The Best Veggie-Friendly Cheap Eats in Dubai
Dubai may have a reputation for towering buildings and five-star dining, but the city is also full of restaurants and cafes that serve up tasty food at a price that’s rather nice. Here are 7 of our favorite veggie-friendly cheap eats in Dubai that will satisfy both your appetite and your wallet.
- Al Mallah Cafeteria (Approx. Cost Per Person: AED 20)
One of Dubai’s oldest Arabic restaurants, Al Mallah has been popular amongst the city’s old-timers, who have spent many a Thursday night there with school buddies. Classic Middle Eastern street food and mezze are the specialties there, with top sellers being the humble falafel sandwich and falafel plates, all served up with a heaping fresh salad of mixed greens. And one cannot possibly forget about Al Mallah’s large assortment of fresh juices. Banana and avocado juices topped with honey and nuts are the most popular, or you could opt for one of their ‘celebrity’ drinks such as the Maradona or the Diana! Seating in the main branch is outdoors only, but there are no complaints, even in the heat of summer!
- Ravi Restaurant (Approx. Cost Per Person: AED 25)
Ravi is another of Dubai’s old favorites, and is a hotspot for locals, expats and tourists alike. It’s also a godsend for the party crowd owing to its late hours. Ravi was one of the first Pakistani restaurants to open in the city, dishing out finger-licking fare such as paneer masala, aloo palak and vegetabe masala, all served with a side of hot rotis and refreshing yogurt chutney. The paneer masala, cooked in coconut milk with a green chili kick, is certainly recommended!
Ravi has three outlets side by side in Satwa; the central outlet is the original, and it’s flanked by two add-ons that go by the name ‘Ravi Palace’ and were designed more specifically for family dining.
- 77 Veggie Boutique (Approx. Cost Per Person: AED 35)
The focus at 77 Veggie Boutique is healthy, organic food. Located in Tiffany Tower at Jumeirah Lake Towers, it is one of the few places that uses completely local produce, and caters to all manner of dietary requirements with various vegan and gluten-free options.
It's a multi cuisine restaurant with everything from pizzas to wontons, and there's always a good assortment of freshly made sandwiches and salads to choose from for a light lunch. The Healthy Red Rice Noodles with Veggie Chili Sauce is a must-try, with a nice spicy flavor and a very substantial portion size.
- Just Falafel (Approx. Cost Per Person: AED 25)
Putting a cosmopolitan spin on one of the Middle East’s most well-known street food dishes, Just Falafel has a wide variety of unique falafel sandwiches that reflect signature dishes from around the world. There’s the Italian, which is served on soft ciabatta bread with a black olive tapenade, pesto mayo, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. Or you might opt for the falafel quesadilla, with Monterey jack cheese, jalapenos and tomatoes wrapped up in a flour tortilla.
You can also order mezze and salad on the side, and there’s a truly delectable dessert section, including a simple but tasty carrot cake that was sadly out of stock on our recent visit, so make sure to order dessert first!
- Mini Chinese (Approx. Cost Per Person: AED 35)
Mini Chinese is a tiny restaurant tucked away in Satwa that certainly lives up to its name, making for a cozy little lunch or dinner getaway.
The vegetarian selection is also on the small side, with only a few main courses and side salads, but the serving sizes aren’t as miniscule as you might expect, and all the food is big on flavor. Mixed vegetables, vegetable Manchurian and mixed veg. noodles are the most noteworthy items. The crispness of julienned vegetables adds a contrasting texture to the silky noodles, and strips of bamboo shoot give it a nice earthy flavor.
- Taqado (Approx. Cost Per Person: AED 40)
One of the newer entries on the list, Taqado has been around for only a couple of years, but has made an impression with its fresh flavors and tangy salsas. You can select from burritos, fajitas, tacos or the burrito box for a carb-free meal. Fillings include a choice of lime-cilantro or tomato rice, black or pinto beans, a grilled pepper and onion mixture and mild or spicy salsa. You can even add in freshly made guacamole, which lends a nice creamy zest to the dish. Wash down the spice with a Mexican cola, available in many fruity flavors and sweetened with agave nectar instead of sugar. Eating burritos can be messy business, so make sure you order a side of tortilla chips or nachos to help with clean up!
- Lemonade (Approx. Cost Per Person: AED 55)
Lemonade is the home of Southern Californian comfort food, and it delivers in spades. You could spring for the salad, with a mix of up to four different kinds, including pasta salads, bean salads and assorted veggies. The main course includes slow braised vegetables, sandwiches and soups. The vegetarian Southwestern chili is a must, with a smoky flavor and a hearty tomato-based broth, accompanied by wonderfully soft olive bread to soak it all up. And of course, how can we neglect to mention the lemonades? The traditional gives you nice lemony freshness, or you could get experimental with watermelon rosemary or cucumber mint, both equally delightful.
This might be on the upper end of ‘cheap eats’ on this list, but the taste and generous servings are definitely worth it.
And that’s just a small sampling of eateries around town that won’t break your budget. But there’s no shortage of falafel serving cafes to go around, and places like Ajanta and Govinda’s have the classic Indian thali, providing a complete spread of vegetable dishes and sides with bread or rice. In short, take a trip to any corner of Dubai and you’re bound to find some fantastic cheap eats. Happy hunting!Sumati Menda
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