Dubai is the wealthiest and most populous of the seven United Arab Emirates. In just two short decades, it’s grown into a modern metropolis with man-made islands, shopping centers with indoor ski slopes and the world’s tallest skyscraper. But scratch beneath the surface and you’ll find a vibrant melting pot of immigrants, merging ancient Arabic traditions with cultural influences and gastronomy from Iran, India, Pakistan and Africa. A city that attracts millions of tourists every year, here are fourteen great restaurants to try on your next visit to Dubai.
Known for its beautiful views of the Arabian Gulf, Pierchic is an elegant Mediterranean seafood restaurant that sits alone at the end of a long pier in the Madinat Jumeirah complex. With chic-yet-rustic vibe complimented by large windows, Pierchic has long been one of the most romantic restaurants in Dubai. Start the meal with caviar, fresh oysters, or the waygu beef tonnato served with fried capers, Italian frisée and bonito flakes.
Pierchic / Al Sufouh Rd, Dubai / +971 4 366 6730
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Al Bait al Baghdadi
If you want a taste of traditional Iraqi food, this is a great place to get it–think butterflied fried or baked fish, Iraqui kebabs, and authentic pacha, a dish combining cow feet, sheep head and carp.
Al Bait al Baghdadi / E 66, Dubai
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A modern Latin restaurant, Toro Toro was imagined by celebrity chef Richard Sandoval and serves dishes inspired by the cuisines of South America and Mexico. With lustrous furnishings in a contemporary atmosphere, you can enjoy a smattering of sharable dishes like the seared seafood ceviche (prawns, calamari, scallops, milk, ginger, aji amarillo, fresh lime juice and sweet potato), or the signature grilled octopus with a fingerling potato salad, Peruvian adobo and cilantro.
Toro Toro / Grosvenor Tower Two, Dubai Marina, Dubai / +971 4 399 8888
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Credit: Zuma Dubai
An upscale Japanese restaurant, Zuma is located in the financial district of downtown Dubai, making it a popular place for affluent businessmen during the lunch hours. You can expect inspired small plates like crispy fried squid with green chili and lime or roasted Boston lobster sheathed in shiso-ponzu butter.
Zuma / Gate Village 6, Podium Level, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai / +971 4 425 5660
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This tiny, fast-casual Indian Chinese restaurant specializes in, you guessed it, dim sums (dumplings) and noodles. Choose to have your dumplings pan-fried or steamed, with a variety of fillings from mixed vegetables to prawns. They have 10 different sauces to mix and match with your dumplings and noodles. Cheap, quick and tasty.
Dim’s and Noodles / Al Barsha Street 1, Opp Al Shaya Building, Dubai / +971 4 395 0881
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Finding the best Pakistani food in Dubai is as simple as following your ears… listen for the sounds of katakat. The traditional dish is made from offal and gets its name from the sound of two sharp blades hitting the tawa, or griddle, mincing brain, heart, testicles, kidneys and liver with red onion, parsley, ginger and tomato. The katakat at Muhammad Faisal in Dubai’s old town is one of the most beautifully cooked dishes I’ve ever eaten.
Muhammad Faisal Restaurant / Al Khabaisi, Deira, Dubai / +971 4 269 1900
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Dine at La Petite Maison and you’ll feel as if you’ve been carried away to the south of France. For dinner, make reservations but show up early to take a seat at the sleek white marble bar and sip on classic French wine while perusing the menu. Make sure you try the carpaccio de coquille St Jacques – simple raw scallop delicately topped with sweet cranberries, vibrant capers, almonds, and a sprinkle of sea salt. Bon appétit!
La Petite Maison / Gate Village No 8, Dubai International Financial Center-312th Road, Dubai / +971 4 439 0505
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Stepping into Reflets par Pierre Gagnaire evokes a childlike awe with pink chandeliers sparkling above luxorious, yet refined place settings and baroque chairs bedecked in magenta damask fabric. You’ll feel like royalty as the perfectly pressed and manicured staff presents, with Gagnaire’s classic showmanship, a variety of small plates that together create one seamless taste experience. Go all in by starting with the foie gras served with a winter chutney, earl grey tea crumble, vegetable barquette (small pastry shell) of heirloom tomatoes, and an amandine tart with white beetroot.
Reflets par Pierre Gagnaire / InterContinental Dubai-Festival City, Festival Blvd, Dubai / +971 4 701 1111
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Offering a huge menu of traditional Lebanese dishes, Arz Lebanon’s central location makes it an ideal stop for classics like hummus and falafel, along with a some delicious offal dishes like fried liver and kidney.
Arz Lebanon / Jumeirah Beach Road, Jumeirah – 3, Dubai / +971 4 394 7736
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Sleek and sexy, Nobu is located in Atlantis on the man-made island The Palm. Renowned Chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa has created unique dishes like miso-marinated black cod, lobster quinoa ceviche, and toro tartar. The fish is fresh and the dishes are clean, allowing the true flavors of every ingredient to shine through.
Nobu / The Palm Jumeirah, Dubai / +971 4 426 2626
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Serving up traditional Lebanese cuisine, Al Nafoorah is a favorite for foreigners and locals alike. The service is impeccable, the portions are robust, and every dish is worth trying. Kickoff your dinner with fresh tabouleh or creamy hummus. Move onto chicken liver and pomegranate seeds or the kebab kheshkhash, minced lamb in a spicy tomato sauce. Round out the meal with a decadent rice pudding, sprinkled with floral rosewater and pistachios.
Al Nafoorah / Jumeirah Emirates Towers, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai / +971 4 319 8088
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Dimly-lit and intimate, Thiptara’s dining room looks out onto the Dubai Fountain, the largest choreographed fountain system in the world. The restaurant showcases traditional Thai cuisine such as gaeng kiew wan gai (green curry), som tum thai (green papaya salad) and tom yum goong (hot and spicy prawn soup). Don’t leave without trying their signature dessert of Thai mango, sweet sticky rice and coconut cream.
Thiptara / The Palace Downtown Dubai, Dubai / +971 4 428 7961
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Boasting a juicy and flavorful shwarma, Operation falafel is a casual restaurant with basic metal and wood decor. They serve up Palestinian and Jordanian inspired street food that’s a great value for the price. Feast on the crispy, fried falafel and large shwarma sandwiches.
Operation Falafel / The Walk,Jumeirah Beach Residence, Dubai / +971 4 424 3098
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Qwaider Al Nabulsi
A local favorite, this Jordanian restaurant is well-known for having some of the best kunafa—a sugary sweet cheese pastry—in Dubai. They also serve a wide variety of other dishes ranging from grilled meats and hummus to traditional baklava.
Qwaider Al Nabulsi / Al Muraqqabat, Dubai / +971 4 227 7760