Dining in Dubai
cosmopolitan flavor is vastly enhanced by the wide selection of
excellent restaurants to be found in the city - making dining in
Dubai a real pleasure. From Michelin starred chefs and Chaine
des Rotisseurs events, to streetside shisha (hubble bubble)
cafes and budget bites, the Dubai dining scene is as expansive,
as it is diverse, and has prices to suit every budget. Quality
and presentation of food is usually extremely high, coupled with
imaginative settings and locations, the highest standards of
service and lively atmospheres, this all adds up to a fantastic
culinary experience. It’s no wonder that dining out is a
favorite Dubaiian pastime !
is widely available in 4 and 5 star hotels and in some leisure
and entertainment complexes, and as a result of this, many of
Dubai’s busiest and
are to be found here. Restaurants located outside of hotels are
not permitted to serve alcohol, but should certainly not be
dismissed, as many are culinary delights in their own right. The
districts of Bur Dubai, Satwa and Karama are home to many small,
independent outlets that take a great pride and passion in the
food that they serve and are great value for money.
favorable climate makes outdoor dining very popular for the
majority of the year. Outdoor heaters and air conditioners take
the chill from the winter nights and cool the summer heat,
making al fresco dining at a number of restaurants perfectly
possible, all year long. Dubai is simply spoilt with the number
of exceptional restaurants in spectacular locations where you
can dine under the stars.
global names sit alongside some great local innovations.
Appleby’s Benihana, BiCE, Blue Elephant, Chili’s, Ciro’s
Pomodoro, Hard Rock Café, Pizza Express, TGI Fridays, Trader
Vic’s, Wagamama and Yo! Sushi, are just some of the familiar
names to be found in Dubai - all long established and firm
favourites. Zheng He’s, Le Classique, The Boardwalk, Vu’s
Restaurant, Asha’s and Gordon Ramsay’s Verre are all noteworthy
of inclusion in an essential selection of Dubai’s top dining
of annual restaurant awards are coveted by the entertainment and
hospitality industry, where public opinion is key in the
selection and judging process. This ensures excellent dining
standards all round. Several restaurants have won repeated
accolades and are justifiably reluctant to lose their crowns –
hotting up the competition – and ensuring the best in standards
and choice for the discerning diner.
be impossible to list all of Dubai’s outstanding venues here, so
in the following categories, a few of the city’s favorite and
most popular venues have been noted. Several publications, such
as ‘Time Out Dubai’ and ‘What’s On’ magazines provide
up-to-the-minute information regarding Dubai’s burgeoning
boasts some of the most sophisticated and refined fine dining
experiences in any one city. For memorable special occasions and
celebrations Al Mahara, the speciality seafood restaurant,
located underneath Burj Al Arab is simply without comparison. A
three minute submarine simulation ride takes you to your
destination – an elegantly furnished dining room, surrounded by
amazing seawater aquariums. Al Mahara serves the finest seafood
with a Western and Chinese touch prepared by world-class chefs.
Celebrities at the One&Only Royal Mirage resort is a landmark
restaurant, offering a modern interpretation of Western and
Middle Eastern fusion cuisine with a twist. An elegant and
romantic atmosphere, coupled with outstanding views over the
Arabian Sea makes this a memorable dining experience to enjoy.
La Baie at the Ritz Carlton Hotel is possibly one of the most
romantic restaurants in Dubai. Serving fine European progressive
gourmet food, this elegant restaurant is both intimate and
refined and overlooks the Arabian Sea. Vu’s Restaurant at
Emirates Towers Hotel is an award-winning favorite in the heart
of the city. Serving the best in modern European cuisine in a
stylish setting, Vu’s Restaurant benefits from its fantastic
location on the 50th floor, providing impressive, panoramic
views of Dubai’s cityscape.
Indian singing diva Asha Bhosle chose Dubai to launch her foray
into the hospitality industry and to open her first restaurant,
to widespread critical acclaim. Asha’s at Pyramids, Wafi City
offers traditional North-Western Indian kebabs and cuisine and a
selection of Ms Bhosle’s signature and favorite family dishes.
Asha’s also features an extensive menu of unique speciality
cocktails. Lotus One is possibly one of Dubai’s chicest
restaurants and is described as ‘uber-cool’ by the fashionistas
that hang out here. Lotus One exudes a calm sophistication and
serves world-class cuisine within its an amazing décor, which
features swing chairs suspended on wire ropes and
state-of-the-art low lighting contrasting with funky glass
floors and intimate wood paneling. Teatro at the Towers Rotana
Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road features five different cuisines
under one roof and is a perennial favourite of the Dubai dining
scene for its consist quality and atmosphere.
staple Arabian ‘fast food’ is a delicious shwarma; marinated
chicken or lamb, slowly cooked on a rotating grill, thinly
sliced and then wrapped in flat Arabic
with tomatoes, salad and tahina sauce. Inexpensive and instantly
satisfying, shwarma stands can be found all over Dubai.
Chinese and Thai
and Thai are extremely popular cuisines in Dubai and there is a
wide choice of restaurants that cater to these tastes. With the
high quality of fresh seafood that Gulf waters provide, many
dishes are priced considerably lower than one would expect and
are packed full of flavor. Many small, independent Chinese and
Thai restaurants are located in the Bur Dubai and Karama
districts of the city.
are many inexpensive Indian restaurants, which offer filling
thalis (several different ‘sampler’ dishes all served on one
plate), curries, dhals and great, freshly baked breads, served
alongside a mind – and mouth-blowing array of hot pickles,
chutneys and chilli dips that accompany all dishes. Tucked away
in the backstreets of Karama and Satwa, these restaurants are a
sensory experience in their own right ! As is normal with Indian
restaurants, they are classified into ‘vegetarian’ and
‘non-vegetarian’ and normally specify whether they specialize in
the gorgeously rich curries of North India or the lighter,
flavorful dishes, such as idlies, uttapatam and dosas, that
South India is renowned for.
Cafes & Coffee
has a huge coffee shop culture and with many cafes staying open
till way past midnight. Cosmo is a favorite of Sheikh Zayed Road
regulars. Serving innovative fusion snacks and dishes in a
contemporary and modern setting, by day Cosmo is popular with
nearby office workers and in the evenings, residents chill out
and relax outside with a shisha (hubble bubble) pipe. More is a
contemporary café located in Garhoud, which is a fusion of a
café and an art gallery – an inspiring setting for a
brainstorming lunch or to a great place to surf the Internet and
sip a latte, as WiFi access is freely available. Shakespeare &
Co is a home-grown chain of coffee shops with locations across
the city. Taking culinary inspiration from popular Lebanese and
Western snacks, these are served in a warm, homely atmosphere.
Brunch is a veritable institution in the city and a number of
venues ensure that there is something for everyone – from
fun-filled family buffet brunches, complete with table
entertainers, face painters and kid’s play areas, to
free-flowing champagne and a smorgasbord of gastronomic delights
on offer at Dubai’s leading gourmet restaurants. Sumptuous beach
barbeques at the hotels on the shores of the Arabian Sea or
authentic Arabian camps, set in the desert dunes are all popular
and relaxing ways to get together with friends and contemplate
and review ‘that was the week, that was’.
Some of the most
Recommended Restaurants in Dubai :
Muntaha has the best location in Dubai, suspended hundreds of
meters above the Arabian Gulf, at the top of the Burj Al Arab
hotel. Service is immaculate and the slanted glass windows give
the restaurant the feel of a great ocean liner heading out to
sea. Al Muntaha also delivers on the plate, with starters such
as lobster Caesar salad or seared scallops and mains the likes
of grilled hammour (a local fish) or roasted prime beef rib with
mustard crust. An unusual dessert option, created by executive
chef John Wood, is the Cranachan, a delicious Scottish oatmeal
Arab Hotel, Jumeirah Beach, PO Box 7147
(04) 301 7777. Fax: (04) 301 7000.
Dh550. Wine: Dh250.
the expert guidance of head chef Carl Stockenstrom, this fine
dining restaurant rather fancies itself to be located in a major
European capital, with its mellow piano music, unfaltering
service and elegant
The food is similarly impressive and it all adds up to a meal
that may stretch the credit card but is guaranteed to be of the
highest quality. One of the most exotic starters is the
marinated sturgeon carpaccio with caviar and yoghurt sauce,
while a highlight among the mains - and rumoured to be the
chef's favourite - is the grilled hammour on a bed of green
Carlton Dubai, PO Box 26525
(04) 399 4000. Fax: (04) 399 4001.
Dh350. Wine: Dh140.
excellent French restaurant is well worth the trip out to Jebel
Ali. The open kitchen allows diners to watch the chefs in action
as they conjure up such innovative starter treats as lobster
and seared scallops wrapped in pastry. The highlight of the main
menu is the sea bass served on a bed of red cabbage and cooked
to perfection. Candles add to the cosy decor, making this the
perfect place to take a loved one for an evening of fine French
Ali Hotel, Bur Dubai
(04) 883 6000. Fax: (04) 883 5543.
Dh300. Wine: Dh120.
has been amongst Dubai's finest restaurants for a number of
years now and its reputation is well deserved. The setting is
spectacular in the Wafi Pyramid complex, with Egyptian-style
decor and candlelight dining. The service is attentive without
being overbearing and food presentation is imaginative. Starters
include the excellent lobster bisque and the unusual fried goats
cheese and beetroot sorbet, served with walnut and blue cheese
salad. The first rate ‘surf n' turf' is the highlight of the
Complex, Wafi City, PO Box 26631
(04) 324 9603.
Dh250. Wine: Dh120.
Ramsey's Dubai venture has proved a resounding success and is
already regarded by many discerning locals as the best place to
eat in Dubai. With Britain's only three-star Michelin chef
behind things, Verre could not really go wrong. The minimalist
decor might not suit all tastes but the simple surrounds and the
well thought-out lighting help focus deserved attention on the
food. A nice touch is the chef's specialities - tasty morsels of
food that come between the impressive courses. Mains include
salmon with a fricassee of peas and horseradish or poached
chicken on a bed of tagliatelle. The desserts are divine. The
three course lunch specials offer excellent value.
Dubai Creek, PO Box 30880
(04) 227 1111.
Dh300. Wine: Dh150.
Boom Floating Restaurant
one of Dubai's finest seafood restaurants and is located on
board a traditional style dhow. Diners choose which fish they
want from those on display and the chefs cook it to order. There
is also a river cruise every night, creating a unique setting
for a relaxed business dinner.
Tourist Village, PO Box 12650
(04) 324 3000. Fax: (04) 324 3930.
Dh200. Wine: Dh100.
only revolving restaurant, atop the Hyatt Regency Hotel, on the
25th floor, has some of the best views of any restaurant in the
city. Refurbished to a contemporary and sophisticated design in
2002, this restaurant revolves over a two-hour period, offering
panoramic views of the entire city and out towards the Arabian
Gulf. The most popular dining option is the international
buffet, which features dishes from all corners of the globe,
including options such as Chinese stir-fries,
and local Dubai dishes. Early diners willing to give up their
tables by 2100 are rewarded with special offers.
Regency Hotel, PO Box 5588
(04) 209 1100. Fax: (04) 209 1000.
Dh320. Wine: Dh250.
is bit of a local secret. Savvy natives know it as the best
Italian restaurant in Dubai - far better than the second-rate
Italian cuisine that many of the big hotels offer. It is run by
an Italian couple who lovingly look after all the cooking and
tend to the decent wine list. The decor is authentic too, with
an Italian style that just manages to avoid looking kitsch. It
is advisable to book well ahead for one of the coveted dinner
spots. Starters include beef carpaccio or red mullet and fennel
salad, with mains of the likes of potato gnocchi or baked veal
Le Meridien Hotel, PO Box 10001
(04) 282 4040.
Dh180. Wine: Dh40.
diners tired of the Jumeirah Beach Hotel restaurants, China
Times offers arguably the finest Chinese cuisine in town. Some
of the spicier dishes, like the Szechwan chicken or pork, might
be toned down a touch for the palates of visiting businesspeople
but China Times usually hits the spot. The decor is modern and
the service polite without being too stuffy. The open kitchen is
fun, as diners can see their meals being prepared.
Plaza, Jumeirah Beach, PO Box 1038
(04) 344 2930. Fax: (04) 344 3946.
Dh90. Wine: Dh40.
modern and spacious Chinese restaurant is located in the
Sheraton Jumeirah, at the very end of the Beach strip, so it is
a good place for business diners to take clients to escape the
city. The etched-glass walls allow for fine views of the garden,
pool and beach. The cuisine of both Shanghai and the Hunan
provinces, as well as the fiery tastes of the Szechwan region,
are explored in a restaurant that caters for those who normally
might not like what is conventionally thought of as ‘Chinese'
food. Service is friendly and efficient, with highlights on the
menu being wonton soup as a starter and aromatic crispy duck or
the unusual red snapper fillet, Cantonese style.
Jumeirah Beach, PO Box 12650
(04) 399 5533. Fax: (04) 399 5577
Dh110. Wine: Dh70.
French as the name suggests, Café Chic is a welcome new addition
to the Dubai gastronomic scene. This split-level venue has an
open kitchen, so diners can see head chef Pieric Cizeron working
his magic. The ground floor is light and airy, while the second
floor is a bit more sombre and stylish. Dishes on the menu
include healthy starters, such as asparagus salad, or the less
healthy fried duck liver, while the fish dishes are the
highlight of the main menu. The sea bream is especially good.
Diners should not miss the signature dessert, the chocolate
soufflé - a truly divine creation that alone encourages repeat
reservations. Decadent Epicureans might want to explore the
range of cigars after dinner. Business lunches for Dh66 are
especially good value.
Meridien Hotel, Garhoud.
(04) 282 4040. Fax: (04) 282 4672.
Dh190. Wine: Dh100.
first Vietnamese restaurant, Indochine, is housed within the new
Grand Hyatt Dubai and is predictably chic, with polished wooden
floors, discreet palms and stylish lighting. The cooking is
light and fresh -lemongrass and lime infuse many dishes with the
taste of East Asia. Menu items include prawn dumplings, ‘morning
glory' (water spinach with garlic) and tom rang me (shrimp
soup). While Vietnamese dishes are the highlight, responsible
for bringing in the crowds, there are also regional excursions
into Thai, Malaysian and Chinese cuisine. Attached to Indochine
is the Tea House, where diners can relax with a calming cup of
Asian tea after their meal.
Qutaeyat Road, PO Box 7978
(04) 317 1234. Fax: (04) 317 1235.
Dh95. Wine: Dh70.
space at the Dubai Creek Golf Club was recently reincarnated as
Legends, a classic steak house. The views out over the Creek are
impressive, particularly from the terrace, which catches the
cooling river breezes. Diners should be sure to book a table on
this popular terrace, although indoors is equally charming - a
luxurious room with the feel of a grand hotel lobby in New York,
an ambience enhanced when the pianist is playing. Unsurprisingly
the steaks are the highlight, although the seafood is also good,
with a popular main the beef and lobster combination of Surf n'
Turf. Service is seamless.
Creek Golf Club, Garhoud
(04) 295 6000. Fax: (04) 295 6044.
Dh250. Wine: Dh100.
not a hotel restaurant, which is something unusual among Dubai's
better places to eat. This new haunt of the beautiful people is
a bright, modern venue with a main space that is awash with
colour, comfy seating and black and white photographs.
Newspapers and magazines lying around tempt patrons to do the
same, although the food is no slouch. The menu is as hard to pin
down as the patrons, with Australian steaks mingling with
Indonesian nasi goreng (fried rice) among the mix of businessmen
and fashion-conscious ex-pats. The patio outside is an
alternative space when the weather allows.
Welcare hospital, Garhoud
(04) 283 0224.
Dh220. Wine: Dh100.
local cognoscenti continue their love affair with Splendido,
which is located at the Ritz Carlton and is arguably the city's
finest Mediterranean restaurant. The setting is luxurious
without being overbearing and there is a terrace for days when
the sun is not too strong. The menu is fresh and innovative,
with starters including marinated salmon with quail egg, pesto
and pine nuts, or potato leek soup with lobster. Impressive main
courses include rolled homemade pasta filled with ricotta and
spinach, or black ink tagliolini with pesto, truffle oil and
sautéed prawns. The delicious chocolate crème brulee is
Carlton Hotel, Jumeirah Beach, PO Box 26525
(04) 399 4000. Fax: (04) 399 4001.
Dh250. Wine: Dh110.
never win any culinary awards but Cactus Jacks seldom
disappoints a hungry stomach. A Mexican theme for the decor
includes Aztec fabrics and bright designs, as well as
multicolour tiled pillars. Upstairs there are five tables for
diners looking for a touch more privacy. The restaurant has a
live DJ at weekends and things can turn quite wild after 2300,
when the spicy Tex Mex food and the tequila kick in. Cactus
Jacks dishes up all of the usual suspects - fajitas, burritos
and tortillas - with plenty of meal deals and drinks specials.
Parties of eight diners or more receive a 30% discount on their
bill, which gives a good idea of the market that the restaurant
is leaning toward.
Hotel, Al Garhoud
(04) 282 3464.
Dh100. Wine: Dh75.
popular Italian restaurant offers an unpretentious setting and
menu in a friendly environment. All of the usual pasta and pizza
dishes are on offer and, although there are no real highlights,
most dishes are consistently good. One popular offering is the
gamberoni grigliati (jumbo prawn with capers and potatoes). The
dark decor and red, white and green chequered tablecloths might
be a touch on the garish side but for an evening meal that does
not break the bank or challenge a delicate palate, Da Vinci's is
a good choice.
Hotel, Al Garhoud
(04) 7039 1233.
Dh95. Wine: Dh90.
City Centre Food Court
many food courts that are dotted all around Dubai, this is one
of the most popular. On sale is the full smorgasbord of
international foods, with the only unifying feature being that
all the stands are cheap. The most popular stands serve up
simple Chinese and Indian specialities accompanied by boiled
rice. They also have a play area for kids, which takes some of
the pressure off harassed mums and dads.
City Centre Mall, Deira
(04) 295 1010.
excellent South Indian restaurant serves great-value food.
Diners sit on long, wooden benches and are surrounded by film
posters on the walls. The Kerala-influenced dishes include kappa
erachi (tapioca and chicken curry) and karimeem porichathu (fish
Beach Rotana Inn, PO Box 5822
(04) 393 1999.
ultra-cheap South Indian restaurant has to be one of the
best-value places in town. The decor is very plain, with yellow
checked tablecloths and little attempt to make things
aesthetically pleasing. Diners do not come here for aesthetic,
rather for the good-value food. The menu is mainly vegetarian
and there are few frills but for value for money, an Indian meal
at Woodland Avenue seldom disappoints. The vegetable thali is
one of the most popular dishes and deservedly so.
Karama, PO Box 7529
(04) 336 6632.
double-decked dhow (a traditional trading ship) has been
converted into one of Dubai's most unusual restaurants. It can
seat over 150 diners on busy nights, however, booking ahead is
still essential for the decent buffet food (stir fries, spring
rolls and the like), which is eaten facing the lights of the
Dubai skyscrapers glimmering across the waters of Dubai Creek,
seen en route during a two-hour gastronomic adventure.
Intercontinental Hotel, PO Box 476
(04) 222 7171. Fax: (04) 228 4777.
Dh165 (buffet dinner), Dh125 (buffet lunch). Wine: Dh100.
Palace opened in late 2001 and became popular with the local
ex-pat community. The emphasis on Rajasthani cooking is backed
up by themed decor and artefacts shipped in from the region. The
open kitchen is a nice touch, as are the family booths upstairs,
with privacy available at no extra charge. The excellent value
menu features starters such as lentil soup and prawn
with fresh vegetables, while mains include chicken and
vegetarian kebabs and a range of delicately spiced curries.
Alcohol is not available but the lassis are excellent,
especially an unusual lassi seasoned with salt.
Dubai Marine Hotel, Bur Dubai
(04) 286 9600. Fax: (04) 286 5355.
signature restaurant at the newly opened Grand Hyatt Dubai is
the Manhattan Grill. Housed in the atrium of the hotel, this
stylish restaurant is already a favourite with the local smart
set, despite only opening in spring 2003. The steaks are to die
for, with fresh prime beef flown in from the USA. Other
offerings on the menu include local and international seafood
and grilled lamb. Wine is available by the glass or the bottle,
with both New and Old World tastes catered for.
Qutaeyat Road, PO Box 7978
(04) 317 1234. Fax: (04) 317 1235.
Dh180. Wine: Dh110.
2002 was the funky, laid-back Noodle House. In contrast to the
stuffy business restaurants that tend to be associated with this
part of Dubai, the emphasis here is on light, tasty food served
up in relaxed surrounds. Patrons can forget table reservations
and join the rest of the diners at the long communal tables in
enjoying some delightful Asian noodle soups. Also served are
spring rolls and more substantial dishes, such as sweet and sour
chicken. The desserts are a bit hit and miss but, for a quick
and cheerful meal, Noodle House is hard to beat.
Towers Shopping Boulevard
(04) 330 0000.
Dh85. Wine: Unlicensed.
no restaurant in Dubai quite like Venezia. The recreation of all
things Venetian, with mock Venetian buildings, classical
musicians and real gondolas drifting around the indoor canal is
truly bizarre. The standard Italian cuisine on offer, such as
tortellini arrabiatta or veal with lemon sauce, is nothing
special but with patrons invited to pick their own wine from
their cellar and the sheer surreal ambience of the place make it
worth a visit.
Metropolitan Hotel, Sheik Zayed Road
(04) 343 0000. Fax: (04) 343 1146.
Dh150. Wine: Dh90.