Top Restaurant Menu Trends in the UAE for 2021

Restaurant Menu Trends in UAE

Restaurant menu trends in the UAE keep on evolving year after year. Some of them are seasonal while some maintain their place on the menus’ for an indefinite period. All of these menu trends go hand in hand with the consumer’s eating habits and preferences. 

The UAE restaurant industry has taken a steep turn in 2021. Restaurants have been tightening up their budgets, reworking their business models and optimizing menus. Consumers have also become more health-conscious after the pandemic hit them. Everyone is busy building strong immunity and enhancing overall health. Thus, there is a shift in focus from the old favourites towards mindful eating. 

Top Restaurant Menu Trends To Look Out For In The UAE In 2021

The pandemic has forced restaurants to think out-of-the-box in terms of menu options. According to Naim Maadad, chief executive and founder of Gates Hospitality, the demand for creative menus will witness an increased demand this year. Here are some restaurant menu trends that are likely to flourish all over the UAE in 2021.

1. Healthy Diet 

Reviewing last year, it is easy to say that a healthy diet has become paramount for consumers. The pandemic has triggered high anxiety and stress levels pertaining to health and immunity. People are now more focused on healthy eating. This trend started last year and is likely to continue this year as well. According to the Posist UAE Prime Report, almost half of the UAE diners demand healthier meals in restaurants.

Restaurateurs in the country are thus considering the inclusion of plant-based recipes in their menus. On their part, the chefs are already experimenting with various plant ingredients to serve consumers plant-based healthy dishes. As per the food aggregator Deliveroo, 43 percent of the people are looking forward to consuming plant-based or vegetarian products and 36 percent are open to trying out seasonal vegetables. It is expected that plant-based delicacies will make their place in restaurant menus across the UAE this year. 

For instance, probiotic products having chickpeas as their key ingredient will take the place of whole grains. Besides hummus, chickpeas, cereals, tofu and flour are likely to dominate the restaurant menus around the country. 

2. Clean Eating And Veganuary 

The vegan trend has been expanding rapidly in the UAE over the last few years and has gained more popularity after the advent of COVID-19. Deliveroo predicted that 29 percent of the people are now inclined towards clean eating and veganuary. Even the paleo population is now shifting to meat alternatives. Owing to the rise in the vegan population in the UAE, restaurants are introducing a novel vegan dish every month.  

However, despite the shift from meat to vegan or vegetarian food, meat will still hold its position in the flexitarian menu. This is due to the challenges it faces regarding price, rising meat consumption and changing demographics of the country.

Vegan Trend
Source: Urban Adventures

3. Food For Emotional And Mental Wellness

This is one of the most noteworthy restaurant menu trends in the UAE. The amount of attention given to emotional and mental wellness has increased post-COVID-19 worldwide. Consumers in the UAE not only want to feed their bodies but also their minds. Experts are now trying to promote psychology-based strategies towards healthy eating to create awareness about how food can impact emotional and mental health. 

For instance, salmon and spinach based dishes can be offered to consumers with high serotonin levels, whereas lentils are ideal for boosting the iron levels. Beetroot-based food and drinks are recommended for enhancing blood circulation. The chefs can thus introduce many other innovative meal options and beverages to cater to the well-being of consumers.

4. Rise of Kosher Food

Kosher food is likely to gain traction in the UAE on the back of the peace treaty signed between Israel and the UAE on September 15, 2020. Direct flights have now been launched between the two countries as a result of the treaty. Consequently, the UAE has witnessed the influx of more than 50,000 Israeli tourists since then. 

Therefore, UAE hotels and restaurants have started incorporating kosher traditions into their menus to cater to Israeli tourists. Moreover, there has also emerged a fusion of kosher and Emirati food – Kosherati-for the consumers to try. This new emerging food category in the UAE will likely prove itself successful in building good relationships with the new pool of customers. 

The bottom line is that the change in the UAE restaurant landscape has been driven by a profound change in consumer preferences which are likely to evolve further in the time to come. Thus, we can expect the menus in UAE restaurants to continue innovating and bring more healthy and gluten-free dishes to the table!


Rating: 4.0/5. From 1 vote.
Please wait...
Nikunj is the Communications Lead at Restroworks, a global leader in cloud-based technology platforms. In his role, he oversees global marketing and branding initiatives for Restroworks across APAC, the Middle East, and the US.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here