It’s well known that Dubai has something like 20,000 eateries. I’d say around 10,000 of those claim to serve healthy food, without really having any idea what the concept means. Some of the lists of ‘healthy’ options are rather interesting…. would you call a place that only serves giant brioche cheeseburgers and freak shakes a healthy choice? There seems to be a little bit of a misconception about healthy eating in the Gulf!
For this reason, I’ve pulled together my list of healthy eats in Dubai – I’ve done the trawling, so you can enjoy the eating!
Before I start, my idea of healthy eating is natural, low-carb and, generally, low-sugar options. Some of the options might be higher in fat in protein. I know everyone has a different idea of healthy eating, so thought it would be best to define how I see it.
Also, you’ll notice one glaring omission from my list – Acai spots. Places sporting Acai bowls are popping up constantly in Dubai. Now, I have nothing against Acai. I have a small amount – about a tablespoon – of pure unsweetened Acai in my smoothie each day. The point it – it is a very small amount. Acai, in its processed form, is very sugary. While it does offer excellent antioxidant properties, you don’t need a bowl of the stuff to gain the benefits. You certainly don’t need the sugar it contains. If anything, Acai bowls should be seen as an occasional dessert treat, the same way you would view ice cream or a piece of cake. Consume with caution!
HEAT Healthy Eats and Treats
A new find near the Burj Al Arab, Matt and I visited HEAT a few days ago and was pleasantly surprised. This small but funky cafe offers a massive range of well-priced healthy options. While Matt opted for the cauliflower BBQ chicken pizza (delicious, by the way!), I had a chicken stir fry with lettuce cups. It’s a pity they don’t deliver to Downtown, as I would love to try their takeout. Umm Suqeim.
Le Gourmet at Galeries Lafayette
This might be an unexpected one. A food court within a department store? This place actually has a massive menu of all sorts of cuisines, but does include a healthy options menu. The good thing about Le Gourmet is that you can order from any menu – making it a great lunch spot when you have lots of eaters of different cuisines! Look out for the ‘Supernational Kitchen’ menu, where you can order dishes such as Shitake Cream Hazelnut Tart, Coconut and Courgette Rolls and Spiralized Vegetable Lasagna. Dubai Mall.
Freshii has delicious food, with some caveats. Things that look like they might be super healthy can still be pretty heavy on the calorie count, due to the sauces used. But with a bit of creativity – switching out noodles for quinoa, for example – you can turn their dishes into low carb dreams. Their website has useful nutritional info. As a very occasional treat, their peanut butter protein balls are delicious. Order via Talabat or Deliveroo.
Located in D3, Craft Cafe is your go-to if you are craving a burger alternative. It’s Quinoa Burger is actually pretty darn tasty, and can be combined with a variety of delicious sides. The Anatolian Eggs are another great choice, just skip the grilled bread, and they have an Enoki Salad – the only type of mushrooms I like! Dubai Design District.
Gourmet by KCal
I’ve raved about Gourmet by KCal before. It’s in a beautiful setting at the Meridien Mina Seyahi, with valet parking. There is indoor and outdoor seating, and it never seems to get insanely busy. Most of all, it offers delicious, healthy food, with nutritional information readily available. I went there just last week and loved their Gourmet Shawarma Wrap with tahini and zucchini! Le Meridian Mina Seyahi, Dubai Media City.
Pretty simple concept, right? A menu of dishes under 500 calories? Well, the good news is that Under 500 does it well. There are some really delicious options on their menu, that you’d assume would hit a lot harder in the calorie count. They offer nutritional information (yay!), and delivery if you don’t want to pop into their DAMAC towers branch. Business Bay.
Okay, so clearly their entire menu is not healthy. But Common Grounds has some delicious options on there that are very tasty, healthy-ish treats, like its Kashmiri Florentine, Buckwheat Waffles and Veggie Rice Wraps. It’s your best option for a healthy meal within Mall of the Emirates. Like most malls in Dubai, food outlets are heavily oriented towards fast food! Mall of the Emirates.
Le Pain Quotidien
This is the sort of cafe that I was in two minds about putting on the list. Yes, Le Pain Quotidien sell a lot of unhealthy pastries and breads (they look really, really good, by the way). But they also have an extensive egg dish menu, and a range of fantastic salads. I love their Walnut and Roast Beef Salad – its filling, tasty and pops with flavor. Be picky, but you can find some real treats.
One Life Cafe and Kitchen
While sadly, it lacks nutritional information, One Life Cafe and Kitchen do offer some healthy alternatives to your normal sandwich and soup fare. Their breakfasts are very tasty, and you can sub out the bread for some vegetables or salad to make it a low-carb choice. The Eggplant Parmigiana and Grilled Chicken Breast are also great tasting options. Dubai Design District.
Right Bite Express
Right Bite Express is another great takeout option that – again – has nutritional information. Seriously, that nutritional information is key. Making informed decisions is a big part of eating healthily, and it takes the guesswork out of what you can – and can’t – eat. They have some mega low-carb options like the Kale and Chicken Protein Pot (4 grams of carbs!) and a range of salads, bowls and wraps that can be delivered to your door. Order through Talabat or EatCleanME.
When you are craving something well cooked and tasty with a build your own style meal, try HAPI. They offer a mix and match menu where you can pick only the items you want, earning yourself a tasty Charcoal Chicken or Steak and Vegetable get up. The setting is quiet, and if you’re feeling super adventurous, you can always give their bone broth a try. Alserkal Avenue.
While a little on the pricey side, the servings at Biorganic Cafe are hearty and healthy. They have an extensive menu covering all tastes, and are colocated with the Biorganic store selling organic and healthy options. Big ups to them for using biodegradable serve ware, too! Barsha Heights/TECOM.
Craving something healthy at home? Why not give EatCleanME a go? The website provides a huge range of eating options – featuring many of the cafes and restaurants feature above. You can filter food by your nutritional preference – including paleo and low-carb. It even lists the nutritional information for, as far as I can see, nearly all of its restaurants and items, as well as minimum order values. A fantastic service that is well worth trying out! Online delivery service.
Do you have any other suggestions of places to try? Let me know!