vendor’s Facebook page as well as other social media sites. 

There is an underworld of food bikes in Helsinki. And one reason is clear: this genre of gastro on wheels makes sense. Cargo-bike cafés are an easy startup, environmentally friendly, and best of all – they make the business truly mobile – making it possible to go where the customers are. 
The taste of entrepreneurship came for these four foodies in 2015 during Restaurant Day, now an annual event (previously held four times a year) when anyone can open a pop-up restaurant for the day. Now these bike cart pioneers take their place among the city’s legendary street food scene vendors. The only difference is our guys pedal for a living.
Bike-based food carts clearly have the edge, says Puurola’s Eveliina Haarala, who sells organic raw porridge to eager customers. 
“A bike works well in an urban environment. It’s nothing but me and my bike. I park where there is a lot of foot traffic and I also try to attend most of the street events,” she says. 
Haarala’s porridge is definitely not of the lumpy variety. “I want to show that porridge is exciting and I try to develop tastes that reflect the season – like gingerbread for Christmas and carrots with turmeric during the summer,” says Haarala.
Business has been well received and she partners with Urtekram International, Scandinavia’s largest organic wholesaler. All Puurola’s porridges are vegan, gluten-free, and nut-free. During the off-season, Puurola’s range can be found in health food shops and grocery stores around Helsinki.


Haute dogs

Etiodog, a bike cart run by Mekdes  Miettinen, specialises in traditional hot dog fare with an Ethiopian twist. For Miettinen, this business endeavour is about bringing culture to street food. “My concept is an oxymoron. Ethiopian food is anything but fast. It’s the mother of slow food, actually. But when I thought about the most modern way of selling street food – say from America, Central Europe, and even other parts of Scandinavian – a cargo-bike café was the answer." facebook.com/etiofood

Pedal power

On summer days, James Steevenson, better known as The Smoothie Peddler, can be found blending up healthy smoothies. Originally from the UK, he jokes that it’s fun to see his Finnish customers do all of the work. “They hop on and pedal blend away.” Though, it’s more than selling “juice” for Steevenson. It’s also an effort in social consciousness. “I hope that my leg-powered blender and vegan smoothies can help raise a bit of awareness about the choices we make as consumers." facebook.com/thesmoothiepeddler

Posh pies

Unlike the other bike cart entrepreneurs, Tuomas Orispää and Markus Savolainen of Carelian Bike prefer working corporate catering gigs. These two young men noticed a gap in the market for authentic Finnish street food and felt they could hit the mark with Karelian pastries (made from thin rye crust with rice filling). Savolainen is a chef and has created a variety of ­gourmet spreads. “We serve the typical egg and butter topping, but anything that can go on bread can go with our rice pastry." facebook.com/carelianbike
Text by Shelly Nyqvist 
Photos by Amanda Soila, Laura Oja, Teemu Heljo
A longer version of this article was originally published in Finnair's Blue Wings magazine (Summer 2016).


Published June 28, 2016

Category: Local features