Eating healthily while dining out in Dubai can be a struggle at times. It can be expensive & sourcing good places can be difficult so here is a round-up of just some of the places I’ve tried since moving here six months ago.
Comptoir 102 – Jumeirah Beach Road; really delicious, ever changing menu options with many options for those with gluten/wheat intolerances, vegetarians and vegans. My only down point on this restaurant is how expensive it is for very small portions. I have ate two courses here for 90AED before & still left with my tummy not full. Better for a light lunch option.
Kitsch Counter – One of my favourite weekend haunts. This little cafe has two locations, one on the Jumeirah Beach Road and another in DIFC. Super convenient for grabbing healthy food on the go. They have oodles of vegan, vegetarian and paleo options. Check out my full guest review of Kitsch on Foodiva’s site here.
Bestro – tucked away on the third floor of Galleries Lafayette in Dubai Mall this is Dubai’s first fully raw vegan cafe. They are currently updating their menu (which I am not-so-patiently waiting for!) but from the menu that is available now I highly recommend the lasagne with cashew nut cream & of course, no trip to Bestro would be complete without my favourite cacao probiotic smoothie. Staff here are superb and if you have a sweet tooth the desserts & ice cream are lust-worthy. Dish to try – the chocolate fondant. Mmmm.
Baker & Spice – also located in Dubai Mall but this time in Souk Al Bahar. This restaurant is a popular spot firstly due to its great location for sitting and dining outdoors enjoying the Burj Khalifa fountain show, but secondly for the great variety of food they have on offer. No matter what your food preferences I think Baker & Spice can meet your needs. They have one of the best salad bars I’ve encountered in Dubai, meat and fish options, juices & smoothies and an array of freshly baked breads and cakes. Ideal for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Nyla Kitchen – at Nyla House on Al Wasl Road is a vegan cafe, also serving eggs, that’s great for breakfast or light lunch, smoothies, teas and sweet treats post-workout. I can also vouch for the fitness classes here. Gruelling – yes; but you will leave super energised and ready for the day ahead. Before Christmas the cafe hosted a raw chocolate making workshop too which I attended and really enjoyed. I learned loads, met some very interesting people, got to eat lots of delicious treats and make my own chocolates to take home! It was a great experience and I’m looking forward to future workshops here.
Spill The Bean café – located in Sunset mall but often found at various events across Dubai. For example at the minute they have a pop-up as part of The Beach Canteen for Dubai Food Festival, down on Kite Beach. They do breakfast and lunch options but really it’s their sweets, treats and coffee that they are known for. They have a great selection of dairy, wheat, gluten and sugar free treats and I love quirky aspects of the café such as the book swap area where you can take one already there or donate one and get a free coffee – the same rule applies for magnets! They have a growing collection! Such a novel idea – i love it. My one and only gripe is that they won’t refresh tea with more hot water. Below is an ultra dense and indulgent chocolate peanut butter cake that looks tiny but was one of the few desserts which almost got the better of me as it was so rich (Fear not, after staying chatting for another two hours I re-tackled the remaining cake and powered through – never one to give up). Also pictured is a set coconut milk pudding called with two energy snack balls that I enjoyed from their Beach Canteen pop-up.
Leopold’s of London – set on the walk at JBR I have enjoyed breakfast and lunch here. Their baked eggs are divine and staff were very good to accommodate my wheat and dairy free request and gave me some green bean side salad with my eggs rather than the usual side of bread. I really appreciated this as most venues just leave out the bread but won’t sub anything in. There is a huge selection of beautiful salads, sandwiches and sweet treats on display in their deli counter and you can watch chefs preparing food behind the glass panels. My favourite feature of this restaurant is the upstairs tea and coffee lab where staff are dressed in lab coats and busy brewing away using all sorts of crazy glass contraptions. Staff are also very well informed and the tea menu is extensive.
The Cycle Bistro – a bit further out in Motor city is this paleo cafe located in the Cycle Hub next to Dubai Autodrome. Smoothies, breakfast, lunch & some dessert options are available. This cafe only opens until 5pm but they also do a weekly changing ‘Wednesday Night Roast’ which I have yet to try but seems to be proving popular. Personally I like this place for a healthy weekend brunch. Pictured below is the zuchinni spaghetti & fish tacos.
One Cafe – the setting of this cafe in the Life’n’One yoga venue on Jumeirah Beach Road is truly whimsical. A beautiful tranquil garden with background music, water features, pillows and mats to sit at low tables and hanging cocoon-style chairs make this experience like no other. We lay here for hours on our visit enjoying the surroundings, soaking up some sun and reading books (they have a large bookshelf for customers to avail of). They also have free wifi and of course yoga and Pilates classes inside. I think I enjoyed the setting more than the actual food which was small for it’s price tag and for me trying to eat wheat free my choice is limited to salad or eggs. I believe they are continuously working on their menu & I look forward to these improvement as although there were a lot of gluten-free options there was little to no wheat free options. Eggs are served but I think almost all other options were vegan.
Tom & Serg – located just a few minutes walk from the Oasis centre this place has a cult following and is always buzzing with activity. They often have pop-up events/markets (see pic from their Christmas market below) and they serve breakfast, brunch, lunch and sweets. The only criticism I would have as someone trying to order with special dietary requirements is they won’t sub any ingredients in a dish for something else – it just has to be left out. I can understand from a busy kitchen point of view this is most practical but it means for some people ordering a dish suddenly becomes very unexciting and bland when you strip away components but can’t substitute anything else in (at least not without being charged individually for each item). I was almost charged for a drizzle of pomegranate molasses on the ‘Gado’ dish I ordered as I asked for it without the peanut sauce it was meant to be served with – which contained wheat and gluten, before thankfully a watchful manager told the waiter not to charge for this. This was the only dish I could have ordered from the menu as someone avoiding wheat and dairy but it was really delicious and I have since had it again. I can’t say I will go back for a third time for the one dish though so hopefully more options will be added to their menu soon.
The Hamptons – another Jumeirah Beach Road hot-spot, this is somewhere you will need to book ahead particularly on the weekend as they are famous for their brunches. This is definitely more of a brunch treat rather than a super healthy option but I loved my order of baked eggs, cooked perfectly medium, with truffle oil, portobello mushroom with goat’s cheese, carmelised red onions & asparagus wrapped in dried beef.
My dining amigo loved the complimentary home-made macaroon served with her coffee.
Tasha’s – located in the Galleria Mall on Al Wasl Road, has become a popular spot and it’s easy to see why. There is a huge selection on the menu and the food lives up to expectations. My friend and I both chose the warm butternut squash and goat’s cheese salad which usually comes with a side of avocado but as I had already ate avocado for lunch that same day, staff happily swapped this for a side of asparagus. The salad itself was delicious, my only gripe would be the four half stalks of asparagus were a slightly meagre looking on the plate and a few more would have been nice in comparison to a hearty half an avocado that they were subbed for. There are two sizes of this dish available and what you see below is the smaller option with our waiter informing us that the bigger size is more of a table-sharing option for two or more people – a nice idea.
Omnia Gourmet – set in Jumeirah Fishing Harbour, the café was somewhat of a difficulty to locate as taxi drivers seemed to have no idea where it was! After arriving, very hungry from an early morning bou of SUP at the beach we encountered a number of difficulties on our visit. The restaurant has become known for their healthy fare and vegan choices, hence why I wanted to visit but I found their selection limited for someone trying to order dairy and wheat-free. Unfortunately on my visit in September options available seemed to be one or the other. There was a beautiful display of fresh salads and sweet treats in the main counter that I decided to order as it was now after 11am and we had had a light breakfast earlier that day, however I was refused and told they couldn’t be served at this time despite sitting readily on display. Instead we ordered smoothies, my friend the shakshuka and I the chia seed porridge. This description was somewhat misleading as I interpreted “porridge” as a warm dish as it is traditionally, but the dish that arrived was a small cold chia seed pudding with some berries & flaked almonds on top. For it’s price tag and my appetite it was much too small so I again asked staff if there was any possibility I could chose something more substantial such as the dishes on display in the salad counter. After a lot of discussion, multiple trips back & forth to the kitche and to other wait staff & management I was eventually given another very small portion of a vegan quiche made with cashew cream. It was tasty but very small and the series of events in the lead up to the dish made it difficult to enjoy. Perhaps my experience was an exception but I was really let down as I had such high hopes given the hype the café has received.
Taste Kitchen – I visited the branch in Al Karama but they also have other locations including in Mercato Mall. I ordered the salmon with greens and a chilli-lime dressing. My dining amigo was dining out later so opted for an iced coffee which came in a cute glass jar with a striped straw & other friends who have visited recommend the juices. The dish was simple but tasty. Nothing fancy just good honest cooking. Staff were very friendly and I like the interiors and table set-up. The location however in Spinneys and directly opposite McDonalds is less than ideal and I’m not sure how well this concept ties in with the surrounding area.
Tidjoori – newbie on the block. This vegan restaurant only opened earlier this week and I got the chance to stop by after winning a competition on their Facebook page for tickets to Dubai Food Carnival so I killed two birds with the one stone – nabbing my tickets and trying the food! I wasn’t feeling particularly hungry on the evening I visited but perhaps just as well as I was very disappointed by the menu choice. There is virtually nothing wheat/gluten free, as all their branded products contain wheat protein and all sorts of strange ingredients which I found really off-putting. I ordered the pea soup with beetroot crisps and fried leeks, taking the chance that the vegetable bouillon used was wheat free although, a sore stomach later that night leaves me wondering. That being said when eating the soup I did very much enjoy it particularly with the beetroot. As I couldn’t have bread with it I ordered a side of falafel (5pieces) which were part of the falafel salad which my friend ordered. However when my soup arrived the falafel didn’t – defeating the purpose of me ordering them to eat together and even though staff took the soup back into the kitchen to keep warm until the falafel were cooked it was only lukewarm when it came back out. The falafel were very good but again I thought they would be air-fried like their french fries but alas they were deep-fried. My friend also had the lentil soup which looked really hearty and I liked the dishes used to serve the soup in. The falafel salad was a little mundane though consisting mostly of falafel pieces and some leaves but nicely presented on a wooden chopping board. Staff were friendly but seriously lacking product/menu knowledge or even general question understanding which I would see as an area of concern moving forward but to be fair it is their first week in operation. I wish the restaurant the best of luck and hope that they will add more options to their menu as they continue to evolve.
House of Curry – like all restaurants located on The Walk at JBR, you unfortunately pay for the location with your food bill and House of Curry is no exception. Tasty food but small portions for their price tag. So much so that when my friend’s chicken tikka main course arrived we thought they had mistakenly sent an appetiser to our table. Yet the bowl of rice to accompany the dish was enormous obviously this is how they intend on filling diner’s bellies. I ordered a Goan prawn coconut-based curry and the tarka dahl. I loved the heat of the dahl with plenty of fresh chillies and spice and the prawns were juicy and succulent consisting of approx. 6 prawns.
Gourmet Galleries Lafayette – 3rd floor, Dubai Mall. Although when normally in this neck of the woods it is to dine at the already mentioned Bestro, sometimes I like to meet friends and laze on the comfy red couches of Gourmet Galleries Lafayette. I think it is an ideal place to meet friends because their menu choice is huge and no matter what your taste or mood there is something there to suit your needs. The food is of excellent standard, well priced and staff are attentive and helpful. I like being able to walk around the various food stations and look at dishes available to order too as it helps me decide what I am in the mood for; i.e.: Indian, Asian, seafood, tapas, etc. One of my favourites is the Thai green/red curry which at 55Dhs is a steal. Normally served with rice I usually sub this for extra veggies which they incorporate into the curry.