16 4b Street
The Iranian influence in Dubai is evident everywhere, and will be especially noticeable if Special Ostadi Restaurant (SOR) is on your culinary itinerary. The photos of Iranian faces lining the walls—celebrities, singers, and pretty girls—have borne witness to the fact that since 1978, the SOR has been cranking out the best kebabs this side of Tehran. The family-run restaurant is also known for its lamb curry, roti, Sulaimani chai tea, and rice. (The saffron rice is worth ordering all by itself.) This is the perfect place to grab more food than you can eat for the price of a few diram.
Al Ghelaan Street - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
After spending an afternoon baking under the Arabian sun on Dubai’s Kite Beach, nothing quite satisfies an appetite like a Wagyu beef slider served up seaside. Salt started out as a roving food truck and fans had to check its daily Instagram post to find its location du jour. Now the funky silver Airstream trailer with the giant Salt sign on top has a permanent parking spot, complete with shaded tables and an orderly queue of expats in bikinis and locals in dishdashas waiting for their food. Some say that Salt beats New York City’s Shake Shack...and they’re probably right. Don’t skip the fries, which have the perfect tasty salt-to-grease ratio, and save room for a soft ice cream afterwards.
Al Muraqqabat Road, Al Muraqqabath Area - Deira - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
Dubai’s Western and South Asian expats are only part of the city’s immigrant mix—Arab expats, many fleeing war-torn countries, thrive here too, and thriving restaurants like Samad Al Iraqi are the proof. Try to visit the location on Al Muraqqabat Road, which is one of the city’s most charming streets, where you’ll dine alongside Iraqis of all classes and backgrounds. This spot is worth a visit just for its grilled masgouf fish, a famous Iraqi dish dating all the way back to the Babylonian era. Craving meat? The kebabs and mixed dolmas (veggies stuffed with lamb and rice) are first-rate.
Marina Walk, Dubai Marina, Near Spinney’s - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
A quick Google search can tell you Dubai is no stranger to Levantine food. But what sets this location of Reem Al Bawadi apart is its combination of serene marina views and high-octane regulars. A favorite of the city’s younger crowd, Reem, as it’s known locally, is a vital social space for Dubaians. Grab a seat on the patio and watch the sun drop below the horizon as you enjoy simple Lebanese appetizers like fresh hummus or sambousek—flaky Middle Eastern dough stuffed with herbed cheese. Or share a couple of shisha pipes with your travel buddies and linger for hours. When in Dubai...
Near Dubai Parks and Resorts - Sheikh Zayed Rd - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
Food trucks have landed in Dubai, and Last Exit Food Truck Park is one of the best to sample the goodies. Out at the dusty border between city and desert, the collection of parked trucks exudes the kitschy charm of vintage Airstream trailers. The wide range of available cuisines includes Mexican, Peruvian, Lebanese, and American. Some of the most popular items are fried seafood, burgers, and hot dogs. Good things happen to those who wait, so be ready to queue up next to hungry Dubaians under the soft glow of fairy lights, and then spread your feast out on the picnic tables and enjoy.
Aroos Damascus (which translates as “the Bride of Damascus”), on Al Muraqqabat Road in Dubai’s old Deira district, is an ode to Syrian cuisine. The lively atmosphere and great food draw a diverse crowd of South Asians, Filipinos, and locals looking for an alternative to enclosed malls and expensive restaurants. Platters of assorted appetizer, and entrees of kebabs, steaks, kibbeh, fatoosh, and flavorful Arabic pizzas (manaeesh) are served all day (and until late in the evening) inside or on the patio.
906 Jumeirah - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
Though it’s been catapulted to stardom by a thousand colorful Instagram posts of milkshakes, Black Tap is more than an ice cream parlor. Styled as a New York burger joint, the menu includes 13 different burgers, from the Texan—topped with aged cheddar, crispy onions, and beef bacon—to the falafel “burger” with hummus, feta, and tahini. The cocktail selection includes the bourbon-based Kentucky Made with cucumber and mint. The main event, though, is the milkshake—the vanilla, chocolate, and Nutella concoctions are so popular that even Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan has stopped by for a taste. Black Tap is in the five-star Jumeirah Al Naseem Hotel.
Al Wasl Rd - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
Dubai is an up-and-coming destination for burger lovers, and Slider Station has become a local favorite. Dozens of bun-bound options (including one burger made from camel meat and another infused with Coca-Cola and maple syrup!), as well as milkshakes served in glass milk bottles, and even a selection of tapas are drawing crowds who are willing to stand in line to dig in. The Station’s casual industrial decor is inspired by a 1940s American gas station, with exposed pipes running along the ceiling, barrels serving as chairs, and an eclectic collection of mirrors and graphics adorning the walls.
150 2 D St - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
Khameer, a bedouin flatbread, is one of the standards of traditional Emirati cuisine, often served for breakfast with fresh cheese, honey, or dates. This tiny bakery adds a modern twist to its khameer offerings by introducing flavors like rose, thyme, and apple pie. Khameer & Dough is so small that they sell the bread for takeaway only, but that shouldn’t stop you from buying a puffy sample so you can try this staple of the local diet.
Jumeirah Road, Near Lighthouse - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
After long nights spent partying, studying, or working, a karak chai trip is a near-sacred tradition—cars packed with friends take a trip to a drive-through or a roadside stall to pick up sweet, hot chai. HumYum takes this longstanding and beloved ritual inside. The small café, decorated to evoke the bedouin and Emirati past, offers a wide variety of quick snacks and sweet drinks, perfect for a pick-me-up. Some of the city’s best people-watching takes place here, as you inhale the calming scents of cloves and cardamom and watch the late-night parade of tea-drinking regulars.
Al Rigga Rd, Deira,Near Al Rigga Metro Station - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
With the largest Korean community in the Arab world, Pyongyang Okryu-Gwan in Deira is a fitting place to begin a Dubai exploration of Korean cuisine. Part of a chain of restaurants based in the troubled North Korean capital, this spot includes a karaoke room, an all-female waitstaff, and real North Korean propaganda music. Try the seafood hot pot or the signature raengmyŏn (Pyongyang–style cold noodles), and, of course, load up on kimchi! A quick heads-up: The Okryu-Gwan restaurants send profits back to North Korea.
Souk Al bahar, Near Dubai Mall - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
What’s better than eating fresh hummus? Eating fresh hummus beside a dancing fountain, of course. Indulge in all the hummus, grilled meat, and moutabal (tahini and eggplant dip) you crave at this popular Lebanese restaurant at Dubai Mall’s Souk Al Bahar. Part of a chain with locations at several tourist attractions—including Burj Khalifa and the Address hotel, as well as here at the mall—Abd El Wahab serves Lebanese cuisine at lunch and dinner, all with views of those dancing waters.
Dubai - United Arab Emirates
You can’t party in Dubai without finishing the night at one of the city’s open-late cafeterias. Workers sit together for snacks, friends share deep conversations, and cars with obnoxious music stop for chai here. This space is deeply entrenched in many Dubaians’ routines and childhoods, and it is not often frequented by tourists. However, a visit to cafeterias like Oyoun Al Reem can give you an inside look into the communities that make up Dubai, beyond the skyscrapers and fancy cars. Ask for the Oman chips cheese paratha, a South Asian flatbread with spicy crisps and cheese; it’s like biting into heaven.
Al Khaleej Road, Opposite Dubai Hospital, Corniche Deira - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
Not only can you load up on produce, freshly ground Middle Eastern and Indian spices, natural honey, and every variety of date known to man at the refurbished Waterfront Market (known as Deira Fish Market when it opened in the 1950s), you can have a truly authentic Dubai experience. In spite of having been updated with modern conveniences and air-conditioned facilities, one satisfying ritual has been preserved from the old market: When you want to order grilled fish or shrimp from the restaurant, you can select your own from the display.
Kabana serves up Dubai’s best Afghani food—piping-hot bread, juicy meats, and deeply seasoned rice plates—in the Jumeirah neighborhood. Especially recommended are the muhammara (a spread made from roasted red peppers and ground walnuts, served topped with walnuts), and fried kibbeh (spiced ground lamb mixed with bulgur and onions). Kabana’s live music nights and shisha, or waterpipe, selections bring out an interesting cross-section of the city’s diverse culture.
6 King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud St - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
The Madinat Jumeirah hotel’s Pierchic restaurant sits at the end of a private pier, facing the famous sail-shaped Burj Al Arab hotel. Redesigned in 2014 with a stunning Swarovski-crystal chandelier over the bar, Pierchic is one of the city’s most romantic dining rooms. For intimate drinks, get a table in the separate bar “pod” over the water. The menu focuses on seafood and manages to be elegant without being fussy. The setting alone makes it worth the trip (and the price) If you want to have dinner, make sure to book well in advance..
Kohantei, Plaza Unit 6, Dubai Opera - Abu Dhabi - United Arab Emirates
Kaiseki, a traditional style of Japanese dining, presents a balanced and creative multi-course meal. This tradition has arrived in Dubai at Kohantei, the restaurant at the Dubai Opera House. The intimate culinary experience begins when you’re invited to take off your shoes to enter one of the three private dining rooms (each seats only up to four people). As the courses are served, you are encouraged to eat slowly and taste each bite mindfully. The task is not hard because the food is carefully prepared and the atmosphere is serene. Guests take their time, enjoy a calm conversation, and remain present in the moment. Not surprisingly, the experience is popular: Make sure to book well in advance.
Al Barari - Dubai - United Arab Emirates
When you’re in the mood for really fresh food made with clean ingredients straight from a farm (and when aren’t you?), The Farm at Al Barari can satisfy that desire and then some. Tucked away within the tranquil rich greenery and clear lakes of the Al Barari development, the award-winning restaurant called The Farm specializes in Thai and international cuisine. Various meats, curries, and salads can be enjoyed in a tranquil environment away from the hustle and bustle of the city. The Farm is especially perfect for a romantic dinner or a laidback breakfast or brunch with friends.