Herbivores' delight with the city's biggest and best veggie offerings
If you think a meal isn’t a meal unless it involves some sort of meat, you’re missing out on some seriously good food. Forget spiralised vegetable noodles. Those are for vegan amateurs. We’ve got the lowdown on where you can find raw veggie burger sliders, fragrant pumpkin curries, smoking tandoori broccoli and far more besides. Plus some decadently creamy cacio e pepe, because sometimes you do just need to eat cheese. Dig in.
Beetnik pizza at Freedom Pizza A veggie pizza bursting with interesting flavours, this pie comes topped with white sauce instead of red, mozzarella, goat’s cheese, beetroot and caramelised onion. It’s sweet and creamy, but there are waves of punchy herbs, too, such as spring onion, parsley, fennel seeds and thyme. All of Freedom’s signature veggie pizzas can be customised to use vegan cheese, too, or you can build your own to have everything from a gluten-free vegan crust to vegan sausages. And round the whole thing off with a vegan ice-cream or cheesecake for dessert. You can even set your online profile to “vegetarian” or “vegan” to make things easier. From Dhs33. www.freedompizza.ae.
Billie the Kid veggie burger at Gourmet Burger Kitchen If you think burgers need to have meat in them to be worth eating, we suggest you try this towering creation. gbk is taking veggie burgers to a whole new level. Think gooey fried goat’s cheese, grilled aubergine, fresh rocket, pesto, pickled baby onions and harissa mayo to give it all a kick. Dhs36. Times vary. Various locations including Dubai Marina Mall (04 399 7705).
Burrito Box at Taqado If you go for the build-your-own burrito box, you can easily make it veggie by piling on black beans and guacamole, rather than pulled meats. Add some lime rice, stewed peppers, pickled cabbage (for an extra Dhs5) and salsa verde, then slather on the sour cream and add some cheese (seriously, always add the cheese). Not exactly guilt-free, but so satisfying. From Dhs35. Various locations including The Dubai Mall, www.taqado.com.
This new opening has been making waves for its rustic, creative menu. Portions are small – the idea is that you build your own tasting menu, of sorts – and there are plenty of veggie dishes on offer, including a smoked tofu main and a mushroom cashew nut curry. Absolutely standout, however, is the butterhead lettuce. Served as a pretty disc of smooth crème fraîche topped with mustard and perfect little crunchy leaves, it’s a superb example of how to elevate a simple ingredient to something unique, and just a little bit indulgent. Dhs45. Open Sun-Thu noon-2.30pm, 5pm-11pm; Fri-Sat noon-3.30pm, 5pm-11pm. Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim (04 430 8535).
Chit chat aur chaat at Rang Mahal This elaborate version of the Indian veggie street food snack comes served in various jars for you to mix yourself at the table. It’s served with three different kinds of chaat (one with spiced potato, one with sprouted green moong and the other with crisp samosa and chana masala), two kinds of chutney and yoghurt. Dhs85. Open daily 6.30pm-11.30pm. JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai, Business Bay (04 414 3000).
This South Indian street food snack is perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner (or any time in between). They’re some of the best dosas in the city – thinner than paper-thin, crisp, golden pancakes wrapped around richly spiced potatoes and served with a selection of coconut sauce, chutney, chilli and more. From Dhs8.25. Times vary. Karama (04 334 5252). Other location: Al Barsha (04 427 6682).
An entirely vegetarian menu is available at Tong Thai on request (they’ll even bring you a veggie versions of prawn crackers if you ask). It features vegetarian versions of the all classics (tom yum soup, papaya salad, pad Thai noodles) as well as this vibrant green curry of mixed veg, coconut shoots, tofu, Thai aubergine and sweet basil. Dhs85. Open Fri-Wed 6pm-midnight; Thu 6pm-1am. JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai, Business Bay (04 414 3000).
Nestled in the Greens, this little café tops our list of morning spots for veggies thanks to two plates: the green breakfast with smoked yoghurt and the local breakfast. The former comes piled high with kale, asparagus, quinoa, avocado, and halloumi. Chopped almonds and crispy strips of saj bread give it some crunch, and it all sits on top of a light, smoked yoghurt base. The latter stars two poached eggs on toast with homemade hummus, caramelised cauliflower, beetroot tahini, guacamole, preserved lemon and smoked baba ganoush. Two absolute standouts, as far as we’re concerned. Dhs39. Open daily 8am-10pm. Emaar Business Park, Building 4, The Greens (04 558 8141).
Hazelnut and mushroom tart at Be Super Natural Kitchen This raw, vegan café is the kind of place where you can find courgetti puttanesca and smoothie bowls galore, alongside exciting salads featuring combinations such as fennel, pear and avocado. Its desserts are positively dreamy, too. Try the banoffee pie made with peanut caramel, banana and whipped coconut cream. Its produce is locally sourced (and really shines in, for example, the vegetable coconut curry with cauliflower rice), but the hazelnut tart is something special. It’s filled with an earthy shiitake cream and topped with huge slices of marinated Portobello mushrooms. Dhs32. Open daily 11am-10pm. Galleries Lafayette, The Dubai Mall (04 339 9933).
Healthy red rice noodles at 77 Veggie Boutique The veggie-friendly food service offers both daily and one-off meals. For a quick lunch or dinner, we recommend this tasty dish. The gluten-free rice noodles are smothered in a delicious veggie chilli sauce that’s well balanced and delivers a good kick of heat. Strips of fresh, crunchy vegetables complete the dish, which you’ll find in the Dining Designers section, making it a great side or sharing plate to enjoy with the rest of 77 Veggie Boutique’s vegan- and vegetarian-friendly menu. Dhs34. Open Sun-Thu 8.30am-10pm; Fri 12.30pm-10pm; Sat 10am-10pm. Tiffany Tower, Cluster W, JLT (04 422 4116).
The inspired flavour combinations are as intriguing as the setting at this colourful fusion restaurant. The dish plays on the North Indian speciality of mushroom keema matar (mushrooms and minced meat) and this version is made with tandoori portobello mushroom and topped with chimichurri chutney, green peas, a creamy malai sauce and more. Dhs130. Open daily noon-3.30pm, 7pm-11.30pm. Burj Daman, DIFC (04 421 8665).
Japanese eggplant with aka miso at Zuma Who said vegan and vegetarian food couldn’t be found in one of the city’s most fine-dining spots? Even meat-eaters can’t get enough of this perfectly prepared and moreish dish at this multi-award-winning Japanese restaurant, known for its incredible food, excellent atmosphere and spot-on service. The aubergine has been well cooked – it doesn’t suffer from the usual mushy texture, nor is it overly watery – and the miso dressing is sweet, salty and full of umami flavour that’ll have you polishing off the dish in minutes. Dhs48. Open Sat-Wed 12.30pm-3.30pm, 7pm-12.45am; Thu-Fri 12.30pm-3.30pm, 7pm-1.45am. Gate Village 6, DIFC (04 425 5660).
Koshari at Zaroob The ultimate comfort food, koshari is a carby Egyptian dish that layers rice and lentils, pasta, chickpeas cooked in a tomato sauce and crispy fried onions. It’s simple, and certainly not fine dining, but it’s the perfect thing to tuck into after a long day at work or over a lazy weekend lunch. Dhs28. Open daily 24 hours. Various locations including Jumeirah Tower, Sheikh Zayed Road (800 927 662).
Mother Earth pizza at Pinza It’s pizza without the guilt. Pinza dough is lighter, crispier and lower in calories, with minimal yeast and gluten in the recipe, while this vegan variety boasts a potato base, topped with courgette, cherry tomatoes, plenty of onion and a sprinkling of oregano. Add extras, including sauces and more fresh, GMO-free vegetables and herbs. Sorted. Dhs35. Open Sun-Wed 10.30am-11.30pm, Thu and Sat 10.30am-1am. Sobha Ivory 1, Business Bay (800 74692). Other location: Mar Residence, Jumeirah Village Circle. Noodle soup at Freshii This is an excellent spot for vegetarian and vegan food (the kitchen does a mean vegan chilli), but we can’t get enough of its light, fragrant noodle soup. It’s available with vegetable broth on request, and you can substitute the chicken for tofu. It’s stuffed full of rice noodles, tomatoes, coriander and bean sprouts. Perfect for lunch. Dhs27. Open Sun-Thu 8am-10pm; Fri 11am-9pm; Sat 10am-7pm. Various locations including Bay Square, Business Bay (04 551 5123).
One of the key members of the healthy eating community in Dubai, Silvena Rowe – the chef behind Omnia Gourmet – prides herself on whipping up some of the most inventive and healthy vegan dishes in town. In this one, creamed cauliflower is topped with roasted organic veggies and crunchy cauliflower. It includes local produce, too, and is as healthy as it is delicious coming in at less than 200 calories. 159, to be precise. Dhs59. Open daily 9am-11pm. Jumeirah Fishing Harbour, Jumeirah 1 (04 343 7181).
Heinz Beck’s Italian restaurant might be located on the far reaches of the Palm, but it’s worth travelling for. The menu here is a combination of homey, classic Italian recipes with fine-dining flourishes (think foams and the like). This pasta dish is a prime example. It’s decadent and creamy, and the gnocchi is that perfect, light, doughy consistency. It’s topped with green pea foam. Dhs90. Open Mon-Sat 7pm-11.30pm. Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah (04 818 2222).
Pumpkin curry at Organic Foods & Café The selection of veggie and vegan options here isn’t huge, but we can wholeheartedly recommend the comforting and filling pumpkin curry with fresh spinach and brown rice. It’s worth visiting for this alone. Dhs38. Open daily 7.45am-10pm. Various locations including Sheikh Zayed Road, next to Oasis Mall (04 338 2911).
Vegans and veggies alike will be in their element at this idyllic outdoor garden café. Vegetarian ramen, spiralised veggie noodles and vibrant salads all feature on the menu, but visit for the breakfasts. Everything feels extra healthy (chunky monkey rawnola with probiotic almond milk, for example) but we can’t get over the stunning purple açai bowl. And yes, that has everything to do with the fact that it comes served in a coconut. Dhs43. Open daily 8am-7pm. Villa 5/1b, Street 27b, off Jumeirah Beach Road (04 343 6676).
Rainbow power salad at Urban Bistro Exactly as the name suggests, this salad is a riot of colour, with the added benefit of a creamy avocado dressing and Gruyère cheese so you don’t feel too bad about the fact that the person next to you ordered a burger. This bright plate comes piled with courgette, carrots, beets and roasted chick peas. Sweet, nutty and just a tiny bit creamy. Dhs46. Open Sun-Thu 8.30am-6pm; Fri-Sat 8.30am-6pm. CNN Building, Dubai Media City (04 362 4330). Raw burger sliders at Urth by Nabz & G
As pretty as it is healthy, Urth by Nabz & G is all about nutritious food, much of which is vegan and raw (though there are plenty of meat options, too). Of the meat-free options, the lemongrass panang stew is beautifully fragrant, while the cute raw veggie sliders – made from mushrooms, celery, walnuts, sunflower seeds and flax seeds – come with home-made mustard and ketchup, and an edible flower. Dhs30. Open Sat-Thu noon-10pm. J2 Building, Cluster J, JLT (04 276 7287). Soba noodle super bowl at Wild & the Moon
Nestled in Al Quoz, this industrial garden-style café is extra healthy, serving cold pressed juices, raw, vegan food and an excellent coffee menu featuring ingredients such as coconut oil, sprouted almond milk, black pepper and even turmeric. Its nutritious bowls are a little less adventurous, but still healthy and filling, like this combo of buckwheat noodles with plenty of veg, sunflower seeds, avocado, lemon juice and sesame oil. Dhs46. Open daily 8am-7pm. Alserkal Avenue, Al Quoz (04 343 3392). Tandoori Broccoli at Mint Leaf of London
Mint Leaf caters to vegans and vegetarians perfectly. One of the chefs will come to ask you about your preferences at the start of the meal, and they’ll even tailor its set menus to be completely vegan. From the à la carte menu, tuck into dishes such as tarragon roasted paneer tikka, or the smoking tandoori broccoli, marinated in saffron and cream cheese. Dhs70 (excluding DIFC tax). Open Mon, Thu and Fri noon-2am; Tue, Wed and Sat-Sun noon-1am. Emirates Financial Towers, DIFC (04 706 0900). The Sum of Us bowl at The Sum of Us
Tom&Serg, The Sum of Us and Common Grounds all have menus packed with vegan and veggie-friendly dishes. This salad bowl from The Sum of Us is made with roasted cauliflower, sweet potato pickle, black rice, spinach, marinated feta, pumpkin seeds, freekeh, beetroot hummus, tahini and zaatar. Dhs45. Open daily 8am-midnight. Burj Al Salam, 6th Street, off Sheikh Zayed Road (056 445 7526).
Vegan bean chilli at Le Pain Quotidien This popular little café has locations in most malls around the city and does a decent selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes. Top of our list is its hearty three-bean vegan chilli, which is served with crusty slices of white bread. Dhs50. Open daily 7.30pm-11pm. Various locations including The Dubai Mall (04 419 0375).
Vegan lasagne at The Cycle Bistro
You won’t miss either the pasta or the white sauce in this decadent-tasting dish made from layers of sweet potato, green and yellow courgette and eggplant covered in a cashew crème. It’s topped with bell peppers and served with a rocket salad. Dhs54. Open Sun-Tue and Thu 8am-8pm; Wed 8am-9pm; Fri-Sat 8am-5pm. Motor City (04 425 3000). Vegan paella at BOCA
BOCA regularly tops our shortlists at the Time Out Dubai Restaurant Awards. This year it walked away with a Highly Commended accolade in the European category. Its food is creative, modern and perfectly executed, and nothing epitomises that more than this stunning vegan paella. It’s big enough for two to share and it’s full of baby veggies and bomba rice. Dhs140. Open daily noon-1am. Gate Village 6, DIFC (04 323 1833).
Vegan stew at Gursha There are only a handful of restaurants in the city serving Ethiopian cuisine, and this new spot down at Club Vista Mare is the perfect place to try it out. There are plenty of vegan options on the menu, from appetisers such as azifa (lentils soaked in vinegar and served with a garlic herb cream) to the hearty vegan stew that you can mop-up with gluten-free, traditional injera bread. Dhs80. Open Sun-Thu noon-midnight, Fri-Sat noon-1.30am. Club Vista Mare, Palm Jumeirah (04 554 2665).
Vegan Thali at Govinda’s
Indian restaurants are generally excellent for vegetarians, but for something a little healthier, Govinda’s is an excellent option. It serves a quinoa biryani, tofu curries, decadent (and perhaps slightly less healthy) paneer curries and a variety of thalis including a vegan option that comes with dahl, two veg curries, rice and naan. Dhs48. Open daily noon-midnight. Near Dubai London Hospital, Jumeirah Beach Road, Umm Suqeim 2 (04 321 1884). Other location: Street 4a, Karama. Vegan Zucchini carpaccio at Comptoir 102
This café has long been known for its healthy, all-sorts-of-diets-friendly dishes, but this eye-catching plate of bright green courgette “carpaccio” comes topped with fragrant basic and pine nuts. It’s fresh, light and perfect for sharing as an extra side dish. Dhs35. Open daily 7.30am-9pm. Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah 1 (04 385 4555).
Guilt-free vegan treats
Coco Yogo This local brand makes milks, yoghurts, ice cream (try the matcha mint chip), cream cheeses (in flavours like spicy paprika), flavoured butters and more out of coconut and nuts. Its website stocks everything from chia puddings to raw banoffee pies. From Dhs20. Available online or from the Ripe Organic Farm shop. www.coco-yogo.com.
According to home-grown brand Muncherie, dairy is “so ’80s”. Instead, its raw, cold-pressed “mylk” shakes are made from almond and come in flavours such as karak, iced vanilla coffee latte and creamy chocolate maca’chino, which is made with Peruvian superfood maca. You can also pick up its vegan ice cream sandwiches from pop-ups at Ripe Market. Try flavours such as salted toffee gelato or pistachio. They’re so creamy and indulgent it’s near-impossible to believe they’re actually healthy. Prices from Dhs20. Available at selected Waitrose, Spinneys and Choithrams supermarkets. www.muncherie.ae.
Nobó This little Irish brand has developed an incredible range of award-winning vegan ice creams. If they aren’t in a store near you, they’re worth travelling for. Flavours range from chocolate and toasted almond to vanilla and coconut, and Irish salted caramel. Dhs26.75. Available at Waitrose supermarkets, www.nobo.ie.
Pana Chocolate Dark chocolate fans won’t be able to get enough of these fudgy little bars, which come in flavours such as mint, sour cherry and vanilla, and fig and orange. They’re free from dairy, soy, gluten and refined sugar, which means they’re totally vegan. Oh and raw and organic, too. Dhs18. Available at Wild & The Moon, Pret to Go, the Ripe Organic Farm Shop and more. www.panachocolate.com.
Sugar Moo It may be known for its super-sugary, not particularly healthy creations, but Sugar Moo does have a “healthy” range, including a chocolatey Crazy Cake, which is free from egg, dairy and butter. It’s sold as a bar, but can be made into a cake on request. Dhs15. www.sugarmoo.com.
Cool off with these easy, freezable ice lollies made from all-natural ingredients such as coconut and fruit purées. Flavours include coconut and banana, and coconut and mango. Dhs22 (per box). Available at the Ripe Organic Farm Shop. www.smoozeusa.com.