New bites on the block: three new healthy cafes to try

Cafes with a focus on wholesome food and healthy living continue to pop up across the UAE, with many catering to specific dietary requirements. You can find 100 per cent gluten-free, raw food, all-organic, vegan and even paleo-friendly cafes. We pick three newcomers to try, but keep your eyes open – there are surely more to come

CrossFit junkie Mohammed Al Tamimi had planned for a healthy-concept cafe when he set up MProve Fitness.   Christopher Pike / The National
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Steroid Cafe, Abu Dhabi

We’re confident you won’t see another cafe with this name here, or anywhere else.

The Steroid Cafe is set to open in a month next to MProve fitness, Abu Dhabi’s first warehouse fitness space. MProve, which opened in December, is the brainchild of Mohammed Al Tamimi, an Etihad Airways pilot and CrossFit junkie.

“As soon as I planned to open a gym, I planned to have a healthy-concept cafe attached to it,” he says.

His partner for the cafe, Fatema Al Mehairi, who works for The Khalifa Fund, is behind the food. “I’ve created all the recipes from scratch,” she says. “Everything is good, but everyone is waiting for the grab and go protein wraps.”

She’s been handing out the homemade wraps to members at the gym to get feedback before the cafe opens.

“They all love them,” says Al Mehairi. “People wait for an hour for my car to arrive just to take one of the protein wraps. I told them to take them free now, because soon you’re going to pay for them.”

The cafe will also offer healthy meals, snacks, protein smoothies and speciality coffee. ­Nutritional information such as the carbohydrate, protein, fat, and calorie content will be listed on each item, something Al Mehairi and Al Tamimi say is missing from most of the capital’s restaurants.

And, in what appears to be a first for the capital, the cafe will abandon its healthy-living mantra to offer “cheat days” on the weekends, when guests can indulge in glutinous food such as burgers, fondant, sweets and chocolate.

“Bodybuilders and athletes always have a cheat day,” says Al Tamimi. “I just wanted to have a new concept that was different from other cafes in the region.”

Al Tamimi and Al Mehairi are excited about the upcoming launch of their cafe concept. “The cafe is a mix of good food in one place so families and athletes can all enjoy it,” says Al Tamimi. “And the best thing is the view and the glass facing the gym. People from the cafe can actually see people working out and enjoying their time there.”

Al Mehairi stresses that despite the name and location, it’s a place for everyone who loves good food, not only diehard ­fitness fans.

“It’s not just for people who want to be into fitness,” she says. “It’s real food. It’s healthy food. It’s fresh food – and it’s tasty.

And what is with that name? Al Tamimi says, “I wanted a name that is unique and that no one in the world has. The name connects with my MProve Fitness concept and it has this touch, or magic, that it’s different from any name out there. I checked all over the world to see if there was a Steroid Cafe. I’m glad to be the first and only one who has it.”

• The Steroid Cafe is in Al Maqta area behind Princess Cars showroom and is connected to MProve Fitness. It is due to open in about a month. Visit

Basiligo, Abu Dhabi

Basiligo is a newly launched healthy-food delivery company that will open its first retail location in Etihad Towers later this year. Justine Corrado, an Italian-American who has lived in Abu Dhabi for 23 years has designed the concept. “I come from a foodie family that loves culinary adventures and experiencing global flavours,” she says. “We treasure the heritage of recipes passed down ­generations and across cultures.”

Corrado, who quit her full-time government job as a security analyst to start Basiligo, has a degree in business administration from Fordham University in New York, and earned an MBA from Alliance Manchester Business School a few months ago. Her goal with Basiligo – a combination of the words basil and to go – is to provide people with healthy, fresh, wholesome food that can be delivered to your home or work.

The menu includes gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options, with calorie and nutritional information for each dish. There is no MSG, no preservatives and no artificial colouring in any of the dishes, and locally-farmed produce is used whenever available.

Corrado, a member of the Slow Food Organization (a global grass roots organisation that works to protect local food cultures and traditions, focusing on good, clean and fair food), says: “We do not take shortcuts for the base ingredients to maximise the flavour in our recipes. With sturdy base ingredients, I create flavour profiles that I feel are delicious, healthy, and will travel well.

“Abu Dhabi is a small village for us. My interest in and passion for food has been channelled into creating a service for my community so people can feel they are having quality, tasty food.”

• Browse Basiligo’s menu and order meals online (up to 5pm for same-day delivery) at, or call 02 553 0049. The retail outlet in Etihad Towers will offer ready-made, grab-and-go meals that will be prepared fresh each morning

Skye & Walker, Dubai

Skye & Walker opened two weeks ago in the Marriott Executive Apartments at Dubai Creek. The home-grown concept features raw, vegan and gluten-free options on the menu, using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. “There is a current global trend and emphasis on paying closer attention to what you consume,” says Hossein Garan, the general manager of Marriott Executive Apartments. “Superfoods, organic produce and clean food are all part of this health-conscious movement that people are adapting into their lifestyles. We believe this concept will be very popular as it is one that is growing in popularity among people who enjoy dining out, but who also want a more health-­conscious menu.”

Signature dishes include slow-roasted beet salad; quinoa and white bean pitta pockets; organic beef burgers; and desserts such as matcha chia pudding and raw carrot cake. Garan says the cafe has a relaxed, laid-back atmosphere and is a comfortable space to eat, work and ­socialise.

Not only proud of its healthy cuisine, the cafe also has an environmentally friendly design. It has a concrete floor made from old granite countertops that were crushed and reused. Garan say: “The decor showcases elements made from natural, recycled and reclaimed materials,” says Garan. “For example, reclaimed solid scaffold planks have been used as hanging teardrop features, display units and furniture pieces.”

The cafe also focuses on recycling and reducing waste, uses non-toxic cleaning materials and provides biodegradable takeout containers.

• Skye & Walker is open daily from 6.30am to midnight in Marriott Executive Apartments in Dubai Creek. Call 04 213 1221, visit