Magnolia: While there’s plenty of fine meat-free fare in town, there aren’t many fine-dining options for the city’s herbivores. Step forward Magnolia, which fills the gap nicely. A fantastic restaurant by any standards, Magnolia offers high-end food with a stellar – and strictly organic – wine list to boot. Our favourite eats include the creamy spinach risotto, which pairs nicely with a decadent chocolate parfait at evening’s end.
Al Qasr Hotel, Madinat Jumeirah (04 366 6730).
Baker & Spice: Okay, we recognise that this exceptionally expansive deli counter and restaurant isn’t strictly vegetarian, but given the scope of meat-free options, those that shun meat are well catered for. There are easily a dozen salad choices available at any time, and everything is made fresh that day. Whenever possible, the chefs use local, seasonal and organic produce, ensuring that the quality is also top notch.
Souk Al Bahar (04 425 2240).
Organic Foods & Café: Again, this is not a full-on vegetarian venture, but you’ll still find a number of meat-free, purely organic choices on offer. It doesn’t matter that the setting, a tag-on to the organic supermarket, isn’t the most glam. The food here speaks for itself, and the owners’ passion for healthy, organic chow shines through in the vegetarian dishes, which come packed with real taste.
The Greens, Sheikh Zayed Road, (04 361 7974). Other location: The Dubai Mall (04 434 0577).
Kamat: If there’s one thing Dubai has no shortage of, it’s vegetarian Indian food. Most of the options in town are excellent and Kamat is no exception. So why do we single it out? Because it’s a steal, the food is amazing and because the menu has a Jain section (for those not in the know, Jainism is a religion with strict dietary requirements). Pretty much everything sings, though we’re partial to the chana masala (chickpea curry) as an opener.
Kuwait Street, Bur Dubai (04 359 5441).
Reem al Bawadi: Sure, one tends to associate Lebanese fare with sweaty, meaty kebabs, but for every skewer pulled out of the fire there are many more wholesome veggie mezze options plopped down at the table. Tabbouleh, falafel, baba ganoush, houmous… the list of tasty meatless dishes is unending. And personally, we think Reem al Bawadi – a firm favourite among Arabs and expats alike – serves these staples with extra panache. As well as a generally convivial atmosphere; the huge, leafy den has a great shisha selection, and board games to keep you occupied.
Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah (04 394 7444).
Haji Ali Juice Center: While many folks know about Bombay Chowpatty, few have visited its next-door neighbour, the Haji Ali Juice Center (try saying that five times, fast). What we like about this place is that it’s open late and serves a plethora of vegetarian fast food. That’s right – there’s not an ounce of meat in the entire restaurant. The mozzarella and veg grilled cheese sandwich, stuffed with tomato, capsicum and potato is particularly excellent. Veggie burgers and fries are also top notch, and there’s a range of fresh juices, ice creams and milk shakes. Plus, they deliver.
Karama, opposite Spinneys (04 397 8844). Other location: Oud Metha, between Al Nasr Cinema and Lamcy Plaza (04 337 8078).