People sure are interested in the Keto diet here in the UAE: According to a survey conducted by the digital marketing suite SEMrush, searches for ketogenic shot up more than 1,000 percent in the UAE between 2017 and 2020. And while lots of people may be eating paleo, the same survey found searches for that way of eating have fallen by 19 percent in the same period.
The ketogenic diet recommends heaps of fats, moderate protein and low carbs, and it is often recommended for medical reasons. The paleo diet advocates eating like our ancestors did, meaning a mix of fats and proteins, and very few carbs.
We’ve rounded up a few of the best keto and paleo bites in the UAE below. But before you throw out all that bread, most experts caution against following either dirt to an extreme extent. Ultimately, moderation is always best. Even when it comes to turkey bacon avocado eggs made in butter.
The Roost Rotisserie, Dubai
As its name suggests, this local-born family-owned business specializes in roasted chicken but it also sends out fresh packets of beef, bird and veggie bone broth. The focus here is on free range meats containing no hormones or antibiotics. Try the full chicken for a keto-loving meal,or order the hazelnut brownies for a bit of indulgent paleo goodness.
Ketology, Abu Dhabi
If you’ve ever wanted to feast like a cave-person in the comfort of your own home, this online restaurant is the spot for you. As the name suggests, Ketology is entirely focused on all things keto. Breakfasts feature plenty of eggs done in different ways (with ham, with avocado, with minced meat, and more). Lunch features fats with protein, like stuffed chicken served beside beef bacon or an avocado burger minus the bun. The food is available on various delivery platforms.
If you haven’t been out to this unique Al Barari spot yet, go. Just go. It’s incredible. This contemporary restaurant has kombucha on tap, indoor/outdoor seating, an industrial vibe and food that belongs in a photography book. Try the charcoal roasted market fish with extra coconut aioli or slices of the 14-day aged ham. The raw tuna tomato is equally incredible (and the portions are massive). Just be sure to skip the complementary homemade bread for a proper paleo experience.
Basiligo, Abu Dhabi
Basiligo has some of the most delicious meal plans around at their Reem Island location, so it’s no surprise they do a good job on paleo and keto. Think cheddar cheese crisps for snacking, Keto Breakfast Cheeseburger and Beef and Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms or Seared White Fish with walnut brussels sprout salad for lunch or dinner.
The Cycle Bistro, Dubai
Entirely paleo inspired, this Dubai Autodrome venue serves up food that’s gluten, sugar, and dairy free to throngs of post-cycling athletes and families. Try the Breakfast of Champions for avocado mixed with egg and beef bacon, or the 180gm ribeye steak topped with two eggs. For lunch, there’s beef, cauliflower steaks, fish tacos and stuffed (not entirely keto) sweet potatoes. When the coconut water and strong coffees are done, leave a bit of time to browse the many racks of bikes.
MuscleFuel, Abu Dhabi
Another healthy food company with a physical location at Alfalahi Tower, this Abu Dhabi company isn’t strictly paleo or keto, but does have plenty of fat-and-meat options. Go for the cajun prawn bowl or chicken burrito bowl, just nix the bed of lemon-infused rice. Or try the grilled peri peri chicken alongside Turkish beef koftas and ask for a side of Mexican flavored minced beef.
Brunch and Cake Dubai
Paleo toys with the idea of eating like our ancestors do, but that goes out the window a bit the moment you walk into this airy cafe, where cake platters heave with huge slices and avocado comes served on a wedge of homemade bread. But order wisely and you’ll have an incredible low-carb meal in a massive portion size. Try the pulled beef and avocado egg Benedict with rich hollandaise sauce (just don’t have the muffin). The breakfast calzone made with mushroom sauce, mozzarella, scrambled eggs and turkey bacon also works as long as you can resist the crusty exterior. There’s also an incredible roaming card trick performer.
A recent launch in Jumeirah Al Naseem, this Peruvian-Japanese restaurant is a great romantic spot for a date-night splurge. There’s plenty of fresh sashimi (raw fish) plus tuna or sea bass ceviche. For extra keto-friendly indulgence, try the Gillardeau oysters with vinaigrette (but brace yourself: the price is Dh250). A range of seafood mains span keto-friendly saikyo miso black cod through to oven-cooked octopus. For meats, there’s a 36-hour cooked lamb shoulder, plus wagyu available by the gram. All this happens in a linen-tablecloth setting with excellent views of Burj Al Arab.
You can have your meat with a side of learn-how-to-salsa at this recently relaunched Latin American venue. The menu here spans 35 dishes from Peru, Mexico and Argentina. Try the ceviche made from oysters and tuna, or the shelled shrimps served in coconut butter. For mains, there’s plenty of seafood and grilled meats. You can even order a bowl of keto-friendly guacamole. Just watch yourself with the more-ish chips.
Tawa Bakery, Abu Dhabi
As an entirely gluten-free cafe, this charming spot serves up several paleo options. Order Emirati eggs (scrambled eggs with tomato, chili and onion) without the fresh bread, or try the black Angus steak with porcini sauce. The cafe’s chilled vibe and industrial-inspired interiors will make you want to linger over fresh coconut milk smoothies.
Focus on the ‘raw bar’ and meaty mains at this brand new Mexican restaurant. In the former, you’ll find plates of oysters, ceviche made with snapper and compressed mezcal mango, wagyu beef tartar and a coconut-infused tuna. In the latter, there’s miso braised lamb shank, spicy tiger prawns, chili and cashew nut chicken and other Central American-inspired dishes. There’s also a 24-carat gold leaf taco at this rooftop spot but while it’s certainly fancy, it isn’t really keto.
Sweet Greens, Abu Dhabi
This entry at Rihan Heights is focused on local produce and sustainable operations, but recently they’ve been going all-in on keto, too. They’ve just held their first keto Friday brunch, celebrating International Keto Day, on January 10 and are coming up with more keto treats every time we log into Instagram. Recent entries include cauliflower-crust pizza, a gluten-free, keto-friendly brownie and a keto-friendly “cloud” bread.
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Danae Mercer is a freelance health and travel journalist and globally recognized influencer and leader in the body acceptance movement.