Food, glorious food. Dubai’s soaring skyscrapers, flamboyant islands and star-studded events may have the limelight, but for foodies, it’s the cuisine that takes centre stage.
Historically, humans have scoured the globe to find exotic new flavours in foreign lands. Many would assume that our obsession with a good meal is a simple evolutionary trait, designed to keep us alive. The truth is actually much more romantic. Scientists have found that, when we taste something delicious, the brain produces dopamine, which is the same chemical released when we look into the eyes of a loved one. So, scientifically speaking, we don’t just enjoy a tasty dish – we fall in love with it – and what we’ve found in Dubai will have you falling head over heels.
Not surprisingly, in an emirate where over eighty percent of the population were born overseas, Dubai has a restaurant dedicated to every national cuisine you could imagine. This wide variety, coupled with Dubai’s young, unique and still blossoming food culture, makes eating there delicious and dreamy. But, for us, trying summarise such a broad spectrum of flavours in such a short article, feels like trying to paint a picture of a rainbow with a grey pencil. You have to see it for yourself to get an accurate picture.
5 Restaurants We Recommend
Not necessarily in any order, these are five of our favourites, recommended by our travel experts, our customers and our contacts, who reside in the UAE.
Le Petit Maison
Situated in Dubai International Financial Centre, this award-winning French restaurant has earned the same fantastic reputation as its cousins in Nice, London and Istanbul. Heralded by Time Out magazine as the best French restaurant in Dubai, here you can expect to enjoy sophisticated gastronomy and a delightfully elegant selection of wines. If you’re looking for suggestions to sample, the lamb cutlets are a firm favourite with many who visit, along with the zesty and delicious octopus in lemon oil.
Bread Street Kitchen & Bar
If we were to ask Gordon Ramsay for an opinion on this restaurant, we imagine he’d say “it’s the best f***ing restaurant in Dubai.” That’s not only because it happens to be his restaurant and we know he likes to swear, but because it’s also an expletive ridden version of the feedback we’ve received from our customers. The Michelin Starred master chef has set up shop at Atlantis, The Palm and used his expertise to devise a British menu that combines European influences. If Bread Street sounds appealing, be sure to make a reservation in advance to avoid disappointment. Guests staying at Atlantis on a half board basis can dine here for a supplement of around £10 per adult.
Just a short walk from Jumeirah Public Beach, Mexican restaurant Loca is highly recommended by locals and puts an innovative spin on some well-known Tex-Mex exports. Doubling up as a popular nightspot, expect an atmosphere as vibrant as the food and we definitely recommend sampling one of their six different flavoured sizzling fajitas, particularly the lamb option. This is a great place for informal dining and many of their dishes are perfect for sharing.
Time Out Dubai’s best Thai restaurant of 2015. Its decor is almost as brilliant as the food. Dramatic ceiling-high windows offer a dazzling view of the nearby Business Bay district, creating an ambiance that really captures the essence of the buzzing excitement surrounding Dubai. The menu includes classic dishes with inventive tweaks, like Tom Yum and Gang Dang, while you’ll also find a few new dishes you’ve never seen before.
Seafood restaurants don’t come much better than this. Located at the end of Al Qasr Madinat Jumeirah’s pier, Pierchic offers a one-of-a-kind over-water dining experience. Its combination of delicious, fresh seafood and stunning views make it an ideal place to woo your partner, having earned it Time Out’s Best Romantic Restaurant award for the last three years running. Pierchic is also a popular location for Dubai’s popular Friday Brunch tradition.
Variety in One Place – The Walk
Dubai Marina is home to Jumeirah Beach Residence, where The Walk begins. Not far from the base of Palm Jumeirah, this mile-long strip is home to several restaurants, hotel bars, cafes and boutiques. Dining variety is a large part of The Walk’s appeal, and here you can choose from sushi, British pub food, Afghan and Middle East dishes and Egyptian cuisine. This is a perfect place to grab something to eat if you take a trip to the beach at Jumeirah Beach Residence.
As with many majority-Muslim states around the world, Dubai’s weekend is Friday and Saturday. It’s unclear when this tradition began, but the emirate’s residents enjoy kicking off their weekend by socialising over a delicious brunch. So popular is this custom that practically every restaurant in the city offers a Friday brunch menu. If your stay includes a Friday, make sure you find out what all the fuss is about. Atmosphere at Burj Khalifa is a great place to start your weekend. This restaurant, on floor 122 of the world’s tallest building offers the spectacular views you would imagine – the perfect way to get that Friday feeling, Dubai style.
Desert Safari & BBQ Dinner
If your appetite extends beyond food to adventure too, then we have the perfect excursion for you. Starting with a 4x4 tour over the Arabian sands, you’ll watch the sun disappear down below the dunes, before continuing on to an authentic Bedouin campsite, offering a range of refreshments and local garments. From there, it’s back out into the desert, this time by camel, to cap your evening off with entertainment from belly dancers and a delectable barbecue buffet beneath the stars.
Entertainment & Nightlife
Another reason for Dubai’s popularity amongst high-flyers is its focus on entertainment and nightlife, which is a perfect way to spend your evening after dinner. This is the emirate where everything is a spectacle. If you’d like to be entertained as you dine, various restaurants throughout the city provide fantastic shows to add to your dining experience. Levantine at Atlantis, The Palm, along with serving authentic Lebanese food, has entrancing belly dancers, who create a wonderfully Middle Eastern atmosphere.
Pacha, situated within the Madinat Jumeirah Resort, regularly attracts internationally renowned DJs like Fat Boy Slim. And MusicHall, situated in Jumeirah Zabeel Saray offers a modern and innovative take on dining entertainment, showcasing live music acts along with a wide selection of gourmet food and premium beverages. There’s literally something for everybody here. If you’d like more information, get in touch and our Middle East travel experts will be happy to help you find the perfect Dubai experiences for you.