Futuristic, sparkling new, multicultural, and always pushing the limits, is Dubai, United Arab Emirates – a city that sprouts out of the sand banks of the Persian Gulf.
In this Dubai travel guide for food lovers, I’m going to list the best restaurants I tried during my trip to Dubai, and also give you a few extra practical travel tips for your visit.
Food in Dubai
Dubai is packed with international restaurant – if you want a burger or steak, Brazilian bbq, Turkish food, or Thai food – it’s all in Dubai.
But what’s interesting about Dubai is that Emirati food is not all that commonly found at restaurants, the reason being, most Emiratis still eat local food at home.
However, that scene is changing, and you’ll find some traditional Emirati restaurants, and also restaurants that serve cuisine from the Arabian Peninsula.
Below, for this Dubai travel guide, I’ve listed the best restaurants in Dubai that I had a chance to try during my short visit.
Al Fanar Restaurant & Cafe
Al Fanar is one of the few traditional Emirati restaurants, and they have an impressive menu that consists of everything from Emirati rice and meat feasts to desserts, snacks, and even breakfast dishes.
I ate at Al Fanar Restaurant along with my friend Peyman, and we decided to eat mostly breakfast dishes and some dessert snacks, all of which were fantastic.
What I ate: My favorite dishes were luqaimat (sweet donuts) and tharid (thin spongy bread, sauce, chicken)
Address: Ground Floor, Dubai Festival City Mall, Dubai, United Arab Emirates (they have multiple locations around Dubai)
Open hours: 8:30 am – 11:30 am daily
Prices: Dishes range from 20 – 50 AED ($5.44 – $13.60) or more if they are big sharing dishes
Al Marhabani Restaurant
Mandi is originally a Yemeni dish of rice topped with meat that’s traditionally cooked in an underground oven until it literally falls apart.
Al Marhabani Restaurant in Dubai is at the top of their mandi game, and they served what was easily one of my favorite meals in Dubai – that lamb drumstick will melt in your mouth!
What I ate: Mandi platter with lamb, chicken is good too
Address: Villa # 575, Jumeirah Road, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Open hours: 12 Noon – 11 pm daily
Prices: Our total price for 4, that entire platter of food came to 200 AED ($54.44)
Hunter & Barrel
Imagine yourself in the time of the hunter and gatherer, when ancient ritual was sacred and nature was a force to be reckoned with.
Hunter & Barrel is a visceral steak restaurant dubai and bar experience that pays homage to the dawn of culinary tradition in a modern family restaurant setting.
Feast on quality meats and produce as you listen to the crackle from the fire, smell the meat smoking and see the stacks of coal by the pit.
Quality steak, meats and produce are at the heart of everything on the Hunter & Barrel menu. We let the ingredients speak for themselves, with fresh, meat, poultry and seafood offerings roasted over our signature coal grill for an irresistibly smoky charred finish.)
Address: Millennium Place, Mirdif Hills Ave 78th St, Dubai, UAE
Open hours: Mon – Sun: 11:00am -1am
Phone: 00971 4 268 6488
AL Ustad Special Kabab
Legendary is an understatement when it comes to the food at AL Ustad Special Kabab – they’ve been around since before the development boom of Dubai – and they’ve remained a hugely popular local restaurant throughout Dubai’s history.
It’s an Iranian restaurant, known most famously for their selection of kebabs, which are insanely delicious. I especially loved the yogurt marinated kebabs, but everything was outstanding. There’s no doubt it’s a meat lovers paradise.
What I ate: All the kebabs
Address: Al Mankhool Road, Bur Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Open hours: 12 Noon – 4 pm and 6:30 pm – 1 am on Saturday – Thursday; 6:30 pm – 1 am on Friday
Prices: Our total meat feast for 3 came to 100 AED ($27.21)
When I reached out on social media (by the, if you’re interested in current food updates, follow out my Instagram!) and asked where I should eat during my trip to Dubai, the overwhelming most recommended place was Bu Qtair.
It’s a restaurant that started off as a street food shack along the ocean, but has since developed into an indoor, yet still local and bare-bones, restaurant. You choose your fish and prawns, which are all marinated south Indian style. Then everything is deep fried, and it’s seriously tasty.
What I ate: Fish fry and prawns
Address: Old 32B Street, Fishing Harbour 2. Umm Suqeim 2, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Open hours: 6:30 am – 11:40 pm daily
Prices: My total price for everything came to 170 AED ($46.27)
Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding
Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding is a cultural centre located in the preserved old town of Al Bastakiya. You can book for a chance to learn about Emirati / Middle Eastern culture. And also enjoy a meal while you’re there.
What I ate: It’s a lunch buffet
Address: Al Hamriya,Bur Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Open hours: They offer a variety of different programs, check their website
Prices: For this meal I didn’t pay as I got complimentary tickets thanks to Visit Dubai, but prices are reasonable if you inquire on their website.