This blog post was updated on December 23, 2019.
Awe-inspiring architecture, endless entertainment and glittering gold markets–it’s hard to imagine that Dubai could possibly have even more to offer to its visitors. But believe it or not…it does! Often overlooked next to all the glitz and glamor, Dubai actually has quite a thriving food scene. If you’re a true seeker of tasty treats, just wait until you see the sheer diversity of foods you can find throughout this desert oasis! From traditional dishes to experimental gastronomy, you’re sure to be in foodie heaven here.
Check out our list of some of our favorite spots and dishes while you’re in the City of Gold!
Desserts in the Desert
In a place nicknamed “The City of Gold” it’s only fitting to indulge in some richness. And what better way to do just that than start our guide with some decadent desserts? Whether you’re looking for a simple slice of cake, or some freshly made baklava that is sure to drive your taste buds buck-wild, Dubai has it all! For a taste of France with a Middle Eastern twist, make your way over to the Dubai Mall and try a pistachio or rose flavored macaroon at Laudree. More of a chocolate lover? Dipndip Chocolate Cafe‘s triple chocolate crepe (named after the three types of Belgian chocolate it’s topped with) is sure to have the cure for that sweet tooth yours.
Middle Eastern Meat Treats
One of the more common meat and rice dishes in Dubai — Al Machboos, or kabsa, is a popular dish of much of the Arabian Gulf. This hearty meal was once a treat, only prepared during special occasions and holidays such as Eid, Ramadan, and weddings, but is now an Emirati staple that you can find in most restaurants and throughout the Middle East. Although you can try this dish just about anywhere in Dubai, take an adventure to the Souk Madinat Jumeirah in the Al Fahidi Historic District, where you can have a taste of it from long-standing, authentic food shops that have been making this dish for decades!
Take a pita and stuff it with freshly grilled meat (chicken, lamb, beef, or turkey), locally grown vegetables and top it off with creamy tahini sauce and what do you get? A mouthwatering Shwarma wrap. This is a dish that has quickly become a street food staple from the streets of New York City to London to Sydney! But, to get a taste of the best of the best, you’ll have to try this in its hometown. You can try this dish at Al Mallah, which is known to cook up some of the best shawarma in Dubai, or for an even more authentic experience, take to the roadsides and sink your teeth into one of these traditional wraps from a local street vendor or food truck.
Did you know? Long before the posh and palatial tourist destination that it is today, Dubai was once a thriving fishing town, renowned for some of the tastiest, freshest seafood the Arabian Gulf had to offer. Although its humble roots were traded in for lavish hotels and luxurious shopping centers, the surrounding waters still offer up this place some of the most delicious fish. For a sea-to-table kind of experience, head to the Seafood Market, where you’ll find 18 seawater tanks with live oysters, octopus, shrimp, lobsters, crabs and so much more. For a more opulent experience, make a reservation at Pierchic, where you can sample some of the best dishes while gazing out to spectacular views of the Arabian Gulf and the Burj Al Arab.
Fear not, oh meat-free foodie, there is more cuisine for you to dig into than you could even imagine. Yes, the meats and seafood here tend to take the spotlight, but there are innumerable vegetarian-friendly dining options that would rival those foods, any day! Let’s start with the bread. Taboon Bread is a very famous dish that originated in the region of modern-day Palestine, that is now a street food favorite in Dubai. Today, Emiratis fill this fluffy, oven-baked goodness with hummus and falafels, making it not only vegetarian but even vegan-friendly. Andiamo! If Italian is more of your cuisine of choice, head to Quattro Passi, for one of the most decadent and delicious dining experiences you’ll ever have. Set on the breathtaking Jumeriah Beach, this authentic Italian restaurant is inspired by the original Quattro Passi in Nerano, Italy — a restaurant that holds two Michelin stars to its name, with a dedicated vegetarian menu for all you herbivores out there!
Turn Up the Heat
Looking to spice things up? Dubai is home to around 2.2 million Indians, so if you’re on the hunt for something piquantly pleasant, we highly suggest trying some of the authentic Indian cuisine this city has to offer. Indego by Vineet, Bombay Brasserie, and Rang Mahal are just three of innumerable popular Indian restaurants that continuously receive rave reviews. At these spots you’ll find all the crowd favorites from rogan josh, a slow-cooked lamb shank curry; limbu rubiyan, a seafood dish made up of shrimp marinated in a green lime with fresh Indian herbs; and navarattan korma, a vegetable dish simmered creamy saffron korma sauce. Can’t decide? Take a stroll through Meena Bazaar, Dubai’s “Little India” and you’ll find a plethora of choices! From raw spices to rotis fresh out of the clay oven, there’s something here for everyone!
Have you taken a bite out of Dubai? Tell us about your favorite places and dishes to eat in the comments below!