With an estimated 22 percent of the world vegetarian, and with veganism rapidly on the rise, it’s no surprise that restaurants are increasingly catering for plant-based diners. In Dubai there are plenty of options for those who don’t eat meat, or who are dairy-free too.
Vegetarians and vegans no longer have to settle for a dry nut roast or picking out the vegetables from a roast dinner – which when many are cooked in animal fat is a challenge in itself.
From elegant dinners out to dedicated Christmas fare, here’s our pick of places to dine in style this festive season as a vegetarian or vegan.
One of Dubai’s most-loved plant-based restaurants, and the world’s first and only vegetarian Indian Michelin Star fine dining experience, Avatara has a tasting menu that’s perfect for the festive season. The restaurant recently relocated to Dubai Hills from Downtown Dubai and has a brand-new menu, too, based on the theme of chakras. It’s not a specific festive menu, but it’s fancy enough for the holidays and comes in at AED595 for a 17-course experience. Dishes on the set menu include raw banana chaat with avocado chutney, achari broccolini with panchphoran carrot and candied walnut and jackfruit momo with sea buckthorn thukpa and rice papad. This would make an ideal pre-Christmas treat or a gift to redeem post-Christmas.
This Spanish restaurant in DIFC is well-known for its passion for sustainability and use of local ingredients. For the festive period it has both vegan and vegetarian versions of its seasonal menu, with prices starting from AED295. On the vegan menu there are dishes such as a home-made rye sourdough with aubergine aioli, ice-packed manzanilla olives, green gazpacho with beetroot tartare and the signature ‘superfoods and desert plants’, which has organic quinoa and amaranth, forager seasonal desert plants with roasted aubergine cream cocoa nibs dressing and local edible flowers.
There’s also a vegan saffron risotto with fried tofu and king oyster mushrooms or seared confit artichokes or the BOCA-touille with roasted veg. There’s a slow-cooked coconut rice pudding for dessert. And that’s not all – all the festive decorations are upcycled and sustainable too, made from discarded items in the restaurant that the team has been collecting for months including old menus, corks, bottles and even oyster shells.
CE LA VI
Although there’s no special festive menu at this famous restaurant at Address Sky View in Downtown Dubai, there is a dedicated vegan menu, which paired with the views from its sky-high vantage point makes it a great option for plant-based diners looking for a Christmas treat.
The menu from acclaimed chef Howard Ko includes grilled king oyster mushrooms with olive oil and garlic (AED120), roasted cauliflower with garlic, preserved lemon and Calabrian chilli (AED85) roasted baby carrots with vegan labneh and madras granola (AED98), black truffle risotto with butternut squash, shimeji mushrooms and coconut cream (AED285), roasted butternut squash with miso cashew glaze and mint and pomegranate pesto (AED140), impossible vegan burger with tomato compote and crispy shallots (AED130), while for dessert there’s vegan chilli mango tart (AED65).
This European restaurant from renowned British chef Jason Atherton has a gorgeous location on the 43rd floor of Grosvenor House Dubai Marina. The views stretch out across the Palm, while the setting is sophisticated making it ideal for a festive treat. Vegetarian dishes on the menu include stuffed tomato with miso aubergine, ricotta, ratatouille and tomato ponzu (AED85), tempura stuffed courgetti with kaffir lime, chilli and goat’s cheese (AED95), wood-fired spring vegetables with pickled cucumber, courgetti and basil (AED110) and pink lady apple tarte tatin with muscovado ice cream (AED160).
Couqley French Bistro
Although there’s no official festive menu at this French bistro, there are plenty of vegetarian dishes that can also be adapted to be made vegan, so it’s good for those who are dining as a mixed group with different dietary requirements in December. With branches in both JLT and Business Bay there’s a buzzing vibe ideal for festive dining. On the menu there’s sautéed asparagus and mushrooms, endive salad, ratatouille with potato purée, pappardelle with mushrooms and truffle and a Portobello mushroom ‘steak’ frites – so no one is left out.
This fancy European spot at Souk Madinat Jumeirah has a super rooftop overlooking the waterways below and it’s a beautiful spot for a festive meal. There’s a festive set menu running until December 23, which includes options for vegetarians such as roasted mushroom terrine with black truffle and gruyere cheese, risotto with winter squash, chestnut, mascarpone and sage, Christmas pudding parfait and mince pies. It’s AED295 with soft drinks and AED395 with house drinks. Also Souk Madinat has all the festive feels during December so it’s delightful for vegetarian diners looking for a special pre-Christmas meal.
This 100 percent plant-based, gluten-free, cane sugar-free and organic café in Dubai’s Jumeirah prides itself on its nutritious vegan dishes, and the festive period is no different. December specials include ‘Festivity Caprese’ salad with lettuce, crispy tofu, caramelised walnuts and homemade Caesar dressing (AED64) and a vegan take on a roast dinner – a tofu loaf with green beans, roast potatoes, mushroom gravy and cranberry jam (AED72). There are also gingerbread cookies made with gluten-free flour, coconut sugar and almond milk (AED12) or a Santa cake with cranberry, orange and cacao (AED45) for vegans with a sweet tooth. As a wellness centre, Seva Table also offers yoga classes and sound healing sessions to try.
The Black Sheep
A new gastropub in JLT, this casual location has a special festive menu that’s running until December 23. Plant-based diners can head here with a group safe in the knowledge they won’t be picking from soggy veg either, as vegan options on the menu include spiced pumpkin soup, chestnut and wild mushroom pie with Brussels sprouts, roast potatoes, carrots, cranberry sauce and a peppermint chocolate cake for dessert. It’s AED295 for a package with soft drinks and AED395 with house drinks.
The Strand Kitchen
This restaurant on the Palm has beautiful views and is a great choice for making the most of the Dubai winter weather. And this December it has a festive menu, with dedicated vegan options. Dishes on the list include roasted Portobello mushroom and Impossible meatloaf with onion gravy and sweet potatoes. There’s also the regular vegan menu, which includes tofu green curry, chilli sin carne and Impossible Bolognese, to choose from.